Daily Archives: April 9, 2019

Smart Community by Padraic Neary

It is entirely appropriate that the “Smart Community Initiative” was launched in Tubbercurry on Friday, 18th January, 2019 as it was in this small town that “Smart Economics” were made manifest in this country with the formation of The Tool and Gauge Company of Ireland Limited, in 1956. “Smart Economics” are underpinned by “Smart Technology”  and nowhere in Industry is technology smarter than in “Precision Toolmaking” where the equipment and machinery to produce everything in quantity is designed and manufactured. A century ago, Henry Ford described “toolmakers” as the “Aristocrats” of Engineering while Steve Jobs, when asked how he would like to be remembered, expressed the hope that he would be regarded as a good “Toolmaker” to the world.

Since the first tools of wood and stone were made, human progress has been defined by the quality, durability and “smartness” of the tools available at the time. The Industrial Revolution massively improved tooling and output which facilitated an eightfold increase of human population coupled with enormous enhancement of living conditions.  Over the last three decades, Computerization has lifted Technology and Precision Toolmaking” to unprecedented levels of excellence and performance, which are proudly embraced and perfected by native and international industry all over the country.

Increases in excellence and output have been enormous; so enormous that many conditions and balances which propelled growth economics through two centuries of Industrial revolution have been made redundant and reversed. These achievements have brought about the greatest and best time ever experienced by the human race. It is becoming apparent however, that failure to fully embrace and adapt to an entirely unprecedented era of “sufficiency” and reduced workload, is causing widespread uncertainty and insecurity for many who fear abandonment by the technological age. Such fear is at the heart of Brexit and increasing movement towards extreme politics all over the world.

Fifty-three years ago, Tubbercurry enthusiastically embraced “Smart Economics” of that time. It would be appropriate and very worthwhile if the newly instituted “Smart Community Initiative” could provide a similar reception for “Smart Economics” of the present. Sadly, such has not been the Global experience to date. It is no longer smart for Economists, politicians, media and communities to think that old remedies will cure newly arrived problems. Initiatives to improve education, entice investment, create new jobs and regular Government windfalls to sustain local enterprise, while very welcome in the immediate term, are in no way adequate to counter the enormous changes generated by modern technology.

Embracing new technologies successfully will require complete rethinking of economic ideology. The old rules no longer apply. How can growth economics serve a technological world that increasingly produces too much; thereby creating enormous difficulties for commerce and trade? How can employment, with all its benefits, entitlements and security, be sustained despite technology continually reducing reliance on human labour? How can confidence of prolonged income, through secure commercial activity and employment, be restored in a world that no longer guarantees either? How can masses be reassured that modern technology is not going to abandon them; and consign their futures to dependency, deprivation and despair? These are extraordinarily difficult questions that very few in positions of authority want to acknowledge. But they are questions that must be asked; they must be investigated, debated and answered adequately and quickly. Otherwise the horrific vista of the most successful smartest technology ever devised, destroying innumerable communities could become a reality.

The greatest service Tubbercurry, with its new status and “Smart Economy”  experience, could perform for the local community, for the national community and indeed for the global community, is to initiate a debate which starts the process of formulating an economic ideology which will get the very best out of the most successful technology ever devised.  Since the dawn of history, economic ideology, from its simplest to its most complex, had had to cope with and manage technologies which were never capable of producing enough. The world now need an ideology capable of coping with and managing technology that generates more than can be consumed. Where better could serious and sustained quest for satisfactory answers to the problems of success begin; other than in the birthplace of smart economies in Ireland. A community capable of doing such a service, could truly be called “really smart”.


The Sound of music by Padraic Neary ( an open letter)

Dear Sir;

A wonderful thing happened in my little town last week. The Phoenix Players drama group in Tubbercurry, undertook presentation of probably the greatest musical ever written; “the Sound of Music”. This was a totally home grown product; the cast, all 90 of them, from stars to cameo, are local; relatives, friends, neighbours ranging in age from 6 to 86; people known, loved and cherished within the community which is immensely proud of the achievement. There were at least 50 other individuals involved; backstage, front of house and undertaking the innumerable tasks needed to present such an enormous show. And the wonderful thing, the incredible thing, the thing that will not be forgotten as long as the youngest participants survive, is that the show presented for 7 nights to absolutely packed houses, was an enormous success. The sets, although miniscule in comparison, the costumes, the lighting, the effects and especially the singing and acting were not what the cynical might expected from a small rural town. They were akin to and in many instances surpassed what might be seen on professional stages in Dublin, London or even Broadway itself. This may appear preposterous exaggeration, but for the people of Tubbercurry, it is one of the great and most uplifting truths of 2019.

Tubbercurry, once a hive of Industry where seeds of technology and smart economics first sprouted in Ireland, has suffered substantially in recent years with loss of almost 200 jobs. The apparently forgotten town is located on a section of the N17 roadway, which, apart from surface renewal, signage and some realignment, has not been upgraded in living memory. Yet this glorified “cart-track”, for that is what it was constructed as, is regarded as a national highway with a 100 kilometres speed limit although its width in many places is criminally inadequate for vehicular traffic never mind ability to accommodate cycling or walking. It was reported some time ago that EU funds to upgrade this section of substandard road were allow be diverted to other projects by the present leadership of our country. To add to feeling of abandonment, the people of Tubbercurry and district can no longer drink water from their taps and must look to an indefinite future of purchasing bottled water, on which incidentally, they pay 23% Value Added Tax. And nobody in governance and officialdom appears to give a damn.

