Josephine Molloy neé Cassidy (Water Lane, Galway City to Braintree, Massachusetts, USA)
Josephine Molloy neé Cassidy
Josephine Molloy neé Cassidy enjoyed her childhood in Galway city before leaving for the United States at the age of 18. Although it was a wrench to leave family and friends, there was also a sense of adventure in leaving for a country that she only ever seen portrayed so glamorously on a Galway cinema screen. Her love of dancing, which she developed in the dancehalls of Salthill, would follow her and influence her life overseas… a passion which she stills enjoys today.
Name: Josephine Molloy neé Cassidy
Now living in: Braintree, Massachusetts, USA
From: Water Lane, Bohermore, Galway City
My parents were both Irish emigrants to the USA, who met each other in Philadelphia. My Mom was originally from Mayo and Dad was from Cavan. They were both working out in the main line in Philly, which was where all the wealthy people lived. Mom was a maid and my dad was the gardener/chauffeur. It was a bit like Downton Abbey I guess. They got married in a place called Ardmore, Pennsylvania. That was 1930 I believe, and my oldest sister was born in 1932. The following year they decided to go back to Ireland because of the depression in America. They tried to go back to Cavan, but that didn’t work, so they went on to Mayo, but there was no work there either and by now they had another child, my older brother. A cousin of my Moms suggested they try Galway as she worked in one of the hotels in Salthill. They rented a house on Grattan Road. They should have bought it instead of renting, but Mom said she didn’t want to get in to debt. Thank God though they ended up in Galway.
They probably had saved about $3,000, which was a lot in those days. Dad bought a taxi and used to go down to the docks to pick up passengers home from the USA and bring them out to the country. Soon after they had another child, my brother Frank. Rent was high so they moved to Water Lane, just off Bohermore, where I guess rent was cheaper. In the meantime, Dad got a job working in the County Buildings. He used to drive a van with dynamite in it out to Connemara… no radio or heat in those days, but the poor man was very reliable. I loved Water Lane, you could hear the boats going up the Corrib. Mom and Dad loved it too, as it was so convenient to everything. They especially loved the markets on Saturdays.
My two sisters and I were born at 13 Water Lane. I loved growing up in Galway. At that time we were on the outskirts of town and used to walk out the Headford Road, to the woods, to pick nuts and blackberries – all healthy and no preservatives! That area is so built up now, but back then it was so safe to walk out there. I went to the Convent of Mercy and to the Tech for two years and then worked in a shop called Cummin’s and Grainey’s, which I believe was next to Ryan’s drapery shop. They also owned a chemist across the street. It is long gone now, but back then the shop sold pots and pans. The money would go up on a line with a little box to put money in. You would pull a chain and off up to the office and it would come back with the change. When that store closed, I went to work at Woolworths, a big promotion, as I went from one pound to three pounds a week, just enough to pay for my dancing! I loved my dancing at the Hangar and Seapoint as that was the time of all the big bands. It was certainly something I would miss when I left Galway, which I did in 1958. At that time, my mother thought it would be better for us to come to America and we also had the benefit of having some aunts and uncles there.
I was 18 when I first came over to the US. I didn’t like leaving all my friends but also thought of it as an adventure. I flew Pan Am and that was exciting, I thought America was all fancy as I watched Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher in a movie at the Town Hall and the houses looked lovely and they were rolling skating… Oh, great to be young and dreaming! When I first came over, I went to Philadelphia where my parents had been and where I had lots of relatives. Then, a brother of Bride and Winnie Monaghan, who were neighbours of ours back in Water Lane, was getting married in Boston and I was invited to the wedding. I was delighted, as I had grown up and palled around with their sister Bernadette. I came up to Boston for a week and loved it when I got here, as I had been homesick in Philly. I met a lot of Galway people and danced at the State Ballroom. I stayed with Bride and she said ‘why don’t you come up here to live?’. I had a lot of relatives in Philly, but loved the dancing and the number of Galway of people who were in Boston. I thought to myself ‘If I can’t be in Galway, then this is the next best place’, so I ultimately made the decision to move. We didn’t have a phone in our house back in Galway so whenever I needed to call home I would ring a neighbour in Water Lane who would run down and get my mother. Boy, haven’t we come a long way!
I got married in Boston and now live in Braintree. Imagine there are four families of us from Water Lane here in Boston; the Monaghan’s, Connors, Lynch’s and ourselves the Cassidy’s. There are also friends I went to school with from Bohermore and Woodquay. I have four lovely kids. They are all grown up now but loved their trips to Galway when they were young. These days I do Irish set dancing twice a week and social dancing; we are so lucky to belong to three Irish Social Clubs. I still get the Irish newspaper every week and enjoy it very much. I also enjoy my trips back to Galway every other year to see my sister who lives in Ballybane.