What can you remember of your grandparents?

'Very little, Tom. I only remember my grandmother Dempsey and my grandmother Tunney. I didn't know either of the grandfathers.'

They were dead?

'They must have been.'

Did your father talk much about his parents?

'No, he never mentioned them very much. I think they had a barney some way back because I've heard since, off Jimmy Hoban, that when my father was a young fella he came and lodged with somebody over at Deaf Hill and Jimmy Hoban's father he lodged with them for a while, too. So he must have fallen out with them at Kelloe--that's where they lived, the Davy Lamp.'

He was born there?

'Aye.' In the Davy Lamp pub?

'No, the street. There's a street there, about four houses, there's a pub at the end. He was born in one of them. There was a lodging house, I think there was a few Irishmen and that used to stay there. They used to work in the quarry, but apparently he must have fallen out. He never spoke much about his family or his father or anything like that.'

And his parents were Irish? 'Oh, yes, aye.'

And his mother was still alive?

'I don't know. You see, my grandmother Tunney, she used to live down Wood Street, down the bottom end of Thornley, there near the line. But I never knew then that she was my step grandmother. My real grandmother, I never knew her. She must have died at Kelloe.'

And your grandfather? 'Got married again.'

The same as my mother's father? Matt Longstaff, who married Violet Gray after his first wife Hannah died. 'Umm.'

Can you remember your father's brothers and sisters?

'He had a brother killed at Kelloe pit. I think you called him John. He was older, a couple of years older and then there was Tom, my uncle Thomas, he used to live at Wheatley Hill--he was older than my father. And there was me uncle Bill, he was the one that went to America. He used to live up in the Scheme Houses.'

And he emigrated to the US after the General Strike?

'He went during the strike, or just after. I can remember when he went, he bought me a scooter. I was only a bairn, well I'd be six, and he lived at the bottom of Wood Street. Why, on the front street, the end shop was like a bike shop and I remember him taking us up and this scooter was in the window and he went in and bought it for us. I'll never forget it because they were having a do on in my grandmother Tunney's--a going away do.


Leo, Tom and Katie Tunney 1920s

Left to right, Leo Tunney was born in 1922, Tom Tunney was born 1920 and Catherine (Katie) Tunney was born 1924. This, photograph was taken in the late-1920s, quite possibly on High Street. Nora, Margaret and Hubert were the older brothers and sisters in the family and Gene (born 1930) the younger. A further sister Teresa died as an infant. Photograph courtesy of Katie Rowley (nee Tunney)

He had a brother killed at Kelloe Pit. My grandfathers eldest brother John, born in 1884, was killed in 1901 in a mining accident, aged 16. The news was reported in the Durham Advertiser as seen below Thanks to Owen Rowland for researching this item.