Helen Morgan (b.1921 )
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Helen Morgan (b.1921 )


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Track 1: Helen Morgan (née Simpson) came to Ireland with her family in 1923. Her father James Simpson’s maternal aunts, Myra and Caroline Lichfield, lived at Ballymaloe in Co. Cork and he was employed on salary as farm manager. He had trained as a mechanical engineer. Helen’s mother, Marian Windeyer, came from Sydney, Australia. James’ paternal grandmother, Jane, was the only one of the family who had married and when he inherited in 1944 five payments of death duties had been made between 1914 and 1944. As no capital remained, he had to sell the property which was originally a Fitzgerald house, purchased by the Lichfields in the early 19th century. Helen and her two sisters were initially educated by a Quaker neighbour and she later attended boarding school in Dublin and later still Newtown Quaker school in Waterford. She emphasises her admiration of the way Quakers live their lives. In 1939, she began her work as a nurse in England and on her return, she studied medicine at University College Cork until an accident caused her to abandon that plan. Track 2: She recalls her studies at UCC and at Trinity College Dublin, and she mentions the physicist Rutherford. She has no recollection of hearing of any animosity towards the Lichfield family in earlier days, and she recounts a story about relations with the IRA at Ballymaloe. There were seventeen people employed on the mixed farm and she recalls the frustration felt by her father in relation to the restrictions on pig species and the importation of bulls. Helen remembers her great-aunts at Ballymaloe and their Victorian attitude to daily life. The childhood leisure activities are recalled which included trips to Shanagarry beach, tennis at Ballymaloe and the big dance each year in aid of the Ballycotton lifeboat. Following her marriage to Tom Morgan, a farmer, she became very involved in her new life, taking up new challenges including welding! Track 3: Helen’s father’s service during WWI is recalled. He served as a Territorial in the Norfolk Yeomanry and, due to his engineering qualifications, was transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps. He was placed in charge of a depot in Swindon. At home in East Cork he was treasurer of the local RNLI from 1924 until his death in 1962 and she remembers that his coffin was draped with the lifeboat flag. Track 4: James Simpson served as Captain in the RASC and was a tank engineer in 1917. Helen recalls many of his friends from this time who visited Ballymaloe. She speaks of her mother, her aunt and her grandmother who left Sydney in August 1914. War broke out during their voyage and they arrived in England and worked as Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses. Marian served in the Plymouth War Hospital where patients and staff endured a Zeppelin raid. Helen’s mother continued nursing after her marriage to James Simpson in 1917. Track 5: Helen recalls that her father was able to use his skills and training to power various pieces of machinery around the farm at Ballymaloe, including bringing piped water to Ballymaloe House. She talks about the Strangmans, their Quaker neighbours who ran a school, and she says that her sister Joan and Myrtle Allen (née Hill) were great friends. Wilson Strangman bought Ballymaloe when it was sold and it was later transferred to Ivan Allen. Helen’s father, James, then bought a place in Midleton and later moved to live with Helen and her husband Tom Morgan at Kilnagleary. She recalls life on the mixed farm of about 250 acres and remarks on the changes in farming practices which came about due to mechanisation. Her husband was the first chairman of the National Farmers Association in Carrigaline and was involved with farmers’ protests in the 1960s. Helen was involved with buttermaking at Ballymaloe and she describes the process in some detail. Track 6: Some stories are told about Ballymaloe House, the portrait which was returned to the house, and the castle.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

8.56 MB, 13.79 MB, 6.29 MB, 13.75 MB, 7.17 MB, 17.62 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



A childhood at Ballymaloe and service in the RASC

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore