This interview was given to us by Wandesforde N.S. Castlecomer
|Michael Farrell was 74 at the time of this interview. He lived in Love Lane, Castlecomer.
He told us that when he was only 14 when he started working in the Deer Park coalmine, and worked there for 36 years (1930-66). He worked all the time under ground, in the most difficult parts. Michael also told us he wore his ordinary clothes. In the wetter parts of the mines he wore wellingtons, he wore strong leather boots in the dryer parts. He worked a 7½ hour shift and a 5 day week.
The miners at that time were paid £8 or £9 a week. The tools they used were a hammer, a pick, a wedge and a shovel. Their light in the mines was a tall slender candle set in a clay holder (ie. a lump of yellow clay). In the 1950’s they brought in the carbide lamp which they clipped on to their helmet. Michael joined the army during the emergency for 1½ years.
Michael also told us that the lunchbox that the miner’s used was called a “piece box”. Michael was also working in the mines during the “stay down strike” in March 1913 during which he and many other miners lived in the mines for one week, in the section that had electric light. They all took down plenty of food and drinks (spirits) and straw to sleep on. Michael got straw from a kind neighbour -Luke Ward from Woodview which is right beside the mine.
They got plenty of publicity from the newspapers ,and many journalists went down to interview them. This strike lasted for six days from Monday morning until the following Sunday morning, when a priest went down and brought them up. Michael was also working in the mines when the "Bell" contract was enforced. None of the miners would go to work in the Deerpark but worked in other mines whenever they could.
In case the miners decided to go back to work, the bus stayed going around. The miners called it the "ghost bus" as there was nobody but the bus driver on it. A guard travelled with the driver.
Mr. Seamus Walsh
Mr. Michael Nolan
Mr. Gerry Holden
Mr. Tom Brennan