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'Petty thievery was endemic on the docks as containers did not exist then and all goods which arrived were essentially unpacked '
Harry Browne describes his brother's work on the Dublin docklands
Trinity College Dublin
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Is Part Of
Adolescence and Early Adulthood
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The metalwork teacher at one point told me that I should not plan on making my living out of metalwork. It's ironic that for many years in later life I made a good living out of making, selling and designing aluminium window systems. I often wonder what he would have said to me if we had met. Metalwork to him was Iron and Steel, Aluminium was almost unknown then. My brother George was a qualified carpenter and in the 1950s jobs were hard to come by. He worked for a while in the Dublin Shipyards on the docks. They had a series of methods for hazing newcomers on the docks. One might be sent to the foreman for a bucket of steam, he would send you on to the next guy and this could go on for a considerable period whilst ones workmates split their sides laughing.In one instance a foreman, who was not popular, got a new leather jacket. He carefully locked the jacket up in his office, sadly when he came back at the end of shift he found his expensive jacket spreadeagled and glued to the wall. The lads had removed the hinges on the door and gained entry that way. Petty thievery was endemic on the docks as containers did not exist then and all goods which arrived were essentially unpacked. There was a watchman on the gate whose task it was to check the workers going out. One worker was stopped several times leaving the docks with barrow - loads of sand. Sand was often used for ballast in cargo ships if they were not fully laden. It was not considered to be theft to take some home. Years later it was discovered that this guy was stealing wheel barrows. Later George emigrated to London in search of work, he went with another carpenter and his catch cry was 'Everybody should leave this benighted country and the last one out should pull the plug'
Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)
Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)
Senior Research Associate
Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)
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