Rosalyn and William Donovan's Memories

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Mr and Mrs Donovan transcription, recorded on the 24/10/2022, at Paul Sartori House, Haverfordwest.

Present: Rosalyn Donovan (RD), William Donovan (WD), Simon Hancock (SH) and Kiara Quimby (KQ).


00:00:00 (SH)

What is your full name?

00:00:01 (RD)

Rosalyn Ann Donovan.

00:00:04 (SH)

Do I have permission to record this interview?

00:00:06 (RD)


00:00:07 (SH)

Where and when were you born?

00:00:09 (RD)

I was born in Saint Nicholas, in Pembrokeshire, in 1943.

00:00:16 (SH)

What is your full name?

00:00:18 (WD)

William Thomas Donovan.

00:00:20 (SH)

Do I have permission to record this interview?

00:00:23 (WD)


00:00:25 (SH)

Where and when were you born?

00:00:27 (WD)

In Cork City in Ireland.

00:00:33 (SH)

How did you meet Father Paul Satori?

00:00:38-01:22 (WD)

We met while Paul came into the parish, erm I'm not quite sure of the dates. But erm, he was a man, very young, parish priest, and he was running round everybody to get know to him, but my own remembrance of him like was we had four young children and Father Sartori would come to the house after the four kids that have been fed and put in their pyjamas and everything, and he would jump on the settee, wake everybody, tickle them all to death and it, it was, we were boasting.

00:01:23 (RD)


00:01:23-01:38  (WD)

Ohh, here we are we got to start all over again like you know. But he was one of those persons who really, kind of got in with the family, like, you know, it was really brilliant. Not for us, but (laughs) erm.

00:01:39 (SH)

What is your earliest memory of Father Satori?

00:01:43-06:52 (WD)

I think we used to go to the erm, across to the Labour Club, you know. And he was a fantastic carriage girl with what they call the down and outs there. Probably Russell Gould, the three of us would go to there, and he would mix with; It doesn't matter what they were, labour, Prime Minister or what he was a brilliant man at doing it in.

And again, I remember him going down, you know, somebody talked to him on the club there and the next Monday morning he'd be down in the court sorting things out for him. And you know, I know that the- when he died, he had lots of- from the judges and things that they wrote their bits in the paper about, about him, how fantastic a man that he was supporting these people like, you know.

But I know that one, one time when he was doing something similar and he’d forgot he had a wedding on and somebody reminded him, carefully up to see that such and such. Ohh and he was. He took off and he was, he was dead to a quarter of an hour beforehand. But it was that he saw, he was so into with people, he was a great character honestly, yeah.

Erm, (unintelligible). Erm again, talking about Mary Immaculate Band I was within the committee with the band for years and years, and he kind of told of us wherever we went like that was in Enniscorthy in thing. But not only with the band then like with Germany, like you know, his priesthood could do in the way of the cross in Germany. Like, you know it was his, he was totally a priest as well as you know, thing. Again, there was another one there like, you know, this one is in Lords and he's only this small little man- man there if you can just see him like, you know.

It's erm, but he was fantastic, like he was our erm, parish priest on tour really with the Catholic as a Catholic band and erm. But he was fantastic to us. And again as a- he was very good friends with Joff Swales, and Joff and him, when everything was calmed down and all the kids put to bed, he would, they would have their tiffins and it- it was, you know, the Tiffin and talk about the war, the old war and everything like that, you know.

But he was that type of man, you know, he mixed the whole, the church and the touring and the, the children as well, and they loved him. You know, he could see like with the communion with the kids like, you know, and he’d spend the, you know the- the afterwards and the hall like where there was a party going on and he would be round with those kids as you know, fantastic, you know.

I mean it's a, it's- I don't know, coming on to the later times. We used three of Russ and myself and Father were big men on the rugby thing like, you know, and the kind of nostalgic thing was that when Llanelli played New Zealand in nine three, in Llanelli like, you know. So we- we went off early in the morning to-  to Corsin and that's where his mother lived. And of course, Paul always went. He had a white jumper on big polo neck, but he was Italian, very dark features like you know, but as soon as we got into the house, his mother was there giving in, or she was telling him off. Certainly you can't have a shave. Have a thing. Do all this. And she made him change everything like have to put the proper trousers on and all that. And again, again in the- in the crowd. You'd have fantastic with the ball, with, with- with the opposition and whoever they were like, you know? But on the game itself oh, we were standing against the zinc, background of his shed, you know and oh he- I never heard him shouting so much in all my life, I think he was, couldn't preach again for a week (laughs). Uh, but there was erm,  he was a great man in doing any little bit of sports there was like, let's go rabbit shooting up to Jim Riley's and thing like, you know with- I don't know if you know Johnny Right, you probably do you had a pub in Neyland? Erm, Johnny was, used to be so- so like you go up there and he'd drive round and Johnny Right’s sitting on the-

 00:06:52 (RD)

On the bonnet.

