Frank comes from County Mayo and he moved to Harlesden in London in 1955. His brother met him at the train station when he arrived and though he left Frank to his own devises, he quickly found his own accommodation.
Straight away he found a job at Ascot Gas Water Heater Company on the North Circular Road doing clerical work. The job paid £5 per week, half of which went towards his rent giving him very little left over for himself.
After this job he went to work for Heinz, famous for its 57 varieties of product. The factory was also based in London and Frank enjoyed his time there stating it was a good company to work for.
He got married in 1960 and the couple’s first child was born in 1961. Back in those days no new homes were being built in London and it was very difficult to buy a house. Many of the new arrivals had to find accommodation in flats or sometimes just a single room, not an ideal space to raise a family. Gradually the Irish who came to London moved to different parts of the country such as Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage or Luton, areas that also had plentiful jobs. Frank and his family relocated to Luton where he bought his house. He kept his job in London, at the time of his move he was working for the motor company Commer and commuted for 6 months. Eventually he transferred to the Rootes Group, who owned Commer, to their site in Biscot Road, Luton. This was much more convenient for Frank as he now worked in the town he lived in.
Seeking to progress his career, Frank got a job as a supervisor with HC Janes, the building company. A project he worked on was the construction of Jansel House, the office block in Stopsley. His next job was at ACDelco, who manufactured car accessories and parts, another organisation Frank enjoyed working for. He moved on to work for General Motors in Milton Keynes and was subsequently transferred to Vauxhall for a supervisory role. This was his final job before retiring.
Frank recalls that originally there was only a single Catholic church in Luton located in Castle Street when he first arrived. His generation of Irish newcomers made a major contribution for the development of more Catholic churches and schools in the area, commencing with St Joseph’s Church in the 1960s.
Frank feels positively towards the town of Luton as it was a welcoming town that allowed the Irish community to flourish: “Luton was an attractive employment opportunity. It gave the Irish an opportunity to bring up their family, get married and settle down. I met more people from Ireland here than when I was in Ireland, people from different counties in Ireland with different accents and associations”. He also has words of praise for the nation he has settled in: “The English are a great people to work with; very accommodating, very tactful”.
Launch of Luton Irish Forum's original building Kathleen Connolly House, 2006
The Male Voice Choir, Castlebar at St Patrick's Festival Luton, 2006
House of Commons 1997
Luton Irish Forum's inaugural meeting in the House of Commons in 1997