THE UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER OF 1960…BUNMAHON
NOTE: THIS IS JUST A ROUGH INTRO TO BUNMAHON FROM MY OLD JOURNAL…NEEDS TO BE POLISHED…HOPE MY BOSS DR. NORM PATTERSON
IS NOT OFFENDED. WE HAD A LOT OF TROUBLE ON THIS JOB. THERE ARE LOTS OF TYPOS.
Flying in to Ireland in 1960 was like flying back into time. Wonderful…spellbinding.
This piece of the story covers my first month on the job in the tiny village
of Bunmahon. it was not always a village. At one point in the 19th cetury the
population exceeded 2,000. In 1960, when we arrived the population was 200 at
best and likely less than that, Many were unemployed and glad to see us.
There was high hope that the ancient copper mine could be reopened. Our
survey would help make that decision.
Tuesday June 14, 1960
At last our crates of equipment have arrived in Bunmahon. Long trip by rail then ship to Liverpool, then trans shipped
to Dublin and finally put on train to Waterford then by truck to Bunmahon. That trip took nearly a month, two weeks
of which I spent in Dublin trying to expedite things. No matter. No surprise really. The good thing is that we are now ready
to get the survey underway which means the pressure on me will increase exponentially. I think I am ready.
HISTORY OF KNOCKMAHON COPPER MINE and TANKARDSTOWN COPPER MINE, BUNMAHON, COUNTY WATERFORD, IRELAND
Once upon a time there were two big mines here.
The Knockmahon abandoned mine site does not look as dramatic as Tankardstown with its stone ruins stand high above the cliffs that far the Atlantic Ocean in
County Waterford, Ireland. Copper stained these cliffs for centuries so even the most ancient Irish people were aware that there was
something different about the place. Mining began in earnest at the Knockmahon site in the1820’s reaching peak production in 1840
the copper seams were exhausted unless the miners decided to tunnel under the sea. A new mine was found nearby at Tankardstown
which thrived through the 1850;s when copper prices were initially high and then began to fall. In 1879 the Tankardstown mine was
abandoned. In the glory days there were more than 2000 men using picks and shovels and blasting powder to make a near starvation
living wresting copper from the depths. Some of their passageways and stopes extended far out beneath the sea. (*Later I would get
a chance to crawl on my stomach through these old mine adits and shafts. Stupid and dangerous but I was young and foolish.)
The rise and fall of the two mines occurred at the same time as the Great Potato Famine of the mid to late 1840’s. Where did all these
miners go? Most were present among the starving Irish families who risked their lives on the immigrant ships crossing the Atlantic to
Canada and the United States.
Today, in 2019, the whole 25 kilometres coast from Tramore to Bunmahon is a walking trail and road designed to attract tourists
Called the COPPER COAST.
THE 1960 RECONSIDERATION OF THE IRISH COPPER COAST
Copper prices jumped in 1960 largely due to a crisis in Africa where political instability threaened
the world supply of copper. Big mining companies began to look elsewhere. Denison Mines decided
to give another look at these two old Irish copper mines. Had the mother load been missed?
Were there still rich copper seams to be exploited?
JOURNAL ENTRIES OF ALAN SKEOCH, AGE 21, INSTRUMENT MAN
TUESDAY JUNE 14, 1960
I guess I am nervous because I spent a terrible night in my new bed, Body began twitching. Nervousness
I imagine. Much is expected of me. Hope I can deliver. Got up and wrote letter to Marjorie. I should be fine
since I am now surrounded and I assume protected by quite a collection Roman Catholic icons.
My room is large but damn cold. Meals
cooked by Mrs. Kenneday are good. Before we started laying out our base line and getting things underway
we had to get our bearings so we went down to the sea, below the cliffs and then on top of the cliffs. Then
the three of us took a close look at the ruins of the old Tankardstown mine. Several shafts. Dangerous. One
shaft has been used as a garbage site by local people. Noticed a great pile of old glass milk bottles…antiques
but worth your life to retrieve them as they are on the edge of a great black hole. The mine operated here
in the early to late 19th century…1870’s it seems to have been abandoned. Must have been a big community
here at one time for locals say there were once 21 pubs and now there are only two. Kerwin’s is the Catholic
pub and therefore the most active…hub of the community it seems. The other pub across the road is
Anglican in clientele. Few people. John Hogan very wisely spent several hours in Kerwin’s pub playing darts.
The place is dark and rather decrepit. But the bar is fascinating. Good to show the flag here as it were.
We had a tremendous evening meal in our private dining room at Mrs. Kennedy’s. That was followed by
a religious discussion where I was odd man out. Kept my mouth shut. John Stam and John Hogan then
set up a game of pinochle. Never played the game before but won all the same. I no longer need worry
about expense money as John Stam brought lots. Wrote another letter to Marjorie. I need some rough
clothes. Lucky that Mrs. Kennedy also operate the only store in the village or in the region. She sells
everything from clothes to cigarettes to hard goods and even food. Her main floor store is big but very
dark. Business does not seem to be good. Village empty most of the time. Very little traffic on the
main road. One man approached us about a job. He would be the first of many. Seems the villafge
is placing great hope in our work.
Wednesday June 15, 1960
The Kennedy family of Bunmahon made room for us in their sprawling house above.
Mrs. Kennedy ran the only surviving store in Bunmahon which was a combined dry goods,
hardware and limited grocery store. It was very dark inside indicating sales were anything but brisk.
The Kenneday family made us feel very welcome. Their handicapped son Gerald was especially enthused about
our arrival and he would have willingly followed me into the hills and galleys had not Mrs. Kennedy interfered. She
was the boss…not only of the family but also the leading matriarch of the whole community. Mr. Kennedy was
a genial man who loved his large farming operation. Their daughter was shy but very happy to have us as tenants
in rooms that were abandoned most of the time.
Woke up and got dressed early. Everyone else asleep. Nice Irish Breakfast with all the trimmings
including fried tomatoes and Irish back bacon (like a steak). The house is really a row of houses
all linked together and lived in by the Kennedy family. Sort of reminded me of Charles Dickens
house where Miss Havisham lived her solitary magic life…A house that Time forgot filled with spider webs and very musty and sad…
but that is an unfair comparison for the Kennedy house is very
much alive. Damp and dark though.
Now facing the big test. I am supposed to be a veteran instrument man who has worked for HUNTEC
for some time. In other words I bloody well seem to know what I am doing. Got the Ronka E.M. unit
and took it to the old stage road for a test. I remembered much about it but took time to read and re-read
the manual just in case I made a mistake. When all seemed correct I switched it on and the damn ‘in phase’
did not register nor did the ‘out phase’. Tested again and again on 60 odd stations at 50’ separation.
Gave up finally. Then visited the little lumber mill and bought 1,000 stskrd got 5 pound. Needed to mark
stations when things get working. Then I spent the afternoon playing around with the Ronka. Worried.
Finally…miracle of miracles…I got the thing working. Amazed at myself. We are trying to keep John
Hogan unaware of my ignorance. Must Speak a kind of pseudo professional mumbo jumbo.
I expect to be here well into the month of August. Played pinochle all evening. Great meals.
We drew up a grid for our test survey using the Turam as opposed to the Ronka. But the Turam has
not arrived. It is the backbone of the job. Bill Morrison taught me how to set it up and operate it
on the Alaska job last summer. My memory is pretty good…not perfect…but good.