00:06:52-08:33 (WD)

On the bonnet of the car with a gun. I felt sorry for the poor old rabbits like, you know. And then he, there was- he kept bees, him and Michael Burke. Up where, erm, the top apprend because there used to be a field in the middle there, but him and Michael Burke used to have about six or seven lots of bees, you know. But I know, I remember, one day there were- we were Russ and myself was in the front and we were shifting bees for them and then, and one of them tipped over so Russ and I'd never moved them again, Mike and think we would have to them on their end to sort all the bees out, you know.

Erm, the other thing he did was in the plasters arms, they used to have erm, this summer, they used to have snail racing. It's a little board with divisions in it, so when Father Sartori arrived to take part with his snails, they were Italian snails so big they couldn't fit into the rails (laughs). It was a, erm- he also had a- a boat in, in off- off Burton. Yeah, yeah. What ferry? Something ferry. Off Houghton, off Houghton there. And we used to, you know, have a trip to it and I'm- I'm not a great one in the water like you know, but he had a little boat at the side of Rose Ferry by the- by the side. So we used to have to go down then,  get in this boat and there’d be four of us, Carmel and Russ and myself and we’d go down the river to the, what? The pub under the bridge.

00:08:33 (RD)

The Ferry Inn.

00:08:34-08:50 (WD)

The Ferry Inn, the Ferry Inn. And I remember the- the meal was ordered. I had steak and chips or something or fish and chips or something like that. Oh Father Sartori you had to have. Oh was this not erm- king prawns.

00:08:51 (RD)

That’s right.

00:08:52 (WD)

King prawns.

00:08:53 (RD)

Yeah, yeah.

00:08:54 (WD)

Well, when they delivered the prawns, they were- they. They had, was it two? Two, the three of them had two prawns on their thing.

00:09:02 (RD)

Two prawns each (laughs).

00:09:03-12:10 (WD)

Well he was up to the measure. What he got on to the thing, you know, this is, you know. And I think they ended up having chips with two prawns. But then on the way back then, going down it was all right because the lights you can oh you can see the lights if it's erm- but coming back, there was nothing coming up river at all like, you know. There was a light in the house where the boat was thing, you know, but I was scared to death because I'm getting back from this into the small boat again and I was that much of below the water, you know, I thought that was something awful.

Erm, as I say, down and outs yeah they’re-  that as we've talked about before. He did- he did a lot and a lot of things that people didn’t even know about, you know. Because we just sit in the pub and then he used to spend a lot of time, pouring a pint and they got to know that he was erm, you know, he would help at some stage some way or the other, erm.

The only other thing I would say about that they would had in the- there was a fella who used to come around to the house and knock at the door and you're knocking the door, and most- most often, he said oh if Fathers out he's down the road here and- and it did send him off like, you know, but there were some friends who were quite annoying that they couldn't get rid of them like, you know. But then he had a phase then to go- to go off like, you know. 

But as I say a wonderful supporter for the band, erm. And the sad thing was that we went to, I- well three of us went up to when his last couple of days like, you know. And to see him then that was really. Oh, that was really down. Yes it was, for a man with full, you know, full hair, look, And what have you it, he like- he was all kind of stretched out and lost all his hair and it was a really, you know. It lasted for a long time, you know, just seeing him in that state like, you know.

But through his life in- in Haverfordwest I- he was a brilliant ambassador, to the- to the church, to the band ah, whatever. You know it's a- and we said we did have erm, the opening of the hall. We opened the hall, we had a new hall and we were trying to. And there was bishops and they have two bishops, I think, and- and the many priests was there and they used to have erm, the bar, was supplied by County Hotel and one of the Catholic Boys used to run it, and we ended up in the night, all the leftovers had- they couldn't take back the leftovers, so there was five of us in the thing, and I think you know it's- it's, it's a- he joined in everything. So it's uh, I think that what that's I can tell you whether.

00:12:11-14:50 (RD)

Yeah, yeah. I mean the other side of the coin was Father Coffey. I don't know if you ever met Father Coffey. Very Irish. Very stayed in his way; and he found, he and- and parable were just two opposites, but they gelled, well amazingly. They were like, you know, big brother and little brother and there- and they died within a short mile of each other, you know. And it was just such an unusual partnership it- it was amazing.

