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Dockers are very much a part of our maritime history.. Port operations have changed in modern times and the role of the traditional dock workers of previous years has been changed in the ports of our country, now intensively operated by modern technology. But the dockers will not be forgotten. I have a strong respect for them and the story I’m about to tell you is a good reason for that respect. MARITIME IRELAND is the Programme/Podcast about Ireland’s maritime development, about our relationship with the sea around this island nation and about our maritime culture, history and tradition. So it is appropriate to ask why the Dublin Dock Workers’ Preservation Society has not been successful in persuading local authorities in the capital to honour and remember three dockers who , the Society says. made “unique contributions to national, social and economic history.” So far, that has been frustrated.

So who are the men the Society wants recognised? Well, they are Patrick Currie, William Deane and the deep sea docker who, the Society says, started the ‘blacking’ of munitions arriving by ship in Dublin Port to supply the British Army during the War of Independence, Michael Donnelly. . Another Docker Patrick Currie, had to leave the docks when the Second World War started and trade through the port dropped off sharply, so work was scarce:. He joined the British Army and suffered heavily as a Prisoner-of-War of the Japanese, being forced to work on the horrendous project of the Burma Railway which killed many prisoners. The third of the trio for whom recognition is sought is William Deans of Foley Street..For dockers working coal ships, using their number 7 shovels, this was the dirtiest, hardest and most dangerous work. He carried out an amazing rescue of three ships’ officers from a hold in a vessel in Dublin Port. Former Docker John’Miley’ Walsh says the stories of these men could be a major piece of maritime history told in plaques around Dublin Port. Listen to the February edition of the programme on the website here.

Photos from Dublin Dock Workers’ Preservation Society.

Tom MacSweeney

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