Went down the sea for a few minutes. Weather is changing and some huge waves are
crashing into the stony beach. There is a huge iron ball on the beach. A reminder of World War II
…a decommissioned floating mine about the size of a small car. Holes now evident where once
the detonators were.
Thursday, June 16, 1960
Heavy fog this morning. John and John planned to attend a special mass being held for them but
heavy fog was a problem. The Fiat car would not start anyway. I cannot understand why a special
mass was being done for John and John. Obviously they know I am a Protestant and are therefore left
out which is fine by me. Seems to make me the only Protestant in the village…but that does not seem
to be a problem so far. Took the Ronka out for the whole day…62 stations, 3 lines, dual frequency. We
came across a number of old mine shafts…perhaps air adits…will have to be careful as little warning, false
step and down we go…lucky there is a cable joining the Ronka hoops at 50 or 100 foot separation. Fall in
a shaft and hang there until partner pulls me out. Bad joke. Now that
is more of a joke than anything else but the open shafts do exist.
Hard to believe how cold Ireland is in June. Should have packed heavy clothes. Shivering. But the land
is beautiful with wild poppies blooming in the lush green fields and stone fencerows. Donkeys, horses, pigs
and cattle. Really old Ireland, some of the buildings even have thatch grooves while others have no rooves
at all…derelict cottages testify that the population is shrinking. Hundreds of miners, many of them from
The copper mines in Cornwall, left Ireland when the rich copper seams could no longer be found. Became
miners in Montana and Canada.
This is the Mahon River that flowed from the hills deep in the interior.
Bunmanhon has two churches…Catholic and Anglican…but only one is ;used…i.e. the Catholic Church
The Anglican church was abandoned and is now cemented at the doors and windows. Mrs. Kennedy
regaled us with stories of a local authoress who wrote ‘dirty’ stories about Ireland. The books are now banned
here in Bunmahon. The priest has burned any he finds. Our ears perked up at this story so we will
keep our eyes open for dirty books as we assume they concern sex. Then again the books could be about
politics which is less interesting.
Now that we have settled into the village the local men are approaching us for jobs. We will do some hiring
of course. I will need someone to help me get through the brier fences…thousands of sharp needles have
already ripped my shirt and punctured my skin. I saw a badger today…seems bunch of them have burrow
in a brier patch. After we plotted the results John and john got the pinochle game ready. Hogan told the
funny biblical story about Jacob tying his ass to a tree then walking three miles into Jerusalem…:That’s
stretching it,” he concluded. We get silly at times which is a very good sign. Maybe I will not need
to keep up the bluff that I am a very experienced field man and let John Hogan know i learned how to
run the Turam last summer on the barren lands of Western Alaska. That would make it easier on me.
Friday, June 17, 1960
Got up with the sun and wrote letters then heard Mrs. Kennedy getting breakfast ready downstairs. Beautiful
day today…warm, sunshine. Today was spent setting up stakes on our new survey lines. Pickets every
hundred feet on the lines running at right angles from our base line which is one long line of shielded copper
wire grunded at both ends with iron rods and hooked to our motor generator. We pump electricity into the
ground in search of possible mineral conductors. Seems weird but it works.
Sounds like an easy job putting in pickets every hundred feet on our survey lines. I thought it would ve a
piece of cake compared with doing so in the Canadian boreal forest with its thick btush and millions of biting
insects of varying sizes but all on a blood diet. Not so fast, Alan. Problems here as well. I fell headlong
into a six foot wide gulley of brier. Did not see the dip and in a microsecond I ripped pants and skin and
lay there with the brier needles all around. Dared not move for a few minutes so spent the time swearing
using fine sentences taught to us by our dad…”Goddamn son of a bitching bastardly brier,” etc. etc. Not sure
if Irish swear like that. Slowly and carefully I moved backwards and snaked my way out of the needle trap.
“These gorse bushes are trouble…big time trouble, John.”
“The are impenetrable.”
“No worse than a cedar and tag alder swamp in Canada.”
“Far far worse…each branch of gorse is covered with needles…rip my clothes and puncture my skin.”
and to make matters worse the damn gorse lines these tiny Irish farm fields. Today I could not get
through from one field to the other without shedding blood.”
“Surely we can cut holes with axes or machetes.”
“Can be done but it will be difficult and slow. And then there is going to be another problem…the stone
fences under the gorse. How will I be able to climb these fences when strapped to the Turam console,
receiving coil and battery pack…ear phones and field notebook as well.”
“What do you suggest?”
“I suggest we hire a man to help me get over the fences.”
“There going to laugh at you back in Canada.”
“More worried that Norm would see me as a bit of a baby.”
“Nothing worse than gorse in your pants and shirts…needles that could reach through almost
any material to make a person bleed. Hence gorse made excellent fences. In May and June
the gorse is deceptively beautiful.”
WHEREVER we experienced beautiful yellow flowers in June we also found thousands a stiff sharp needles capable of
penetrating clothes, boots and flesh. Good and evil on the same branch.
Saturday June 18 1960
Both E.M. units, the Ronka and the Turam, are designed to pick up signals from an artificial electrical impulse forced into the ground
by s motor generator attached to a base line of yellow shielded copper wire. Barney Dwan (above) is setting down this three mile long
strand of wire across an open field section. Our ‘lines’ were set out at right angles on both sides of this base line. NOTE: We
had big problems with this yellow wire base line…BIG PROBLEMS. In Alaska I had a roll like this strapped to my back once when jumping
from the helicopter pontoon to the cabin as we took off. I did not make it but fell between pontoon and cabin as we lifted. Unhurt because
of the melted bed of sloppy summer muskeg above the permafrost. Our problem with the wire in Ireland was much different. WHAT PROBLEM?
You will see.
Saturday June 18, 1960
Base Line #2 North west 30,
Up a little late….8 a.m….on job at nine, worked until three extending the base line from 2400 to 7600feet over some very rough patches of brier (gorse) and
nettles. Lots of cattle in the small fields which could be a problem if they get curious about our yellow electric base line cable. John Hogan joined me in
the field as he is quite curious about the project naturally. Had lunch in the pub…2 shilling bottle of corona (apple cider…hard kind) Then back to our rooms
took a bath, washed clothes then we drove to Tramore for a game of miniature golf on the strand after which we found a pub for 3 beers and a five course supper
(12 shilling, 6 pence) then carried on to Waterford for a glass of creme de menthe and the movie ‘Carry On Nurse’. Wish there was more to do other than drinking
and pinochle in evenings. Must keep client happy however and John Hogan does love touring and socializing. An easy life except when doing the dirty work
crawling through gorse fences and bleeding. Saturday is a day of rest in the normal world. It has never been such doing Geophysical surveying…seven day week.
But 7 day week does not work here in Ireland.
Sunday June 19, 1960
Bridey woke me. Who is Bridey? She is our caregiver…gets us up in mornings, makes our beds, and supervises our spiritual lives. Today she entered
my room and hauled off my covers commenting, “Time for Mass, Master Skeoch…out of bed.” I am not sure if she knew I was Protesant or not. Did not matter
to Bridey for she was determined I go to mass, perhaps to make me into a better person. That posed a dilemma.Should I conform and go to mass or should
I just take the opportunity to sleep in on Sundays? I chose mass…with Bridey’s encouragement. Glad I did as our presence at Sunday mass made us part
of the Bunmahon community. John Stam and John Hogan are both Catholic. Spent the afternoon writing and playing pinochle then we went down to Kirwinn’s
pub where the village drinkers gather. Only stayed briefly as I decided to take a long walk along the cliff footpath above the ocean. Looked down upon that
huge cast iron land mine on Bunmahon beech. Reminder of World War II.. Later in the evening I quizzed Mrs. Kenneday about Dunhill Castle. “Stormed by
Cromwell,” she said. Then she casually mentioned that a previous Canadian mining crew (McPhare Group) set a bad reputation for Canadians. The inference
was that they did not go to church and raised hell in the evenings.
