Leo Murphy, Noreen Murphy, and Siobhan Murphy

Recorded May 28, 2010 Archived May 28, 2010 40:51 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: LMN002064


Leo and Noreen Murphy are interviewed by their daughter Siobhan Murphy about growing up in Ireland, immigrating to the United States and their family and marriage of 50 years.

Subject Log / Time Code

LM remembers growing up in Ireland and his family hackney business.
NM talks about growing up in a large family of 14 and going to church and meeting Leo.
LM recalls going to boarding school run by priests.
NM describes the farm she grew up on.
NM/LM remember coming to New York, she on the Brittania and he by plane.
NM recalls meeting Noreen in the Bronx shortly after arriving in America.


  • Leo Murphy
  • Noreen Murphy
  • Siobhan Murphy

Recording Locations

StoryCorps Lower Manhattan Booth


StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:04 Got my name is Leo Murphy. I'm about to be 74 years old soon. Today is Friday the 28th of May 2010. I'm here in the story Corps boots at Foley Square in New York City.

00:20 And I'm here with my wife of 50 plus years Noreen and my daughter Siobhan.

00:31 Oh, sorry, I might as well. My name is Noreen Cronin Murphy at what theater?

00:40 I'm 75 years old today's Friday.

00:46 Should I save the date, May 28th?

00:51 28

00:53 Location is foley Square New York City in relationship to the partners my husband.

01:01 I was born to you.

01:04 A my name is Siobhan Murphy. I'm 49 years young today is Friday May 28th, 2010. I'm here at the storycorps booth Foley Square New York City and I'm here with my oldest and dearest friends my mother and father Noreen and Leah Murphy.

01:24 And I'm so grateful that you came here on this little adventure to record some stories for your grandchildren and for future generations to really appreciate what amazing people you are. What car would you had to come to this country and what strengths you had to be married for 50 years and we had a wonderful celebration of your anniversary last month, and I'm excited that you decided to be part of this. So I'm going to start asking dad some questions and dad. Why don't you tell us a little bit about growing up in Ireland and your family life. There is a small sea port

02:02 Town in West Conch Island cos castletown-bearhaven. It was a fishing port and

02:11 I grew up in my childhood Days by during World War II.

02:17 And I have experienced the deprivations of rationing. How are you have a coupon to buy bread or soap or toothpaste starter?

02:28 Just about everything until they need gasoline for cars. We call the petrol they were very few cars permitted doing the one that was turned in Ireland the emergency and the only people would a car would be a doctor a priest and a public cars that is that Cars For Hire Charlotte taxi, which we called Hackney.

02:57 My parents had a business in the moment their trade, they sell bicycles repaired cars and they did welding that it electrical thing. They did just about everything and I remember dad you told me that it wasn't until you were nine years old that you had a taste of a banana fruits to Ireland and the only fruits with that were Native would be like black Cardinals gooseberries and apples and they were say snow. So there was no bananas. I'm told I had bananas before the water when I was very small. I don't remember that but I do remember having a great love for bananas when they came back on the market and I also remember you telling me that Grandpa Murphy was very involved in drives like a rubber drives and things like that. Could you say a little bit about that?

03:57 There was a lot of Records would wash ashore and among the ad was bales of rubber and my dad being in the business the motor trade business. He will collect these bills are robbers purchasing from the farmers and fishermen who found them and he would send them off to a dunlap's letter factory in Park City about almost a hundred miles away. And because he was in effect supplying some raw materials.

04:32 He was getting more tires than most of its competitors. I should say had no competitors really in our small town but in the larger area he had things that other people didn't have a d a

04:56 I was wondering why do I want to run a company and dad you are one of six children the fourth boy and a family of 6 and I know that you spent a lot of time actually raised by relatives. Could you say a little bit about kulick a lot of money?

05:15 Younger years

05:18 Where the 9th I was married to a farm about 5 miles away from home and they aren't they had a big family. Who is the youngest was 10 years older than I was so I became the youngest in their household and I was treated very special there.

