Elizabeth Bradley McMahon

by Carmel McMahon

Here is a photo of my grandmother, Elizabeth McMahon (nee Bradley) in 1959. She was born in 1901 in Glasgow, Scotland, the great grandchild of impoverished famine immigrants from Ireland. Her mother died at age thirty-seven giving birth to her sixth child. Elizabeth and her three living siblings were sent to the poor house, as their father was unable to care for them. While drunk, he signed up for the "King's Shilling" and joined the British Army. He was blown up over Flanders Fields shortly thereafter.

 

At age fourteen, Elizabeth was sent into service as a scullery maid for a mill-owning family in Paisley. She worked her way up to parlor maid, and while she never complained about being in service, she said her life began at age twenty eight, the day she married my grandfather, Willie, an engineer at the mill, who did not touch even a drop of liquor! Eventually, they were able to move from the tenements into a terraced corporation house with a garden. They made a comfortable and happy home for their five children there.

 

If my grandmother had aspirations beyond this, she kept them to herself. The ten of us visited from our chaotic house in Ireland once a year in summertime. I remember that everything in my grandmother's home was tended with great care: the way the products were lined up in the pantry,  the way the sheets hung along the line to dry, the way the table was laid for supper, and most especially, the way we kids were tucked in at night. 

Elizabeth died in 1983.

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