Partial transcript of oral history interview with Tom O’Brien
26 July 2010 (ref SS/69)
Tom O’Brien (interviewee): … and then I went on fishing boats unloading when I was about sixteen, unloading fishing boats, Danish fishing boats
Colin McCourt (interviewer): this is off the, in the harbour?
Tom O’Brien: yea, they used to go to Iceland them days, come back full up from Iceland so we used to be down there six o’clock in morning unloading boats, I made a decent a lot of money then like that wasn’t so bad til I was eighteen and then I got called up, I went in army and lo and behold I went on boats [laughter] one of my brothers had told me, he’s in Royal Engineers, he says ‘there’s boats in army’ I wanted to go in navy but war was nearly finished and they wouldn’t let me join navy unless I signed on for eleven year, well I wasn’t going to do that so when I went to Carlisle for six weeks course and then you had to decide what you’re gonna do so I told the officer, I says ‘I wouldn’t mind going on boats, there’s boats in army’ well he didn’t even know that himself, he says ‘well I send for you’ but anyway I got on boats
Colin McCourt: so what were you doing on the boats?
Tom O’Brien: well we trained up in Clyde first, Isles of Bute, Rothesay Isle of Bute, we were there six months training, we learned all about navigation, all things like that and then we went down to Isle of Wight, the whole camp moved to Isle of Wight and I was there a couple of months and then I went to, lo and behold Venice in Italy, I was on Grand Canal for eighteen months, I was Cox and then skipper
Colin McCourt: not one of these gondolas?
Tom O’Brien: Skippers, aye on the big eighteen foot harbour launch aye got skippers job on that as well right away, so that was alright
Colin McCourt: aye you were lucky there
Tom O’Brien: oh I enjoyed that but when I come out of army I went on fishing boats then …
Full interview available at Whitehaven Archive Centre (ref SS/69).