where have all the jobs gone

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As a child growing up in Inchicore, Dublin, I always wanted to be worker who made stuff. I got a Meccano set for Christmas when I was 7 years old and my dreams of building bridges and big sky scrapers was put into practice .Nuts and bolts turned shiny bits of steel strip and yellow and blue panels into all sorts busses trains bridges.

Why was I so fascinated by mechanical things? What had ignited my interest in engineering? What makes a farmers child want to farm? It must be the environment, it must be their surroundings. Coming from Inchicore I was surrounded by engineering .As a child making my way to school I would be brought up Spa road to Goldenbridge convent and Sister Jarlet .I remember stopping outside the gates of the Spa Road works and looking in at all the men making buses. The grey gate into the yard would be closed over at 1 o’clock and the men would come out through a small wicker gate and head home for dinner .This was possible as most of the workers lived locally. I had a collection of pop rivets that I had collected on my way to and from school every day. Rivets were used to fix sheet metal to the frames of the buses that were being made at Spa Road. Rivets to a small boy looked like a nail wearing a top hat.

As I got taller it was possible to stand on my bed and look out my bedroom window and see over the wall into the Inchicore Works of CIE and see all the trains. Big new bright ones and old black ugly things .Now I appreciate how beautiful the ugly black trains really were .Thousands of local men women and boys were employed in the works. Men from Ballyfermot ,Drimnagh ,Bluebell from all over Dublin they came to work. Mothers would insist that we played up our end of the road and away from the main gate of the works on Tyrconnell Park when the horn blew in the works to announce the end of the working day for the men .It also blew early morning and at lunchtime. The CIE horn was complimented by the bells from the Oblates church on the main road that struck on the hour and rang out the angelus at noon and 6pm every day. The 5 o’clock horn would signal the stampede from the gates of the Inchicore Works .It was the 1970s and bicycles were the preferred method of transport. There were very few cars and mothers were afraid we might get knocked down .The charge of the bicycle brigade was intermingled with men running to catch the 21 bus at the green on the top of Ring Street .All this excitement was over in a matter of minutes and everything returned to normal. Boys played football and girls played ball or beds. This exodus of working men could also be seen from the front gate behind the big wall and by the Ballyfermot workers who preferred the Khyber pass gate .This was a narrow passage that ran down from the works to the Ballyfermot Road beside the Seven oaks nuns.

Sometimes we would visit in Ballyfermot on a Sunday .Walking up the Naas Road, past the chimney of the Lambs jam factory where all the girls got summer jobs turning the fruit harvest into jam and some of the boys got picking jobs. Walking past Landsdown Valley where the record factory and the shoe factory were. Looking up the road to the big redbrick tower of the Mercedes factory seeing what time it was and how long it would take my little legs to walk the length of the road while holding onto the side of the pram. In the shadow of the big tower was another car manufacturing plant-Datsun. This was not as big as the others but my friend’s da worked there with hundreds of others. They made the 120y.Walking down the Kylemore Road you came upon the big one – the FIAT car plant. This was one of the really good jobs in the area. Thousands worked there making cars. Sometimes when we would visit we would get Coca Cola from a friend who worked for Coke at the top of the California Hills (hundreds of people were employed there)and we would get some Kit Kat from the woman next door who worked for Rowntrees (hundreds worked here too ). She was able to buy bags of broken chocolate from work. I remember one of the people we visited asking would we bring her collection of minstrels off the side of the Lyons tea packet. (40 minstrels got you a share in a prize bond for a year) to the Lyons factory on the canal beside Kelloggs. All these brands still prosper today but all these jobs have been lost to the locals. People in Rialto worked for Guinness who even built some of the houses for their workers .Fleetwood and Varians made the paintbrushes locally. Today most of the locations of these jobs have been developed into housing units that the locals can’t afford to buy and many lie vacant.

The local tradition of turning out top quality trades people for generations is denied to our young people .Good quality production jobs have been transferred out of the area or out of the state completely .We have gone from being the engineering heart of the country to being one of the darkest unemployment black spots in the country .Over the last 40 years a whole tradition of engineering excellence has disappeared and no efforts to replace these quality trades has been made .We must bring pressure to bear on government to bring jobs into our area to promote the Inchicore works site as a base for manufacturing and return the tradition of engineering excellence to our community .To promote apprenticeships for boys and girls who do not wish to follow an academic future. So once again granddads and fathers can sit with their sons and daughters and discuss the family tradition of supplying plumbers, carpenters, welders or whatever trade they choose to follow .We have become a community in turmoil. Our young people cannot see any hope of a career in the future and those who have lost their jobs are loosing hope of gaining employment .We need a new direction ,we need to promote ourselves as a nation of quality crafts people with the skills and trades to make and develop any product .

How many more jobs have gone? How many more jobs will go?

LH13/04/2010Hi there, I feel your concern. Thank you for writing such a heartfelt piece. The sad fact is that most of these jobs have gone to lower cost countries such china and certain nations in eastern europe. Perhaps you would like to provide an input into the cie works (70 acres) framework development plan, which includes a dart station, and could provide future employment in the area and also is accessible by car through the new kylemore road entrance.
JOHN M13/04/2010This post is not about the death of something it is about neglect .If we spoke with country accents and had a good TD we would of been declared an employment blackspot and funding would of been put in place to assist new startup businesses.The Inchicore works site should be redeveloped as a high quality manufacturing estate .It is ideally located to move large loads by rail .it would make an ideal location for the manufacture of wind turbines .We have been told that wind is the future so why not
Catherine Currivan25/04/2010We lived in a cottage on Killeen Rd. Just up from the Paper Mills. I remember the crowds of people going up and down to work. As a kid it was a great example in life-the routine, the productivity, the whole feel-good-factor of people having a role in society.When Mac Arthur Steel was being built right behind us my little brother, only three ,used to ask my mam for some sandwiches and go out to eat his "lunch" with the men at ten o' clock! People need work for self -esteem.
JLS10/12/2010I am studying Engineering Manufacturing. We won't open old paper mills but there are things that Irish can produce that noone else can. The problem is that too often when something bad happens we just accept it as part of "our lot".
JLS10/12/2010You have made a fantastic point here. When foreigners think of Ireland they think about how green and poetic the country is. But Ireland gave so much more to the world. The thing is we became embarrased by what made us good. That happens to us too often. When something bad happens we just accept it as part of "our lot". When something good happens, we keep specualting that it won't last or fight against it - like the Metro North.
If you look at some of the countries who have not been so badly hit by the crises - are the countries that produce and export the most.
Maybe if we get some steam behind it we won't open old paper mills but there are things that Irish can produce that noone else can.
I'm planning to take a trip to the Inchicore plant and hope to get a job there when I graduate. Who knows what can happen in the future.