LegalEagleStar

… a kind of Legal Column

Posts Tagged ‘Dundalk

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

At home on The Ranch with G’son Toes

with 3 comments


All of us need somewhere to call home. I’m very lucky in that while I was born and reared both in Dublin and to a lesser extent Dundalk, I’ve always had my family around me. Family to me is everything. I am also lucky that I had both sets of Grandparents to learn from as well as many Uncles and Aunts who I must say, I was extremely privileged to have known.

I was born in Killester, a suburb of Dublin in the 1950s. Dublin was a very different place than it is today. Poverty was widespread and a lot of the City was derelict. Tenements prevailed throughout the inner city and a lot of children could be seen playing with skipping ropes and other improvised toys. Hop Scotch was a popular game and if you had a football, well you were a popular kid. No PlayStations, Computer Games or even Mobile Phones were about in those days. You were ‘well off’ if you had a phone in your house ! My mother used to bring me ‘into town’ to do the shopping. While I remember it being tiring I also remember it being a fascinating time. Mum used to make her own clothes. Her father was a Tailor and Cutter and he certainly trained her well. Many a memory I have of calling into the Wollen Mills on the Quays, then across the Metal Bridge to a small shop where she’d buy the buttons, zips and such like. Then on to meet up with her friends and have a ‘chat’. We got the Bus everywhere. Only a few people had a car and I suppose when we got fed up with the Radio, we paid a visit to a friend’s house to watch their Tele. To watch Match of the Day, in Black and White, on a fuzzy screen was marvelous. Top of the Pops, if you could get BBC was amazing. They were tough times but I have nothing but good and fond memories of those days.

At the end of the month we used to take the train to Dundalk to see my Dad’s family. My Dad worked in British Railways so we had Privilege Tickets. This meant that we got a Return Ticket for half the price of a Single. I remember getting excited when the train crossed the Boyne after leaving the station at Drogheda and waiting to pass through Dunleer and then Castlebellingham. My Dad would point out the landmarks as we approached Dundalk. We’d take a Taxi from the station to Broughton Street where Grandad used to live. My cousins were great. I was the youngest grandchild and as my cousins were nearly all girls, we’d play house and of course I was always the baby/child. Ah those were the days.

While I have great memories I’m also very aware that others weren’t so lucky. Artane Boys School was ‘down the road’ from me in Donnycarney. On the outside the building looked amazing but unfortunately we now know, that all was not so rosy inside. Having met a number of the victims of child abuse who were resident there when I was a little boy growing up, I feel sorry that they were not able to have had the support of a family as I did.

When I had children myself, I made a pledge that I would try to be as good to them as my Mum and Dad were to me. I think we’ve done OK as a family despite marriage breakdown some years ago. It wasn’t an easy time but myself and the children got on with our lives. Now, being a Grandad myself I can watch the next generation starting out on their journeys in life. Toes, as regular readers of my ramblings will know, is my grandson. While he’s now approaching the terrible twos and showing appropriate signs 😦 I’ve had the privilege of being part of his life since the day he was born. Lisa and Eddie are good, doting parents and I wish them well. I, for my part have done my fair share of babysitting so far and none more so than in Texas this past summer. They say that travel broadens the mind and if that is so, then Toes has had a great start in life. I got on a plane for the first time when I was eighteen. Toes on the other hand, probably qualifies as a frequent traveller at this stage and he’s not even two !

Life without family would be unbearable for me. That is what life is all about. It’s what keeps me going. While I sit here in Texas with Toes and walk about the land, trying to keep up with him, us both dressed like we’re locals wearing our Cowboy Hats, I do realise what a privilege it is to be part of a loving family. We are very lucky and it is sad that all children don’t get the opportunities that both myself and now Toes enjoy.

LegalEagleStar , San Antonio, Texas, Tuesday, 27th. September , 2011.

Written by LegalEagleStar

September 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm

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