In this extract Hugh Smullen remembers working on the coal docks transporting coal from the docks to the yard. He remembers that the left over coal that fell out of the buckets would be on the floor of his lorry and so he used to be able to supply his wife and family with coal for free. He also made sure an older woman who lived at the top of their tenement building had plenty of coal during the winter too.

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And did you ever go on the backs of the carts to get the coal or anything like that when you were … ?

Ah yeah, you’d get the coal! Oh yeah, oh... talking about the coal, when I used to … when I was with the coal yard we used to empty, we’d work on the Quay and the big, what they used to call the big Yankees - American ships - used to come in with coal and we’d be emptying … the dockers, they filled these big buckets, huge big buckets, you see, and then it’d be lifted off with a crane and depending on the size of your lorry you’d take two or three of these big buckets and then you’d bring it from the boat to the coal yard and another crane then would empty it but at that time then you’d bring the lorry home to your lunch and we lived in Mountjoy Square, you see, I‘d go home for my lunch...but when I got home there’d be loads of loose coal from emptying … that would be on the lorry so I’d take all that coal and then Mrs McGowan, she was … she lived up at the top of the house and things weren’t too good for the old people in them days, you know, they weren’t … so I used to bring, I used to empty the coal into a big bag and carry it all up the stairs and give her a load of coal, you know, so and she’d still be sparing and I’d be saying "no Mary, just put the coal on, there’s plenty more where that came from" and we used to build up a big fire for her to, you know, heat up her room and the same then, we’d have loads … we weren’t short of coal. So that was something.


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Dublin City Life, Community, Social support



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"Hugh Smullen remembers working on the coal docks transporting coal from the docks to the yard.." Lifescapes: Mapping Dublin Lives, Item #180 (accessed February 23 2018, 4:48 am)