Carl Welsh
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Carl Welsh


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Track 1: Carl Welsh joined Clondalkin Paper Mills in about 1946, and he explains that he grew up in Clondalkin where his father Jack was foreman in the bag factory in the mills. The manager at that time was Mr Dagnall, an Englishman. Carl’s grandfather came from Limerick and was a friend of J. J. Walsh, one of the company directors of Clondalkin Paper Mills. Carl recalls the village of Clondalkin during his childhood, a lovely place with everyone knowing each other, he recalls. He played Gaelic football with the Round Towers and he remembers the Towers’ field where they played and the great support of the village for their games. His father introduced Carl to Arthur Barrett at the paper mills, and he started there sweeping the floor. Later he moved to the pulping loft, the breakers, the beaters, the aftercutters and the reeler, and then to the paper-making machines. He remembers Dr Sherry, the chemist and Assistant Manager, as being very good with the young people, and he also remembers Dr Cusack, Manager at the time. The place was very busy in those days, and they would often work seven days a week. He remembers that the foreman was Hugh Hurrel from Larne, who lived in one of the mills houses on the Nangor Road, and also some Scottish men who had trained everybody from the beginning in the 1930s. He recalls the mills as being a good place to work, where everyone helped one another. He remembers Billy Quinlan from Celbridge who cycled in every day, arriving at 6 am. Carl’s brother, Joe, also worked at the paper mills, serving his time as an electrician. Their sister, Mary, worked in the office as a typist before joining Aer Lingus. Carl also discusses the bag factory which manufactured cement sacks mainly. Track 2: Carl recalls his various jobs at the paper mills, and explains that his final position was that of machine man. He describes the various kinds of paper produced by the MG machine and the Fourdrinier. He remembers the pulp being made mainly of straw, cooked in a boiler for about eight hours. In about 1949, Carl went to England for a time, returning home to get married and then going to work for Durham Paper Mills in West Hartlepool, where he succeeded in getting a position as foreman in charge at the mills. He describes the Durham mills as old fashioned in comparison with Clondalkin. His wife Betty could not settle in England and the couple returned to Ireland, where Carl worked at Killeen Paper Mills for Mr Mumford, an Englishman. He tells an anecdote about being headhunted for a position in Northern Ireland at Lurgan Box Making Company (now Boxmore). A house was provided with this job, and Carl says that he has not a single regret about their move there. He recalls that even though they were the only Southern Catholics in the area, they never experienced any difficulty. He recalls working for his boss, Dermot Best, and the other workers there, and says that the company still exists although now taken over by an American business. Track 3: The camaraderie amongst the workforce at Clondalkin is remembered, and Carl explains that the company in Lurgan purchased a lot of pulp from Clondalkin to make egg boxes and such products. He remembers Seán Carroll very well, saying that he learned the most from him. Seán worked his way up to senior foreman and then became foreman manager. Carl recalls the fights he had with Seán on the factory floor, and he remembers him as the mainstay of what he himself achieved in his own career. The working conditions of the late 1940s are considered, and Carl explains that work did not stop for breaks and that the men worked together even if they were on different machines. The employees mainly walked to work as they lived locally, and Carl describes a photograph of the paper mills in its location in the centre of the village. His family lived between Main Street and the Boot Road, and he lists out the various shops and public houses in the village at the time. A trip to Dublin city centre was a special occasion, as it was seven miles away. He remembers the Camac soccer team and the Round Towers Gaelic football club, but he says no hurling or rugby was played locally. He remarks that Clondalkin is now a town, and tells an anecdote about an incident that occurred years ago on the bus from St Michael’s CBS in Inchicore. He later attended the O’Connell secondary school in the city centre. He remembers one year when he had just three Sundays off from work, but he considers that the hard work paid off. He met his wife, Betty Lynch, while playing tennis at the Garda Club in Rathfarnham and he relates the story of their meeting.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

Clondalkin Paper Mills Collection


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

12.86 MB, 11.72 MB, 17.25 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



A life in paper-making

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe