Patricia-Anne Moxon-Browne writes....
My name is Patricia Anne Moore. I can say, in the words of Louis MacNiece, in his poem ‘Carrickfergus”
“I was born in Belfast between the mountain and the gantries,
To the hooting of lost sirens and the sigh of trams” .
In fact the trams in the city of Belfast were still running, when I was born there in 1951, Festival of Britain Year , where the restrictions of war time rationing were just beginning to ease. My parents, Seamus and Paddy Moore, had had a romantic courtship under the shadow of the second world war in London, where Seamus was a trainee GP in Banfleet , Essex and Paddy worked in the Home Office in Dolphin Square and was a fire watcher on roof tops on some evenings!
There were three of us children , eventually , and just before the arrival of my youngest sister, Helen, my parents moved us into what was our family home for many years. It was a typical Belfast suburban house with double fronted bay windows on the Antrim Road, and it had quite a big garden, which we enjoyed romping around in . I remember when we moved in, the grass in the back garden was over my head ; and we had a greenhouse, where red geraniums tumbled over the wall and where my Dad experimented with growing strawberries , and chrysanthemums, before he took up golf. All of us children, including cousins, lined up in there to get the polio jab at some stage!
My teens were spent in a boarding school in Ballycastle, on the North Coast , run by Passionist nuns, all of whom seemed to have trained in Killcullen, Co Kildare, where my Dad’s sisters had been at school. It was a typical Catholic education in many ways but the nuns had a few forward looking ideas. Ours was the first school in the North to have a language lab ; we had ballet classes with Mr. Hamilton, the only person ever allowed to smoke his way through classes , all the while breathing with difficulty and coughing, and who gave me the nickname ‘Kippers’ as my feet flopped ; we could ‘do’ riding as there were a few feisty enough ponies to carry us to the beach or up country lanes, and even ride to hunts; the food was atrocious – they had access to cuts of meat that made you wonder what sort of animal they had come from ; so tuck boxes were very much appreciated; we learnt singing and senior French from Mr. Rittweger, a Belgian organist who had come to Northern Ireland after the war; we learnt Irish, got Irish passports, and participated in exchanges with French schools, so I spent a term at school in Neuilly at age fifteen.
Moving on, I went to Queen’s University in 1969; not my first choice, as I was madly keen to go to Trinity College Dublin , but it wasn’t to be. So I followed in the family footsteps and went to Queen’s where I studied French and English and got to spend a year in Paris , which was the beginning , really of many new interests and of my life as an adult. Having spent an impecunious life as a student , I turned down a part time job in the BBC for a full time job as a careers officer in the Civil Service ! I am not a person who flourishes in hierarchies but eventually worked in the press office for an organization concerned with economic development in Northern Ireland during the eighties, when the IRA was doing its damnedest to blow the city skywards and indeed bombed our building successfully a couple of times. It was a demanding job at a difficult time; I also met and married my husband Eddie who was a lecturer at Queen’s during that period.
He was encouraged to apply for a Chair in Limerick by a colleague, and he did so, mainly ‘for the practice’, not really thinking that he would be successful, but in fact he was offered the job within a couple of weeks, in 1991. We decided to come to Limerick, though Eddie was here for six months before I came, as I wanted to keep earning and didn’t want to move until we had a house in prospect.
Though I was deeply unhappy when I first came, I did have a part- time job offer from the University myself, which helped. I managed the ERASMUS programme which required me to resurrect my French language skills, and from there navigated into various other positions, culminating in returning to my original skill set of careers and study skills prior to retirement six years ago. I am so grateful to have been able to retire a little early, as it is only now that I have had the time to make friends locally – Killaloe was like a dormitory town for both of us for years. It’s home now, and I really love it, though I keep my Northern connections live.
IWO has given me a new set of friends and helps to build and keep a connection to different cultures, ways of thinking and ways of doing things. I am glad that I joined the organization and that I have been able , in some small way, to make a contribution to it.