Track 1: Philip Brunkard initially discusses the project engineering business he set up in the 1960s, which involved the design and installation of paper-making equipment, concrete plants and meat plants in the Dublin area. He worked for Hubbard Brothers, millwrights, initially as an apprentice, and he explains the various grades to which he was promoted. One of the clients of the business was Clondalkin Paper Mills and through this connection, he was offered a position at the mills which involved his training in engineering. He recalls the acquisition of Drimnagh and Swiftbrook paper mills by Clondalkin Paper Mills. Later, he worked at several other jobs and then joined the Irish Army as an engineer. On his return from service, Dr Cusack again contacted him, and later Philip set up his own business. His clients included companies such as Clondalkin Concrete, Roadstone and Clondalkin Paper Mills. Philip discusses heavy engineering and describes the use of boilers and turbines to produce the great volumes of steam at high pressure required for paper making. The modernisation of systems to replace the old belts and pulleys is recalled, and he describes the development of new pulp lines at the paper mills to replace the old expensive copper piping with stainless steel. He comments on the lack of health and safety policies at the time, and he also discusses the replacement of gears with direct drive systems run by electricity and computers. Similarly, automatic lubrication was introduced. Philip describes the skills employed by the paper makers in keeping the old machines of 20 or 30 rollers working efficiently. Track 2: Philip’s relationship with the Clondalkin mills ran from about 1958 until its demise, and when the business was taken over by a Canadian company he also had a connection with that company. He remembers his time with the Irish Army, and explains that soldiers were encouraged to take up third-level studies from which many men benefited hugely. He also talks about his part in the development of the fire service in Co. Kildare. He describes his service overseas with the UN forces in Cyprus, working with local communities, and he recalls the support provided by the British sovereign bases there to the UN forces. In the meantime, his brothers kept the business going at home in Newcastle where the firm employed about 150 people at this time. Track 3: Philip recalls working to solve the problems at the mills relating to water and energy, and he describes the issues involved in some detail. He recalls the costs incurred by FMI in relation to an effluent licence and the introduction of a flocculation tank. The effect of paper colour dyes on the river water is discussed. Philip emphasises the fact that the paper mills was a large employer and the general attitude displayed at the time was not to raise issues which might affect this situation. However, with the demise of the original business and the change in feeling on environmental issues, this attitude had to change, he says. Track 4: The early history of the paper mills and the manufacture of paper during WWI1 are described. He explains that the native tree was not suitable for paper-making and he describes the three machines at the paper mills. The MG (machine-glaze) machine made a brown paper, with one side being made shiny with resin. The Fourdrinier made paper such as toilet paper and newsprint and the No. 3 machine, which came from Drimnagh, made rough brown paper. Philip considers that the arrival of plastics, energy costs and labour disputes all conjoined to bring the paper mills to its demise. He thinks that Dr Cusack asked his project engineering business to take over the care of the machinery as he was getting older, and he recalls that at least seven qualified engineers (including Dr Cusack) and chemists were employed at the paper mills, along with various technicians. Paper-making was a highly technical process, he explains, and he compares his work with paper to a job he held in the textile industry in Bray. He tells an anecdote about an alarm bell in John Charles Bamford’s office which went off if there was a problem with the production line in the JCB factory.
Track 5: Philip talks his decision to join the Irish Army in the early 1950s, explaining that he had previously been in the FCA as a young man. Initially, he reported to the Curragh Training Camp where he was sworn in as a Second Lieutenant. He recalls his duties working with the fire service and undertaking a salute course. While on leave, he learned from a neighbour that he was to be sent to Cyprus on duty with the UN and he describes his engineering duties while on tour. He recalls being an expert witness in the Army deafness case. The hard work and long hours worked by people in the 1950s and 1960s are discussed, as is the drinking culture which caused problems with absenteeism and industrial accidents. He recalls one accident and the subsequent discussions with the insurance company concerned. The difficulty experienced by his business in getting insurance cover, partly due to the heavy engineering work but also related to drinking, is recalled, and he considers that the modern emphasis on training in relation to safety is a great improvement on the system which previously prevailed.