Unloading boats

I remember in the early 60’s on a Monday morning Hughie Green called at our door in Drumalane and asked me if I wanted a couple of days work unloading a timber boat.  I had never done it before but being broke, I decided to give it a go.

I got my ‘piece’ and went down to the docks. I gave my name to the gaffer Barney McGuire, and went on board.  As this was my first time, I was put in with John Green and Sheamie and Archie Henry who were old hands at unloading the boats.

They showed me the ropes; how to lay the timbers out, put them into the slings, wait for the hoist and then start all over again. It was uncomplicated work. 

After the first day I was knackered. When I got home I could barely lift my knife and fork to eat my dinner.

I started the second day with every muscle and bone in my body sore but I persevered.  I then found out that the quicker we got our timber ready to load on the hoist, the easier it was because there were four gangs and only one hoist.  It meant that we had to wait until the other three had hoisted their timbers before it was our turn.  As the timber was removed and we went deeper into the hold, we got even quicker. 

Now on the third day we worked it so that we had two slings ready for the hoist.  We thought we were great but sure what we didn’t realise was that we were working ourselves out of a job!  The ship was unloaded in three days.

We got our pay and went over to Murtaghs for a drink.  Well we were dockers and that is where dockers went after they had unloaded the coal boats – or so we assumed.

… more later …

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