Joe Devaney, Derrybaun

Interviewed by Mary Geoghegan and Irene Boyle for Killererin Heritage Society on 4th September 2008

pps 437 - 438 Killererin - A Parish History

Joe Devaney, Derrybaun
Killererin Heritage Society
Tuam Sugar factory

Family background

Joe was born in Carragh, Caherlistrane. He is 88 years of age at the time of this interview. He came to live in Derrybaun in 1950; 58 years ago. He came from a family of 10, 7 boys and 3 girls. Joe went to school in Caherlistrane which was a three mile walk in bare feet. November day they got new clogs with tip toes which were made from wood with a leather upper. He found them very warm.

Farming part-time

Joe was a part-time farmer in Derrybaun. His farm consisted of beet, potatoes and oats, and he had hens, which provided him with eggs. He used to work and help out on farms in the district for an extra bit of income. He also worked in the sugar factory in Tuam for the campaigns; he worked 3 shifts of 8 hours and cycled to and from work. It was hard to get tyres for his bicycle so he used to put two worn-out tyres on the wheels to prolong their life. Some people used to make a rope out of straw, which they put into the bicycle tyres.

Tuam Sugar factory

Germans built the sugar factory in Tuam. While the Irishman would turn his jacket inside out and throw it on the ground before he started work, the German would make a hanger and hang up his jacket. There were queues outside the factory gate looking for work. Before the campaigns started, the men would get a card in the post to have a medical to see if they were fit for work. Joe worked as a utility man and the timekeeper would tell him what jobs needed doing. As a utility man, he got a penny an hour extra, with a half hour break during the shift. There was also a canteen for the factory workers.

Joe liked the evening shift – 4 to 12 p.m. There were about 2 hundred employed at the height of the campaign which lasted for 12 weeks to start with, but then was cut down to 8 weeks. It was very hard work and some workers found certain areas very hot, which caused exhaustion.

There was a weighbridge inside the front gate of the factory for weighing the beet going in and weighing the pulp coming out. The amount of pulp a farmer received went by the acreage of beet he had. They were charged for the bags but when the bags were returned they received half a crown.

Willie Dolan, Dangan, was one of the first to get a car and he would collect the men of the area and bring them to the sugar factory. All the farmers had to sow beet to get employment in the factory. During the war years, the beet growers used to get a 4 stone bag of sugar from the factory. General Costello was the head manager of the sugar company. There was also a local manager, a timekeeper, a walking foreman, engineer and supervisor on each shift. Some of the other bosses came from other sugar factories to work in the Tuam plant. There were houses built for management at Airglooney beside the factory. At the end of their working week, some of the workers would go for a drink to O’Brien’s pub on the Dublin Road, now the Hare Inn.

Old Sayings

  • In certain fields or rivers, you could meet the Fóidín na Mara. He had a lantern. If you could get your jacket off in time you could escape him.
  • The leprechaun had a pot of gold. If you held on to him and kept your eye on him; then he was supposed to give you his pot of gold so that you would let him go again
  • When card playing and if you had bad luck, the woman of the house would take a bit of a coal from the fire and throw it on the cement floor, under where you were sitting to bring you good luck.
  • Graves were not dug deep only to a depth of about four feet. There is a story about a woman who supposedly dug up a skull and left it in the cart house. If people passed from 12 to 2 in the morning, the skull would glow bright red and show the image of the person who was dead.

Priests and Nuns

When the priests and nuns went on the missions they were not allowed home for 7 years.

This page was added on 12/01/2023.

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