Author: Mac Benoy  May 2012
Wards of Dublin 
Bill’s Family Wife MARCELLA
Born Feb 13 1921 Marcella as a child was was devoted to school and being a bright star.  She won a scholarship at the early age of 12 to Mount St. Mary's College run by a French order of nuns.  She studied music, played the violin and was a member of the hockey and net-ball teams.  She fared well in her studies and seemed a favourite with some of the nuns, if sometimes for no other reason than they feared for her health as falsely shown by her pale face and dark eyes in the wintertime.  Alas, and no doubt due to the outlook of her parents whose background is elsewhere described, they felt a job was more important that further education.  Thus at 16 she left college and, against her inclinations, worked in the ordering department of Burton's factory. Her manner was quiet and purposeful even though quite shy.  She always had an enchanting smile, was a good sport, a cyclist and outdoor girl.  Some weekends, well before I knew her, she would spend camping with her boy and girl friends.  Reading was and is a great interest, possibly developing this pastime since her parents then only spoke in their own tongue, and her brothers would be doing their own thing. Marcella and brothers understood Lithuanian but had no interest in developing it since understandably they would wish to be absorbed into the community. She had several boyfriends; one was son of a large woollen mills owner in Bradford, another a budding manager of a large factory, and thus with such competition, I, gawky, ill-dressed and not much of an education, and with no money or apparent career prospects, felt that she was well beyond me, living in a much bigger house and in a much respected area of the city.  One winter's night just before my military call-up and returning from Marcella's house with two friends* said and assured me that Marcella 'liked' me.  I was thrilled. Marcella was my first and only love at first sight in 1938 when I met her in the cycling club in Leeds.  She always had a lovely tan and had the most beautiful eyes, still has.  In the immediate months preceding my call-up in February 1940, I scrambled courage to meet and befriend her until the day before departure I invited her to the pictures having bought - difficult to obtain - a very small box of chocolates.  We corresponded whilst I was away and as I was in the UK could enjoy 48 hour passes about three or four times a year when I would hitch-hike home to see my Dad in Garnet Place and, of course, the main reason, see Marcella.  Our time together would be in walking in nearby open land or cycling.  One precious night in winter, with snow laden ground, we walked to Roundhay Park and around a big lake, the snow crunching under our feet, and under part starlight we stopped and kissed. In June 1942 I was posted - a term meant to state you were going overseas - and given seven days leave.  Yes, I asked her to marry me and she accepted on the evening of my arrival, Friday.  Dad didn't seem too happy and neither did Marcella's mother, but in the space of less than an hour (or so it seemed) talk of action started.  Saturday was frantically busy for the Udakis household for my special licence we were to be married in St. Augustine's Church at 10am Monday June 15 1942.  Marcella, George (by coincidence he was on a 48hr pass) and I rushed to town attempting to buy a wedding ring (real 22ct gold had almost disappeared) and at last we saw one priced £7 but I hadn't enough money.  I borrowed from George and Marcella.  On the Sunday night I found I hadn't a clean collar, washed it and ironed it on the brass bedrail in Garnet Place and it was still damp next morning.  I travelled by tram car to the Church.  I was late as I had to go to the local newspaper office to insert the impending wedding - half an hour - collect the licence and asked the tram driver to speed up, which he cheerfully did and stopped outside the Church shouting good luck.   I was met by a now-anxious George who, now assured by my late presence and not letting his sister down, told me to slow down (be was Best Man) and walk with dignity.  By some unknown signals, the Church wasn't far from her home.  Marcella duly arrived in a beautiful bridal gown which was home manufactured over the weekend. We were married by Fr. O'Donohue an old Irish friend of my father, who incidentally had been an active member of the old IRA, and he is the group wedding photo.  Friends and neighbours in War- torn Britain were very supportive and secret bottles and cakes and food arrived and the reception was held in the Udakis home.  Then down to the railway station not knowing where we were going for our honeymoon, but somewhere vaguely in Chester, but we finished up in Llandudno at 9.30pm.  I left Marcella at the station sitting on a suitcase so that I could find lodgings.  The accommodation was not luxurious being sort of standby accommodation for troops and the iron mesh beds were, shall we say, firm.  The first morning, there was no hot water.  I asked Marcella to go down to the lady in the kitchen to get some hot water for a shave, but she was just too shy.  But I felt she must, and as she relented and opened the door there was a by-now cool cup of water on the floor.  We enjoyed five days.  On arrival in Leeds I barely had the tram fare for us - so much for married security! Throughout my busy years in Aer Lingus there were many occasions when urgent breakdown demands impinged on family life which inevitably were more than inconvenient to Marcella as can be imagined in a busy household and family.  But always she supported me especially when I would unburden my problems to her.  She, and I only realised this in later years, would ensure that on my arrival home after work the table was set for dinner for two and she in her inimitable way would always look sweet and appealing to me.  Yes, enquiries about school, homework and happenings would come up later when the children knew that dinner was over as they had had theirs around 5 o'clock.  We always had great communication and enjoyed an exchange of views and ideas throughout our busy lives as the children were maturing. When the children had established their futures and left home, Marcella had time to carry out voluntary work with the St.Vincent de Paul Society for some twelve years, seven of which she served as branch Chairwoman.  After fulfilling these duties she was asked to assist the Clothing Guild of the Dublin Social Service Centre at the Bishop’s House where she is now. And so at this time of writing Marcella and I enjoy our lives together in music, TV, reading, walking, travelling and talking of family, sharing of what we know of family trials and successes, knowing friends, and of course solving world problems and not forgetting house maintenance and the garden.  We don't do this with speed and efficiency as when young and stronger - but that's life. *  the two friends were Stanley Broadbent - club captain and soon to be killed in the Dunkirk evacuation, and John Dinneen my closest friend and famous for using sanctuary oil, swiped from the Sacristy when an altar boy, for lubricating his bicycle, and who after the war emigrated to the USA