It was only 15 years earlier that floating mines like this were floating submerged along the Irish coast.
“When Mrs. Kenneday found out I was Presbyterian she commented “the new bridge over the Mahon River was built by a Presbyterian” . John Hogan respnded
“Christ, that bridge will never last long.”
Sad to see so many local people spending all their money in the pub. None of the Kennedy family go to the pub though so there must be others who avoid
drinking. Perhaps the expression that Guiness is a “meal in a glass” makes sense. Someone told
us a local joke about a visitor to ireland asking: “When do the pubs close?” “September, I think.”
Monday June 20, 1960
Rose early…beautiful sunny day. Did 12,000 feet of line with John Stam and our Irish employees (Bandy, John and Larry). The going is very slow…obstructions
everywhere, especially those gorse covered stone fences. Nightmare. Used the Brunton Compass to try and keep lines straight. Worked steadily with just 20
minutes for a fast lunch. Returned to Bunmahon at 6 p.m. Letter from Arbuckle arrived saying the Turam E.M. unit would arrive tomorrow. About time as the
Turam is our key unit. The Ronka is our back up. Stopped at Kirwan’s pub for a beer then home to Mrs. Kennedy’s for a grand supper. Did some writing before
going back to the pub where I was shown a collection of old weapons, some from “the time of the trouble”, an” expression meaning the 1920’s and gaining of
Irish Home Rule. Just as I was looking at the weapons a gentleman arrived with a shotgun and his hunting dog. Dressed like a lord. The dog befriended me
although the hunter said “that was not his habit.” Four girls seem to congregate in front of the house each evening. Seems vain to say but they seem to be
interested in me. Played another game of pinochle which is becoming very tedious. I am really getting to enjoy the village life of Bunmahon which has a lot
of similarities to the John Wayne and Maureen Ohara film ‘The Quiet Man’ even down to the friendly toleration of a Church of Ireland (Anglican) minority who
visited the pub across the road from Kirwin’s. (seemed empty most of the time though).
Tuesday June 21, 1960
Today we drove to Waterford to get the Turam. We? Hired the local owners of Kirwan’s pub (Frank and Kevin) and their aged Ford truck. All was ready and soon
loaded then we retired to a local pub where I bought the boys a glass of Guinness and lunch. Quite a different atmosphere in this pub…very political…had to be very careful
cautioned Kevin and Frank. Sort of interesting. No smart remarks. We drove back to Bunmahon and began unpacking while cleaning up the Kennedy garden shed
which would be our workshop and paymaster shop. Hired two men…Andy Kirwan who is very shy and will not talk unless forced to do so and Tom Powell who talks a
lot…perhaps too much. John came back and assisted another man to coil 15,000 feet of shielded copper wire. All set for tomorrow with the Turam. It has been a long wait.
Tried a new drink called a shandy…ale and lemonade…probably I will stick to Guinness as most do. Nice to have clean clothes to wear thanks to mrs. Kennedy and Bridey.
Wednesday June 22, 1960
Wrote home then packed cable on the back reel for our first Turam baseline of 14,500 feet…nearly three miles. Very rough going. We set up our generator base down by the
Atlantic Ocean. Cranked motor…held my breath. It would not start. Gas was wrong…put in regular gas and the motor purred. I know that sounds simple but it was not so
simple. I was supposed to be the expert on the Turam but I had no idea what was wrong and just changed the gas on impulse. Floyd told me years ago that all problems are
usually simple to solve. “Al, do not make things difficult.” Floyd was my first real wilderness scholar and teacher back in Canada. He nicknamed me Fucking Al for some
twisted reason. It was not used as a hateful term. I think he liked me. Maybe he spoke in opposites.
We hired two new men, Andy and Tom. Today I saw my first Irish hare…big speedy creature. At night John Stsm and John Hogan got into a religious discussion with me. I am
not really up to speed on religion…never will be…although I stood my ground as a Protestant and they took theirs. No hostility. Very Canadian. I think most Canadians are
really Humanists. Then we got down to another serious game of pinochle. I would rather be out walking the cliff trails at sunset.
Thursday June 23, 196-0
Now our real troubles began. Started the motor generator but not generating. Took a long time to figure out why. Again the problem was simple…the base line
wire was broken in three places along one thousand foot stretch. Some creatures had nibbled…foxes? rabbits? Simple to repair. Looks like we will spend hours
and hours repairing our base line each day. Did not know which creature was doing the damage but as usual it was simple and should have been obvious right from
the start. The fields had herds of cattle. Cattle like to munch grass but they also liked to munch yellow copper cables.
Three of our employees are resting after lunch. Bandy, on the right, became my right hand man. We were good friends in not time
and he shared some wonderful adventures with me. More of that later. Behind the men are the cattle…peacefully chewing up ou
grounded cable. Then ruminating and vomitting balls of copper wire about the size of baseballs.
the Turam operated perfectly on 660 cox frequency so the rest of the day was a success. We had data for Dr. Stam at last. Began training more men as instrument
helpers. I was surprised to discover that one our new men, Willy, could not count. He never said so. Wish he had as that would have made my job easier. I would not have asked
him to mark the pickets. Larry on the other hand cannot hear which makes things difficult. Not their faults. All and all things went well today and we found two anomalies which
were plotted on graph paper in the evening. Surveying in a country as old as Ireland brings lots of discoveries such as the stone bridge we found today covered in ivy but no
sign of ever been connected to a road network.
Got a long letter from Marjorie. She is a wonderful writer…better than me for sure. She seems to be enjoying herself back in Canada.
John Hogan and I went down to Kirwan’s for cider and the owner bought us each a pint of Guinness.
There is an old black Labrador dog that belongs to the Kennedy’s and has a special job. He is trained to keep Gerald from drowning in the sea. Gerald is Mrs. Kennedy’s disabled son.
Mongoloid little boy who is sure friendly and good natured although severely handicapped. When he strolls down to the sea the Labrador dog goes with him. He is allowed to wade
a bit but never deeper than his ankles before he is pushed back out of the water by the dog.
Friday June 24, 1960
New gas for the generator. Expected a fine day with lots of distance covered. That did not happen as a serious of small disasters tumbled out. First, the cable was broken in three
places none of them close…had to cover 8,000 feet to find them. Second, something wrong with the gas again. Suspect water got in somehow as rain is regular occurrence. Third,
there were two broken instrument cables and some kind of short circuit. Fourth, the motor itself broke down once we got clean gas. Why? Fifth, another cable broke just as we
finally got started. Suspect cattle. Solution is to hire a man to walk the cable each day and make repairs. Even with all thsse problems we managed to get 3,000 feet of survey line
Good news when we got back to Bunmahon. My university results arrived. I passed. I would like to have had higher marks but word I was getting that a number of my friends did
not pass. John Hogan came back after a short visit to Killarney. I think he rushed back just to play $%^%$ pinochle.
