'We returned to Ireland in July 1976 by ferry from Holyhead'

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'We returned to Ireland in July 1976 by ferry from Holyhead'


Frank remembers returning to Ireland from Oxford.


Frank Gaynor


Trinity College Dublin




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Frank Gaynor

Is Part Of

Marriage and Family


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Clondaliever, Westmeath

Temporal Coverage


Life Story Item Type Metadata


We returned to Ireland in July 1976 by ferry from Holyhead. It amazes me now when I think of how small that ferry was. I remember standing on deck, very sea - sick, looking down at the cargo of 10 or 12 cars. From front to rear seemed to be a very short distance, and the waves were throwing us around like a football. When I 'came down from Oxford' I came the full distance. We moved in with my mother in Clondaliever for a year. Great credit is due to both Monica and my mother for making our year there both comfortable and enjoyable. In September that year I started working for Gorta as Regional Organiser on low pay and with very flexible hours. The low pay did not help but the flexible hours certainly did. Gorta was established in 1965 as the Irish Government's response to a UN/FAO call for a 'Freedom from Hunger' campaign. Gorta was then, and continues to be, on the right track - helping people to help themselves, and using the slogan 'give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for life'. During my time, with a civil servant at the top, Gorta lacked the drive and dynamism that Bishop Eamon Casey gave to Trocaire and that John O'Shea would later give to GOAL. In the course of my Gorta work, which mainly hinged around church gate collections, I met with most Parish Priests in Louth and Monaghan, and quite a few in Kildare, Meath and Westmeath. I enjoyed travelling around these counties, through small towns and villages, and along side - roads and back - roads, in search of priests' houses. In many cases I got a great welcome and willing support for a Gorta collection. In a couple of cases I found myself running away from a very angry parish priest. One priest told me that he allowed only two collections per year at his church - one for Fianna Fail, and the other for St Vincent de Paul. Whenever I called to a Protestant minister's house, which happened mostly in County Monaghan, I always got a very warm welcome and a good cup of tea, but I never succeeded in getting any money from a Protestant church. At that time, 1977, there was a lot of unrest in Northern Ireland. One November evening when I spoke with Gardai in Dundalk about driving to Castleblaney they advised me not to be on that road after 2pm. The following morning as I drove along that road, which ran very close to the border with Northern Ireland, I saw young men building three new houses. I greatly admired their confidence in the future. Late one evening, a couple of months later, as I was driving along an isolated road north of Dundalk I suddenly saw a sign saying 'Welcome to Northern Ireland'. I stopped, wondered if a quick U - turn might attract unwelcome attention, did just that, got back across the border quickly and safely, and breathed a deep sigh of relief.


Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


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