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First Jobs

The working life of an Irish farming housewife: "From the time I was able to walk I had to work"

Joan's statement clearly shows the early work expectations placed on all the members of the family growing up on an Irish farm during the 1940s. It demonstrates the necessity for the entire family to contribute to ensure the farms sustained the family for the majority of their dietary and financial requirements.

 Limerick Landscape Wikipedia Commons

Grace recalls leaving school in her teenage years to find work in Cork City centre

"I knew I would have to get a job because at that stage you had to get a job to contribute to the whole household."

She makes it clear that, in hindsight, she knew she would have to help with at home. It was an expectation for her as "there were a lot of expenses." 


Grace O'Callaghan Interview Part 3 beginning at 3:03


Image from Ireland Wide, O'Donovan's Meats

"My ambition in life was to be a nurse."

Anna explains how her ambition in life was to become a nurse.  After her leaving Certificate she completed all training nesseccary for nursing and tells us how, on the 29th Nov 1957, aged 22,  she got her first job at the North Infirmary Hospital in Cork. 


Image obtained from

Jackie explains how he came to work as a farmer at a young age. He was only 16 years old when he began his career. It was his father who got the job for him and he continued to work as a farmer throughout his life. His fathers reputation as a farmer lead to the family being known as The Farmers. Jackie explains how they had trouble with this nickname growing up but learned to love the name later in life.


First Jobs