05:37 Which was in contrast to being the fourth of six at home where my parents had a business to operate. So I got a lot more attention. But I've said my siblings did in my younger years, but it was from my aunt and uncle and my cousins and is there any particular memory of childhood that you'd like to share?

06:00 One of your best memories. I can really remember was my uncle explaining to me.

06:11 About New Year's Eve that this was tomorrow is going to be 1943 and I thought that the day after that would be 1944. I was quite confused about that. That's one of my earliest memories of an event was New Year's Eve 1943.

06:43 Loved Sports be played mostly on the street. We had a few places with shop Windows because we played ball hurling which is like you stick Fallout monster football me.

07:00 The hopping ball used to annoy all the people that complain they had headaches when it happened, but they really were scared of their plate last windows.

07:12 And then you learn how to drive quite young thing that your dad had the Hackney business. How old were you when you first started driving on the public road at the age of 13. I had learned in our backyard going just back and forth to ears reverse and first my older brother who was just one year older was was there an instructor and my mom was a guy named that we didn't hit the other cars.

07:43 Hi there seem to remember you saying that you had to look through the steering wheel cuz you were quite old enough public transport cars. They were large and even with cushions to cushions on the me. I'd still say out through the steering wheel rather than over it and I know you used to drive up to Kona Cora quite a bit to meet the krona family. So I'm going to ask mom a few questions now and will come back to you. So Mom kind of Korra was about four miles outside of the village where Dad's and families was and I know many of the Murphy's drove the car up there. So could you say a little bit about your family growing up?

08:32 Are you want me to start their? Yeah. Yeah. Well, I was the 6th of my family which was 14 and I used to say they didn't know I was in there at all. I was just

08:48 I was just there and they had so many children. They didn't tell me that's for sure and

08:57 We moved into a new house when I was 5 years old and I always felt that I had that memory, but when I got older I felt that couldn't have it from Five Years on so I dropped at memorizing so well.

09:14 We had also had a grandmother living with us and she was very strict. He says your dad's mom was father and mother.

09:23 And

09:25 I know you walked to school. I walked to two and a half miles to school.

09:31 And I was back and forth. I'll tell both ways both ways.

09:36 And rain or shine and I thought maybe you'd read that story you wrote for the anniversary that they don't want to send me any more before the I think that'll say a lot and then we'll say some more. Yeah. Alright, okay, I just drove down here Monday. And this was for the anniversary. My name is Noreen Murphy my life up until now April 24th, 2010. My mother told me I was five when I moved from the thatched cottage to the new house. And also I was five when I started Infant School, which was the equivalent to kindergarten.

10:17 Idate sisters and five brothers. I was the 6th round.

10:22 After school, we all worked on the farm and held in the kitchen.

10:27 The song what's happening in cast stone Bexar County Cork, Ireland.

10:32 Christmas was specially because we went to visit our grandmother or grandmother's home. Occasionally. We did that.

10:42 Sometime maybe around the age of 10. I remember caring for our horse. Tummy in the winter. We would put Tommy into his cabin at night with food and water. I really loved that horse.

10:57 I love that horse allowed and thought he was the best thing ever happened to me.

11:02 When I was just a little girl, I remember learning to dance in our kitchen. We did we all did always love to dance. I finished Middle School at age 14 and that was that I was very close with my sisters and I remember going to the dance together at the dance hall in town.

11:22 I was at these it was at these dances when I when I was in my early Twenties that I first noticed Leah.

11:31 Theodore Leo did

11:34 Little did. I know that Leo and I would be dancing partners for 50 years.

11:42 I work the farm and help my mother until it was time for me to leave. Then I went to England live with my sister and spent about two years there, but I felt I needed to make more money. So I came to America.

11:57 And the next thing, you know, Leo came after me and I never let him forget it. It was it was meant to be.

12:06 Leo gave me my engagement ring, but I have warm every day since since it was the only real jewelry ever had I love Leah even more than my to my heart tell me we were married two years after coming to America.

12:22 So here we are today celebrating our 50th anniversary with all our children family and our friends and you guessed it and we are still dancing.

