Maam-yok Irene McNamara

Eva Fernández
Aunty Irene McNamara, 2020
Digital print on Ilford Galerie Pearl paper
80 x 120cm
City of Perth Cultural Collections


1940, Nganyang kabarli wer 8 kongk wer maam- yoka baalap yoordjang woondaberi-k Carnarvon-ool, Boorloo-koorl wer yidjow Moore River Settlement. Ngaangk baal boodjari ngany-kadak wer ngalak yoowart woondaberi-k koorl. Ngolanga ngany koolang-kwart ngaangk dalang baalang moort-koorl Moore River Settlement. Ngany nyin aliny 9 years- kadak wer Settlement-abiny Mogumber Methodist Mission. Bandang Catholic yoka baalap (ngany wer 3 nganyang maam-yoka) yoordjang Wandering Mission-koorl.

Ngolanga ngany yoowart korl-koorl Wandering Mission. Ngaangk baal bakadjoo-kadak Native Welfare wer Maambart baalang warn baalap yoordjang Mogumber Mission-ngat ali baal yoowart ngany korl- koorl. Nganyang moort nyin Moora Reserve-ngat wer ali ngany kaadatj kakarook.

Ngany moolyak djinang Albert Marawar Boorloo Markets-ngat(West Perth Markets). Ngany warn daatj- miya-p-ngat wer Albert warn wama mal-mal market- ngat.

Ngalak kalyakoorl Friday kedalak-ngat kakarook- koorl (hop-jiving) bardook menditj-miya-p. Ngalak kalyakoorl Saturday kabarla-k Embassy Ballroom-koorl wer kalyakoorl Sunday kedalak-ngat ngalak malidji- koorl, nyit boya-k. (cheap)

Albert wer ngany kardo-kadak 1962 Registry Office- ngat, windang government buildings Boorloo-k. Moolyak ngalak nyin Hay Street-ngat yirak 3 bangka (storeys) ngalang mamal-kadak. Ngalak kalyakoorl ngardak kanow-midi koorl djookern boya-k mining ngalak mereny-ak dookern.


Ngany warn Education Department-ngat 28 years- ngat, moolyak didja-ngin-ngat maawit koolangka- kadak. Ngolanga ngany warn karnadjil koomba kaadadjiny-miya-p-ngat (Head Office), kooramber koorliny wer warniny boola didja-kadak wer birdiya- kadak, baalabany-kadak kaadatj wer koongko yeyinang Aboriginal koolangka.


In 1940, my grandmother, and eight of my uncles and aunties were put on a boat from Carnarvon and brought down to Perth and put into Moore River Settlement. Mum was expecting me so she wasn’t sent on the boat. When I was born she followed her family down to Moore River Settlement. I was there until I was nine, when the Settlement became Mogumber Methodist Mission. All the Catholic girls, including me and three of my aunties who were about my age, were sent to Wandering Mission.

After a few years I wouldn’t go back to Wandering Mission after Christmas. Mum had to fight the Native Welfare and Dad lost his job at Mogumber Mission for not sending me back. My family lived on the Moora Reserve and that’s where I learned to dance.

I met Albert at the West Perth Markets. I worked in the butchers and he worked in another part of the markets. We used to go to the hop – jiving – not far from the hospital every Friday night. We went to the Embassy Ballroom on a Saturday afternoon. Then Sunday night cheap movie night.

Albert and I were married in 1962 in the Registry Office in the old government buildings in Perth. At first, we lived in Hay Street, three stories up with our son. You had to walk right downstairs to put a penny in the gas in the kitchen.

I worked for the Education Department for 28 years, first as a teacher’s aide in the kindy, then as liaison in head office, travelling everywhere to help teachers understand young Aboriginal children.

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