Tom McKeown delivers milk

In the mid 40’s every boy tried hard to get an after-school job. I was no different. My first job was in Frank Sweeney’s chemist shop – now Connolly’s Shoe Shop. My job was washing medicine bottles using a bottle brush and a bath of cold water. All the old bottles that were returned to the shop had to be washed and dried for reuse and I was paid 3/6d for this task.


David McVeigh and Patsy O’Hanlon who was the message boy, were great men to work with. So was the proprietor himself – a real gentleman and loved by many. Often enough he would take out his fiddle and treat us to a jig or a reel. 

I don’t remember for sure why I left Frank’s but my next job was helping to deliver milk from a horse and trap belonging to Owen Smith of Ballyholland. Joe Hillen was the driver and boy, could he hold a tune! The milk churns were at the back of the trap and the housewives would come with their jugs and other containers for a pint or a half-pint of milk. Joe and I sat up front on the dickie. There was very little driving to be done for the old mare knew every turn of the streets and every stop. 

 One quiet Sunday morning we were wending our way down John Mitchel Place when suddenly – and for no apparent reason – the feet went from under the old mare. She collapsed, throwing Joe and me out across her back and onto the road. Milk was cascading in rivers along the street. It seemed we were down for an eternity. At last we gathered ourselves and stood up. We tried our best to get the horse out of its harness and on to her feet. After a good bit of cajoling, badly frightened as we were too, she did stand up. 

Joe had to lead her back to Ballyholland and bring in another horse to bring the trap home. It was shortly after this unfortunate episode that I retired from the milk game!

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