Mrs. Hedemann: Nobody had much, but no matter how little you had, everybody had something of some value, even if only kitchen utensils.
There was just an ethos; people just weren’t that way. But Ireland was virtually crime-free around 1900; I remember seeing the statistics. Virtually crime-free. It would be absolutely astonishing to people today. You had the odd murder coming up, but these were all crimes of passion. Certainly there were no drugs, which is the bane nowadays.
Me: You would have drinking, of course.
Mrs. Hedemann: Oh yes, they’d hold up the bar at the pub as long as they could till closing, or whatever. We couldn’t imagine I locking the door, or being afraid – you just couldn’t imagine it. Even in Dublin.
Me: Do you feel that if communities that are wealthy today became poorer, that crime would go down again?
Mrs. Hedemann: I think it might; it’s a good point. There is a thing that happens when people are together in privation. A community spirit grows, as grew in England during the war. People really pulled together; the traditional English reserve disappeared, and people talked to each other buses, perfect strangers helping each other. It digs into some deep human thing.
Whereas once there is wealth, there is automatically separation and gradation.
-- My interview with Mrs. Mary Hedemann, August 2010.