12:33 I'm so glad you read that story. Mom. It was so touching to all of us who got to hear you. Read it in the living room of the party. You don't really everyone got a good laugh and smile. Is there anything else you want us to know about living in kind of Korra for you? Would you like Colleen and her new brother and sister and Joe to know about

12:57 Oh that we had to walk. You know, we had to walk so far to go to church.

13:02 Weird walk 4 miles to go to church in two and a half miles to school. So that's pretty good story. Yeah, and I remember you telling me they were two masses and 8 and 11 and 1/2 your family would walk down to the morning when I ate a man walk home and and swap coats right for the for the second shift going through a large bed was tough and dad. Are there any other stories from growing up that you want to be sure to record today?

13:34 Some of your best friends perhaps from that time or favorite relatives.

13:46 When I was treated as if I would have one of them as many facts as some of the neighbors children.

13:55 Could not be convinced. My name wasn't Leo Cronin. I remember having that argument with neighborhood kids and that place which was 5 miles away from my home place.

14:07 And I most of my friends close friends we're through our football experiences games and we play a lot of games where we would play anytime we didn't have a chore.

14:28 We were playing most of it was on the street at the time. There was no local Playing Fields, but we use the time.

14:39 I remember was confusing for us growing up because we had prone and cousins on the Murphy side and Murphy cousins on the Cronin side and it was it took us a while to sort out who is related to who and how I know that you two met for the first time on your confirmation day. Could you say a little bit about that day we lived in the same page, but we're 4 miles apart and we didn't go to the same schools. So even though we were confirmed on the same day, we did not know when another my first recollection of Noreen was

15:18 And a driving assignment to drive her family to a dance 10 miles away.

15:27 And I was dating the driver of the chauffeur and I had that that was the first time I really met no rain and it was for me personally was love at first sight.

15:40 So it took many years before I was able to date her and that's saying a lot because she had a lot of sisters. We're also writes around your age and Mom. Do you remember the first time you noticed Ed?

15:54 Well, it would begin in the driver seat. You know, he used to drive us a lot.

16:04 There was a time when she worked in the bakery as an apprentice confectioner, and I used to do summer relief duties at the bakery good friends were two drivers. So I would have four weeks working at the bakery and what I would see her everyday, I never even knew you worked at the bakery because she's been a great baker or whole life. Yeah, Dad you went off to school and had to go away to school. Could you say a little bit about Rockwell Bearno's days, so I have to go away at the age of 13 to boarding school.

16:46 Which was about a hundred fifty miles away over a hundred anyway, and that was not a happy experience.

16:57 It was supposed warm, but the rationing was still there. We had to bring our coupons and I was at school at 450 boys and Todd mostly by priests are students worm needed to become praise many of the teachers while back from the African missions for health reasons.

17:23 Ornament vintage ones were the ones who signed up to be missionaries in there are considered too smart. So they both kept home to teach so they was they were frustrated and I took it out on us. I felt am I know when you left school you had to get a job as taking care of a lot of the other kids because you're an eight more behind you and you were too young to go anywhere else what kinds of things did you grow on the farming? What were some of the duties of prejudice and cabbage and turnips and carrots and parsnips a lot of root vegetables. And did you were you involved in milking the cows or I'll definitely could you say a little bit about cutting Turf and what that was like, well we use the turf 2 for the fire.

18:15 And what is my brothers and my my father to download The Cutting? Yeah, and for your grandchildren who might not even know what Turf is. Yeah, could you say what Turf is Turkish is like him. How would you describe it?

18:30 It's like Sade out of the ground is called ppat and it's very soggy when it's taken out of the bog and what nobody has done well in working at saving and saving the turf one up against the United forgotten about that.

18:54 We had a kind of a damn climate. So some summers are some Seasons that are for never saved.

19:04 The number of the quality of the tour for two very little wood burned is my memory. So this was your source of heat in the Inglewood and kind of course, I've been there and I only had three bedrooms for that big family of 14 and a grandmother and The Parlor and the kitchen in really life happened in the kitchen with that is Woodstone. And I remember always there was a kettle boiling 40 constantly, which was also helping the moisture in the air and it seems to always be Irish soda bread available.

