John O

'British Troops and Catholocism Out of Ireland' I was conceived out of wedlock sometime in September 1942, in an ally back of dancehall in Sparkbrook, Birmingham. Both the participants were from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Male (dad) was a Catholic, female (Mother)a Prodestant. They could not get married immediately as dad's mother was adamant that her son would not be allowed to marry a Prodestant. So mum had to convert to Catholicism before the wedding. There was nothing to stop them from getting married in a registry office, but my dad was too much of a pussy, to oppose his mum. Mother gave birth to me in May 1943, in the upstairs front room, of the house in Hall Green, Birmingham, where she was living. I was only in the world fourteen days when I got my first taste of the anti-irishism of the English state. I was baptised Sean Ó Raghallaigh, however when my parents went to the Birmingham registry office; they were told, Irish names cannot be put on an English birth certificate. Parents created a fuss and insisted on speaking to the senior clerk of the registry office. It was to no avail, the officer was racially abusive and stressed they either anglicise the name or fuck off. Faced with that my name on the birth certificate was John O'Reilly, the Anglicised version of Sean Ó Raghallaigh. Birmingham, 1943-53: Three sisters followed after me in quick succession. The house in Beechfield Grove off Beechfield Road, Ladypool, was a typical council house, small two bedrooms, no indoor bath or toilet and the lighting was gas. This was the standard for all council houses in Birmingham at the time. It was just on the edge of Sparkbrook a vast Irish slum, though no Irish families except for ourselves lived in either the Grove or road. None of the Brummie kids, (all white English, no Jamaicans or Asians) were not allowed to play with us because we were Irish. Our father had no time for us, went to work, came home, ate his supper and immediately after went down the pub. Never played with us or took us for walks or to the local park. Saturday night was always bath night, as there was no indoor bath, we used an aluminium bathtub, water boiled and poured in, then in went two youngest, Jean and Pat, after they came out, my sister Lee and I went in, after that dad and last mum, water was never changed, all six of us washed in the same water. Life then was reasonable; the job dad had did not pay a lot, so once we were off to school, mum took cleaning jobs in the extensive Irish digs that surrounded the area. We only got new clothes when the ones we were wearing, either fell off our backs, or we outgrew them and could no longer get into them. When I say new, I mean new to us, they were usually cast-offs from better-off kids, available in the local rag market, or pawn shop.


Posts by John O

Trespassers Won’t be Prosecuted? – More Reasons to ‘Kill the Bill’

Monday, May 10th, 2021

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Saturday, April 24th, 2021

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