Gillian Cantwell’s Dolls


Meet Gillian Mary Cantwell and her two favourite dolls from
childhood. One photo with her Crolly doll when Gillian was three years old sitting outside her grandparents house and the other at five years of age, with her Chatty Cathy doll who talked by pulling a cord in her neck when small records were inserted into an opening in her back. Gillian loved both her dolls and they came everywhere with her. She always had her arm around a doll, or, if she was upset or distressed, she buried her head in the doll’s hair and held the doll tightly for comfort.

During one of our house moves in the 70s the dolls got packed into a
shed which was later overrun with vermin and the dolls got
destroyed. Gillian was extremely upset so to help ease her pain of
loss as a child, I went on a hunt to replace the destroyed dolls. I
purchase many Crolly dolls but always there was some part of the
doll that did not match her beloved first Crolly doll. Either the hair
was not curly enough or was the wrong colour, or the doll was not
the exact right size. When I witnessed my child’s continued distress
over the loss of her dolls, it became an obsession for me to get
replica dolls to fill the painful hole in her heart. I never managed to
find a Chatty Cathy doll. The dolls I bought brought some joy but simply were not the dolls that were her special friends.

Gillian is now fifty two years old and is overjoyed to know
that the dolls in her procession will stay together and with her story be part of the Museum of Childhood Ireland.

Donated to the Museum of Childhood Ireland 2022