Track 1: Noel Hoare began work at Clondalkin Paper Mills in 1961, and remained there in the maintenance section for 21 years. His father, John, was English and his mother was a native of Clondalkin. John Hoare joined the Free State Army not long after independence, and was stationed in Baldonnell. Later, he became part of the maintenance crew in Aer Lingus, working on the Dakota DC3s. Noel was the only member of his family to work at the paper mills. He attended the technical school and then served his time with contract shops around Dublin city. He describes the work at the Groundwood plant that took in the timber for pulp-making, and the three paper-making machines are also described. On the right was the machine glazed (MG) machine, in the centre was the Fourdrinier machine, and on the left was the No. 3 machine which made ‘good’ paper. Each machine had its own maintenance foreman to take care of any breakdowns. Noel goes on to talk about the fitting shops with the three turners, and remarks that his colleagues were Mick Young and Noel Counihan. His foreman was Tony Reynolds, and also there was John Geraghty (who was in charge of the Fourdrinier and the MG) and Jim Pluck (in charge of No. 3 machine). The machines were complex, with vats overhead taking in the pulp that then fell on to the wire. It then moved on to the rollers and calenders, and finally the calender stack, and down to the reel offs which rolled up the paper. Meanwhile, Noel was working in the fitting shop overhauling the Goulds pumps so that spares would be available in case of a breakdown. These pumps worked at pumping the pulp up to the vats, and he describes the work involved in changing the pumps. Other smaller pumps were kept ready. A breakdown would cost about £500 an hour if there was a delay in replacing the pumps, though he says that a machine very rarely went down. He recalls the work involved in manhandling the crown control ball and explains that twice a year they were brought to the grinding shop to have a set ready for switchover at the next shutdown period. In the fitting shop were three turners. The diamonds used for sharpening parts are described and Noel emphasises how difficult paper is to cut. He describes how the grinding was done, working on the huge cylinders. The long strike which lasted over 16 weeks is mentioned, though as Noel remembers, it did not affect the fitters. He considers that there was a stubbornness on both sides. However, he explains that the disputed four shifts were introduced at the Groundwood, but not at Clondalkin. He remembers the pickets on the gate which he could not pass, and describes it as a difficult time. As he recalls, the basic machines were not changed but parts of them, such as the calender bowls, were updated. The biggest change, he says, was computerisation. However Noel’s concern was with jobs such as replacing the bearings of 3 or 4 made of bronze. He recalls the Fourdrinier machine used to make newsprint, and says that it could have been improved by being made more wide.
Track 2: Noel recalls the fire which was lit at the base of the chimney, and says that it was not possible to learn about papermaking at a technical school, and people learned on the job in the mills. However, he says he learned his skills in contract shops like Coxs Engineering, Faulkners and Howard McGarveys. After the mills closed he worked with Alton Engineering, and later with Noel Counihan who had also worked in the mills. He says that it was a shock when Clondalkin Paper Mills closed, and he discusses the action committee set up to re-open the mills rather than, in his opinion, concentrating on obtaining a good redundancy deal. He received £2,000 for 21 years’ service and maintains that more could have been obtained. He recalls the teamwork and the happy atmosphere at the paper mills, and says that it is a shame that no film was ever made about papermaking at the mills.