Our Kind of People
One of five children Arthur and his siblings grew up in the town of Limerick in Southern Ireland. Under the tutelage of the nuns at St Philomenas and Cresent College, Arthur went on to a Vocational College to learn building construction.
In 1932 he started work at Newton Perry Mill as an apprentice in the flour milling trade earning 9/9 a week of which 7/- was given to his mother. After three years in the mill he obtained his first "man's" job in a newly erected mill in Waterford, Ireland's fourth largest city. In 1942 Arthur married Ruby (Rebecca) Ruttle in the Meeting House of the Society of Friends in Limerick.
As the years went by and there were signs of the war nearing its end I began to have ideas about going abroad. With South America in my sights I decided to acquire a knowledge of Spanish and purchased Hugo's "Self Taught" system. I progressed through fifty booklets in about eight months and became reasonably proficient in the language. I used to listen to Portuguese broadcasts from Franco's Spain and a strange sounding Portuguese from the B.B.C. World Service which puzzled me until I discovered that it was directed towards Brazil.
Towards the end of 1945 when the war was drawing to a close, I replied to advertisements in the trade journal of the milling industry inviting applications for vacancies in India and South America. We left Ireland for England late in February 1946 and departed for Gothenburg in Sweden on March 2, 1946 from where we sailed in style on the motorship Peru of the Swedish Johnson Line to Brazil.
Life in South America was varied and exciting but it is a story in itself. A friend, Mike kelly, unhappy with life in Brazil, left the country to settle first in South Africa and later in Northern Rhodesia which eventually became Zambia.
Our new life as colonials had begun. My life had been divided more or less into 10 year periods after I had entered the working world; ten years in Waterford; ten years in Brazil, and now I planned to stay ten years in Rhodesia. The reality turned out to be that we stayed not ten years, not twenty years, but twenty eight years in that part of ASfrica and witnessed the struggle for the minority to retain power and the transition to Zimbabwe under black rule. During these twenty eight years we went through some hard times where Breffni matured into happy boyhood. We met some fine people; I found myself back in milling and after retirement, battled unsucessfully agaisnt bureaucracy to set up a small promising industry until our departure for Australia in 1985.
Finally in August 1985 we found our Shangri-la in the shape of a modern house and a cottage on two acres of ground in the valley of the Helena River about 20 kms north-east of Perth in wooded, hilly countryside.
Ed's note. Arthur and Ruby McDermott, having happily resided with their dear friends Terry and Audrey Ridout on the above mentioned property are now, eleven years later, looking to move to Albany. They require inexpensive accomodation in the Albany area - if anyone can help with any information, please contact the Administrator who will place you in touch with Arthur & Ruby