19:41 Yasso at any other memories about kind of Cory you want to share before we move on to when you went to England.

19:49 Well, we learn to play cards and

19:53 We did very little while my mother did all the song in the knitting so we had other work to do so we didn't we learn to knit. So and that particular part of Castamere kind of Korra was if there were five families that live there is that right? And they all had big families. I think the lowney's had 16 or oh no, no. No, there were some big families up there any of the crown and see that wasn't even Highland mile down the road from this. Okay. That was the dance had about 10 or 11.

20:28 That was a big community of people.

20:31 So then you went off to England with your sister Margaret and what kind of work did you do over there? I work for the British Railway over there, and I don't know exactly what I was doing, but it was a

20:47 It was okay.

20:49 And then Margaret got married and you decided to come back to Ireland for a bit know. We just went back to Ireland to get ready for America. There was no coming back from it. Okay? Okay. So you knew you were going to be coming to New York eventually and is it all right, if we turn now from the Ireland part of your story to Coming to America part of the reason I'd like to record this part of your adventure through life is an experience I had with no calling and no Harrington had to be in the 1990s and as you know, we had purchased.

21:32 Bricks at Ellis Island to commemorate your Coming to America, even though Ellis Island was closed when you came and I took them they are to see the museum and to show them your names up on the on the wall and not know Harrington was raised by your sister in England, right? I know Colin was raised by your sister in Ireland. And so here we were three first cousins all having mom to her sister sitting in the same theater watching this amazing film about the trials and tribulations of the people who came to America, especially by boat and how the difficulties they endured sometimes losing family members on the way over sometimes having one member of the family sent back because they were sick and you know how have vast it must have seemed to come across the ocean from Europe and I remember I wept at the movie thinking about how lucky I was that that I had been born in New York and and so grateful to both of you for having made the

22:32 And they were teasing me about shirts that song wasn't that dad. You know, and of course, of course, you don't know if we call it a fill them and and and the other know we'll call it a film and I go to the movie and and that really struck me about to get the courage that you had to come over to New York. So I mom you came first in in January of 1958. So you could say a little bit about come and get her light came. I came in January and I remember getting on the boat now, please just shoes. And I didn't know anybody was quickly. I got to know some girls that were traveling back from to America from for Christmas from Christmas and just to be clear you were sailing from Cove, which is about an hour and a half drive from your house. Yeah. Yeah and who drove 3 1/2 hours driving and Leo drove?

23:32 Isn't that funny? Yeah. Yeah, so you met these girls on the boat and and they kept me alike and showed me the ropes on the boat. He had a lot of fun and the name of the boat was the Britannic it was super tired of it, but I I don't remember Trevon accept their remember the the dancing. Okay, so you did a lot of dancing and I think it was a five-day journey. I remember we had Bronx okay, but I'm about 5 days. And so these other women who had come back to Ireland and we're going back to New York kind of took you under their way. Yeah, and then when you got to New York, you wouldn't have come in to Ellis Island, but you come to port and came into New York to Port right now and you met your uncle or make my uncle Patty there might the girls told me where I could meet my family.

24:32 Under the Sea so they had organized by the initial of your last name, so you went to the Seas and there you found Uncle Patty and you had you'd never met him before ever let him before and just recognized him from pictures. So he was your dad's youngest brother right and he looked a lot like your father.

24:50 So then what happened? So then he took me it took me home to his house and it and it was snowing and he took a cab and as we're coming up 5th Avenue, he asked me to look out the window and he's ignoring look out the window look and there I saw a dog wearing a jacket and he being walked by a woman this lady and I thought oh my God, I must be in New York, but it and the funny thing about that is that you guys were sharing codes to go to mass at home for people and here was a dog with a coat and what would you have done with your dog at home? So he can do his stuff and come back in? Yeah right by pretty much dogs were not treated special to the Bronx and your sister was already here as soon as he and she live downstairs in an apartment and

25:42 That was like home to us, you know from there on in. Yeah, and and she had just had a baby had been here a couple years and I remember you telling me that she came in December and had a very lonely Chris. That's what I'm in the sand The Cheeky she arrived very close either Christmas Eve or very close to Christmas Eve. Yeah, and she was

26:05 You know very lonely and you made up your mind. You wouldn't mind I wouldn't come until after Christmas after little Christmas. Yeah. Yeah, and you actually came January 10th. And so Dad. What was it like for you to send her off in January? We have been sweethearts for more than 6 months at the time and I was the driver that brought her family to too cold, and I was the last person to say goodbye to her when she left and as soon as I got home that evening next day, I wrote to a cousin in Seattle, Washington.

