Eamonn Tully
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Eamonn Tully


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Track 1: Eamonn Tully hails from the Naas Road and his parents came from Athlone, where his father worked as a land steward. Eamonn was discouraged from working in farming by his father, and having gained the Group Certificate in the early 1950s, he started work in the laboratory at Clondalkin Paper Mills. He remarks on the pleasant atmosphere which pertained at the mills and he explains that the paper produced at the mills’ laboratory was tested for tensile strength, thickness, and so on in the laboratory before being dispatched to customers. The various papers produced included newsprint, manila paper, kraft paper and coloured paper. Eamonn explains that the process began at the beating loft, with the pulp then going on to the two papermaking machines: MG machine and Fourdrinier machine. He recalls that he was interviewed by Dr Sherry and his first task was to read a book about the manufacture of paper. He learned a skill in the laboratory, but after two years a vacancy occurred and he was asked to work on the effluent system. The waste had to be filtered before going into the River Camac and Eamonn here describes his work as a ‘save all man’. The four mills along the river are listed, all of which used the river water. As Eamonn recalls, it was the ‘greaser man’ who cleaned the inflow of water from the river. Eamonn worked with two others, each man serving one shift: he relieved Johnny Maguire who in turn relieved Jimmy Dean. There were three shift foremen: Hugh Hurell, Alec Hazel and Mick Muldowney. Eamonn also recalls engineer Dr Cusack, who was Managing Director. The process of paper manufacture from pulp through to the final product is described. Some of the water used in the process was recycled, and the ‘save all men’ processed the effluent produced by filtering it, before the cleaned water was released back into the river. Track 2: Eamonn continues by describing the next phase after the paper moved from the wire mesh to be dried on cylinders. On the MG machine, the cylinder was called the MG machine glaze, which applied a glaze to the paper. He recalls how wonderful it was for him to be earning a man’s wage at the age of 18. At the time, his older brother was training to be a fitter and was receiving a lower wage. Eamonn remembers Seán Carroll, the production manager, and the machine men, all of whom had assistants. The next grade down from the machine man was the back tender, and these men also had assistants. This graded system meant that when a man was promoted, his assistant stepped into the vacated role. Eamonn began work at the mills in 1953, leaving in 1966 after the strike. He explains that like all employees he had to join a union, and in his case he joined the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. By1963, he had been eight years on shift work and he says that he enjoyed his job. In that year he got married, and there was talk of difficulty at the mills. He recalls the rumours about the introduction of a four-shift system, which would have meant the employment of an extra shift at Clondalkin Paper Mills, and he details the effect of this on the workers especially as it impacted on their free time. A meeting was held at Liberty Hall to discuss this new system, which had already been introduced at Killeen and Waterford paper mills. After he had spoken at the meeting to give his views, he was asked to become a shop steward. The four-shift system was rejected by a vote in 1964, which led to the 1966 strike. Eamonn explains that the unions were for the new system, but as far as he was concerned his job and his way of life was threatened. The strike lasted eighteen weeks. There had been an embargo on the importation of paper, but this was lifted during the strike so other companies were not affected. The Labour Court intervened, with negotiations being held about wages, but only on condition by the management that the four-shift system be discussed. Eamonn was one of the four worker representatives from Clondalkin Paper Mills, along with John Clark, Liam Stone and Jackie Behan. He recalls that about 600 employees were involved in the voting. The new system affected the shift workers only, and as Eamonn says, it was a matter of principle for them. The weekly base rate in 1966 was £10 4s and when he got married he was receiving about £18, so he recognises the fact that good wages were earned at the paper mills. During the 1966 strike, the strikers received £5 a week, and Eamonn recalls that the local butcher and grocer gave the family credit during the strike. He remembers his late wife, Carmel O’Reilly from Tallaght, who supported him during the strike. Tragically, she died at a young age from an illness in 1978. Eamonn explains that he suggested, after nine weeks of strike action, that an independent tribunal would look at the four-shift system and that some men would travel to Scandinavia to look at the system in action there. These suggestions were accepted by the union. After 12 weeks of strike action, the workers were offered 4¼d (four pence and a farthing) extra per hour, but this offer was turned down. He recalls a report of the fact that the local church condemned the strike committee. His admiration for Jim Larkin and his reading about the 1913 Lockout is discussed. He recalls his visit to the Swedish paper mills and the personal effect of what he saw there. In his view, the system at the Clondalkin paper mills at the time was more flexible, but the introduction of the new shift system meant there would be no more flexibility. After the strike, Eamonn applied for a position at the Irel Coffee company, which he would have been happy to accept though the pay was £6 an hour less than he had been earning, and he remarks that he intended to leave the paper mills in any event as he was not happy there at that time.

Additional information



Audio series:

Clondalkin Paper Mills Collection


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

13.23 MB, 10.91 MB, 25.60 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



The 1966 strike

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe