They were work buddies as well as close friends, as were their respective wives, Eleanor and Ruby. Arthur was the first to leave Ireland in 1945. His choice, a mill in Brazil.
Letters from William Street, Waterford:
“you would hardly know the mill now, the new bloke, Nicholls, got the gang to wash the floor and every machine, spout and conveyor; after which he brought in a squad of painters, who painted and varnished everything. The old test room is going to be turned into a proper dining room for shift workers, with none of the wheat gang allowed. The roller floor is now lit by those long lights with daylight effect (I forget the name).
Nicholls got the firm to supply the staff with a suit of overalls and a pair of soft shoes for £2-5, but at a cost to us of 6 pence a week. At least Johnny Barry is no longer going around with half a pants on him!”
I want to send Ruby her share on to you. Not sure how, English bank notes?”
“I answered an advert in ‘Milling’ (as I am always doing) this time for a job in Kenya, Africa. I thought little more about it as I have been so often disappointed. However came off shift one morning and found a letter from ‘Simons’ telling me they were sorry that the job was filled but would I consider a job in South Africa. They invited me to an interview in England, which took a while as I had to apply for a passport. My interview was successful and the salary £11 per week. They wanted me to go immediately on my own, and let Eleanor and Pat follow, but I said no.”
“Paddy O Niell is already in Johannesburg and wrote to me; the facts of the job are, one white man controls the shift, and one in the screen house. He says it’s hard work, he paints rather a poor picture, but he was never used to work; it shouldn’t give me too much trouble, and as the company has mills all over the country, there is a good chance of promotion.”
“next bit of strange news is that Mam and Nell no longer live in Kilmacow and are about to sell out and go to live in England near brother John who by the way is getting married to a Yorkshire lass. Pat is able to walk and talk now! Eleanor is in Cork this week as her sister Annie is very sick.”
“I thought of writing sooner, but said I would wait until things came more to a head, it is as hard to get a passage to South Africa as it is to get one to heaven!”
“by the way, my contract says nothing about them standing the fare home at the end of the three years. I reckon with£47 per month, I should be able to put aside about £150 per year.”
“Simons have written that they cannot get us a passage till end of October and that will be too late. Reason (which I didn’t tell you yet) that we are expecting another young Finlay about November, so there is nothing we can do but wait and maybe it will all be for the best in the end.”
“the new leaders of the study circle, when I go, will be Frank Fennesey and believe it or not Flanagan!”
All the best,