A Man's Pay


Moycullen, Co. Galway

“A Man’s Pay” by Tommy McDonagh

My bother Paddy started work on the church, but left after some weeks for another job. I though I could replace him, but, I was too young at the time to be given a man’s pay. A horse and cart was needed to draw water from Ballyquirke Lake, so, the horse and myself qualified for a man’s pay. It was up and down to Ballyquirke Lake all day long — two barrels of water on the cart, having filled the barrels with a bucket. Not as easy as it seems, but I was getting a “man’s pay”.

The craic was good at the work place — never a dull moment. One man hung a string of raw cold black pudding on the scaffolding every morning and each time his work brought him close to the spot, he would take a mouthful of the pudding. It was hilarious. The sniggers were audible at all times. Another had a big lump of cheese left on a stone and another still had a daily diet of raw eggs and cold milk. We could see the empty shells in a heap under a tree. We tried to count them but were not successful. Another man acted as “cook or “chef” for a short period each day. His job was to light a big timber fire to boil a half dozen kettles of water. The comments were good, witty and funny but not repeatable here.

But these were great men, great workers all of them. There was no machinery in those days, just pick and shovel digging the foundation eight foot deep. It was back breaking. We had a very mobile foreman — he was here there and everywhere, with eyes on the back of his head, but still we often out foxed him!!

When it came to lifting, Raymond Conneely (Amy) RIP was outstanding. He was chosen by the contractor to lift and carry the concrete cross up the ladder and into position on top of the tower. A great feat of pure strength.

We missed our good friend Fr. Val Fitzgerald RIP, he was in the United states collecting money for the Church.

I have many happy memories of those days, Amy Conneely and I had many a laugh reminiscing of those years (times) on his annual trip home from England.

Others on the building were Michael Barrett (Loughwell), James Sony Acton (Knockanranny) RIP, Tommy Gilsenan (Cavan), Martin Kilgannon (Sligo) and Mick Daly (Gort) to name a few.

Ní bheidh a Leithidí ann arís.