A Life Experience by Aoife Dolan

book5My name is Aoife.I am eleven years old. I live in Co. Galway. I go to a primary school in Galway. There are five in my family.The reason I wrote about “A Life Experience”, is because I love history and I wanted to write about all the things I have learned.

A Life Experience

By Aoife Dolan, 5th Class

Greetings! My name is Mary-Kate. My mother is Bridie, my father is Pat. I have four sisters and five brothers. My sisters’ names are Mary Ellen, Nora, Bridget, Annie and my brothers’ are James, Pat, Tom, Peter and Mikey, the youngest boy.

My mother was a house wife. My father was a farmer. My mother used to clean, cook food, mind us and do the entire house work. My father only had one cow and a calf, a donkey, a dog and a plot full of potatoes.

We lived in Polaturick. We had a very small old house. There were only two bedrooms and a kitchen. My house only had three rooms. The toilet was out in a hole.

After school we would go out and help our parents. All the girls went with Mother and the lads would go with Father but we had to do our homework  first. Every Friday after school some of the chirdren went with Mother shopping. Father would hitch on the cart to the donkey and Mother and some of us would go in the cart and get the shopping. We did not have alot of money to spend in the shop  so we couldn’t buy much at all.

On normal days we had to go to school. I hated school. The teachers were so strict. All my brothers and sisters went to school too.There were only two classrooms and two teachers.

All the boys were  in one room and the girls in another room. I also remember that we had to bring a sod of turf every morning and there was lots of homework and if we made a mistake or were lazy or if we talked or were bold, the teachers used to hit us with a cane or a leather strap.We  also had to wear a tally stick or in Irish it was known as the “bata scoir.” If we spoke Irish at home our parents would put a mark on the tally stick and when we went to school the teachers smacked us.

Every night before we went to bed all my family gathered around the fire. Mother and Father used to tell lots of stories of the old times. We loved it and Father used to always talk about Auntie Pat in England and about the weather and how the crops were not growing too well

That year the potatoes were wiped out with a disease that no one knew about. People were starving. It was not the most pleasant sight at all. No one had any money so every one was getting evicted out of their houses by the land lord. Soon lots of people had died. Every night I would hear my mother praying and hoping things would get better.

One night all of the children were in bed. My father came in from the neighbour’ s field. He had being digging a grave for our neighbour. Her name was Sadie. She had passed away a day before that and left behind nine children and a husband but I was sure the oldest daughter would help Jimmy, her husband.

The next day was the funeral.  It wasn’t much, just a blessing and down into that hole of darkness. But the next day I overheard my mother and father talking about how the disease was getting worse. So that night I prayed hard for the illness to go away. That night I could not sleep at all.

The next morning every one was in bed but my mother was talking to someone at the door. So I got out of bed very quietly and tiptoed to my bedroom door. The man’s voice kept saying, “Money! Money!  I want my money.”  I was terrified. He kept shouting. My father heard the man shouting at my mother at the door. He had woken up the whole house by now. My father begged him to stop shouting and said he would get the money for him in the next day. The man said, “Find that money for me.”

The next day came and surprisingly Father had got the money. The man came back at dinner time. When mother saw him she shouted, “Children get into your bedroom now.” When the man got to the door  he whacked on it so hard he nearly knocked it down. We were terrified. Father went to the door and opened it slowly and the man just said, “Money, money, money!” So Mother got the envelope with the money in it. The man grabbed it out of her hand, counted it and walked off.

When he went, Mother called us and we quickly ran to the kitchen. Our dinner was on the table. My sister asked in a small voice, “What is going on ?” My father said, “SHUT UP” in a snappy voice. Annie said “I am sorry.”  My mother said “What your father means is, it is adult business.”

The  next day Tommy Feerick came to our house and said, “I’ve been robbed. I only had two pounds to live on. I had saved it.” Tommy was a rough fellow. He was nice but if some one did something he would blame the first person  he set his eyes on.

Next thing Mikey, the youngest boy, started to say, “Father didn’t you get two pounds out of nowhere ?” “What!” shouted Jimmy. “ You stole it. I will have you put in jall.” That afternoon the police came and took Father away. Mother was so upset, but she was trying to hide it. Life had to go on.

