A Day in the life…40 years from home.


Two songs a world apart, or are they?

“He blew his mind out in a car.”

The Beatles song A Day in The Life references the death of Tara Browne an Irish socialite, heir to the Guinness fortune, who had a house in Luggalo, County Wicklow and died in England in a car crash in 1966. Pat Brennan the Wicklow singer songwriter’s 40 years from home, speaks to the experience of so many men who left home in Ireland during the Second World War to work in England. Although it had won it’s independence a couple of decades earlier the economy of The Republic was still largely dependent on England, so for economic or social reasons the pull of the UK remained.

“The English Army had just won the war.”

The shortage of labour as men went off to fight in the Second World War meant there were jobs in Birmingham, Coventry, London and Liverpool. In Liverpool, these included many Irish sailors who arrived through or worked out of Garston docks, on coasters supplying coal, copper, timber etc. Some of these coasters operated out of Wicklow, that once boasted a fleet of vessels owned and operated from the town.

“4000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire.” (in the road)

This need for workers continued after the war as modern-day navvies worked on the roads and motorways and helped to rebuild England’s shattered cities and infrastructure. Life could be difficult for these men, as they were preyed upon by unscrupulous landlords and foremen, but many worked hard, made some money, met wives, settled, and raised families.

My story The One Road has a character who worked on the coasters bringing copper from Amlych to Liverpool. Irish timber for the Bobbin works and later the Matchworks was also a staple of the docks and regularly brought Irish vessels into the port.

“Caught the bus in seconds flat.”

Little Wicklow as Garston was known, had emigres from the town early in the 1800s. Whatever links were built at that time lasted and were extended. Separate waves came across the Irish sea, no doubt during and after the famine years in the mid-1800s, through the early 1900s and then another distinct wave from the 1940s onwards. Many families who settled in Garston moved on to the new houses in Speke. The lines above written by Paul McCartney reference his school bus to town the 82, a bus route familiar to everyone from South Liverpool.

A day in the life is meant to be chaotic, scenes from a life, rather than a narrative. Pat sings of a young man who ‘finds a bed for the night in Garston. Where there’s plenty of work’ who finds work on the docks. Both songs different in style and composition reflect life in the postwar decades, not only, but especially for Liverpool.

Two songs separated by generation are joined in telling the same story.

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A Day in The Life

40 years from home

With kind permission of Pat Brennan.
For more from Pat Brennan


2 responses to “A Day in the life…40 years from home.”

  1. Hi Jack,  Just to say thanks for your little snippets I’ve subscribed to, I’m from Rathnew/Wicklow so really enjoying the stories and must get hold of some of your books.  Thought it must be a sign to let you know I’m a new follower, especially as you mention Pat Brennan who is married to my niece. I look forward to reading some more.  Linda Murphy 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    1. jackbyrnewriter Avatar

      HI Linda, it’s great to have you here. Books will start appearing soon. Keep your eyes open!

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About Me

Thanks for visiting my page. The aim of this page is to let you know what I am working on and allow you to tell me what you think.

I was born and raised in Speke Liverpool, although my parents first lived ‘Under The Bridge’ in Garston, and all my family goes back to Wicklow in Ireland.

The Liverpool Mystery series will be four novels, three books; Under The Bridge, The Morning After, and Fire Next Time are finished. Under The Bridge will be published in Feb 2021 and I hope at least one more will follow later in the year. I am writing The Wicklow Boys now, and I hope to finish it next year.

My writing like my blog is about the lives of working people and how they relate to society as a whole.

My collection of short stories The One Road is available below click to see details.

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