Charity & social welfare
Munro, Eileen (1 of 8) National Life Stories: Pioneers in Charity and Social Welfare
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2015-08-13, 2015-08-24, 2015-09-02, 2015-10-08, 2015-10-15
Munro, Eileen 1950- (speaker, female)
Brodie, Louise (speaker, female)
Part 1: [1:03:13] Session One [13 August 2015] EM was born in Cirencester in 1950. Her parents were Irish Catholics who had come here to look for work. When EM was born brother James was 1, Anthony 2, Kevin 5 and June 8. Mother made them feel securely loved, father drank and could be abusive. Mother cleaner, housekeeper. They got a council house when EM was about 7. [4:51] Dad was a labourer on building sites. They were poor but would not claim free school meals. There was massive hostility to the Irish in those days. They were devout Catholics and mother would not have left her husband. She had aspirations for the children, particularly as they were intelligent. Their social life was round the church. [11:53] Irish background. Father’s teenage years were in Ulster where he would have seen the troubles [18:46] EM loved holidays with mother’s family in Glen Cara, west of Dublin. Uncle had a peasant farm. Description. Donkey cart, but one car trip to Mullingar to see the Bishop. [26:04] EM is still close to all her siblings. Mother used to take them to the park every day. Stories. She used to collect wood for the fire. They got to know all the seasons. Living was cramped. [34:58] They had a gramophone and a few 78 records. Mother says EM learnt to read from the Daily Express and the evening paper. They went regularly to the library. It was a happy childhood in spite of father. Growing up with no money gives you a sense that you are responsible for what you can achieve in life. She has stopped being a Catholic but the ethics have stayed with her. They ate a lot of potatoes. [46:23] When EM was about to be 5, she went to the convent, the only Catholic school in the locality run by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. She hated school, though she liked learning. The nuns were evil. They had terrible rules which were not sensible. Examples. Sister June had to endure it through her school life and was miserable till she could leave aged 15. EM was so unhappy that she stopped eating, and parents decided that she could go to the primary school with her brothers. [55:23] Powells, just round the corner. Mixed school and EM was happy there. At the end of the first week, she was moved up a class. This was a decisive factor. It was the first time in her life that she had met Protestants. The five years were fairly boring as she did not find anything challenging. It was rote learning in a class of 45, but no bad people there.
Life story interview with Professor Eileen Munro (b.1950), Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, specialising in child protection.