I was born in London in 1952 to Irish born parents. They both came from Monkstown, a pretty village on Cork harbour about eight miles from Cork city. It was here that I spent my first twenty summers. This wonderful experience caused me to view Ireland through rose-tinted glasses for ever more.
Before the opening of Cork airport, in 1961, our annual pilgrimage started on a train from Paddington Station, in London. It took us to Fishguard, a port on the Welsh coast. Then we boarded the Innisfallen ferry, which passed Monkstown on its way up the river Lee to the docks in Cork city. The first plane to take us to Cork was a Dakota, a design which was initially used for transport and cargo during World War II. The journey took 2 hours 50 minutes. It now takes one hour by jet. We experienced a few air pockets as we passed over the Welsh mountains. These caused the plane to rapidly loose altitude. I recall the sight of some elderly women beating their chests and praying hard on their rosary beads, as this was their first experience of air travel.
From about the age of ten I became aware that Ireland might be more than just a nice place to spend summer. By the time I was fourteen I had decided that I was Irish rather than English. I had no animosity towards England or English people. London has always remained my second most favourite city – after Dublin. I went to college in Moorgate. This is part of the old city of London where the financial district is located. After college, my first place of work was near St Paul’s cathedral, where they hold the royal weddings. I would often seek refuge in this church on hot humid summer days. There was no air conditioning in my work office but the thick stonework of the church always kept it cool inside. I could not afford to do that now – it costs £16.50 to get in! My next job was in the west end of the city, on Albemarle Street – near Green Park, the Ritz Hotel, Bond Street and Piccadilly. My third and final job was in Wigmore Street, near Marble Arch, next to Selfridges department store. Although I loved the style and grandeur of London, I never wavered in my decision to move to Dublin in 1985, at the age of thirty three.
I was 16 when I first experienced Dublin. With my parents and younger sister, I travelled from Cork to Dublin to visit my older sister, who was a student at University College Dublin. The city instantly drew me to itself and seventeen years later I finally moved there permanently. After almost 30 years in Dublin I still speak with an English accent. Some people are surprised by this and ask why. I answer them with two words: - Henry Ford.
His father was born in Ballinscarthy, County Cork and moved to America in 1847, aged 21 years. Henry didn’t forget his Irish roots and, in 1917, he established his first purpose built production line outside of America – in Cork City. This is where my father got his first job, after completing his apprenticeship as a Fitter and Turner at (then H.M.) Hawlbowline Naval Dockyard School in Cobh, on Cork harbour. In the 1930’s he went to London to help Ford UK set up their first tractor production line. He worked forty years with Ford and lived in London, happily, for the rest of his life.
So that’s why I love Dublin with an English accent.
PS: For more stuff about second generation wannabe Irish people who view Ireland, not just Cork, with rose-tinted glasses check out my website:- danielmdoyle.com