I made up the pay checks for our employees and they lined up outside the garden shed office. Got cash through Mrs. Kenndy. I bet the boys back in Canada are wondering why we need
so many men on the payroll. I have an answer. “The wages here are 1 pound per day…about $2.50 a day…so we can hire a lot of men for very little money and they need it badly otherwise
Kerwan’s pub will go bankrupt.”
Here is our crew, most of them, lining up on a Friday evening for their weekly pay. John Hogan
is the man on the left. He represented our client Denison Mines. Dr. John Stam is
our company geophysicist (far right). His job was the most important for he would interpret
my survey results and write a report that would either support the idea of a new mine in
Bunmahon or state there was nothing worth retrieving.
Payday in the Kennedy Garden Shed. The wage was one pound per day…about $2.50
Canadian. Not much really. Some days the men worked overtime though for more money. And as
my job as paymaster proceeded I got a bit carried away and gave each man a
pack of cigarettes then added a chocolate bar. Dr. Norm Paterson would be amused back in Canada
if he saw this picture..which he will never see..
“ALan, just who do you think you are…some kind of philanthropist using other people’s money?”
“Right, I guess I made payday a little excessive.”
“Where did you get the idea of adding cigarettes and chocolate bars?”
“Do you mean you were beginning to think you were The Quiet Man?”
‘Suppose it looks that way.”
“What did they think back in Toronto?”
“I think Norm Paterson…Dr. Paterson…used the term precocious applied to me.”
“He continued to call me Fucking Al.”
We became quite the community celebrities as the local police constable kept close eye on us as did
the local priest who was often seen standing along the road as we crossed nd criss-crossed.
Saturday June 25, 1960
“Why hire so many local people?” The answer is not so simple. I am not trying to run a charity on
Huntec money. We need people that we never needed in Canada. We need a man to check our grounded
cable and make repairs. The cattle chew chunks regularly…must taint the milk a bit but they regurgitate
the balls as they ruminate. A bigger worry is cattle biting into the live cable. One farmer claimed a cow was
knocked down and out by the electric charge. That my or may not be true but we want to assure the local farmers that
we are being careful. The government of Ireland made me paint a danger sign in English and irish and place
that sign where our generator is located. We have hired a local handicapped boy to guard the motor generator site.
Then there is the problem of the fences and the gorse. We need a man to help making a path and lifting me over
these places and there are many of them as the fields are small. We also need a linecutting crew of three men
to survey and mark with pickets the 50 and 100 foot spaces for readings to be taken. We are lucky that so many
men are available and willing.
This young handicapped lad just loved his job protecting our base line. He set up his campsite wherever we moved
the motor generator and took his job very seriously. The first job he ever had and perhaps his only job. The other
employees covered for him so that I would not notice he was mentally handicapped. I knew.
Drove to check cable as usual with Bandy as helper. Today I discovered his real name was Barney Dwan but
the local dialect was so hard for me to understand that “Barney” became “Bandy” much to the amusement of
everyone who started calling him Bandy. I wondered why the men laughed so much.
The instrument failed again. Wasted three hours trying to find the problem. Narrowed it down to the amplifier which
I could not fix so gave the men half a day holiday while I took he Turam to Waterford for repairs Very depressing. Spent
some time in a Waterford pub waiting then drove back west to Tramore for supper. Saw the movie “Sirrocco” after playing
a round of miniature golf with John Hogan who accompanied me on the trip.
We were all startled at bed time when John Hogan found a tick buried in his thigh. Gorged in blood so the damn
thing looked big. Got it out using a cigarette and careful work with tweezers. Mickey offered us his bicycle for our
use if we needed to get a doctor. We slathered the wound with rubbing alcohol and hoped for the best. From now
on we will examine our bodies after work as the area is infested with ticks. A close look at the cattle herds show that as
most of their noses have ticks hanging there like little sacks.
Ticks Were something new to me. At first I dismissed them as creatures of no consequence to me personally for they
seemed associated with sheep. Surely in Canada the hords of black flies, moose flies, deer flies,
mosquitoes and midges were far worse than ticks. Ticks cannot fly and if sheep or cattle or horses were carrying ticks I
was unlikely to pick them up for petting domestic animals was not part of the job.
Ignorance is no excuse. Irish ticks may not fly but they do know how to leap from a waving piece of long grass to
a piece of exposed flesh and then begin their burrowing and do so painlessly. Once engorged with blood the female tick
just drops off and continues its’ life cycle. It is possible to be a tick host and never know it. Ticks are not themselves dangerous
The serous problems arise from the bacteria the tick transfers to the human or animal host. Ireland in 1960 had lots of ticks but
most were not too dangerous. Hedghog ticks were the most likely to grab us as we climbed over and t through gorse covered fencerows.
NOTE: TODAY, 2019, Black Legged ticks are spreading through Ontario perhaps aided by global warming. These ticks are
extremely dangerous for they transmit Lyme disease to humans. People die.
Sunday June 26,1960
An uneventful day. Went to mass at the Ballyaneen RC church. Then we played pinochle until noon, had nice lunch, read
part of Forster’s Passage to India and dosed off until evening, Repaired cables and switches and then went to the dog
races where I lost three beers to John and John.
Monday June 27, 1960
Bandy (Barney) had long ground cable repaired from cow damage by 8 a.m. Worried about Turam but took it out on wild
hope it would work but once again it let us down. John Stam is very depressed and even considering giviing up the contract.
So I took out the Ronka for the day. On our first set up disaster happened when a car drove right between us tearing the
connecting cable apart. Could have dragged us along the road if cable had not snapped. We made rough repairs and continued.
At four p.m. the Ronka stopped working, likely the rough
connection reoair. No matter because John Stam arrived from Waterford with the newly refurbished Turam which seems
Andy offered to buy me a beer…very generous as his income is close to poverty level. I bought a bottle of cider for John and John
to drink at our pinochle game where, as usual, we discussed religion. I was surprised to learn that Catholics actually believe
in Adam and Eve. Maybe they were putting me on.
Got nice letters from Marjorie and Russ Vanstone. Spent sleepless night worrying about the Turam.
Now here is an interesting pair of photos. On the left we are working across an Irish grain field in 1960 while
the right I am doing the same kind of survey in Alaska in 1959
Tuesday June 28, 1960
Got up early and soldered some cable heads in our little shed. What a beautiful day and even the Turam seemed to notice
the sun on the irish greenery. The Turam worked perfectly until noon when once again our cable was severed by some cow
located somewhere along the three mile base line. Sure enough. A cow had bitten the live wire and got knocked out. “She
fell like a stone!” We are lucky that the local farmers have not launched law actions if we have been stunning or knocking out
their cattle. I wonder if the knock out story is true? The Irish are good story tellers after all. Some farmers are after us according
to my Irish crew who are not too concerned. There seems to be a cultural division between the largely unemployed cottagers
and the distinctly better healed farmers. They do not like each other.
John Stam is more cheerful today since our expense money arrived in Dungarven. My day was terrific because the Turam worked
perfectly. We crossed over some old mine shafts which are hardly guarded or protected, Some seem to be used as garbage pits.
“Some animals fall down them but not many…no worries.” Some comfort! I did my washing in the evening, wrote home and
as usual did some light repairs this time to the voltmeter connection. Mrs Kennedy served us tea while we played yet another
game of pinochle. Outside the night was stunning with Golden clouds and a crescent moon.
