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Legends of the Liberties: Joyce Reid

Joyce Reid, a local mass officer on Meath Street, sat down with The Liberty and recalled some of her fondest memories of living and working in The Liberties.

The Liberties is its own little village. I was born and reared in Ringsend , but I married a man [Gerry] from the Liberties. I’ve been living in the Liberties since the 1970s. Gerry’s grandfather owned this house; we moved in with him after we got married and next year the family would have been living in the house for five generations, continuously, for 100 years.

Joyce Reid in St Catherines Church grotto //Jenny Murphy Byrne

I have been working in St Catherine’s mass office for well over 30 years, three days a week. And people will come in for an intention. Maybe a grandchild is doing an exam, or want to get a job, or into a good college. But the majority of cases, people will be coming from the hospitals, the courts. Most of the time they’re troubled. Sometimes a relationship might have broken down and they’ll sit in the garden.

It’s 9:30 to 5, and I just love working in it. Mainly because people will come and they will tell you stories, looking for somebody to listen to them; that’s all.  So, I’ll chat to them if I have the time. One man, he was in a gorgeous relationship with a woman, and for some reason she broke it off. He was in his 50s, so he came in to pray, hoping she would change her mind. And sometimes I cry, when I hear their stories and go out and give them a hug.

The grotto is really well attended by young and old. The little ones are still brought in to rub the tablet brought in from Lourdes, if there is any ailment, they are also rubbed with holy water. Young and old will come and say ‘I’m doing an exam and need a prayer or a miracle,’ whatever the case may be.

When the children were small, I got very involved in the summer projects. And out of that was formed the Liberties Musical and Drama group. Through that I got to know a lot of young children and one of those children was Imelda May. She still calls me ‘auntie Joyce.’
If a person is moving into the area, I would say ‘welcome, and go out and knock on your neighbours’ doors,’ because they’ll definitely knock on yours in return. If anyone moves in here, we knock with a bottle of wine and say ‘you’re welcome.’ Then you soon realise, if they love a drink – like yourselves – and before you know it, you’re sharing a glass.

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