My name is Nancy McDonald. I was brought up in Manchester, born in Longford, in 1958. When I was about three or four my father and mother moved over to England. I was reared up in England until I was sixteen and well I was over sixteen when they came back. They came back in June 75 and I was married in the October 75. I was never used to a trailer. I might as well be honest, I didn’t know anything about it because I was too young when me mam and dad went to Manchester. When we came back in 75, they were living in wagons. Me grandfather and granny had a wagon. A couple of the people had tents. I was definitely in total shock because I didn’t, I wasn’t used to it. I was looking for a toilet and they were telling me to go down and find the first you know that you can find. But to make a long story short, that was a holiday we came back for. We went back over to England and about three months later. Me and my husband got married, so I moved into the caravan. I had no other choice, just get used to the caravan, and I got used to it. I settled into it like a duck to water to be honest with ya. Grand little caravan, I had, me husband had it bought, that was me then.
I had came expecting my first daughter then, she was born in December of the following year December 76. She was born, Catriona, she is the eldest girl of mine. And I went on to have six, well seven children. One little girl, I lost so that’s what I have now. They’re all rared up now. I have three daughters, three sons, my youngest son is thirty-four, me eldest daughter is forty-eight, well she will be forty-eight in December.
I travelled, I moved to Longford when I was having my eldest daughter to be beside my mam. I didn’t mind where I was because too young to understand. But I moved down there to have my daughter in Mullingar hospital. Then we came back up after about two or three months and me after her, we came back up in March. And me and my husband moved around, we moved up to Cork, we moved to Portlaoise, we moved to Kells, we moved every place just hook your caravan on and go on your way. There wouldn’t be just us on our own, they’d be other Travellers, older, moving as well. That’s what we done.
The cooking part of it is, my mam started to learn me how to cook when I was about ten / eleven, that was the thing. The Travellers had to do it, she had to do it herself, so when I was grown up in Manchester, she used to call me into the small little scullery, we used to call it. A house in Manchester and she’d be learning me how to boil spuds and cabbage and everything like that. She learned me how to bake cake so that’s where I got me cooking experience from, my mam. So me with three daughters, my eldest girl was about eleven, I started to get her into the kitchen, you start them off by a little bit of tidying up. You don’t have them at this cleaning thing that you hear off, they’re scrubbing this and they’re scrubbing, that’s a load of bull. But you just learn them the basic needs of what they know, to keep the house clean and caravan clean, whatever they end up in when they are married. But I learned my daughter the exact same thing that my mam learned me, I got her in my kitchen. We went back to England after I had my third daughter, we moved to Cork then, and me daughter Lina was born in Finbars hospital in Cork in 1982. We left there, she was only coming about on three months and we moved to Dunsink in Finglas. And we packed up three weeks before the Christmas 84 and we moved to England. We were seven and a half year in England and I had my two last boys, they were born in Milton Quays hospital in England, me two last sons.
I was in school until I was sixteen. Me mam had me in school from when I was about four, I think, when you started at that time, and I went right through until I was about sixteen. I left secondary school and I went with me mam, she was working in a handbag factory, God be good to her, she had a job lined up for me, so I was working.
Even though, I was brought up there in a house in Manchester, it didn’t take be hard to settle into the Travellers’ way of life because I think it’s in ye. I think it’s in ye, once it’s in it, you’ll get on. I got married in October, two weeks me dad, God be good to him, me mam, they were packing up. They were packing up cause they were moving. Me dad was originally from Longford, they were going and I remember saying where are you going dad? I was in shock because they were there with you your whole life and I was only two weeks married and I just went down and said where are you going and he said Nancy I’m leaving now you’re married get on with your life.
I’m forty-eight year getting on with my life now married with my husband.