Track 1: Kit Brady recalls the Swiftbrook Paper Mill, located in the village of Saggart and says that towards the end of its life the mills employed about 400 people. Richard (Dick) Farrelly started work in the beating loft, working on the mixture for the paper, and he describes the big tub containing wood pulp spinning around, china clay and alum. Kit’s father was one of the foremen in the sheds and this is where Kit started work bringing in the timber. Before the wood pulp was imported, the paper was made from cloth rags, he explains, and his mother, Esther (née O’Neill), was one of the ‘rag pickers’ who cut up the rags into smaller pieces. These were then boiled up with caustic soda in two large boilers in order to break them down. Before Kit’s time, the owner was named Drury, and later the mills was owned by Horgsburgh, a man who is remembered as being unpredictable and rather harsh. The Swiftbrook Paper Mill was the biggest local employer, and Kit recalls the strict regime for the workers and tells some anecdotes about occasions on which men were caught smoking. However, Dick says that despite the strict regime, there was a happy atmosphere there amongst the workers.
Track 2: Kit started work in Swiftbrook in 1947. Dick previously worked in forestry and he remarks that getting a job at the paper mills in 1950 was ‘pennies from heaven’. Kit recalls how scrap paper was recycled and says that boys were employed to remove the covers from hard backed books. There were drives to save waste paper at that time. He remembers making postage stamp paper, which was very particular work, and he describes how vacancies and promotions would allow the men to gradually advance through the various jobs. He became a back tender or helper to his cousin, Brendan O’Neill, the machine man. By the time the mills closed down, he had been promoted to a machine man and was earning £30 6d a week gross, which was a very good wage at the time. In 1955 Dick was earning £7 7s a week on shift work. He recalls his work in the forestry nursery on the Castle Road for less than a year, which he enjoyed very much. He recounts his memories of a tour of Clondalkin Paper Mills, of seeing the pulping of the trees and noticing how difficult the job was. This was the first section of the mills to close as it was not successful, he says. Both Kit and Dick discuss the difficulties of shift work, particularly with regard to meals, and Dick recalls the lads eating together and the practical jokes played, especially on the night shift. The Swiftbrook quality paper is discussed. Kit worked in the ‘piggery’ where the wet rags were processed, being forked from one area to another before boxes of the rag pulp would be brought up to the beating loft. Dick remembers the heat produced by the driers, which made the factory very warm. Kit rose up the ranks to the position machine man on the No. 1 machine, and his back tender was Jim Mullally. Kit’s job was at the wet end and Jim kept an eye on the reel end. Kit explains that he had to tear out a piece of paper to weigh it, to check the quality and adjust the machine as appropriate. He describes another tool which was introduced to weigh the paper which, though radioactive, was an improvement. The machine men had various checks to carry out on the paper including the watermark, and also for the presence of air bubbles. Dick recalls making the airmail paper, the Irish Sweep paper and the paper for the Stationery Office. The manual removal of the finished reel of paper, which weighed 1,000 lbs or more, is described. A very heavy paper for ledgers and registers was also produced. Kit remarks that once the tariff on imported paper was removed, Swiftbrook could not compete. Dick remembers that at some time before he worked at the paper mills, the tariff had been removed and the mills had been closed, and when the tariff was reintroduced the mills opened once again. Both men discuss the difficulties of producing papers sufficiently quickly for reasons of economy.
Track 3: Kit recalls that the families at the paper mills were Quinns, O’Neills, Bradys and Connors, and he says that all the men had nicknames and were known by that name. Kit’s grandfather served in the British Army during the WWI and his son, Kit’s father, was born in England. His brothers were known as ‘Cheeky’ and ‘Broadser’ Brady. Mick ‘The Giller’ Timmons, who worked on the calender at the paper mills with Kit, is remembered. Dick and Kit now talk about the closure of the paper mills and it is remarked that many of the men then got employment with the County Council. Kit contacted Jimmy Meighan regarding work at Baldonnell and was given some work there for a period. Dick talks about the production of Swiftbrook Bond in Scotland today and how the machinery was sold abroad. Kit remembers the engine used to produce electricity for the mills, and says that it was sold for scrap. He remembers it as a thing of beauty to watch in action. They discuss the abilities of Dr Albert Cusack, Manager of Clondalkin Paper Mills. Kit talks about the vegetables and fruit grown at home and the food they ate during their shifts, and Dick recalls the bananas which were imported during the war for sick children.