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Posts Tagged ‘St.Patricks

The Real Tom Baldwin (1916-2000)

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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

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