26:47 I requested a sponsor me to come to America. Could you say a little more about what you had to go through in terms of the application process? Cuz it wasn't that easy to come here. Then Ireland had a quota immigrants in order to be granted a Visa you had first to have a sponsor who would fill out an affidavit that they would be responsible for you that you wouldn't become a ward of the state.

27:19 Then you had to have a physical exam and the written exam at the American Consulate in Dublin.

27:27 You had a vaccination and you were granted a Visa and you can purchase a ticket and that you were on your way. My mom was 23 when she came so you were really quite young couple months before me and so your sponsor was your dad's first cousin would have no connection with really they had visited Ireland the year before and I was there designated chauffeur also, so that's how I got to know then.

28:13 Okay, so, you know you had met them already. Okay, I didn't know that so yeah indicative of your future career in the airline industry. You came by plane. I do and in 1958 that must have been some big deal in Boston on road to what was then called Idlewild years 7 years later. I got a job at Kennedy Airport as well at that time and then and I understand from people I met at your anniversary party. You went to the Loney family in New York first.

29:13 She and her two daughters had visit Ireland in 1956 or 7 and I was their chauffeur. I picked him up at the boat and clove and I tried to Center visiting relatives. They had a big family Circle also, so I stayed with them.

29:33 For 10 days on route to Seattle.

29:38 Okay, and what they told me was that the people were picking you up actually couldn't find you and you have to take a cab to their house. I found nobody to meet me. So I guess I had their address and I took a taxi meanwhile a arrived at the airport and couldn't find me and they finally returned to their home and family and their home and then you had a way of asking him to take you up to the Bronx to meet your friend Noreen. Could you say a little bit about that happened?

30:16 And I asked Mr. Lonely who worked in as a conducting the Subways to take me in there to meet her and he brought me in and give me the instructions on how to get home later. So I got was the first time I met no rain in the United States as I thought they morning play that many people come to New York for opportunity, but there was no doubt in his mind that Leo Murphy came to New York for noring phone and I'm at how long would the flight have been in those days 10 to 12 hours and then shortly after that you had to go to Seattle and spend some time. There was an equally long-sighted made like five stops from Idyllwild to Seattle some time with your relatives there.

31:16 I got a job in a Safeway supermarket my favorite story about that. As you said people would ask you where the parquet was and not being familiar with margarine from coming from a dairy country. You wouldn't know the answer was no such thing as a brand name out of a competitor. So we had one brother and one more arguing and one just about everything that we had and it was an Asian neighborhood and at the time men didn't come to the store Dollar Store ladies day older ladies.

32:01 And that it asked me for different items by brand name.

32:08 I didn't have a clue. So I was laid off because I wasn't able to speak English well enough on his English students in school and they manager.

32:25 Who was the owner of Norwegian descent said that for a foreigner? I spoke pretty good English and that if I was in the country a little longer, I'll be able to speak American.

32:39 So I'd like to turn to your experience of being married for 50 years, but I want to ask you if either of you have anything else you want to especially say about coming to America before we turn to your getting married in and I guess it except to say that we were glad we came and had no regrets purpose, but I came to America wants to marry annoying.

33:09 Mission accomplished cuz I didn't have to come freakonomic reasons.

33:16 So then you came back to New York dad and got a job at First National City Bank. So I was feeling quite lonely and I also had this urge to reconnect with no rain.