How can I say to John and John that i am getting to hate pinochle. Bunmahon is so interesting. I would rather walk the cliffs
and have a pint of Guinness at Kerwan’s. I would like to have a pint at the Anglican pub but fear that would cause trouble.
It would be interesting to hear what the Anglo Irish minority have to say. Perhaps they would say nothing. Amazing how close
to the stereotypes created in the Quiet Man fit the local social dynamics of Bunmahon. I am sure, however, that such a comment’
by a newcomer like me would be resented so I try to take everything in but keep my mouth shut. The men seem to like me.
This is Kirwan’s pub on every Friday evening when a percentage of income was spent
on a few pints of Guinness. We joined as often as we could. Sometimes the fellows
wanted to treat us to pints of Guinness. Without insulting we thanked them but
avoided these ‘free’ pints. John Hogan is lighting up a Wild Woodbine cigarette on
the far left. Mrs. Kerwan is presiding over the bar on the far right.
Kerwan’s pub has a dark sitting room featuring slabs of pine nailed to the walls and stumps tables.
In this case John Hogan and I are relaxing.
Wednesday June 29, 1960
John Hogan took off early to drive to Dublin for some reason. I had a successful day with the Turam finishing 2.5 lines in the morning
then Andy brought me a quart of Cidonia (hard cider) for lunch in an Irish field before finishing line 4400 and finding a very large
anomaly. Then the motor stopped and we had another two hour delay.
In the evening Willy and Bandy took me to a hurling match in Dunhill. The game can be rough if they hit each other
with the curling sticks that look like shortened hockey sticks. Clubs if you will. The outdoor washroom was interesting.
A few sheets of corrugated iron were anchored in place by steel posts and that was a washroom. I do not know what
Hurling is an Irish brute force kind of game.
Thursday June 30, 1960
Got an early start today which was spoiled as usual by a broken base line cable. We are now getting used to finding baseball
sized rolls of our base line wire here and there in farmers fields. Farmers are getting more and more concerned that our wire is
endangering their dairy herds.We did 4 lines today working from 8.30 to 6.30. A long day here in Ireland. In Canada I would cover
much more territory doing Turam work pushed on by the millions of flies f
Willy had to be sent home when his lumbago began acting up. Then the console connection broke and had to be soldered.
Today we saw an old fort…2,000 years old according to Bandy. “Supposed to be filled with fairies, you know.” “There are ghosts
in this valley.” “Then there is the mystery of the postman that just disappeared one day.”
Bandy alerted me to another danger today when we crossed a field dominated by two huge boars. Big tusks and angry
demeanour. “Be careful with the herds of pigs, Maser Skeoch, a nun disappeared around here once when she crossed
a field with pigs. All that was found was her boots with her feet inside.” The men love telling me stories. Maybe some of the
stories are true or have a kernel of truth. Enjoy them immensely. Today we worked until 7 p.m. and then I spent the evening
trying to fix the Ronka with no luck. The men are all good workers and I hate pushing them but we are expecting Holmes to
arrive any day from India. He is a top man with the company. Needs to be impressed. Tired tonight…”Too tired to
climb the stairs,” as my grandmother used to sing to us on winer evenings at the farm.
Small thatched roof cottages were located here and there on the outskirts of Bunmahon. Small holdings
of an acre or less. Some of these cottages turned most of their land over to potatoes. Others managed
to keep a few animals, even a horse or two.
Friday July 1, 1960
“Mass! Master Skeoch get out of bed…time for mass.” Bridey hammers on my door then enters the room
and rips of my covers reminding me all the time that I must not miss mass. She even carries a BELL that
she rings with gusto.if I am not out of bed fast. Lucky I wear in a bIg night shirt because Bridey
rips off the blankets to speed me up. Mass is very important to Bridey and she has made mass feel
important to me…a Protestant…a Humanist.
Quite amusing…nice really.
STOP FOR A REST
END OF THE INTRODUCTION TO BUNMAHON…LOTS MORE TO COME
SUCH AS AN INTRODUCTON TO THE BOYS WHO MADE THE SURVEY
AND THEN THE PRIZE OF PRIZES WHEN BARNEY SUGGESTED “MASER SKEOCH
DO YOU WANT TO GO UNDERGROUND IN THE OLD MINES….I KNOW THE SECRET
Art is what you think is art.
BILL SCOTT and I spent an unforgettable summer doing geophysical prospecting in the Yukon Territory in the Early 1960’s.
Our base was Mayo Landing (red false front store below) which was just a tiny village really whose centre was that
grey nondescript hotel.
In the bush where we spent most our time there was a place where a forest fire had swept through decades ago. The trees still stood…bare and
wind scoured by many winters. As a result their shapes were wonderful. Two of them I was able to rescue and send back to Toronto by a truck
along with a big set of caribou antlers. Our boss, Dr. Norman Patterson, might have been amused had he known. I paid the freight bill but had
a very tough time getting the trucking company to hand over the shipment. They thought something important was missing and figured my tree
trunks and antlers were just junk.
The scoured tree trunks were interesting in another way as well. The growth rings were tiny. The trunk that Bill and I are
shortening for instance is more than 100 years old yet only the witch of a goal post..
As I remember Bill Scott was not as enamoured of the dead tree as he seems in the picture below.
Our client was Dr. Aho who often treated us to a ‘double OP’ which is overproof rum and a little Coca cola. Deadly. This might explain
PS Norm…send this forward to Bill Scott … he might be amused
Note:In June 1960 I spent 13 days in Dublin…did not expect to do so…but it was quite fascinating…If you
are expecting mining stories you will have to wait fro the next instalment…I did not get
to the quaint village of Bunmahon until June 13.
IN DUBLIN’S FAIR CITY
Journal June 1 to June 13, 1960
(No one predicted I would have a two week holiday in Dublin)
This is the ancient Knockmahon copper mine on the south coast of Ireland. That
was my destination in 1960 but it would take 13 more days to get there. Meanwhile
I lived in Dublin.
Dublin, quite a city. Circumstances prolonged my stay in Dublin so let me give you a short impression.
First thing is the city smells…Jacob’s cookie factory, Guinness 62 acre brewery, Tea shops and horses. The
smell is intoxicating. The main street, O’Connell Street is wide and busy and for the most part happy in spite
of bullet holes deliberately left to remind Irish people of the ‘time of the troubles’. The people are super
friendly…policemen who paid my bus fare, citizens who helped me find my way, and one family…the Behan’s,
who sort of adopted me. Lots of pubs to visit. Lots of meat pies and sweet rolls to eat. Trees!! Lots of them
and a huge 700 acre park near the city centre. Problems? Of course. Some obviously deranged people
here and there. Violence? Never had trouble except one incident that I foolishly precipitated myself.
To top the visit off, I was able to see The Quiet Man, the charming John Wayne, Maureen Ohara, and’
Barrie Fitzgerald movie about an Ireland that seemed mythical but turned out to be true. Some Irish might
resent the stereotypes but I thoroughly enjoyed them with no expectations they would be part of
my experience on the Bunmaahon job. But so much happened that was similar. Not that I felt I
was John Wayne. I was however a North American stepping into a cultural milieu of which I was
One of the results of my stay in Dublin was the naming of our first born child Kevin. The Behan family
adopted me as if I was their son, took me around Dublin to pubs I would never find and allowed me
to become part of an Irish family.
MYJOURNAL: I thought it was lost until by good fortune in April, 2018, I found it among some old books in the cellar. Quite amazing detail.
