- Contributed by
- Lee Henry
- People in story:
- Bridie Murphy
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 21 April 2005
Bridie Murphy was born and raised in Newcastle, Co. Down. The second of nine siblings (see also ‘The Mournes and Me: Kath’s Story’), and daughter of Jimmy and May Faulkner, she was ten years old when the Americans arrived in the Kingdom of Mourne in 1942. Bridie is my grandmother.
“There used to be a man that my father knew — they both worked in the Slieve Donard Hotel -, and he used to come to our house to listen to Lord Haw Haw on the radio. His programme would have been on at night, and he would talk about the war and what was going on; but not everyone would have had a radio. So this man came to our house, and we daren’t have said a word while the radio was on; we had to keep quite. But we weren’t interested in it all really; at least I wasn’t, for I was too young.
“I do remember one morning when we were at school, and the American troops arrived. Our school was where the doctor’s surgery is now. Of course, the Americans came down on the trains into the railway station, which isn’t there any more. They all marched along the Down’s Road, and we watched them from school. Eventually they were all gathered together with their kit bags. There were a lot of them, all the different regiments.
“Then they took over St. Mary’s Hall and the Institute, and they turned St. Mary’s into a kitchen, you know: a canteen for the troops. They set up their billets in the Donard Park, big tin huts where they all slept; and they also took over a lot of houses in the town.
“Once they got organised, we always went down to see them at meal times, because we knew we’d get some sweets then. They would have had chewing gum and their candy, as they called it. You know the sort of Americans: because they were all young men, and they’d never been to Ireland before, we were as new to them as they were to us. But they were all very nice, quite friendly; they would have talked to everyone.
“At the back of our house, where we lived in Valentia Place, was the Scouts’ Hall. The Americans took over that building as well, and they renovated it into a shower house for the troops. I remember they always used to come down together, I suppose a dozen or two dozen at a time, to get washed and showered. The girls would have all been after them, at least the older girls anyway, because they were all so glamorous. There would have been some of them that did get married.
“As well as the Americans coming down on the train, there were plenty of English soldiers that came by boat; they would have come from Liverpool, I suppose. We called their boats ‘ducks’, because one side of the boat would have dropped down when they came in to shore, and this looked like a duck. And all the soldiers would have got off together and come up onto the beach. That was a strange thing for us to see, you know, all the boats coming over, because you don’t see that sort of thing every day.”
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