A Derry Rose

From the Scottish Highlands to the Banks of the Foyle

It has been more than 80 years since Rose Power moved as a seven years-old girl from her home town of Glasgow to the streets of Derry. But noone could be more proud of her Derry accent than Rose who now has lost all of her Scottish lilt.

"I don't have a Scottish accent anymore because I'm a Derry woman," she chuckled "Neither love nor money could force me to leave the place that I have called home for so long. Derry is my home."
Indeed love could not persuade Rose to leave and when she fell in love and married Bernard Power from Newfoundland in the 30s Rose persuaded the love of her life that the couple should not move far away but settle in Derry.

Rose moved to Derry from Glasgow in 1914 with her sister. Sadly their mother passed away while giving birth to her seventh child and Rose and her brothers and sisters went to live with relatives.
I was seven when we moved to Derry," recalled Rose, "and my sister was just a toddler. While we went to live with our two aunts Rose and Catherine Campbell in Elmwood Terrace, my brothers went to live with relatives in Scotland."Glasgow was very different from Derry. It was a town that was always buzzing with life. The streets were long and narrow and there were big parks to play in.

"Moving to Derry was quite frightening for my sister and I. We had to cope with losing our Mum and moving to a strange city within a very short space of time. Although my aunts were good to us, at the beginning we felt like outsiders and at school the other children would mimic our Scottish accents.
"My sister Gina wouldn't let go of my skirt when we arrived and followed me everywhere I went."At school I generally didn't hang around to play with the other children in the yard but would rush home to my aunts so I could run to the town and do their messages.

"One of my earliest memories is putting my chin on the counter in Woolworth's trying to see the cashier. My aunt had always warned me when I went up the town that I should never lift anything in the shop that I wasn't going to buy. They were terrified that I would break something and they would have to pay for It!

"Sometimes if I was lucky I would have a few pennies to spend myself from collecting jam jars around the houses and selling them to the shops."

In her early days in Derry, Rose also has happy

memories of her aunts taking her and her sister Gina to Buncrana at holiday time where they could go swimming and eat ice cream."I loved swimming," said Rose. "But ladies were much more modest then than they are now. Our bathing suits had us well covered up. We also loved getting a poke and some rock."

When she left school at 14 Rose quickly got herself a job working alongside her aunts at Hogg and Mitchell's factory."I started as a message girl in the factory and quickly worked my way up to a job in button holing and collars," she explained. "It was a tough life in the factory and although we had our fun we worked steadily all day".

"The bosses were very strict about time keeping and if you were not through those doors at 8.15 p.m. you were locked out until lunchtime. I remember the doorman was a man called Whiteside and he was really strict on time.

If he saw you running down the road to get into work he would still shut the door at 8.15 a.m."Times were hard for Derry people in those days and you were glad to have a job. There was very little money about but we all managed to get by."

As Rose recalls, the Second World War was a time of worry for a lot of people but also a time of great fun."During the blackouts people put their blinds down and had to turn out the lights," she said, "there was a great sense of anticipation but mostly people just tried to get on with their everyday lives.

"Rationing was also a difficult concept to get hold of because you were so limited in the things you could buy. Because we all had bicycles we would often nip over the border to buy our butter, sugar and tea. Sometimes we got caught on our way back and our smuggled goods would be confiscated but most times we got away with it."

As a young girl growing up Rose recalls that she tended to live a quiet life although she loved attending the dances at the Corinthian Hall, the Crit and the Ashfield. "I had to be careful because my aunts were strict that I should behave like a proper lady. They would give me a certain amount of freedom but not too much. You could get away with wearing make-up as long as you didn't have too much on. And you could get away with going out as long as you weren't too late home."

It wasn't long before Rose would meet the man who was to be the love of her life, Bernard Power, and the couple would settle in Derry.

"I met Bernard when he came into Derry on the boats," said Rose. "He was from Newfoundland but his ship docked in Derry many times during the year"We courted for about two years before getting married in the Long Tower church. I remember our wedding day as if it was yesterday. Bernard was handsomely dressed in his sailor suit and I wore a blue woollen dress. It was a quiet wedding but a happy day.

"After the wedding we lived in my aunt's house in Elmwood Terrace and when they died they left it to me. Bernard and I talked about moving to Newfoundland where he was from but I knew there was no way that I could leave Derry, it had come to mean too much to me. It was funny though because Bernard had a twin brother and he also married a Derry girl but they settled in Newfoundland .
"I gave up work when we married as I had so much baking and cleaning to do when we had our four sons.

"We had a happy life. We loved going to the pictures to see the shows as often as we could. Most women didn't drink in those days, so we had no occasion to ever go into a bar. To this day I am proud to say that I have never tasted alcohol.

"One of the favourite things we loved to do was to go to Brennan's fish and chip shop in Bligh's Lane. You couldn't find a better fish supper anywhere else in Derry. People would flock from far and wide to taste those chips. I can still taste them today.

"But I loved cooking as well, and my family loved my favourite dishes of Irish stew, homemade soup and steak and gravy. We were happy but sadly Bernard died many years ago."
Now living in Sevenoaks in the Waterside, Rose is happy to be surrounded by her four sons, Billy Vincent, Brian and Damien and her 14 grandchildren.

Courtesy of Erin Doherty
(Derry Journal) August 2002