Generations: your stories

Several readers have sent their own accounts for this series. Here’s a selection. You can send your own story to the Generations project by emailing

Thu, Jun 19, 2014, 16:08

You can be part of the Irish Times Generations project, whether you’re in your 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s or teens. Send your story, or that of a person you know, to

(Click here to go to the full Generations microsite)


Bernadette Dunne, 75: ‘I know some people who sit at their computer most of the day, and I think it’s a waste of time’

I was born in February 1939, the eldest of seven children. I lived with my parents, grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt in the suburbs of Dublin.

After I got married we lived in London, then Dublin. My husband enjoyed his work, I got a part-time job and we raised four girls and two boys. Now only two are living abroad – by choice, not forced emigration.

One of the best moments of our lives was in 1992, when we became grandparents for the first time. One of the most awful things that ever happened to me was my husband dying, in 2000, after a very long illness. I thought my life was over.

Four months later my mother died, at the age of 87. Roll forward another nine months and my nephew died suddenly, aged 23, on a football training ground, from sudden cardiac death syndrome. My brother later lost a second son in similar circumstances.

I’m a Catholic with a good faith – I go to Mass, I sing in my church choir – but it’s not so much the church but God who keeps me going.

I listen to radio all the time, especially Lyric FM. I love Marty Whelan and Gay Byrne. I grew up listening to Gay. I can’t believe he’s almost 80.

The biggest change in society I see now is children not playing outside on the street. Maybe there aren’t as many children – or is it that they all play electronic indoor games?

I’ve made a conscious decision not to become computer-literate. My daughter types my emails, although my preference is the written word. Some of my friends are surprised and amazed by this choice, but letter writing is still my favourite.

I know some people who sit at their computer most of the day, and I think it’s a waste of time.

Paul Burns, 61: ‘Margaret chose not to tell her siblings about me, and one of the saddest times of my life was being at her funeral not as her only son but as a ‘close friend’ of one of her daughters’

My first home was in Rathcoole, a predominantly Protestant housing estate in north Belfast. Unable to afford their own home, my Catholic parents moved there shortly after I was born.

Each July, Orange flute bands would halt their marches on the road outside the homes of Catholics and beat their Lambeg drums. My mother suffered a nervous breakdown, and we were allocated a new house in Andersonstown, a mainly Catholic estate.

During the Troubles, innocent members of my family and friends were killed in sectarian attacks. I myself narrowly missed serious injury in two car-bomb attacks. But I stayed out of trouble, restricting my activities to protest marches against internment and other injustices.

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