I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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James McFadden

I knew that my father, James Mc Fadden, ran a travelling picture show in Donegal in the 1950s but I was amused recently to hear a story from someone who worked with him at the time. Apparently the generator which ran the projector would often break down and consequently it would become necessary to offer a refund. On one occasion, however, the power failed just ten minutes from the end of a John Wayne film. Concerned at the prospect of losing all his night’s earnings, James was having none of it. Jumping onto the stage he announced “I’ll not be offering any refunds tonight. There’s only ten minutes to go and all that happens is he marries the girl.” James McFadden, known locally as Bradley, a nickname that derived from a particular employer, was born in Dungloe, Co Donegal in 1919. He was the third of Charles Patrick McFadden’s five children. His mother, Hannah Reilly, originally from Belturbet in Co Cavan (also known as O’Reilly and born Hannah Maria Fitzpatrick), was a thirty-four-year-old widow with two small children by the time she married CP in 1916. CP was twenty-six. CP had been born in 1890 in Dore, in the heart of the Gaeltacht, one of ten children. His father was a farmer and by virtue of the fact that their thatched house had an extra window in the front it was considered to be of the second highest category in the neighbourhood. CP was bilingual and in the 1911 census, when he was twenty-one, he was still living at home. At the time of his wedding CP was described as a “traveller” but other documents describe him variously as “a carter”, “a merchant” and, on James’s birth certificate, rather obtusely, “a motor car owner”. In short, CP was what we’d call today an entrepreneur. As a young man he travelled around the county selling anything from Oatfield sweets and bread to Singer sewing machines. Family stories say he met Hannah when she was working in her father’s shop. By the time they married, Hannah’s father had died and left her a small inheritance. During the 1930s CP continued to work as a travelling salesman and Hannah opened a small café-cum-shop on land owned by the church providing refreshments to those attending Mass and youngsters going to dances.The business thrived, with the children helping out in the shop. At the start…

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