Friday, 23 April 2010

A Baker and a Glazier

Having just written my last blog on 20th Century Directories, by chance I came across an Internet site called 'Belfast City Forum'. There were four McIlhagga references worth noting, three about the same person. The first was in the 1959 Belfast Street Directory, a reference to Deacon Street, number 41: McILHAGGA, John, Baker. So we can add one more to the range of trades in which the clan was involved. Indeed we can add two, as you can see in the following entries.

It seems that the first of the three on the same person was in response to the maxim, 'You can take the man out of the market, but you can't take the market out of the man'. The comment is on a specific event in a firm of glaziers. "That washboard glass could break and need replacing? No, right, but Harry McIlhagga listened to a sharp salesman from the 'mainland' and bought a gross. They lay on the shelf for forty years." And haven't we all succumbed to good sales talk? The second comment is in response to a question about wages in the 60s. "In 1965 my wage in McIlhagga's, in Peter's Hill, was one shilling and sixpence an hour, but he paid us 100 hours for 40. He didn't want to upset his fellow masons by paying a higher basic wage." I think this sheds a good light on a man who wanted to play fair by his employees. The final comment is a wee insight into family life as well as endorsing work 'fair play'. It comes from someone about his first job. "1965, Henry McIlhagga glaziers, Peters Hill, wages one and sixpence per hour. The surprise came on the friday morning when the time sheets were filled in. I was unofficially told to book in 120 hours and got paid £7.50 (He must have meant £7. 10s.0!). This was the norm after that for a year. Also the mother's money was always paid discreatly (sic) behind the clock on the mantlepiece in those days by the young workers, no arguments. She got the £5 and you kept the odds". Isn't it interesting how the taboo topics of conversation have changed?

There are or were very few Henrys in the McIlhagga clan, and I have to admit that I do not know to which family Henry the glazier belongs or belonged. If there is anyone out there with this information I would very much like to know.

No comments:

Post a Comment