Matt The Worker



Matt worked as an unskilled casual labourer. There were thousands like him in Dublin, glad to get work and to put up with conditions that would be unthinkable today. If you were laid off there was on dole or social welfare. Matt was frequently employed, on a temporary basis, by T&C Martin's, the timber merchants. Later he was made a permanent employee of the company. He worked in a section of the yard where timber was creosoted. His task was to carry the planks from the timber stacks to where they were creosoted and to thrust them into the steaming tar vats. It was heavy and dirty work. At the end of the day you reeked of tar. One workmate described. 'It was a very dirty job and Matt was a very clean and tidy man; he liked to be spotless. I think it was on account of going to visit the Blessed Sacrament. It took him a long time washing himself and taking the tar marks off his clothes before going on to the Church.' Matt would drop into St. Laurence O'Toole's Church, Seville Place, on his way to work to greet the Lord and again on his way home.

Several men from Martin's recalled their memories of Matt at the tribunals investigating his cause. It is recorded that all held him in high regard. Sometimes they asked his advice. 'I never heard of him having a row with another workman or a foreman, he was no boss's man'. Once a director of T&C Martin's asked Matt if he had seen another workman who had arrived late and was hiding nearby. Matt replied, 'I wish you wouldn't ask me such questions; you know I don't wish to answer them.' When the director had passed on Matt found the man and said, 'You heard that? Attend to it. I won't tell lies to save you.'

If there was a lull in the yard Matt would retreat to between the timber stacks to pray while the other men would have a smoke or tell yearns. One day while Matt was between the stacks praying Thomas Martin one of the owners heard a movement behind the timber and called out, 'Come out, whoever is there, and don't be afraid.' Matt walked up to him and said 'With all respects to you, sir, I never yet met a man I was afraid of.'