Friday 10 February 2012

Dublin - An Irish Tale

What has a slide show of Dublin got to do with a blog about Blackburn's past?
In some ways, absolutely nothing and the truth is, this is the only way I could upload it onto the internet so that my cousins and their families on the other side of the planet could view it (Youtube copyright rules wont let me upload it to that site).
Yet in another way, Blackburn has strong historical ties to Dublin and Ireland.
In the 1840's, after the great famine and mass emigration from Ireland, almost 3% of the population of Blackburn were Irish. Not much in comparison to cities like Liverpool, London and Manchester, but by 1861 that figure had risen to 5.3%.  Derek Beattie, in his book 'Blackburn - The Development Of A Cotton Town' tells us that by the mid 1860's, if we allow for the children born here to Irish families, the actual figure was probably closer to 10% and that is a significant portion of any population.
In the latter half  of the 19th century, the Irish community were centred around the Lark Hill district of the town, most probably because our largest catholic church, St Alban's, was also situated there. The surrounding streets and courts had some of the most cramped and run down dwellings in the borough, lots of them only demolished during the slum clearance of the early 1960's.  
Bob Dobson's 1893 list of inns in Blackburn, includes The Shamrock (Penny St), Ireland's Glory (Moor St) and The Duke of Connaught (Moor St) all within the Lark Hill vicinity, which give an indication of the Irish influence on the neighbourhood. I was born in a terraced house just a stone's throw from Lark Hill.
I put this little slide show together for my mum really. She is now in a care home in Clitheroe and has dementia. It was designed to help jog a few of her memories. I've played it for her and she always sings along with the songs and names the folks in the photos, her parents, brothers and sister, as they appear on screen. 
My mum was born in Dublin. As a young child, she lived in a couple of upper rooms in a tenement type block (photo in the video) on Albert Place, off Charlemont Street, with her mum, dad and siblings. They were later given a council property in another part of the city.
 By the mid 1930's, both her parents had died and both she and her younger sister were taken into a convent / orphanage and their three brothers placed in a Boy's Home.
In the mid 1940's, my mum left Dublin and moved to Clitheroe, where her elder brother was stationed with the Royal Engineers.
After meeting my dad, a Cumbrian in Clitheroe for the work, they married and moved to Blackburn, where my mum lived for the better part of 50 years. So although born a Dubliner, she spent the majority of her life here and loved this town and its people.
This slide show is close on seven minutes long and a bit of a sentimental journey for our family, but hopefully others might enjoy some of it too. 
The images of Dublin, well the old postcards and photo of Molly Malone,  I ''borrowed'' from the internet, so my apologies if they're yours (it was for a good cause). The modern day photos were taken a few years ago by my brother, while on a visit there and the rest are family photos from my mum's old albums.
Of the people in the photographs in the third section of the video, only my mum's younger sister is still with us. May the others Rest In Peace.

Names and any significant dates now removed for security purposes.


  1. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT COLIN, I loved every second of it. So many beautiful old photo of our family. I got my wife to sit and watch it as well and she loved itShe said the photo of granddad is a photo of me. Loved all the photos especially the one of the 5 of them together. Brilliant Thank you Reguards Richard in Oz..... I also love history and I would love to bring my wife over one day and show her some of our history

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it Richard and thanks for the positive comments. My blog / site moves on with every new post and the older posts are shuffled down, but if you ever need to find it again, just type in DUBLIN in the 'search' in the top left corner of the homepage and it should take you to it.

    Cheers !