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Friday 22 August 2014

Ushers memories flow freely at reunion launch meeting

PLANS FOR MARCH 2013 REUNION TO MARK 20 YEARS SINCE CLOSURE

HUBERT MURPHY

Published 21/11/2012 | 10:19

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TALES of past days in Robert Ushers manufacturing plant at Greenhills were flowing freely at a launch meeting for a special reunion to mark 20 years since the gates closed for the last time.

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The event will take place at the end of March 2013, but the preparations have begun for what those behind the idea hope will be a night of real nostalgia.

Ushers closed in February 1993, a shock at the time because it was making money and production was intense.

The company made towels for the likes of Marks & Spencer, Clerys, Dunnes Stores and Guineys.

Joe Gallagher began his working career in Ushers in 1966 and the stories of ghosts and characters abound.

' The place was haunted,' he states. He recalled an incident one night when two men were working in an enclosed room. Next thing, they spotted a man further down the room resting his elbows across a table. Immediately they realised he shouldn't be in the place and they went out to get a security guard. He came into the room and was walking towards the figure when they simply disappeared.

The three legged it out of the building pretty sharp!

' There was a mass in the room after that and that was it,' he added.

Workers like Neville Granson, Peter McCullough, the forklift driver (' he always knew who was dead in the town first,' Joe remarked), Pat McPhillips, a local referee, Joe Dyas 'who'd listen to everyone's problems,' Val Rogers, musicians Dinny McDonnell and Brendan Coyle made sure the Tops of the Town entries were tops, Frank 'Shawaddy' Beirth, Peadar Martin, pool king Peter Reay Bobby McDonnell, and the rest were special people.

'Jackie Black worked in consignment and every Friday he'd make sure the shipment went out and we had a ladies soccer team and people would come in to work at 6 a.m. to make sure they'd make the kick off. Mattie Rogers looked after them,' Joe explained.

Jackie was also a noted cards player and won the Christmas turkey event for seven years in a row.

At its peak, Ushers had 780 workers employed and many generations of families came through it. 'I worked there as did six of my family, including my parents,' Stephen Dunne explained.

There is also a great story about the closure of the Social Club. They had £600 left over and after much consideration, decided to do the lotto with it. They won £24!

'Frank Fleming said we should put it all on the favourite at the last race in Leopardstown at 9/4 and the bleeding horse won,' Joe joked.

Mickey Finglas was famous for his soup, while Valerie Kenny recalled the days when they'd pop into the kitchen and get a bag of chips from Betty in a brown paper bag, something shared by Michelle Gartland, and Robert and Geraldine Synnott.

The weaving ran 24 hours a day and the noise was sometimes incredible, people becoming fluent in lip reading, the stray cats were in abundance and black jeans were the norm, thanks to the dye room.

Remarkably many of those who left Ushers went off to work in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

Further details of the runion are available from Facebook page - Robert Usher or email; robertusher93@gmail.com. Old pictures would be very welcome.

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