My name is Mary Collins and I come from a family of nine. I have five brothers and three sisters along with myself. My mother and father are originally from Ireland but I would have lived my life in England.
I am a twin myself and my mother was expecting us when she came back to a funeral in Ireland. She actually had us then in the Drogheda hospital and we stayed back in Ireland for a year. We went back to Manchester and I would have lived the rest of my life in Manchester until I got married myself in 86.
I went to school in Manchester in the primary school aswell. I had two sisters that was older than me.
My mother was a fantastic cook and my sisters would have cooked too. I would have been one of the youngest. They would have done a lot of the cooking themselves. But what I used to love was my mother doing was the bread especially with the currants in it. It was a real treat to get the jam on top of it.
Soon I will be fifty-four. When I was a child it would have been very hard because there wouldn’t be much money in the family. My father, when he was growing up, he would have been in a big large family of eleven. My mother actually had a family of eleven. My mother’s mother actually died giving birth, my mother was only fourteen, she would have taken on the mother role.
My mother was a great begger, they would have been looking after the horses and they would have provided the food. So again like all the Travellers at that time they would have had to go begging the houses to eat, to find food, so what they would get off the farmers, the spuds, the bread, and whatever they would have that evening they would try to provide for the rest of the children. But in Manchester, myself and my brothers and sister wouldn’t have experienced any of that because we would have going to school a very young age and I would have only doing primary school. Travellers in my mother’s time would have gotten no education at all.
My mother is eighty-three and my father is eighty-seven and thank God are still alive but they would never have seen the importance of education. It’s only now at my age and that we do see the importance of education, so I make sure that my own children, my grandchildren stays in school. But I would have just left then at about eleven, twelve and helped my mother with different stuff.
But my mother always liked to do her own cooking and things. But I learned how to just watch her doing the bacon and cabbage is one of our favourites. We used to have the coddle, the coddle was a great thing because she’d say no matter who come in for a chat in the morning she throw everything in. There was always plenty for everybody. My mother always used to love putting large amounts on because as she always used to say to us, “Always show respect have the heat and the kettle on and if someone comes in always offer them a bit of food, and if you have to share it, no matter who was in, share it”. You would always have the bit of bread on the side. She’d always make sure she’s baked the bread and that’s just the way it was. I think for myself I carried on because I do always make sure there is plenty of food. If I have it at all and the people comes in I always give it to them as well. I just think it’s very welcoming for people to sit down at the table and to hand over whatever you have, I got that from me mother.
Here the women came together and I thought was lovely. They came from Ballymun and they came from Pavee Point and I am related to some of them as well. As I grew up living in Manchester I wouldn’t of havin a real close relationship with some of them. I know of them but since I got married myself I got to know them very well and listening to some of the stories is just great.