Peggy Sarsfield

My sister was three years older than me, and she was already across here at St James’ doing her training. She made the base for the rest of us. She used to be always telling us about patients, the funny things that had happened to her, and being at her first delivery of a baby. I found all of that interesting and I thought, ‘Well I would quite like to do something like that as well.’

After completing my schooling, I just applied to come to St James’. I had no interest in going anywhere else, simply because I had my sister here and I knew that I would settle easier.

Even though it was hard leaving home, it was exciting as well, but at least my mum and dad were happy that we were going to be with each other.

I went to work in medicine for the elderly, which I’d loved in my training. They were just such an interesting group. When they finally got used to my accent and stopped asking the man in the next bed, “What did she say?,” I just loved them. They were able to tell you so many stories about the wars, about what they did, about Leeds and everything.

You’d be on a ward on night duty and you’d be looking after a ward on your own. The Sister would come round to see you, but it made you realise how important it was to be on the ball and to just remember that anything could happen. After 43 years, what I’d be proud of most is the fact that I did the best I could.

Peggy’s story was collected for the Irish Nurses in the NHS Oral History Project led by Professor Louise Ryan and Grainne McPolin, with Neha Doshi, London Metropolitan University.