Isaac Doone

Isaac Doone (Number 132)

You will see above that Isaac, who is 90, like many other Fegans boys, remembers his number – 132. Isaac (known during his orphanage days as ‘Sonny’) was born in Bethany Home, Dublin, Eire. (I have looked for Bethany Home on the Internet and have found the following:

Bethany Home (sometimes called Bethany House or Bethany Mother and Child Home) was a residential home in Dublin, Ireland, mainly for women of the Protestant faith, who were convicted of petty theft, prostitution, infanticide, as well as women who were pregnant out of wedlock, and the children of these women. The home was run by evangelical Protestants, mainly (up to the 1960s) members of the Church of Ireland. It catered for “fallen women” and operated in Blackhall Place, Dublin (1921–34), and in Orwell Road, Rathgar (1934–72), until its closure. The home sent some children to Northern Ireland, England, and to the United States. (Copied from Wikipedia.)

Isaac was born on July 1st 1927. He now lives in Warlingham, Surrey. He recalls the reason he found himself in the care of Fegans: There was an arrangement with Mary Lilian Pilgrim, with Fegans Home. He was ‘officially’ sent to Fegans on 9.4.31, but was fostered out until 1936 when he was old enough to go to the orphanage.

He spent thirteen years under the care of Fegans until he went to work at Castle Ashby on 25.8.1944.

Isaac did have half brothers and half sisters. He found this out once he obtained papers from Fegans about his childhood. Sadly, he has no idea what their childhood was like. He does remember looking out of the windows at Stony Stratford, wondering what life was like outside!!

Like many boys who grew up in the Fegans regime, Isaac doesn’t have a sad memory of his experience; he just remembers it stood him in good stead to cope with whatever life threw at him. HOWEVER, he was at the farm at Goudhurst when a bomb was dropped on the home (WWII) and killed Mrs Fegan (who had been carrying on her husband’s work for decades) Isaac was devastated.

Isaac remembers, like many boys, the ‘weekly’ menu! It was always the same, but he did enjoy the slice of cake on a Sunday.

Mr (Neb) Bennet visited him quite often when he was fostered out. He recalls Mr Bennet was also very kind to him once he was in the orphanage. Mr Fellows was also very caring but Mr Moffatt, Isaac recalls, hit him for the wrong reason!

Isaac remembers going camping for a week. He enjoyed the swimming, but not so, the burnt rice!

He remembers scrubbing the floors of the orphanage every day and was often charged with the task of putting studs into the many boys’ boots.

Isaac is pleased to report he got up to no mischief, whatsoever! He was too frightened to do anything unacceptable, as he had seen too many boys getting a “terrible strapping and hitting”.

He didn’t get into the top class at Fegans and recalls his school report suggesting he was ‘retarded’. He claims to have never been any good at spelling or arithmetic. However he spent many years in the Royal Artillery after joining the army in 1946, and left, holding the rank of Sergeant. He spent most of his Army years in Jordan and also some time in Egypt.

When he left, Fegans, he went to work on a farm at Castle Ashby. (As Editor, I have researched this and find it is the Ancestral Home of the 7th Marquess of Northampton.) He lived with the Manager and his room was ‘Apple Room’, far away from the family. He ate his meals on his own in the kitchen, even on Christmas Day. Whilst there, he joined the Sea Cadets and they helped him get into the Army. He left the Army in 1952.

Once Isaac had left the Army he started training as a student nurse in a psychiatric hospital. He passed the relevant exams and left having become a Nursing Officer. After leaving the hospital, he took charge of a hostel for recovering alcoholics and remained there until he retired in June 1991.

I asked if Isaac was married; he was asked whilst in the Army in Egypt if he would like a pen-pal. He agreed to this. When he got home, he met up with the young lady he had been writing to, and they soon got married, in a local Methodist Church. To date, they have two sons and a daughter, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. Isaac is happy to report, their whole family lives within five miles.

Isaac Doone
(August, 2017)