Growing up on the streets of Carlow town in the 1950’s left few
options in life for a youngster. Times were different and poverty reigned
supreme among those living on the back streets.
Paddy Mulhall had it harder than most. His uncle and father both
died in World War I and World War II respectively. Putting food on the
table was the most pressing task of the day.
As was common in those days, Paddy left for England when he was just
16 to make a living. However, he never forgot the experiences of war and
life in Carlow and how it affected his family.
“My father and uncle served with the Royal Irish Regiment in World
War I,” he said.
“He was only 19 years old at the time and was discharged after
suffering multiple gunshot wounds. My uncle was sent to Gallipoli and was
involved in the battle of Achi Baba. He was shot through the spine and
became a paraplegic.”
Three years later, Paddy’s uncle died of his injuries in No. 3
Bridewell Lane. His wheelchair arrived six months after his death.
“My father signed up again for World War II in the Royal Regiment of
Artillery and fought in the Battle of Britain. He was killed when he was
struck by a motorcycle walking across a road to catch a bus during a
blackout. He hit his head on the kerb and died the following day.”
Life was tough for the Mulhall's. Paddy and his mother lived in 17
Castle Street (currently Barnardos Charity shop). In 1952 one of Paddy’s
uncles came home and was shocked with the way the family were surviving.
“There was no work in Carlow at the time, my uncle came over and saw
the situation we were in and took me back to England with him. I’ve never
looked back since then.
“I had a colourful childhood - I remember times when lads would
march their cattle right through the centre of the town. We used to get
our food by poaching salmon and trout from the Barrow or net and snare.”
After four years in England Paddy’s life changed when he decided to
continue the family’s long tradition in the armed forces.
“I was called up in 1956 to join the army and I served for two years
in Germany during the Cold War. When I left I joined the emergency and
served for 10 years with the 4th Battalion Essex Regiment.”
Paddy has since become a vital member of the organisation and was
this year given the title of honorary life Vice President. Last week the
proudest moment of his life arrived during the 60th anniversary of VE
(Victory in Europe) day celebrations. He was given one of the highest
accolades that a former service man could hope to receive.
“I was approached to be a standard bearer for VE day and I carried
the Essex Regiment standard for the battalion past Whitehall. It was the
proudest day of my life.
“We were given the freedom of the city to march through with our
Paddy is proudly related to Tom ‘Muller’ Mulhall and Peter Walker
from Carlow town.
Source: Carlow Nationalist, Thursday, May 19, 2005
by Terry Reilly
- The information contained in these
pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing with others researching
their ancestors in Ireland.
© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects, IGP
Back to the top