Vincent Buckley, 87: ‘Men have changed since my time’
Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
In conversation with Rosita Boland: Vincent Buckley is from Cork. He lives in Sutton, Dublin
I phoned a grandson of mine in San Diego when he was about seven, and on a train. I remember so clearly looking at this thing in my hand, this cordless phone, and thinking that it was so strange I could talk to him on a train thousands of miles away. And I remember thinking about, when I was his age, going with my father to visit my uncle, who lived on a farm about 17 miles away.
We didn’t have a phone. We didn’t have a car. We took the train to Donoughmore [in Co Cork], which had a station in those days. My uncle’s farm was three miles up a steep incline. My father had to send a letter to my uncle a couple of weeks before our visit, to ask if the pony and trap was available to bring us up to the farm from the station. And then my uncle had to write back before we could go.
It’s hard to believe it now; all that for a journey only 17 miles away. The mobile phone still fascinates me. Over my lifetime, developments in technology have been so quick and have evolved so fast. The first aeroplane flew 10 years before I was born, and I saw people land on the moon. It’s amazing.
When I was 17 I was told that if you applied for the CIÉ exam in Dublin you got a free trip to Dublin. I’d never been to Dublin, and I wanted the free trip. I ended up getting the exam, and working in accounts and finance in CIÉ.
I got married in 1958, to Maureen, and we had four children. We bought a three-bedroomed house in Baldoyle for £1,658. We moved here to Sutton in 1972. This four-bedroomed house cost £9,300. The mortgage is long paid off, so I’m not in negative equity, anyway.
I worked too long hours in CIÉ’s finance department, because there was always a crisis. I regret not spending more time with my children when they were growing up.
Maureen died in 1997. She had Alzheimer’s. I still miss her. For years afterwards I’d be out somewhere and I’d think, I must tell Maureen about that, and then I’d remember. I had to learn to cook when she wasn’t able to do it any more, and I’m a reasonably good cook now. Stews are easy to make, and they last. I can cook steak. Chops.