When We Were Kings and Queens of the Road: Catherine Agada Joseph

As a young girl in secondary school, I used to walk for 30 minutes every morning at 7am to school, and another 30 minute walk back home at 4pm. It never felt like a 30 minute walk because many other children in my neighbourhood also attended the same school. We would all wait for each other in the morning and afternoon to walk to school together in a group. There was always a lot of drama on the way to school, or back home. We would talk about boys (my school, St. Monica’s, was an all-girls school), games, teachers, and senior prefects. On our way to school, we would usually stop to buy akara (bean cake), okpa, moi moi, and bread, and we would eat while walking to school. There was a railway track on the route, and we would walk on that road. Sometimes, when there were no signs or sounds of a train coming (although it was dangerous), we would even play on the railway track. It was a quicker and safer route to school.

Catherine (indicated by blue arrow) at school in Nigeria

One thing that was challenging for me was when I had to leave school early or arrive late, and I had to walk alone. There was a particular house that I had to pass before reaching my street, and there was a man living there who was battling with mental illness. He would scream and sometimes try to come out of the house if he noticed someone passing by. I would be very scared, so when I got close to that house and the man’s mother, who cared for him, was not around, I wouldn’t be able to pass through. I would stand far away and wait until I saw an adult passing by so that I could walk with them. Despite this occasional difficulty, my childhood school journey was mostly enjoyable.

My name is Catherine Agada Joseph, and I am from Benue State, Nigeria. I have been living in Ireland with my family for 11 years now. My background is in hospitality management and customer service. Currently, I am a candidate for the local election in 2024 and the Green Party LEA Rep for Longford.

On behalf of the Museum of Childhood Ireland and Robert Burns, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of our wonderful participants for their time and their stories. We are thrilled to be presenting this project and we hope you will enjoy following along with us in the coming weeks.

Have a story on this topic and want to get involved? Contact us on our social media sites, or email us at cbrowne@museumofchildhood.ie – we would love to hear from you!

By Chloe Browne

Chloe Browne is an Irish writer, curator and Art Historian, with a keen interest in objects and social history.