But when Bill was talking about the erm,  the Labour Club, he would sort out everybody's problems with the law and all sorts of things. But if he ever wanted anything done, anything shifted, anything done, he only had to go to the Labour Club and there'd be five or six of them to come straight away to give him a hand. You know, nothing to do with the church. Nothing, you know at all. But he was just one of those people that had great loyalty from- from everybody erm he, he- he just was so natural, you know.

He'd- he'd do a sermon sometimes, and it would be a glorious day, you know, on a Sunday morning. And he'd say, look out there, there's your sermon, go out and enjoy it. And that would be the sermon for the day, that would be it, you know. And of course, when he- he was ill erm, because I was nursing then and I would- I didn't see a great deal of him because he was on the medical unit I was on the surgical unit. But those girls guarded him, like anything, they wouldn't allow, you know, people to go in there at all. Even erm, you know Carmel, Carmel Gould that she was the first Paul Sartori nurse. And I think Carmel felt that she had a bit of privilege, you know erm. But erm, they wouldn’t let her in, there were some days they wouldn't let her in because he was either, you know, tired or too ill. So it- it, he- they really looked after him and then of course he went through the Santa Maria in- in, in Swansea then. But erm, always, always everybody think about him. You know, whoever thinks about him is who knew him. We always think, yeah, I remember such and such, I remember this. And there's loads and loads of stories about him, you know, loads and loads of them, so.

00:14:50 (SH)

How would you describe his character? How would you describe him?

00:14:58-15:49 (WD)

Well he was such a brilliant man in taking on the low, no the- like the people in the pub. Or like when we're in France and he’d meet some big fella there and then he’d speak a few words of French. But there was immediate gel like, you know, he was one of those characters. He- he could really get to know what they're talking about or whatever they are to say, and I would say he never agreed with them, you know, if it was a match on that was really Llanelli and Wales came first like, you know. But erm, no, he- he was a- a wonderful character, in all, you know all type, all types of life, really. You know, he could do the- the low bid and he could do the high, high bid and he was erm, really there was.

00:15:50 (RD)

And always funny, always good fun to be with, you know? Yeah, yeah, he’s.

00:15:57 (SH)

Did Father Paul, Paul Satori, impact your life in some way? And if so, how?

00:16:07 (RD)

He took him to a lot of rugby matches, I can assure you of that (laughs).

00:16:16-16:45 (WD)

I suppose that you know, the way we watched him erm, and the way that he’d  talk with every, you know, people. And he was so sincere in everything he’d done, whether it be high or low, you know he was really a- a brilliant character at- at doing that and I've never heard anybody kind of say anything about him, like, you know. Even though he was a priest.

00:16:46 (RD)

He was naughty, could be very naughty, you know.

00:16:48-17:50 (WD)

But then, like you would expect, both the priests is in the pub, but no, he'd sort more things out in the pub as well as, you, you know. And it's I think it's all followed that over the years, you know, with all these things that we, you know, we were together like in the- the funeral and- and this quality, I mean we've got like loads of photographs at home of different things like, you know what I mean with- with him and- and Joff like you know. 

And Joff is- was a very hard man to thing, as far as music Joff was, you know, as he would. If it's the band like on us- on us. I used to have to go around on, on- on the Wednesday night, we had factors for the juniors like you know, and then with the Haverfordwest carnival on the Saturday. And I had Friday night, I'd now have to go round then to see we'd have the whole thing like, you know. But Joff then would, erm.

00:17:51 (RD)

If there were certain people missing out, you know, on the side, in the end wanted to go.

00:17:54 (WD)

The 16 year old’s, the 16 year olds they- they worked in shops and things like that. And I've gone to his house on Friday night late and said we got that money and- and Joff would be.

00:18:06 (RD)

He’d turn round and  say, well, I'm not doing it then.

00:18:07 (WD)

But then Father Paul then, with Joff he had him, he got him right on his fingertips, you know. You could- he could do when he was on a low when he was high. And when he was a high Joff and him they were, they were really characteristically on like you know.

00:18:20 (RD)

Yeah, together.

00:18:22 (SH)

If you could sum up Father Paul Sartori in three words, what would they be?

00:18:32 (RD)

Human, generous and amusing. But, erm, more than amusing, you know.

00:18:44 (WD)


00:18:45 (RD)

Exactly. Yes, yeah.

00:18:48 (WD)

On the- yes, he would be wouldn’t he.

00:18:52 (SH)

And my final question, do you have anything else you'd like to share with us?

00:18:59 (RD)

I don’t know, it was just. I think- I think.

