Car­ry­ing on the tra­di­tion

PAT VANCE TELLS MARY FOG­A­RTY ABOUT A FAM­ILY HIS­TORY SPAN­NING GEN­ER­A­TIONS IN BRAY, CHANGES IN THE TOWN AND WHAT IS IM­POR­TANT IN LIFE.

Bray People - - NEWS -

PAT Vance’s fam­ily have been in Bray for 200 years, he reck­ons, and his chil­dren and grand­chil­dren have all stayed close to home.

Ev­ery­one has moved out, but him­self and his wife Mary haven’t had a chance to suf­fer from ‘empty nest syn­drome.’

‘ There’s al­ways some­one com­ing!’ he said, adding that theirs has al­ways an open house with vis­i­tors com­ing and go­ing.

The cou­ple met at ‘ The Brew’ dance in the Lit­tle Flower Hall in Bray.

Pat was a player with Bray Wan­der­ers un­til he re­tired from the game in 1984. A year later he ran for of­fice with Fianna Fáil. He was re-elected to Wick­low County Coun­cil this year, and was with Bray Town Coun­cil un­til its abo­li­tion.

Pat and Mary spent two years in Canada when they were first mar­ried and their first daugh­ter was born there.

It was an op­por­tu­nity to make money. Pat, hav­ing been raised up in shoe re­pairs, worked mak­ing shoes in a fac­tory.

It was ‘piece work’ mean­ing he got paid more the more work he did. ‘You were get­ting re­warded for hard work.’

He and Mary then bought a house in Bray’s Seacrest and came home. They spent 12 years in that house be­fore mov­ing to the Putland Road.

The fam­ily business was, and is, of course, mak­ing and re­pair­ing shoes.

It’s a tra­di­tional business, passed down as it is from fa­ther to son or master to ap­pren­tice.

The na­ture of it is that suc­cess comes and goes in phases.

‘You could have five years of do­ing very well and another five tread­ing wa­ter.’

Pat’s fa­ther started work­ing when he was just eight, and worked right up un­til three weeks be­fore he passed away at the age of 82. In his prime, he worked ‘phe­nom­e­nal hours.’

As well as his craft, he passed his work ethic on to Pat.

His son can’t see him­self re­tir­ing ei­ther and thinks, in fact, he might be bored with­out work and in­deed his coun­cil work to oc­cupy his time.

When he started work­ing, it was the days of just two weeks hol­i­days, six day weeks and long days. That was nor­mal enough at that time, and in a way great train­ing.

‘I be­came a great be­liever in in­cen­tivis­ing peo­ple after Canada,’ said Pat. ‘Peo­ple who work hard should be re­warded.’

In the same way, he be­lieves that some­one who earns a salary of, say €100,000 or more, has earned their po­si­tion.

‘ They’ve been through the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem to get there and have worked hard,’ he said.

Pat is dad to three sons and one daugh­ter. He has six grand­chil­dren – three boys and three girls – with another due any day.

They range in age from 12 down to twin girls of six months, and Pat’s eyes light up when he talks about them.

‘ They all have their in­di­vid­ual per­son­al­i­ties,’ he said.

‘As you start to get older, you re­alise that money means noth­ing,’ he said, how­ever, he won’t be eas­ily per­suaded to change nap­pies like he did with his own.

And he wouldn’t even bother try­ing to en­gage them in pol­i­tics. ‘Kids wouldn’t be in­ter­ested, they’ll just go out and be kids!’ he laughed.

When his own were young, they would spend sum­mer hol­i­days in a rented cot­tage in Mayo, with no mo­bile phones and no coun­cil business.

There was no tele­vi­sion ei­ther, but the chil­dren would get to go out play­ing on the beach, on a nearby farm, and of course have un­in­ter­rupted time with their fa­ther.

‘Kids grow up far too quick now,’ said Pat. ‘ They’re not kids for very long.’

The world has changed an aw­ful lot since Pat was rais­ing his own chil­dren, and his own youth in Bray.

He lived with his three sib­lings and par­ents in a two-bed­room ar­ti­san cot­tage on Ardee Street in Bray.

Those six peo­ple didn’t even have an in­door toi­let.

But Peo­ple’s Park was their play­ground and from the time he could man­age it, Pat and the oth­ers were out­side with the neigh­bours play­ing, un­til their mother would come to the cor­ner.

‘Some­one would come and tell us it’s time to go home,’ he re­called.

‘ There’s no way I could imag­ine let­ting my grand­chil­dren off like that.’

How­ever, Bray was much smaller back then. Most of the out­ly­ing es­tates hadn’t been built yet and the pop­u­la­tion might have been a third or less what it is now.

‘My fa­ther knew ev­ery­one in the town,’ said Pat. He re­calls go­ing to school at CBS Dun Laoghaire, on the bus, at the age of nine. That sim­ply would not hap­pen now.

‘We had a free­dom then that they cer­tainly don’t have now,’ he said. ‘ The world has cer­tainly changed but in some ways for the bet­ter.’

Chil­dren now will have a longer life ex­pectancy than ever be­fore, tech­nol­ogy, higher IQ, bet­ter liv­ing con­di­tions and more.

So there is a lot to be said for progress, de­spite the loss of cer­tain as­pects of a time.

As for whether Pat will run again in 2019, he won’t say at the mo­ment. ‘Five years is a long time in pol­i­tics!’

Cllr Pat Vance.

J&P Vance Shoe Re­pairs in Bray.

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