I am a 38 year old father of two young girls and mining has played an enormous and productive role in my life. My parents raised myself and my two brothers on a small dairy farm, 19 acres, in Kilkenny. We all knew that it couldn’t sustain a livelihood for me or my brothers when we older and job opportunities in the area were limited.
I was always interested in a trade either mechanical or electrical, so I was very focused on gaining an apprenticeship after finishing secondary school. Being from such as a small farm, college was never an option for me or my brothers, we had to find work and make a living.
As luck would have it mining operations had just started in the area where I lived in 1999, around the time I was finishing school. Galmoy Mine and Lisheen Mine were opening and it was something very new for the local area. Not only were the mines opening, but they were creating opportunities for other businesses in the area to supply products and services to the mines.
It was at one of these businesses, Sandvik that I handed in my CV, hoping that they would take me on as an apprentice. I was delighted when they offered me a job as an apprentice construction plant fitter. Little did I know then, but this offer was to define my career to the present day.
Sandvik are an underground mining equipment supplier, specialising in market leading products and services globally. We supply drill rigs, bolting equipment, loaders, trucks, autonomous machines and crushing and screening equipment to the mining and quarrying industries, both in Ireland and globally.
Working with Sandvik meant working closely with Galmoy Mines, with whom we had a service contract and on projects at Tara Mines. As a 19 year-old visiting the mines it was very exciting. Two years after qualifying in my trade I was promoted to workshop supervisor in the rebuild centre and since then I’ve developed my career in different managerial roles. Today my job title is Parts, Service &Warranty Lead and Sales Manager, Ireland. This means I am responsible for our service centre in Portlaoise, the welfare and safety of all employees in Ireland, sale of parts and equipment and the management of the facility.
My career has been fantastic and I appreciate the opportunities that mining provided me and many others like me in the local area. Looking at Dalradian’s project, I think of young men and women that may get similar opportunities in Tyrone as I did in Kilkenny in 1999. It would be heartening to hear of local young people in West Tyrone developing a career with Dalradian. Unfortunately for the community where I come from both mines have closed in recent years. They are missed by locals. On a brighter note however there seems to be a future for both sites to provide employment going forward.
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