JUNE 1, 1960
Smooth flight across to Ireland with Are Lingus. No one there to meet me so I can do whatever I please I guess.
Dublin is a beautiful city with throngs of people on OConnell Street. Friendly. Girls are very pretty. Visited
the art gallery and then the museum like a normal tourist. Had to remind myself that I was not a tourist .
Found offices of Arbuckle – Smith and Company only to discover our Turam shipment had not arrived yet.
Called Barrie Nichols in Toronto to let him know there will be a delay then went shopping for shirt and shoes.
Supper was no good. Toured Gresham Green. Called Mrs. Behan who invited me out to their house
tomorrow when Kevin Behan gets back from Italy. Very tired. Fell to sleep three times during the day. Being
alone is not that enjoyable. Need other people to make life really interesting but it looks like I will
be stuck here in Dublin for some time. No point in heading south the County Waterford and village of
Bunmahon without all our crates of instruments. Toured Gresham Green.
Huntec had booked me into the high class Gresham Hotel expecting my stay in Dublin would be short.
But our crates of equipment did not arrive for nearly two weeks. The Gresham was fancy as pictured
above and expense. NO one told me the breakfasts were included in the room price. I skipped breakfast
for a week to save the company money as my expense check was only 200 pounds…not enough
for me to stay at the Gresham so after a week I found a cheap hotel in Clontarf, the Hollybrook, where
I seemed to be the only guest and the staff made it clear my breakfast as included. Even then by the
end of my stay in Dublin the money was almost gone.
June 2, 1960
I woke up late so skipped breakfast and walked to the Department of Justice to get my work clearance. Had to prove I was doing
a job that nn Irish person could not do. Lots of unemployment here. Looks like my training on the Turan E.M. unit has put me in a
special spot. Few people know how to run it…and it is quite complicated…motor generator, base line a mile or so long, two receiving
coils with 100 for separation, a console, picketed lines running 3,000 feet from the base line at right angles, etc. Had to explain
this to an official.
After that I took a bus to the the Guinness Brewery at St. James Gate, Since I had no bus fare the chap beside me paid my fare.
Guinness is the national drink of Ireland, unless you are a non-drinker. What a rare privilege to see this massive brewery in operation.
They even have big draught horses harnessed to wagons loaded with barrels of Guinness to be delivered to pubs in Dublin. The smell
of the horses and the Guinness is wonderful to me. The tour included a pile of Guinness post cards featuring men lifting bull dozers
or pulling beer wagons with the horses as passengers. Humourous. And the end of the tour was best. We all got a full pint of Guinness…
my first. I wasn’t to struck on the black liquid at first but soon overcame that problem. Seems a tourist can have as much as he or she
wants but I stuck to one pint. I should have eaten breakfast. Felt a bit woozy…warm and woozy. Not staggering.
Ah, yes, Guinness is the national drink of Ireland… made from barley, hops, yeast and water. That does not sound complicated.
Why is the beer black then? Because the barley
is roasted rather malted which makes a thick creamy head on the pint. The thickness of the head is achieved by passing the beer through
nitrogen…smaller bubbles result. Guinness is so thick that each pint needs time to settle.
Is Guinness really ‘good for you’ as the advertising says on billboards across Dublin? Some call Guinness ‘a meal in a cup’ …198 calories
per pint which…less than a pint of milk. Drinkers of Guinness get an ‘enhanced feeling of well being’ , an advertising statement frowned
on by the government. Created in 18th century by Arthur Guinness
and apparently one of the most consumed beers worldwide. Guinness does seem to be good for drinkers though…lots of healthy
antioxidants…like fruits and vegetables…slow deposit of bad cholesterol on artery walls. Or so the story is told. My ‘meal in cup’
certainly replaced breakfast and gave me an enhanced feeling that the world around me is good.
This is high tea at the Gresham Hotel where I stayed for the first week. I did not know
Breakfast was included in the room rate so skipped breakfast for that week. Fancy
hotel but very unfriendly.
Bought some tomatoes and meat pie to eat in my room while reading a book. Sort of lonely feeling…needed
a pint of Guinness I guess but afraid to go into a pub alone. Not fear just felt being solitary would be uncomfortable.
Contacted a sign painter as Ministry of Justice insisted I have a road sign saying Danger in both English
and Irish. This will take some time to do…will pay extra to get faster work done. Decided to go back to
the Guinness factory , now have bus tokens, but found place closed. Got some good pictures though.
I was startled by a crazy woman in middle of the cobbled street near St. James Gate. She was covered in
blood while singing and dancing and jumping around. Very sad. She even relieved herself by lifting her skirt
and pissing without care. Most on lookers did not stop…treated her as if a normal situation. I kept walking
as well. Returned to my room to finish off the meat pie.
Phoned down to The Kennedy’s to see if gear had arrived. No luck. Our crew of three will be staying with
the Kennedy family in Bunmahon.
Then I bought some flowers and took a bus to the Behan home. Mrs. Behan poured tea and a little later
Kevin Behan came bursting on the scene. He had just landed from Italy. Grand fellow. He took me to a
pub for another Guinness. Driving back he tried to run over a ‘teddy boy’…or at least to scare him. ‘Teddy
boy’s are street gang members I assume. Then he drove me home to my hotel room.
I Was quite surprised at Kevin’s hatred of these Teddy Boys. Seemed just like rock and roll kids to me…couple
of my friends had the greased down haircuts although most of them had brush cuts and were not nearly as
fancy dressed as the Irish Teddy Boys who tried to wear the fancy clothing of Edwardian England. Some Teddy
Boys did run in tough gangs though. I think Kevin Behan’s hatred was triggered by the Notting Hill race Riots in
London where some 300 Teddy Boys targeted black people using iron bars and butcher knives. That was really bad
but most Teddy Boys were just mild rebels like a lot of kids in my high school days back in Canada. I kept my
mouth shut. Maybe Kevin had a bad experience. To me those Teddy Boys and Teddy Girls wereThe kind of kids that loved
the movie Blackboard Jungle. I did not tell Kevin that I skipped school one afternoon just to see the movie.
Teddy Boys, so names by their Edwardian dress, were seen as rebels. Really they looked
much like the Rock and Roll kids so common in Canada in 1950’s and 1960’s.
June 3, 1960
I woke up at 9 and made my so called breakfast…crumpets and Quosh, an orange fizzy drink. Then went to see Mr. O;brien about maps
and he in turn sent me to the Ordinance Survey Office in Phoenix Park. What an immense place… with so many cattle I could
not count them.,,and a herd of wild deer that had been there since the 17th century Got maps of old mines in western part of County Waterford.
Not sure they will be of any use at all.
Spent rest of day
walking through PhoenixPark. A bunch of soldiers were lawn bowling at one spot. Then visited the Dublin Zoo. Wish I hadn’t because
when I put the lens of my camera close to the monkey enclosure one big monkey jumped at me with sexual intent.
What generous people…an off duty policeman paid my fare back to my hotel. Bought sausage rolls, buns and tomatoes
for my supper…alone in my room…saving company expenses. Phoned Mr. Timlin, our shipment of crates from Canada have arrived in Liverpool. Went to a movie after which
I was cornered and badgered by a family of beggars on a side street…five them…really dirty. Dangerous. My nice feeling of independence is turning into
loneliness. Wrote letter to Marjorie and went to bed.