00:19:02 (WD)

I miss him, you know, erm- erm. I miss him, when you go through all- all what we have there. His, I suppose when he came to toe the line is when he met his mother.

00:19:15 (RD)

Yes (laughs).

00:19:16 (WD)

You know, and he knew well. And when he was going in the door, he would have to obey whatever was said.

00:19:22 (RD)


00:19:23 (WD)

He'd have to have a shave, and he'd have to change his jumper and his clothes and he wouldn't be let out, to carry on the thing, and that would be.

00:19:30 (RD)

Ohh yes his mother, he- he.

00:19:31 (WD)

Oh his mother was- she was a lovely person, you know. She's real kind of, you know, always track black Italian thing, you know. But she stood high grey here. She was really kind of a.

00:19:45 (RD)

She must have frustrated him. He must have frustrated his- so many times. I would think the way he, he- he just presented himself mostly, you know. But erm no, he had great regard for his mother, I must say. But.

00:19:59-20:22 (WD)

I know. I was just thinking, now, like Frank and myself, we sang at his funeral in Llanelli and we- I've never been so scared in all my life. But, the funeral went- we went to the cemetery and there was a big mound of earth on the side and the priests were lowering down. Well, about one of the priests wasn't very agile like Kanani, he was stepping over-

00:20:22 (RD)

He went to step across, didn't he?

00:20:23 (WD)

 And then I had- I could say they were leaving the coffin. Go like that. There's only- that's somebody they-

00:20:29 (RD)

Frightened us to death, yeah.

00:20:30 (WD)

They the- the Undertaker or something. Just was- was on the end there, steady- steady, you stopped the coffin going forward like you know. And I, oh was like, oh, you’re not going to fall in there now (laughs).

00:20:42 (RD)

But he, he- he would have- he would have enjoyed that. He would have enjoyed that, you know.

00:20:45 (WD)

Ohh yes he- he would, he would.

00:20:48-21:49 (RD)

Yeah, I- I think what, you know, you're asking a lot of things about his life and everything, but the way that we lost him overshadowed so much of that it was because we had- we had no control over it. And erm, Father Coffey or Father McGrail it was, at his memorial mass not so long ago. And he tells the story about him going to see him, and erm, he's saying, ohh, what are you? What are you so miserable about? I'm the one that's dying, not you! So you know he- that's the attitude he put on, on it. And there's there's a, a- a letter that he wrote to the parish, erm just be- while he was ill.

00:21:40 (WD)

To the parishioners there.

00:21:41-22:49 (RD)

Yeah yeah, to the parishioners. And erm, just, just- just in well, embracing all, everybody as part of his family, basically you know. And- and very kind things he said about everybody. I mean, he would fall out with people. There was no two ways about it, you know, he had his- he was opinionated in some ways about things. But erm, even with the church, you know, he would occasionally, you could bend the rules of him, you know, a bit.

And- and erm, if you ever went to confession and say, oh, well erm, I've, I've done this right done that, I need say, have you given to the poor. And erm, you'd say, well, no, not really. Well, here we are then, go and do that. You know that was the- the other. And when he did take confessions with the kids for their First Communion, you know, and he sent mine to a poor old Len and he said. Are you the girl that sank the boat off Fishguard Harbour. You know, do you remember that there was a- there was a boat in the, in the harbour in Fishguard.

00:22:50 (WD)

There's one sunk in the middle there, yeah.

00:22:52 (RD)

Yeah. So you know, that was the attitude he- and he gave these kids a lot of confidence because that's an awful, you know, it's a big thing for kids to do that. But erm no, he just gave them so much confidence and so much, you know, just a zest for living basically.

00:23:11 (WD)

As I say, like his living to 40, but he made the most of that in that. In that time, you know.

00:23:16-23:48 (RD)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, he said to me once when he lost all his hair, he, cause we- he was grey like me, you know. And he said, I'm coming back, ginger. I don't care what you do, but I'm coming back, ginger, you know. And crazy things like that, that he- he would just come out with, you know. Yeah. No, it's erm, it's as I say, I think the way we lost him coloured the whole thing then afterwards, you know that that's erm, yeah.

00:23:51 (WD)

He was.

00:23:54 (SH)

Do you have a favourite story about Father Paul Sartori?

00:24:01-24:56 (RD)

It's difficult to know, which story is- is our favourite cause as, as you've heard, we- we, we were very much involved with him, both of us at the same time with the family erm and erm, we've got lots of these photographs for the children. I've got one where he's got his veil on his head, one of these veils on his head, you know, that's the sort of thing he did. Erm he, he interacted a lot with the kids and with the band. Of course, you know, because erm, some of these are just not with us any more, some of these boys. I don't know if- you if you remembered the Burkes at all. He- he became a priest and it was only last.

