Coral Atkinson - Emigration
Coral Atkinson
Coral Atkinson photo
Coral Atkinson > Biography > Emigration


The 1950s were a difficult and impoverished  time for Ireland. The government was conservative and ultra-Catholic, and unemployment was high; thousands of people emigrated. Coral’s father, Cyril, had never settled back into Dublin life after his experiences as an officer in the British army during the Second World War. Offered a chance to take early retirement from his job in the Bank of Ireland, he decided to accept and move with his family to New Zealand.

 Emigrating had a momentous impact on me. I was suddenly uprooted from a happy, genteel and rather Victorian childhood in Dublin and dumped down in a late fifties New Zealand state primary school.  I had not been in class with boys before, and many of the children seemed like hooligans. I was also deeply shocked by the use of corporal punishment. There seemed no tangible compensations (other than the weather) for us coming to New Zealand, and in retrospect I see I suffered real grief for my previous life and for Ireland.

claddagh ornament

View from Kiliney Hill

Coral has many happy childhood memories of times spent on
Kiliney Hill, County Dublin.
This view from the top of the hill
looks down the coast to Bray.

click to view
Ballrom - RMS Rangitane

The ballroom on RMS Rangitane,
the ship that brought Coral and her family to New Zealand in 1957.

click to view
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