33:33 So I heard actually I had applied to the University of Washington for admission. And when the requirements was it a reference from a former teacher, so I wrote to this priest friend of mine who was a former teacher and in addition to sending me a drawing reference letter. He sent me a personal letter in which he mentioned that he had also sent a similar letter.

34:04 21 Tony Wall who was getting a job at 55 Wall Street. So when I decided to come back to New York, I arrived on a Saturday and on Monday. I found my way to 55 won't say that. I have no idea what 55 wants it was it was the world headquarters of the First National City Bank & Trust Company. I found my way up the personal mini stories up from ground level fill out an application and was interviewed on the spot and I had taken a test on so they're giving us a written and arithmetic test.

34:46 And I was calling for an interview Linda. Bienvenu. One of the questions was who recommended you for the job and I said it was Tony war and he said it was who's Tony was and I said, I have no idea. I never met them there.

35:04 I just saw his name the letter and the guy took us to the Lafayette ask me when I went to the start work, which I said next day and I started next day your mom or understood by you coming to New York the four times a week every Thursday. She was off Wayne spend that I'm part of the day that I wasn't working.

35:33 Friday night Saturday night and Sunday afternoon was either dancing or movies that are going to Gaelic Park.

35:43 And the farming proposal came, I guess I have.

35:49 I'm out of here before we got married so that it was 1959. I think it was in June of 1959 and we got married in April of 62 governess. Could you say I had to do all the house payment for this family of three?

36:11 And

36:13 It was all found money. So I

36:16 Wasn't too happy there, but I I think him.

36:20 You know, I was glad to get out of there when I think you work for a columnist for the Daily News. Yeah. Right and they would spend summers at the Jersey Shore right? And you get to go with them. I remember seeing a postcard you sent to dad from the really well and I was always impressed that you planned and paid for your own wedding all the time sending money home as well. So can you say a little bit about your wedding day?

36:47 Oh you want to say something that story about the the flowers andorians brother-in-law. I was I was going to give her a way.

37:00 At the ceremony and he and I spent the night together and our future home apartment then and on the Grand Concourse and she and her two sisters had their house and we had one limo for both of us. So the limo pick me up in the Grand Concourse and on route to the church. We went to pick up all of the flowers, which had been

37:28 Paid for the week before and when we went into the florist shop florist didn't have the flowers because he claimed I wasn't getting married on for the next day. Even though he had the date right? He thought the next day was that date? So here I am en route to church and no flowers. So we find his wife helped out. She got me to flowers and put me in for me and my best man and after I was dropped off at the church that lemon was going to come back for the rest of the flowers and then proceed back for the ladies.

38:09 So I arrived at the church with a flower in each hand and not a single solitary soul that I knew I'm standing on the top of the church steps with flowering each hand.

38:21 And nobody else. I must have been quite lonely cuz you got married without your parents. And then you had your wedding day. I heard your dance stuff the storm that it was a beautiful day. And then you had a family of 5 and up till now you have two grandchildren and more coming or could you say a little bit about what helps you stay married for 50 years.

38:47 In a little bit of time we have left. Well, the reason we stayed Mary was as we liked each other and we were able to get along together and live together and we had children together and it was lovely and I don't know if we'll have time to tell the story for Peter's benefit pretty want to say something about the tent before we close. We have a lot of family episodes but one wise we had pretty spacious backyard and Bob Dylan and I was a children were growing that you push the lawn mower around and we also had a tent there for the kids in the summer time and one of my my son Kaiser and his first cousin day or two while doing the morning and I guess they're driver ran over the bottom of the 10th.

39:42 What's triggered a huge Outburst from her uncle?

39:46 And she was grounded into the house and Peter took over this morning, and he repeatedly say about the same as when you learn how to drive. So they really only about 10 or 11 years old and probably not quite used to operating lawn mowing equipment. It was a second-story for the rest of our family's journey. I want to acknowledge you both for the commitment to one another for your face for raising your five children and getting us all through college and many of us through graduate school and for being the example of what courage and commitment and Faith and family is all about. It's a pleasure for me to talk to you today, and I'm so grateful that I'm your daughter and thank you for putting me together.

40:48 Hey.