Jack McQuoid (1910-1985): Biographical Entry

Jack McQuoid, “One Man in His Time: an autobiography”. Typescript. 328pp. plus 6 photocopies of newspaper cuttings etc. c. 1985.

Part 1

Born in Liverpool 1910. Parents from Belfast. Father was a commercial traveller. Parents had been married by Church of Ireland. Remembered family stories of life in Ireland.

Moved to Benton, near Newcastle upon Tyne. Zeppelin raid – so moved again to Corbridge, Northumberland, away from raids.

Memories of World War I, ie. marching infantry. Angel of Mons, spiritualism, rationing, changing status of women, German POWs, tanks. Neighbour’s son reported missing in France; his room still as he had left it in World War II. Family moved back to Ireland, so that if father conscri[ted there would be relatives to support the family.

To Larne, Northern Ireland. Family members. Reference to author Amanda McKittrick Ros. Harbour, ships. Rowing, fishing.

Visit to a family farm in County Tyrone.


Moved to village of Glynn 3 miles outside Larne.

Funerals and the flu epidemic.

Father was packing to enlist in army when the war-ships in the harbour sounded their horns and sirens – it was the end of the war.

Family moved back to Larne. Larne harbour – now had regattas and a new shipyard that did not survive the depression.

Family then moved back to Corbridge. Wireless, cinema, school, Empire Day, sledging in winter, Christmas parties, keeping poultry and bees; early cars. Cabinet maker’s workshop. Old folk stories. Some references to the IRA and the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Part 2.

Belfast in the Twenties.

Family moved back to Belfast in the mid 1920s.

Belfast – upsurge of nationalism. This was after partition.

Description of Belfast. Includes references to political and religious bitterness.

First job – as apprentice fitter in ship-repair yard.

Economic depression.

Narrator emigrated to America in 1930 aged 20.

North America in the early thirties

Narrator arrived in New York just after the Wall street crash.

Unemployment, depression.

He had been given an address in Pasadena, California, by a chance acquaintance, so decided to go there.

Journey – Chicago – across the prairies. Saw farmers heading west away from the “dustbowl”.

Pasadena – took job on orange ranch. Economic depression had reached California, and although conditions were hard in Belfast narrator decided to go back before situation got worse. He drew all his money out from the bank the day before all banks closed until further notice.

Long voyage home

Journey back to Belfast via Panama Canal. Quotes from a diary he kept at the time.

Belfast in the thirties.

Family now living in Stranmillis. Belfast affected by economic depression.

Narrator became involved with theatre – through Drama League, Little Theatre, and the Playhouse.

Also began acting in radio plays. Broadcasting, work for BBC.

Began writing scripts for radio.

Father died. Family moved out of city to Islandmagee.

Outbreak of World War II.

The Second World War.

Joined RAF. Basic training at Podgate, near Liverpool. Poster to Grantham, Lincs; Waddington, near Lincoln; Church Fenton, Yorks. News of Dunkirk. Then to Leconfield, near Hull, Boscombe Down, Wilts; RAF concert; to North Weald, Essex. Air raids; Douglas Bader, Battle of Britain. Posted to Aldergrove, Belfast; Fermanagh; Newtownards. Narrator married to 1943. Sent to Milfield, Cheviots; invasion of France, American troops, end of the war in Europe, Hiroshima. Demobilisation.

Part 3

Farming in County Down

Worked on family farm, also continued to do some broadcasting. Post war Belfast – austerity, news of War Crime Trials.

Birth of his son. Became local councillor on Rural Council for 9 years. Bought caravan for touring. Began writing column in local newspaper. References to plays

Back to the theatre

In 1963 took a part in Lyric Players Theatre. Was still a farmer, but also undertook acting roles, did some scriptwriting.

Theatre in Belfast – actors, theatres, performances, plays, reviews memories.

Farm sold in 1969. Moved to East Belfast.

Troubles in Belfast from the 1970s, ie. just missed a bomb blast.

Pets – cats, dogs.

Roads that lead to and from “The Big Smoke”.

Theatre tour in 1975 from Belfast to Glasgow, Mold – North Wales, Manchester, London, Dublin.

Other theatre performances. Filming Television programmes, ie. in Lagan valley.

The approach to the eighties.

Began to retire from acting, although still performed in theatre and TV. Wrote poetry, ie “January Sale” – which is included.

Multitude and solitude.

Life in Belfast during the Troubles. Family life. Ends with an account derived from diary of day to day life in old age.

Main themes.

Born Liverpool 1910, but lived most of his life in Belfast. In RAF during war. Details life as actor in Northern Ireland. Refers to troubles.

McQuoid, Jack, ‘One Man in his Time’, Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection Library, vol. 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.