11 Dec 2019

From Melbourne to Roebuck

We have a lovely Christmas treat for all our members – a new memoir from a long-time Larchfield Road resident, Mrs. Eileen Graham.

We would like to thank Mrs. Graham very much for sharing memories of her very interesting life with us. We would also like to thank her neighbour, Ms. Marie Ryan, for organising, interviewing, and writing it all down.

This is our third Roebuck memoir (see here and here), and we get such great feedback about them. If any other resident, or residents, would consider putting one together for us, we would be delighted. We would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

From Melbourne to Roebuck

At a hail and hearty 92, Eileen Graham is one of Roebuck Park’s most long-established residents. Eileen has lived on Larchfield Road since 1956 where she settled a few years after getting married to her late husband Rupert.

Born in Melbourne in 1927, where her parents, originally from Herefordshire in the UK, had emigrated looking for work. They returned, along with Eileen, to the UK in 1930 when she was three and she grew up in the town of Morecombe. Her father joined the RAF during World War 2 and was posted in various locations in North Africa. Fortunately, he returned home safely after the war, unlike her grandfather who fought and was killed in the battle of the Somme in World War 1.

Eileen was 13 when the war started, and she was evacuated to the home of her paternal grandparents in the Welsh countryside to keep her safe. Her mother, a mid-wife, stayed on to run a nursing home in Morecombe with her maternal grandmother.

Following in the family footsteps, Eileen trained to be a nurse in Blackpool for 4 years. It was there that she met many Irish girls who has gone to train in the UK. A tradition that still exists today. After training, Eileen continued to work as a staff nurse in Blackpool and it was there she hatched a plan with some of her Irish friends to return to Australia in the hope of finding work in one of the Fever hospitals where there was a shortage of nurses at that time.

However, she first had to do some training in the area of fevers, and as she had during her time in Blackpool befriended many Irish nurses, her intention was to come to Dublin for a little while and get some experience and training in the fever hospital on Cork Street. However, the best-laid plans and all of that…

Eileen found conditions in the hospital on Cork St very different from Blackpool. Dirty, squalid, with a very strict Matron who made her remove her lipstick, Eileen left after a fortnight and would have returned to the UK only while attending a church service in Maynooth where she was staying with her friend’s family, she met Rupert.

Rupert and Eileen got married in 1951 and spent their honeymoon travelling around France on a motorbike. They settled initially in a flat in town opposite the Gaiety Theatre before purchasing their home on Larchfield Road which was three years old in 1956.

In 1956, Roebuck Park was in the countryside and Eileen’s three daughters grew up surrounded by fields.

One of her daughters recalls a stream at the end of Friarsland Road where they used to collect frogspawn in an attempt for catch a few frog sightings. Trimbleston was a farm where from time to time they would visit to buy honey. You could travel into town on the 62 bus and one of Eileen’s outstanding memories is of opening her front door after heavy rain in 1962 to find a boy travelling down Larchfield Road on a canoe!

Annual holidays for the Grahams were camping in various locations around Ireland where they would pitch their tent, fire up the primus stove and relax…

Eileen retains a love of travelling to this day, having recently returned from a Danube cruise. For her 90th birthday she ventured further afield and spent two weeks taking in the sights of India.

Similar to today, Roebuck Park was not just a housing estate, but a community, and Eileen had many friends who lived locally and took turns visiting each other’s houses where they played poker, had supper and a few drinks. The Goat was frequented sometimes and if you knew a member who would sign you in, you could also have a drink in the bar of the IGB club.

Reflecting on the changes in the area, one of the things Eileen notices is how much busier the place is, and although most people had a car in the 1950s and 60s, how much busier the roads have become. On a positive note, Eileen says that there is more to do and more happening in the neighbourhood.

She herself keeps very busy and the hardest part of getting this article written was pinning Eileen down for a time to meet. Between Tai Chi, dancing, Whist, The League of Health and various other classes in Taney Resource centre, Eileen is a busy lady.