Joyce Feeney

Joyce Feeney was born in 1932 and lived in Millers Point until the late 1980s, when she moved to the NSW Central Coast. In her interview she talks about kindergarten, girls’ education,
Millers Point’s negative reputation, employment; tourism and pub crawls, and the many friends and neighbours who have left the area to live elsewhere. In the excerpt below she recalls social divisions between Protestants and Catholics in the waterside community.

This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.

Some of the others used to go to the Nelson [Hotel] because the fellow that ran that he was a Catholic. He was always called Dadda Pierce, I don’t know why but that was his name, and he was very good to the Catholic church. Don’t get me wrong, he was good to Fort Street [state school] too, but he gave more to St Brigid’s [Catholic school]. The Armstrongs, who owned the Palisade, they gave equal. If we were having something up at school and asked, they would give a donation, whereas if we went to the Nelson they didn’t give as much to Fort St.

There were two groups, the Protestants and the Catholics, and even though we were all friendly, I didn’t find this out until later on, but someone got a house in Merriman Street and they said, ‘Oh, got to go and live in Merriman Street,’ and I said, ‘It’s quite all right, there is nothing wrong with it.’ They said, ‘But the Catholics live there.’ I said, ‘Catholics live everywhere – what difference does it make?’ They said, ‘Oh no, that is the Catholic place,’ and I came home and thought how stupid can you be? And I didn’t even know there was that. But apparently it was, Lower Fort Street, down in Dawes Point, apparently that is more Protestant down there than what the other parts were. In High Street it was half and half. A lot of my girlfriends were Catholics so to me it was just as easy to go to church with them as I got older. I mean dad was a Catholic and mum wasn’t.

Frank Heimans