FOR generations D.F. Doyle have been the pre-eminent stevedoring company in the Port of Cork.
In 1967, while still a student in UCC, I presented myself at their offices near the quays and asked permission to photograph their dockers at work on a ship. It may have been my college scarf that won them over but the girls in the office gave me the thumbs up without even bothering to check with a supervisor. I probably looked – and was – harmless.
A ship load of coal dust was in the process of being unloaded on to lorries queued up on the quayside, to be ferried away to several foundries scattered around Cork city and county for use in blast furnaces. The largest, of course, was Irish Steel in Haulbowline, but Merricks in Parnell Place, McBrides on the Kinsale Road and The Hive metalworks on Hanover Quay also had blast furnaces on site — all, alas, now long gone. The work of shovelling the coal dust into huge buckets was done by hand by about 10 men deep in the bowels of the ship.