Sunday 21 December 2014

The generation game

Have life chances really changed that much in Ireland? Graham Clifford asks several generations of one family

Meet the Dorgans: Left to right - Lisa McLaughlin (nee Dorgan); Bridie Dorgan, Emmet Dorgan, Éabha McLaughlin and Tricia Dorgan pic - Pat Hogan/Provision
Bridie Dorgan
Tricia Dorgan
Lisa McLaughlin (nee Dorgan)
Emmet Dorgan
Eabha McLoughlin

'Things were very different in my day' -- or so goes the classic line of elders since time began. The words seems more relevant today than ever before.

Social changes experienced amongst the generations in Ireland over the past century have been astonishing.

Aspirations have risen and class structures disintegrated.

A new study into generational needs and benefits, commissioned by Barclays Bank, found that there are now five co-existing generations in the workplace in the UK.

They range from those born before the end of the Second World War to technology-obsessed teenagers who may be in part-time jobs or apprenticeships.

The grandchildren of small impoverished farmers have become millionaire business tycoons and powerful politicians.

In Fermoy, I meet five members of the same family and ask if the life chances they had, or will have, are really all that different throughout the generations.

The family includes Bridie Dorgan, her daughter Lisa and Lisa's daughter Éabha, as well as Tricia Dorgan -- Bridie's daughter-in-law, who married Bridie's son Liam -- and Tricia's son Emmet.

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Maturists: Pre-1950

Bridie Dorgan

"I was the youngest of eight and came from the parish of Kilconly in Galway.

"I had a sister and two brothers in New York at the time. I remember going there on a ship on my own and I can tell you I didn't have any iPhone 5 for company!

"The furthest I'd been was Galway City, so walking into Times Square was something else. We were very sheltered in comparison to young people today -- but resilient.

"I met my husband Batt at a dance in New York and settled in San Francisco having four children before returning to Ireland in 1971. When the children were older, a friend and I established a Montessori school in Fermoy.

Irish Independent

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