RSS Feed

That’s Life!

Posted on

The day we received the E.U. eco- flag and plaque The Green Flower Award.


Today being the 10th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic I thought to mention my grandfather had worked on it and I’ve presented a tool to Cobh Museum – a kind of reemer used to clean scarf from holes before the rivets went in.

There are some useful pages too;


This tool is a kind of reamer that was used by Joseph O’Connor of Dundalk Co Louth while working in Harland & Wolf approx 1905 to 1922.

It was used to clear scarf from holes punched in the metal cladding-plates during the building of boats such as the Olympic 1912, the Britannic 1914 (sunk in November 1915) and the Titanic launched and lost 1912.

He would have been at building of a few more that didn’t sink.

Scarf is the tiny remnants of steel left behind after holes were punched or (more especially) drilled in the iron-plate after they’d left the giant cutting halls (magic-lanterns were used to cast the drawings directly onto the plates to mark up with chalk and be sent for cutting and pre-stressing (bending). The sheets were hauled up to the necessary levels and manhandled into place. A section-leader (like my grandfather – Joseph O’Connor) would ensure that all holes and edges were clear of scarf and other material that might hinder the rivets going in. Rivets were white hot and swollen due to heat but cooled rapidly when in contact with the cold-plate so speed was essential – partly because men were holding up the plate and didn’t want to wait and riveters were paid per 100 rivets.

Any delay would have the whole team swearing and bickering. The holes had to be clean.

That was the section-leaders responsibility.

Joseph O’Connor was born and bred in Dundalk to a long established family of metal-workers and brass musicians. The site of the O’Connor Metalwork’s is now covered by Dunne’s Stores in Park Street, Dundalk. The main road between Dublin and Belfast ran outside the front and the lazy Ramparts River ran behind it.

Joseph had served his time as upholsterer and went up to Belfast in early 1900’s seeking work but was told that all such ‘fine work’ was done in Southampton. What was needed was metal-worker. “Sure all my family and all before them were metal workers” he’s alleged to have said and so was offered a second chance and served time on a second trade – most unusual at that time.

After some serious trouble during and after the problems associated with workers rights and (later Home Rule) Joseph was heavily involved in the unions.  However at the time – before WW1 – the management at H&W held very socially-conscious views.

Joseph rose to section leader and his team was so good that he and his (Newry) wife were offered free passage  to America on the Titanic as being best in section. Such tickets were seen both as a carrot to instill pride and industry among ship-yard workers and as an honour to be chosen. Elisabeth (nee McGuire) O’Connor demurred declaring prophetically “We’re not going to sea, the sea is for fishes”.



Crematoriums are spilling out noxious fumes due to obese  bodies. Some arriving are over 200kg almost double the speck of the burners original design.

The issue of what will be done with the bodies of those exceeding such weight limits is very real indeed. Indeed, such measures could force people to scramble around in hearses in search of suitable cremation facilities. In France, for example, several crematoriums refused to accept the body of a 140-kilogram woman. The woman’s daughter then wrote to the newspaper Le Parisien complaining of post-mortem discrimination against her mother. From article;,1518,826639,00.html

A number of crematoriums have suffered severe damage when burning fat overwhelmed their emergency measures.

————                  ——————-                     ——————–                    —————-

More on death and burial;


Rocket stove from wood – from my friends at Treehugger

Rocket )regular) stove;


About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: