In this extract Hugh Smullen describes the very physical work that he undertook when he worked as a delivery man for the flour mill. He remembers lifting 20 stone bags of wheat or flour on his back and carrying them onto the delivery lorries. He describes the extremely physical nature of his work.

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So I was driving these horses and em...then they got motor lorries...four cylinder, they were only four cylinder, you know, and they were petrol so they had these and then I was with this guy as a helper and I was determined to learn and so I learned how to drive the lorry in the yard when they’d be at their dinner, you know, I’d be driving it up and down and I learned how to drive and we used to em… then I was coming up now about 19 now at this stage and they had what they called Ford V8s, four cylinders each side, the engine was shaped in a V and four cylinders and four, you know? And em... this time anyway, we used to go and collect the wheat at the harvest, we’d go to the local farmers, say in Wicklow, out there, out beyond Dundrum there, what do you call it? You live in Wicklow …

Is it kind of Stepaside area?

Yeah, just beyond Stepaside there you see em … I can’t think of it … Willis, Willis, that’s the name of the farm, go out there and collect the wheat and there’d be 20 stone in what they called a barrel of wheat, it’d be in a sack but they called it a barrel of wheat, you see, and they’d put it on the weighing scales and the weighing scales was that height you see and then three men would lift it, this 20 stone bag, you know, one each side and one holding the lug of bag this way, up onto this weighing scale and then one man would get it on his back and lift it over onto the lorry and the guy on the lorry would have a little hand truck and he’d load the lorry and he’d take 48 of them at that time you see and that’d be six and a quarter tonnes. So then you’d deliver that then, bring that into the mills and em...that’d be kiln dried then in the mills, you know.

Wow, so really very physical then.

Very physical, very heavy work, very very heavy work.

Yeah and still quite young you know.

And still quite young, yeah, quite I done that for eh for nine years, you know, and then the lorries got bigger and got … you know, but we still had to do all this physical stuff, like em, then we used to go to Guinness with the flake barley, you know, that's...Guinness has a dark colour, this’d be the dark colour of the flake barley and you’d have 150 bags of them and you'd go to Robert Street with them and do four or five loads of that a day and each load then they used to give you a pint, a pint of Guinness! So you’d have your pint with your lunch and your corned beef sandwich, you know! So, the other story on that is we used to deliver the flour then, 10 stone to the rail head, go to Drogheda and different places like that and em … you’d have 100 bags of flour, ten stone, on the lorry going to the railway and then the 100 bags going to different bakeries, used to go to a bakery called Dempsey’s bakery, it was in a place called Gloucester Diamond, it’s off Seán McDermott Street there, that’s where it was situated, they had a bakery there but they had to store the flour upstairs, do you see, and then they’d empty it to go down to the bakery, so when you’d arrive there were two men on the lorry with 100 bags so you had to carry this...carry ten stone up a flight of stairs and they used a ladder, you see … but Dempsey’s would pay a penny for every bag that you brought up …

God, would that be on top of the salary that … ?

On top of your salary, yeah you see, so, like, that’d be their own … that’d be the gratuity they’d give you for doing this, you know, and em so we’d get the penny a bag and that would be four and tuppence each, you see, me and the other guy, so we’d go into Keating’s in Store Street and we’d have a pint each after that because you’d be actually carrying them, like, you’d have no shirt, just carrying these sacks up and then


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Dublin City Life, Work and Family, Work



Date Added



"Hugh Smullen describes the very physical work that he undertook during his life." Lifescapes: Mapping Dublin Lives, Item #248 (accessed September 22 2017, 10:58 am)