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 generations@irishtimes.com

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 generations@irishtimes.com

(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.

In 1978 I married Kate. We moved to a mixed area of south Belfast. Before long we had our family of three children around us. I spent most of my career in IT and management consulting.

My parents had never concealed from me the fact that I was adopted, but they never offered any background information. The search for my birth mother was a long and lonely pursuit, but by 1991 I had traced Margaret, by then a widow with three adult daughters, to Co Tipperary. We met and I was accepted into the family by my three “new” sisters.

Margaret chose not to tell her own siblings about me, and one of the saddest times of my life was being at her funeral, in 2005, not as her only son but as a “close friend” of one of her daughters.

In 2009 I was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. For over five years I’ve been receiving various treatments: hormone, chemo- and radiotherapy. I may not make it through another decade, but I feel that I’ve led a full and fulfilling life. For that I’ve no regrets.


Stephanie Sadlier, 62: ‘I feel sorry for my children. They have to work so hard, and they seem to be under such pressure’


I was born in Dublin in 1951, to Bernard and Terry Breen of Terenure, Dublin. I was the eldest of three children.

I later worked in Bank of Ireland on College Green. I loved working there and still have many friends from the early 1970s.

I married George when I was 23, and we have four sons and two beautiful grandchildren. We live in Knocklyon, in Dublin. I worked in the bank part-time until last year and now help out with the grandchildren.

There have been huge changes. My grandson is already adept with a remote control or a mobile phone, whereas it doesn’t come that easily to my generation. It’s a bit frustrating when I ask one of our sons to help me with an app or a computer problem and they just press a few buttons and say “sorted”. I would prefer if they would show me what they just did.

I have been blessed with my husband and family, but I feel sorry for my children in their 20s and 30s. They have to work so hard, and they seem to be under such pressure, and they are all busy and on the go.

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 generations@irishtimes.com

(Click here to go to the full Generations microsite)

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