Phoenix Park has large herd of semi wild deer that have been there from the 18th century
Streets of Dublin, in 1960, still had presence of horses. This man was just leading four of them casually
down the street…note evidence of Horse manure indicating this was not an unusual sight. a hundred years
ago these horses numbered in the thousands. i.e. There were 100,000 horses in London in 1850 and Dublin
would have been similar. Vast amounts of manure was linked to outbreaks of Cholera but not from human rather
June 4, 1960
Got up late, very late…around noon.Went to bakeshop for my breakfast (tomatoes, meat pie, crumpets). Spent most of the day absolutely bored.
Phoned Kevin Behsn and went over to his house in the evening. Their daughter Yvonne was very cute showing me her pictures. Kevin and Mrs Behan
took me on the rounds of the local pubs. Made me feel like home. One pub hd a creek running through the middle of it, another pubs a castle…ended
evening in fish and chip store. I was startled to see so many Presbyterian churches in Dublin…thought all churches would be Catholic. The I.R.A. had
a rally on O;Connell Street. Met an American girl who was with Joe Malone. This is a strange summer…first prospecting job with so many people
around me. Not the usual wilderness of black flies and endless boreal forest. All the Catholics I have met so far have been quite wonderful.
I expected hostility but found none so far.
June 5, 1960
Rose early and phoned Dr. John Stam in Holland. He will join me in Bunmahon once our crates get here. Went to the Gresham Green Unitarian Church
where Rev. Hicks was quite funny and very British. Then he spoke about the absence of national Birth control as a cause of war… citing the Irish lady who had 24 children and
her daughter who had 15. I suppose that could be a criticism of Ireland’s Catholic majority and the church influence. But I think his real point was that
overpopulation of planet earth would lead to the three horseman of the apocalypse…famine, plague and war.
Caught a bus to Kevin and Ronnie’s house where Yvonne was very friendly crawling all over me. Then we went for a very nice drive in the country.
Many old castles. Had ice cream. Mrs. Behan had a nice supper during which Yvonne gave me a carnation. Yvonne is 6 or 7 years old. Then Kevin
took me to a pub where we discussed the Irish Republican Army…kevin concluded that “the poison is being drawn out’. But there are still machine guns
on the border. I took a picture of the family. Kevin informed me I would be wise to find a better hotel. Why? Because my fancy hotel had never informed
me that Breakfast was included in the bill…I had been skipping breakfast or just having another meat pie just to save Huntec and Dr. Paerson some
money. My stupidity I guess. Hotel was so high class that nn one spoke to me at all. ‘Snob hotel’
What wonderful people…Kevin and Ronnie Behan. They sort of adopted me for my stay in Dublin. Their oldest, Yvonne, was really
a little charmer. She was so glad to see me each visit that her greetings made me feel embarrassed. The Behans made such
an impression that Marjorie an I named our first born Kevin.
June 6, 1960
Today is a national holiday in Ireland. Took a bus to Malahide and walked back to hotel. A farmer struck up a conversation in which he said
“Irish people are the laziest people on the earth”…strange comment, perhaps made as a joke or maybe to draw out an anti-Irish comment from me.
Got caught in deluge of rain while walking to Kevin’s house. Soaked. Yvonne and family very glad to see me. Sincere. Took a drive to the North Harbour
which was charming except for the fact some man committed suicide there. Went to a pub then returned to the Behan home for ’tea’ which is a misnomer
for a full supper…then watched BBC television for a while before taking whole family to the movie ‘Who Was That Lady’
On Kevin’s advice I made plans to move to the Hollybrook Hotel in Clontarf…cheaper, friendly, with full breakfast.
Picked up a strange fact…Ireland has the lowest marriage rate in the world.
June 7, 1960
Received word from McNabb and Timins that the Ronka has arrived but no sign of the Turam. Moved my bag to the Hollybrook Hotel
on the Howth Road … had a nice pastoral setting and comfortable old pub kind of registration desk. Decided to tour the Guinness Brewery
again. “Will you be wanting another pint, lad?” said the man who joined the tour but did not drink. “Temperance…call us Pioneers over here.”
Later I decided to line up at Dublin University to see the Book of Kells, an illustrated manuscript.
The BOOK OF KELLS…
An unfortunate event happened while standing in line to see the Book of Kells. Mostly my fault. I tapped the shoulder of the man in front of me and asked:
“Are you Irish?”
“Is this University secular?”
“What do you mean by that?”… he said in rather angry manner
“I mean is it attached to the church or the state?”
“What do you mean by that?”… he got more angry, I could not see why.
“Are you Catholic?”… now he was really angry, perhaps disturbed.
“Born Catholic but not so any more.” Bad comment on my part…a mistake…like waving a red flag in
front of a charging bull.
At that remark the guy went wild. Seemed to want a fight. I decided best course of action was to get
the hell away from him but he followed me yelling who knows what for his accent was thick. A policeman
rescued me and advised I take a long ride on the bus and keep away from throwaway comments about
Why did I say that remark…Why trigger animosity? It was a mistake, of course, but I was thinking back
to the St. Skeoch legend.
Our Skeoch relatives, ancient kind, were Catholic. Most Scots were in the early centuries. And there was
a connection with the Book of Kells and the Scottish Isle of Iona. A misty connection…likely false. A connection even more ancient than
the 10th century Book of Kells. At some point I had heard or read that St. Skeoch was one of the 12 disciples
of St, Columba when he left (fled?) Ireland in the sixth century for the Scottish Island of Iona. At that time
the use of the term saint was loosely interpreted…i.e. without the approval of Rome. Was St. Skeoch one
of the twelve? Rome had no records but there are places in Scotland where this St. Skeoch is mentioned.
Maybe our family legend about the rescue of two boys on the Bloody fields of Bannockburn was true. And
the St. Skeoch convent could have been a St. Skeoch monastery. All perhaps nonsense since much relies
on hearsay. All this was in my mind as lined up to see the Book of Kells. Were our roots as much Catholic
as Presbyterian. So there are the roots of my throwaway comment that I was ‘born Catholic but gave it up.’
What was I really doing? Just putting in time awaiting our high tech survey equipment. The Book of
Kells was fascinating…a masterpiece of art that survived the Viking raids.
The Book of Kells is one of the finest illustrated manuscripts in the world. 340 folio pages. Written in Latin and illustrated
around 800 A.D. when Most people could not read. Sometimes called the Book of Columba
because St Columba and subsequent Columban monks did much of the work between the sixth and ninth centuries.
Back to my Journal: June 7, 1960
Bad weather barreling in from the sea. Wrote a letter to Barrie Nicholls and John Hogan. Hogan is a geologist
representing our client. I am worried that the delay in equipment arrival will be cost the project a lot of money.
Maye I am the only one worried…hope so . Hotel resident Joe and Moira invited me to have a drink with them
which made for a perfect evening.
June 8, 1960
Arose late after the party last night with Joe and Moira. Went downtown and bought field books, electric tape and signs
to alert local people to dangers of our project, particularly the base line wire and generator. Surprised when a cyclist
fell off his bike into the Liffey canal. Ambulance came fast. The German sailors and officers from the Graf Spee are
in Dublin. Since I am the only guest in the Hollybrook Hotel I feel like the lord of this ancient manor house and get
treated as such. Nice. The expense money if going awfully fast.
John Hogan made a surprise arrival so we finally got to discuss the project. I phoned Mrs. Behan and the wet to show
and a dance with John Hogan. One girl at the dance must have crossed herself 40 times while praising the I.R.A.
