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
I bring no songs of rolling drums
Of pennons flying gaily
I sing of filth and dirty slums
Gaunt man with hunger crazy
Canticles, not of virtue bright, nor holy austere lives.
I chronicle consumption’s blight
And the haggard face of wives
Who gaze on children, pale and wan
Who see no flowers nor hear birds song.
I see no beauty rave in dreams of justice, unto those
Who keep the wheels of old earth moving
And oil them with their woes
Of burning towns and brimstone red
A phoenix from the ashes dead
Our city, truth and justice wed arise.
I see this old bad order die
In a great swift blaze of fire
A structure, clear and mighty high
Born in its funeral pyre
Worker, know the world’s for thee
Were thou to raise the servile knee
From off the ground.
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.