… a kind of Legal Column

The Real Tom Baldwin (1916-2000)

with 13 comments


If my father had lived, he would have been 100 years old today. Sadly we lost him in January 2000 after a routine operation went wrong. While I was angry at the surgeon, I blamed myself as I should have noticed his health deteriorating sooner. That fact I will have to live with.

Thomas Patrick Baldwin was born on Sept 8th, 1916 in Broughton Street, Dundalk. His dad was another Tom Baldwin, a plumber who was well-respected around the town. His mother was Catherine McGuinness whose father was a local publican just across from the Town Hall. He was a ‘middle child’. Brothers Billy and Bernie. Sisters Margaret and Mary Bridget (sadly died a teenager).He was an accomplished young goalkeeper and defender for junior team Norton Villa and then later with another legendary local team St Patricks. He was also a lifetime supporter of Dundalk F.C. His brother Billy also played locally and was another decent player and a bit of a legend I’m told.

Dad went to the local Christian Brothers before working with the B&I at the port. There he met his life long pal Jimmy McLoughlin. They both headed off to Belfast to work with the LMS in York Road Station. My father was very popular with his co-workers except around the ‘Glorious 12th’ when the Loyalists would, as he termed it ‘go mad’ for the month of July. That said, it seems they trusted him more than ‘their own’ as they’d get him to put the money on the dogs in Dunmore Park. One said ‘I trust you Tom I wouldn’t trust them fellas.’ Always a source of amusement to my Dad. He also had a great friend in Belfast, Paddy Manning who is also sadly deceased.

After a few years in Belfast, a city he loved, he moved to Dublin to join British Railways in Westmoreland Street. The Union said his time in Belfast would be counted for pension purposes. It wasn’t when the time came. Dad was a proud active trade unionist. He was a member of the Irish Transport & General Workers Union, ITGWU. He also supported the Labour Party until he became disillusioned with them in later life. He said too many chancers were using the union to further their political careers.

Dad married my Mum Hilda Clarke of St Kevins Road, South Circular Road in 1952 when he was 36. He always laughed and said he was cut off in his prime ! They only had one child, me, although my Mum wanted a football team, but only got the goalkeeper.

Throughout his life, my father was involved in trade unionism. He instilled values of fairness in me. He was deeply religious and practiced what he preached. Even when he was a senior manager in Sealink (Brit Rail) he went on strike on a matter of principle. He saw no compromise being one of the bosses and an active union member. He’d laugh when Head Office would send in Management Consultants to suggest changes. He treated them as though they were there to shut the company down. As he’d say, what the hell do they know about this business. They’ve shut down more places. Needless to say The manager of Brit Rail got away with nothing when my Dad was around !

He held people to account when need be and wasn’t shy to speak up. Prior to Christmas 1999 he attended a function in Jurys, Ballsbridge celebrating 50 years membership of the union which was now SIPTU. He told me that during the meal he noticed that the Top Table were being served wine, while the rest were not. My father took Bill Attley (Union Head) aside and asked him did he know the first thing about trade unionism. One for all etc. Attley I’m told, was not amused but subsequently wine was served to all tables. My father loved a glass of wine with his meal but on principle refused a glass. I told this story at his funeral a couple of months later and several SIPTU members confirmed the story and were disgusted with the way things were handled and the condescending way my father was treated.

After retirement I was lucky enough to have my father’s help in managing my legal practice. He was very popular with all the staff although he brought some of them to task. One young lady told me that ‘if Mr Baldwin gives out to you then you deserve it.’ I don’t think I ever commanded the same respect as he did. Well, he was the ‘Real Tom Baldwin’.

Happy Birthday Dad. Mum will be 90 next week !!


LegalEagleStar , September 8th. 2016

Written by LegalEagleStar

September 8, 2016 at 9:31 pm

13 Responses

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  1. What a wonderful story about your Dad. I was born and raised in Bellurgan, just a short distance from Dundalk, but have lived in Texas for many years. Now that you have told us about your Dad,I,as a woman would love to hear about your Mom.How about it Tom?

    theresa gillentine

    September 8, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    • It’s Mum’s 90th next week. I’ll have to do something for her.
      My cousin Frances McCrystal and Catherine Arthur are cousins living near Bellurgan as well as cousins Billy & Tommy Baldwin. Catriona McDermott is another.
      Where in Texas? I spent a lot of time in Bulverde near San Antonio. Loved it there.


      September 8, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      • I live in Fort Worth and have been to San Antonio many times.Do you still have a home near San Antonio? Do you know Pat McCrystal?

        theresa gillentine

        September 8, 2016 at 7:51 pm

        • Pat McCrystal is married to my cousin FRANCES.
          I’ve been to Dallas but hope to get see Fort Worth sometime. Love the Rodeo so must get to Fort Worth.
          Haven’t been to Texas for the last year or so. Really miss my San Antonio Texans.
          Take care Theresa and Thanks.


          September 8, 2016 at 7:56 pm

          • It’s a small world! Pat is my first cousin and his late Mom and Dad were my Godparents. I’ve been to several Rodeos in Fort Worth and really enjoyed them. Are the Baldwins living in Jenkinstown your relatives? It’s an area I am very familiar with. Do you follow the Dundalk soccer team? I’ve been to many games in Oriel Park and try to follow them even now. They have a pretty good team. Theresa

            theresa gillentine

            September 8, 2016 at 8:37 pm

            • Yep, the Baldwins are all my cousins. Truly a small world Theresa. I was involved with Dundalk FC done years ago when they had no money. Myself as ViceChairman and Sean Connolly as Chief Executive kept the club alive. We out in the plastic pitch in order to get a stream of income into the club to keep it alive. It worked. Maybe time now to reinvest for the future. Great to see them back successful again.
              Ah I miss the rodeo. I used to spend every Saturday night at Tejas Rodeo in Bulverde. Really miss it.
              Good speaking with you Theresa.


              September 8, 2016 at 9:17 pm

              • Tom, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Shall look forward to your Mom’s story. As you know we are going through a Presidential Election. I pray that Trump doesn’t make it to the White House. He terrifies many people here and is very dangerous. November 8th can’t come soon enough! My friends and I are counting down the days. Many thanks. Keep up the good work. Theresa

                theresa gillentine

                September 8, 2016 at 9:27 pm

  2. Tom, I really enjoyed reading about your Dad and his gorgeous humanity, me thinks, you are a chip off the old block. Much gratitude as always, Trich


    September 8, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    • Thanks Trich, appreciated. He was truly a great man. I was lucky to be his son. Great memories of a true family man with values.
      Hope life treating you well Trich. If you’re up this way give me a shout.


      September 8, 2016 at 9:12 pm

  3. Tom that is a well written piece on your dad and your mum they must be very proud of u.

    John Phelan

    September 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    • I fall well short of both of them John. They sacrificed everything to out me through law school. They were always ‘there’ for me.


      September 8, 2016 at 9:46 pm

  4. What a wonderful tribute. That humanity shines through, it is definitely in the genes!

    Neil van Dokkum

    September 9, 2016 at 6:09 am

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