I looked after children when I was 13 for Ann Lynch. I was off one day sick and I went up the next day and she asked me why I wasn’t there the day before. I said I was sick and she said ‘I’m as sick as you are, I’m expecting!’ I didn’t know what she meant!’ Isia Porter
I worked in Lifford shirt factory (Gallagher’s) when I was 14 1/2 . I went in as a ‘clipper’ first. It meant clipping off all the loose threads. There were loads of different jobs, your clothes would be white with dust. I also was a message girl. You worked from 8.30 to 6. If you made a mistake they would’ve ate you. I started in shoes and ankle socks, and I went to work on a bicycle from Ballindrait. In the evenings I worked in the cafe owned by Katie Mc Cusker. I got 10 schillings for working the whole weekend. Katie was very good, she was a brilliant baker. And a very hard worker.. – Kathleen French
I worked on farms from a very early age. I worked with frozen food in Malahide, I only lasted two weeks – it was too early in the morning. I worked with an uncle of mine in Waterford in a pub, serving pints of porter. It was directly opposite the CIE goods depot. It was mainly large bottles of stout. The pub bottled its own stout at that time. I also worked in the summer to help get rid of the warble fly. Cattle used to be full of them, they used to go mad with them, it’s eliminated now.’ Bob Kavanagh I drove a confectionery van for a fortnight during holidays. It used to be sweet cakes and scones. – Bob Kavanagh
In the 1950s I began work selling ice-cream wafers in the local Ritz Cinema in Lifford. Mr. Barry who lived out in Drumboy House owned the cinema. My job was to cup up blocks of ice cream into nine sections and add wafers, which were then put into a tray, which I carried down the aisle during the intermission. The wafers cost thruppence (three pennies) each and there was a great demand for them as the cinema was always very hot. The block of ice cream 1/6 pence but when I cut it up in nine wafers it sold for 2/3 pence, a very good profit. Paddy Friel was the Commissioner and Kathleen Dooher worked in the box office. Maggie Porter and others collected the tickets at the door. Hughie Mc Cormick worked the projectors. Huge crowds attended the cinema as all the new films came to Lifford first; The ones I remember still are ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘The Song of Bernadette’, ‘The Quiet Man’ and ‘The Magnificent Seven’. I enjoyed the work as I was able to see all the films and it was great fun, - Margaret Giblin
I went to work in Porters shirt factory the month after I was 14. My first job was message girl. This was to go up stairs to the cutting room to have a new collar cut for the collar stitches, and also to find the mechanic when the machines broke down. I worked from 8:45 until 5:45 and if I worked a half day on Saturday my wage was £2.09. Sometimes running late in the morning the boss could see us coming, but he would still shut the door on us. We would just stand around for 15 minutes or so until he opened it again. – Maureen Hegarty
‘I worked as a darner for Moygashel. Darning was needlework by hand repairing faults in the big nets of linen. It was quite good. I started at fifteen and worked there for three years. Then I worked in London on the buses. Women were paid the same as men on London transport. I loved it, it was good fun. There were loads of Irish on the buses back then. Our first bus was at four in the morning and we’d leave all the cleaners into London. On Saturday night the Irish were all drunk, only about half of them ever paid!’ – Carmel Parkes
I left school around about 16 or 17 years old and went straight into my father’s farm. Nowadays someone going into farming would usually go to an agricultural college for 2 to 3 years, but it was in at the deep end for me. The farm was a mixed farm, we did not specialize in any one enterprise. We had a little bit of everything, dairy cows, potatoes, barley or oats, sheep and dry stock. One was never (or hardly ever bored on the farm). I think the only boring job was the thinning of the turnips. Thinning turnips meant wrapping two large bags round your knees, then getting down on your knees and pulling out the surplus turnips leaving a space of about eight inches between every plant, it was very boring down on ones hands and knees all day long, especially if one had no company.
The milking had to be done every morning and evening (all hand milking). The thrashing of the barley and oats and the potato harvest wasn’t bad, it meant a gathering of folk together and where you get a good crowd of people there was usually good craic. I spent all my life on the farm and although it was a tough life I would not have changed it. – Joe Mc Cormick