However, the famine got worse. That week we got a letter from Father. It said, “I have sent a letter to Auntie Pat asking her for money.” The next day my brother got very ill and died a week later. We were very upset and we wrapped him in a blanket and some flowers and we buried him. It was devastating. We missed him so much.

We got a letter from Auntie Pat. It had a ticket to England and  five pounds in it. You see Auntie had a great job and she treated us like we were her own children.  But all the family had the illness except me. It was unusual.

Because I didnt have the illness, my family said that I should go to England as there might be a chance I would not die. I was happy but sad. I was happy about going to England but sad about leaving my family.

The next day I set off to England. When I got to England, Auntie Pat was standing at the harbour. When she saw me she called my name and I ran to her and hugged her. She told me to come on we needed to get home before the rain started. When I got home Auntie Pat made me a hot cup of milk and bread and jam. She must have known that that was my favourite. I was so exicted to be in England.

That evening I unpacked  the bag my mother had packed. She had put in her wedding ring. I was so shocked.My Auntie too was surprised because that meant the world to my mother. It was passed down through the generations

The next morning I set off to work . My auntie owned a dress-making shop. My job was to greet the customers and do a little sewing but mostly I was greeting customers.

We were only five mintes open when our first customer came. I was so excited. The woman said to me, “I am here to pick up my dress.” Then I asked her “What is your name?” She said ,“My name is Elizabeth Pearce. I am here to pick up my daughter’s wedding dress.”  “Right. Wait a minute please. Why don’t you take a seat? I will run to get Pat.”  Pat arrived and said, “Well hello Elizabeth. I hear you are here to pick up your daughter’s wedding dress . This is my helper. Her name is Mary Kate.” “Well Mary Kate, that is a lovely name. How nice it is to meet you,” said Elizabeth. Auntie got the dress and Elizabeth paid her. When Elizabeth went Auntie went back sewing .

When the day was done and a month had passed I had sent a letter to mother and I hadn’t got any thing back, I was a bit worried. But Auntie said that it would take a long tme to get to Ireland or they might not have enough money to send anything back and  I believed her.

I was seventeen by now and I was still working in Auntie’s shop. I still loved it. I was sewing dresses and I sold them at the market and I made lots of money. I sent some of it home. I was not sure if the money was even getting to to my family at all but I still sent money home.

As I worked I got better and better. People wanted me to make their dresses. My auntie was so proud of me.Time went on and on.

One day the delivery man came. He brought  his apprentice, a young man who was learning how to do the job. The man was a very handsome and best of all I saw him every week. I asked him his name. He said, “My name is Edward.  I am eighteen years old. What is your name?” ”Oh my name is Mary Kate.”

I met Edward alot now. I needed help one day with my stall. Edward offered to help me. So I said, “Yes you can help set up the table for me and attract customers.” He did that every week for me. I thanked him and gave him a peck on the  cheek. Then before I knew it we  were going out!

One afternoon he invited me over for dinner and I said “Yes.” We went to his house. I met his parents but after dinner there was a surprise .He knelt down and got a box out of his pocket and opened it and asked me to marry him and I said,  “Yes.” When I got home I ran in the door and told Auntie Pat. She was delighted. We started planning our wedding and I asked Auntie to make my dress.

The day was set. I was getting married.  I wrote a letter to my family and sent money and a ticket to come to England. The weeks and months passed. It was a week before the wedding.  It was the day the ticket was booked for the boat. It was meant to come into the harbour at 2 o’clock. I went down to the harbour hoping I would see my family.

When the boat sailed in and anchored, all the people got out and then I saw my mother. I shouted “Mother, Mother! Over here!” She ran to me. “Oh Mother I missed you so much.”  I asked her where my brothers and sisters were. She said “I think they’ve gone to God!” I was so so upset.

But life went on. It was the wedding. I was getting married. My mother walked me up the aisle and Father Fallon an Irish priest married us.  It was a life changing day.

Years passed and we were living in a beautiful house. My mother lived with Auntie Pat.  I made dresses and Edward was a delivery man.  We had three beautiful healthy children, one girl called Nellie and two boys called James and Thomas. And we all lived happily ever after.

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