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"Too Old at Forty: A Limerick Worker’s Plea for Fair Employment Practices" |

“Too Old at Forty: A Limerick Worker’s Plea for Fair Employment Practices”

In a heartfelt letter to the editor, a resident of 20 Carey’s Road, Limerick, sheds light on the harsh realities faced by labourers in the city. The writer, who has chosen to remain anonymous, recounts his personal struggles with employment at the Locomotive Works, highlighting broader issues of age discrimination and economic hardship.

The author describes his long tenure at the Locomotive Works, spanning fifteen years from boyhood to adulthood, until he was abruptly discharged a decade ago during one of the company’s periodic cost-cutting measures. Since his dismissal, he has relied on sporadic dock work to support his wife and five children. However, as noted by Alderman M. Joyce, MP.., Limerick’s geographical disadvantage has led to a sharp decline in dock work opportunities, exacerbating the writer’s financial struggles.

Determined to avoid emigration and keep his family together, the writer reapplied for work at the Locomotive Works. Following a successful medical examination in Dublin, he was overjoyed to be employed again, this time as a wagon lifter. This brief reprieve brought immense relief and hope to his family. However, this hope was short-lived; after just one week, he was handed his discharge notice by the foreman.

In a poignant exchange, the foreman expressed regret over the dismissal, explaining that the decision was not based on the writer’s performance or character, but rather an underlying, unspoken policy of the company. The foreman acknowledged the writer’s competence and suitability for the role, yet the directive to let him go came from higher up, reflecting a troubling systemic issue within the company’s employment practices.

This letter underscores a critical social issue: the treatment of older workers and the arbitrary nature of employment decisions that disregard years of dedication and capability. The writer’s plight is a stark reminder of the vulnerability faced by labourers who are deemed “too old” at forty, a notion that dismisses their experience and contributions outright.

The editor, having previously highlighted issues within the Great Southern and Western Railway’s treatment of clerks, is now called upon to address the plight of labourers. This plea aims to bring public attention to the injustices faced by workers like the writer, who are willing and able to work but are unfairly discarded due to misguided policies.

In conclusion, the letter from 20 Carey’s Road serves as both a personal cry for justice and a broader call to action against age discrimination and economic marginalization. It is a powerful reminder of the need for fair and compassionate employment practices that recognize and value the contributions of all workers, regardless of age.

Dublin Leader – Saturday 09 June 1917

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