00:24:58 (WD)

Last- last week that he died, in the last fortnight, he died in America worship back.

00:24:59-26:23 (RD)

Last week- last week. Yeah, yeah. So, no, it- it's and he- he, he had a relationship with all these kids. He- he, he- he knew them all. He knew their families, they knew him and could go to him at any time, you know. And he- he was just such a big character that it's hard to pinpoint and think the odd ones that we've given you, erm.

He, he- he started- he needed funds for the church, he decided. So he hired the drill hole and got Joff and his band, to come and play. And then it was he- he wanted people to have tables, I mean that was not the, you know, you either went to a dance and- and you sat around. But now he wanted tables and he wanted people to have tables and he wanted all this done.

He had great ideas about things like, social things. So- and they worked very well, you know. So there was a group of us ladies used to do the refreshments and wash up and all the rest of it. And it- it was just a- a parish work together, because he put in that amount of work himself, he- he just got it going, you know.

00:26:24-26:43 (WD)

The same thing you've done with the, the house next door on Duke Street as you come out the lane, the parish office, the parish house, like you know. So then you wanted to convert that into, uh, social place, then like, for after mass on a Sunday, you know. I know we put a new floor Russ, myself and then put a new floor in it did last a- a couple of years, you know it.

00:26:44 (RD)

Yeah, yeah.

00:26:46 (WD)

But he- he was like the instigator of said Ohh, we got every- people can go over relax and.

00:26:51 (RD)

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:26:51 (WD)

Do that sort of thing like you know.

00:26:55-27:40 (RD)

Yeah, he was erm, he was just an amazing character and what surprises me now is that erm, if you- if you suggest you know, you talk to people about the Satori Foundation, and they had no idea who Paul Sartori was. Because the- the poster that's here now with that 40 years poster is the best poster I've ever seen. And I think that is- that photograph, we- we'd like a poster if we can get a copy of it because that- that sums him up, tremendously that- that you know, casual look, but still in his erm, priest.

00:27:41 (WD)

We saw it on the Paul Sartori shop last week, and it was.

00:27:43 (RD)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we- we'd love one of those. If- if you can get hold of one.

00:27:49-28:55 (RD)

But as I say it- it was just. And of course he was our age group as well. So we- we could relate to him, you know, and it- it was cause. I mean I was, I- I was a convert. I- I came into the church as a convert, but. We could talk about anything. You know, I could, you know; tell him about, Welsh Presbyterian Baptists and- and he would accept that, you know, but, and then I- somebody was talking, oh, that was at the other, erm. I think it was a different erm, memorial thing for him and erm, he, this chap said he was the nearest thing to erm, the Mafia that he ever knew. You know, he was that sort of person. He knew as many rogues, as he did your priests quite honestly, yeah. Yeah. Ohh, no It's just the character he was just, you know, overall, really.

00:29:00 (SH)

Do you have anything else you'd like to share with us?

00:29:05 (WD)

In France, Russ and myself now, we were sitting at this table inside this glass doors like you know. And suddenly uhm, this fellow was coming through, and he hit the glass. He walked into the glass. And of course it was a, oh yes (laughs). And certainly he picked him, Father, Paul like, you know, so. And he was blabbering away in French, like in off Pauline Hanson. But I thought I’d pick on him like, you know, he walked into the door himself like not (laughs).

00:29:36 (RD)

Yeah, yeah, but he- that wouldn't bother him.

00:29:38 (WD)

He was.

00:29:39 (RD)

But I mean, you quite often didn't have his collar on anyway, and when he went to the rugby matches he had his scarf.

00:29:44 (WD)

No, no. He had his on. He had his big white, big white pullover.

00:29:45 (RD)

Yeah, yeah. And he- he’d hide his collar if- if it got a bit too, you know, blue the, the-  the language he'd hide his collar then so you wouldn't be seen. But no he’d, he’d- he’d.

00:30:04 (WD)

Yeah, I don't know how many New Zealanders he killed (laughs).

00:30:09 (RD)

Yeah, yeah.

00:30:11 (WD)

Yeah, he was a grand character. So we were sweating and out around and round the rooms, we still missing one side, but Father and Russ were sitting there now with their bottle whiskey, waiting now for three or four hours to-

00:30:25 (RD)

They needed petrol, waiting for the petrol station to open.

00:30:26 (WD)

With that petrol station we were at, yeah. And then they were sitting there and so, suddenly, this little white face came up over the top and there’s these little hands (laughs). They had to take him in like you know.