Author: Mac Benoy  May 2012
Wards of Dublin 
Bill’s Family BROTHERS
Jack (John), my eldest brother was born May 5 1913 and died Oct 19 1982.  Seven years older than me, he was somewhat remote.  He enjoyed solitude and reading and had a subtle humour.  He was a radio/telephone mechanic having left school in Leeds at 14, initially becoming a window dresser in Hitchen's Store in Leeds (still there I think).  (It should be borne in mind that in these years both in England and Ireland, parts of the Continent and in America also there was much depression and poverty).  Work of any kind was difficult to obtain and further education after elementary school at age 14 was rather remote and as for going on to University this was beyond a dream.  I remember he seemed to have a perpetual cough (remember his illness in hospital in 1930 when Mum died).  He had a strange interest in keeping fit using weights and chest expanders and followed local wrestling competitions.  He would occasionally treat me to the pictures (talkies were now just about in) and I recall how frightened I was seeing 'Dracula'.  We all had our jobs in the house and he specialised in wallpapering, painting and fixing the window curtains (curtains got very dirty in no time in those days of heavy industrial smoke and yellow sulphur and fog).  I did not have a 'Pals' relationship with Jack because of the age gap but inevitably as years roll by and in the last, say, 10 years of his life in Dublin we would meet regularly on Friday nights and over a pint or two would chat and discuss all sorts of matters including of course old times. He left for Dublin about 1937/38, joined the Irish Army and was stationed for a few years in McKee Barracks just a little distance from Aughrim Street, during which time he met and married Rita Coughran.  When in McKee he would drop down to No.14 for a stroll and cup of tea and Uncle Fred would, I was told, joke him about the efficiency of soldiery in Ireland and what they proposed to do in the event of a German invasion.  On demob he married Rita in 1948.  They had no natural children and adopted a baby boy and girl, the former an accomplished piano-accordionist and later a bar tender, and the latter a nurse.  Six years after Jack's death, Rita remarried a Bill Mullarchy and they are very happy. Frank (Francis), was born May 17 1916 and died in Dublin July 15 1991 aged 75.  He was much closer to me than Jack and always known as Francis, but in sport and companions we went our separate ways since there were nearly four years between us.  Always gentle and fond of birds and animals, he would betimes arrive home with a lost dog or bird with a broken wing which he would dress and bandage and build a cardboard nest for it.  He also kept pet rabbits and white mice.  Very firm and neat handwriter, and won two local prizes for sketching and painting.  He was a scholarship boy and attended technical secondary school up to 16.  He was apprenticed to carpentry and joinery which he followed up to 1939 when he returned to Dublin.  He later met Rita Duggan whose parents lived close by in Oxmantown Rd.  She was slim and very pretty and shy.  During the war he worked for a while in Northern Ireland (a humorous and 'dangerous' mission being smuggling tea and sugar on the train to Belfast for friends to return with silk stockings to Dublin!  On one occasion his overcoat lining was not stitched properly and on Amiens St. platform a guard gave him a friendly tap on the shoulder as the precious stockings swept behind).  Later in the war he and Rita went to Birmingham where they lodged with her relatives and in 1944 they were married there.  I happened to be in a Squadron in nearby Litchfield and wangled two bottles of spirits (worth gold) from the Sgts. Mess and borrowing a station bicycle got to the wedding on time.  Later, after a period of Rita's illness in hospital, they returned to Dublin after the war and he followed his trade in various building sites and then joined Aer Lingus as a carpenter.  About 1955 he suffered a severe injury to his left hand losing most of his fingers and since he could no longer handle tools, he was offered a Commissionaire's job in the City Booking Office (which he disliked but determined to make a success of, and never wore the cap) and ultimately became office clerk and eventually a supervisor.  He enjoyed retired life for several years being active on neighbourhood committees but in 1989 he had a lung collapse following which, although in declining health, he took up painting (his love as a boy) and poetry composition.  He died of cancer in July 1991.  Francis was a craftsman and an Irish romantic.  Rita never seemed to enjoy robust health and she endured several miscarriages.  They adopted two girls who attended Maryfield; Geraldine, married with two children, lives in South Dublin, to Dominic Hennebry who owns a trading Company, and Pauline tragically at the age of 18, confused and unhappy, died of an overdose.  After Frank's death Rita gradually made a good recovery both physically and mentally and after initial support from Marcella and I and the continuing support of a very attentive brother, Frank Duggan, and his wife Marie, she is living happily in Collins Ave.  Francis and I were pals for all the years we lived in Dublin and shared interests in sport, politics, religion and current affairs.  Both Marcella and I were saddened by his death.