An interesting evening. Washed my clothe and went to bed.
June 9, 1960
UP early and had first breakfast wince I arrived in Ireland…hotel dining room.
Sent most of the gear with John Hogan who was driving down to Bummahon … the project site in western
part of County Waterford… Gave Mr. O’Brien a quick briefing the Turam operation. Checked with Arbuckle but
Turam has still not arrived.
John Hogan and I toured the Guinness Brewery … my third visit. Then we had a lousy meal at the Temperance
Hotel. Then visited head office of Irish National Sweepstakes and bought 5 shillings tickets for Marjorie. Walked
back to hotel then walked to the Behan home where kids were really cute. Yvonne and Denise kept bringing me
corn flakes on the dog’s plate. Yvonne seems to like my lap. Other kids Anella and Murial also cute. Then Kevin.
Ronnie (Mrs. Behan) went toHouth for a drink. A drunk woman was entertaining if a little pathetic. Ronnie ironed
my shirt afterwards then Kevin drove me back to the Hollybrook.
June 10, 1960
Had big breakfast … bacon, eggs, fried tomatoes….topped off with a rack of cold toast and marmalade. What should
I do for the rest of the day now that John Hogan has gone south? Tour! Dublin is a city of wonderful smells. Guinness
Brewery covers over 60 acres making lots of beer. But there is also a strong smell of cookies being baked at the Jacobs
factory. So I followed my nose and had a tour. 250 employees mostly girls who gave me plenty of attention…including
whistling and touching. Good time if a bit intimidating.
The Quiet Man is great entertainment…surprised me that much of the 1920 Irish stereotypes turned out to be real in our little world of Bunmahon in 1960.
The Dark Time of the Tourbles was downplayed.
“Alan, do not miss the chance to see “The Quiet Man” while here in Ireland,” said Kevin and Yvonne Behan.
So I went alone to see the film featuring John Wayne, Maureen Ohara and Barrie Fitzgerald. What a grand movie.
My work site in Bunmahon could not possibly be as joyful and humorous as the movie but I wish it were so.
Dublin has an under class. I noticed and felt sorry for sn old one-eyed woman who was having bread snd tis while
I had a steak with all the trimmings.
I am picking up the Irish lingo. Today was described as a ‘soft’ day which means it was pouring rain.
Got an urgent message from Arbuckle, Smith and Company saying the crates had not arrived in Liverpool yet. What the
hell is going on? They told me the crates were there the other day.
June 11, 1960
Getting better sleep now that I am having big breakfast. Afterwards I went down to Arbuckle to pick up the part of shipment
that has arrived…i.e. the Ronka E.M. unit. I will take it south on Monday. Sent telegram to Dr. Stam in Amsterdam and wrote
a long letter to Barrie Nichols in Canada. My money is very short…less than 20 pounds left. Kevin asked me up to tea (i.e.supper
in Irish lingo) then Kevin took Ronnie and me to movie “Once More with Feeling” (no good). After we took girls home Kevin took
me to meet his mother snd father…all are in the car business.
June 12, 1960
Wind is blowing from the sea…smashing windows. I walked to Clontarf Presbyterian Church where Rev. Moore greeted me warmly
and asked me to join him for s few minutes in the vestry Guest speaker was a methodist, Rev. Livingston who spoke about ‘Happy
Harry the Hare” which sounded weird at first but made sense in the end.
Then another day with the Behan family. I would not intrude normally but they really made me feel so welcome that to refuse
would be an insult. Ronnie prepared another great meal. Yvonne was full of beans as usual…crawling all over me. We drove
to Houth and stopped at Claremont for a couple of draughts of Guinness…back for ‘tea’ and then to the movie ‘sweet smell of success’
This was my last day in Dublin. Sad farewell to the Behan family.
Brendon Behan and Kevin Behan were not related. Two very different people who shared one common wonderful trait. They loved people and
an afternoon in their company was an honour.
Kevin Behan was my host for the Dublin interlude. He and his family opened their hearts and doors to me. I cannot explain why they did this except to say
the they loved people, loved Ireland and waned to share this love with a young 21 year old kid like me. One result was the naming of our first born child, Kevin,
in honour of Kevin Behan. Sadly, we never told that to the Behan family.
A poem by Brendon Behan
Brendon Behan was a man of the 1950’s snd 1960’s. He had strong opinions even as a teen ager joining
the Irish Republican Army at 14 years of age. He was an ardent republican. Regarded the English
monarchy with disdain. That said, he became very popular and his quick wit amused not just the Dublin Irish
but the literary world in general. His most famous play is titled “The Quare Fellow” which is set
in a prison in the heart of Dublin. “Quare” is Irish for “Queer.” Brendon Behan’s one liners
were quoted again and again by people with both a sense of humour and a knowledge that there
is a dark side to the human condition.
“I am a drinker with writing problems.”
“Ah, bless you sister, may all your children be bishops.”
“When I came back to Dublin I was court mortised in my absence
and sentenced to death in my absence
So I said they could shoot me in my absence.”
“There is no such thing as bad publicity
Except your own obituary.”
“The most important things to do in the world are to
get something to eat
get something to drink
and get someone to love you.”
Monday June 13 LAST DAY IN DUBLIN
How can I best describe this day? Like a dam that has suddenly broken free…like A clock that is out of control and time spins free …like a race begun once the gun is fired.
Suddenly everything speeded up and I wold be gone before the sun set.
This was be last day in Dublin. I did not know that. I did not know that events would move so fast that by evening I would be in the villsge
of Bunmahon nestled in an ancient place with the ruins of the Knockmahon mine brooding black and foreboding as the sun set.
My first view of Knockmahon where i would have adventures not forgotten in 60 years.
Events of that fine Dublin day:
Began packing at 8.30…then phoned Arbuckle…our shipment had arrived. Dr. Stam coming by air…Hogan ready to pick us up inWaterford.
time to get s haircut then caught bus to the airport…watched KLM flight land and Dr. John Stam cleared customs. Briefed him onIrish officials I had
met…back to hotel for dinner and beer. Back to America Express…then over to see Mr. O’brien. Took luggage to train station…first class tickets toWaterford
where John Hogan met us with his Fiat…drove to Bunmahon on the edge of the sea..passed the ruins of the Knockmahon mine standing alone on the
edge of steep cliffs that fell down to the sea. Empty. No houses. No living things. Then road dipped down to the Mahon River and the village of Bunmahon
where we were to be based for the duration of the survey. Met Mrs. Kennedy who would be our landlady and Irish ‘manageress’ … an expert on the inner
workings of this sliver of Irish society. Very Catholic…My room has three Christian statues and a large picture of Jesus with his heart showing…hangs above my bed.
Surprised to get my mail…letters from Marjorie and some. Jan Stam said he was pleased with my handling of the situation. He would ve in charge from now
on and would do the interpretation of the notes from my field book each day. John Hogan was a geologist and the Denison Mines company. Three of us. But
many more will be hired. Eventually I hired the whole village. More of that later.
MAY 10, 2019
I TOOK A QUICK LOOK BEHIND ME WHILE DRIVING DOWN THE FIFTH LINE SOUTH OF
LIMEHOUSE AT 8.30 PM. SUDDENLY THE SUN CAME GOT A CHANCE TO BEAM LIGHT BENEATH
THE RAIN CLOUDS AND ALL MY LITTLE WORLD CHANGED.