This forsaken town however, has the ability, the talent, the community spirit to produce one of the finest amateur shows ever seen on an Irish Stage. It indicates what small towns faced with grave insecurity and creeping decay can do when a sense of community, cooperation and preparedness to use their finest talents in the interests of the common good, comes to the fore. In this age of rampant individualism, which appears in danger of corroding the very core of community, it is gratifying to find an event which bucks the trend and solidifies cohesion and self-belief in the knowledge that given viable scripts, they can provide leadership, activists and the will to achieve anything. Such spirit in this age of phenomenal change, is what will save rural Ireland and vulnerable communities all over the world. As yet however, nobody appears to have written a viable script, which is where government should urgently concentrate its energies.

In the meantime to all who participated and attended, I say well done; you have excelled in your efforts and left a joyous sound of music ringing through the hearts of Tubbercurry. You will long be remembered with great affection and pride. You provide a resounding encouragement to many small communities unsure of themselves, that the apparently unachievable can be achieved and that dreams of security, prosperity and a better life can be realized by those who work together and selflessly express their substantial talents in the common good.

I am immensely proud of my place and the people in it. Congratulations to all concerned.

Padraic Neary.

industrialization of Tubbercurry in the mid 20th century.  Padraic Neary

Industrialization of Tubbercurry in the mid 20th century.  Padraic Neary 26/10/2017.

In the late 1930’s the first of 6 Gallagher brothers from Cashel, a village just south of Tubbercurry, departed for England seeking work and within a short time, as other brothers joined them, set up their own construction company in the city of London. They became involved in clearing bomb sites during the blitz and in rebuilding that great city after the war. By the late 1940’s they has expanded their building activities to Dublin and decided to source some essential building requirements from their home place where jobs were badly needed. Their first venture in the early 1950’s was a joint arrangement with Gowna Wood Industries to produce doors and windows for the building industry.

Very shortly afterwards they made an arrangement with a Danish Company, Basta, to commence manufacture of locks together with door and window fittings in their home town of Tubbercurry and complemented the project by including foundry facilities for production of cast iron, brass and zinc. This was one of the very first modern type industries to be established in Ireland. It soon became apparent that for Basta to operate successfully there was requirement for an engineering facility to service, repair and manufacture new tooling for production of the various parts involved. As no such expertise was available in the country at the time it was decided to set up their own facility and so The Tool and Gauge Company of Ireland came into existence. The formation of Toolmaking or, to use its more posh title, Precision engineering, was the introduction of the Smart Economy to Ireland.

Most people have little knowledge of Precision Engineering or even know of its existence. Known to some as Tool-making, it is not production of implements to facilitate tradesmen or gardeners or DIY enthusiasts but rather the core essential around which all mass production is based. Precision Engineering involves the design and manufacture of specialize equipment which is essential in the manufacture of everything which is required in quantity. Everything mass produced for the human race is possible only because of the knowledge, skill and advancement of this key section of industry. Henry Ford attributed his enormous success at mass production to “tool-making excellence” classifying toolmakers as the aristocrats of industry. Almost a century later Steve Jobs who hailed himself as a toolmaker, acknowledged that his ideas for a smart-phone would have remained ideas without the expertise of master toolmakers.

Precision Engineering is essential to and often the source from which product development springs as well as the impetus behind automation and robotics which when allied with the genius of computerization and digital control achieves extraordinary results. 

Tubbercurry, as well as retaining the successor of the original Tool and Gauge Company and Basta has given rise to a proliferation of similar operations; some retained locally, such as Avenue Precision and Laurence Engineering with many others spread throughout the whole country. It can truly be claimed that Tubbercurry as the birthplace of new Industrialization and of Precision Engineering in Ireland, has proved itself the cradle of highly Technical Industry and the original midwife of Smart Economics in this country.

When founded in Tubbercurry just over 60 years ago the “thou” was the universal unit of precision; A “thou” in Imperial measurement was one thousandth’s part of an inch; the unit of precision sought after and expected. One thousandth’s part of a millimetre is the present unit of perfection. A 25 times reduction of precision to about one fiftieth the diameter of the finest human hair is what the three industries located locally deliver, enabling them keep pace with and achieve skill and accuracy to match that of any place in the world. Each is master of modern precision and carves a niche for themselves in a multi-demanding industry which is what the smart economy is all about. It is because of such precision that many top technology companies locate in Ireland and although having just about half a centuries industrial tradition Irish Precision Engineers can match and even surpass many who have been involved in industry for three or four times as long. The Irish have an aptitude for precise technology as evidenced by the success of Precision engineering in this country. We are proud that for this country, it all started with the formation of The Tool and Gauge Company of Ireland Limited in Tubbercurry just about 60 years ago.  

Industry proved phenomenally successful in Tubbercurry and at its peak employed in excess of 600 people in this small town. Many people have trained in manufacturing over the years having very successful careers and indeed founding many industries at home and abroad. In fact two most recent Precision Toolmaking Apprentices trained in Tool and Gauge represented Ireland with distinction in International Competition. Donald Logan in 2015 competed in Brazil while Michael Flynn just returned from Abu Dhabi. The two mainstays of employment still trade successfully but at a reduced level of employment as technological advance and globalization of trade reduced and relocated many of the great manufacturing powerhouses of the world. The basic industries of Basta and Tool and Gauge coupled with several smaller highly technical and very skilled establishments bear witness to the successful industrialization of Tubbercurry in the mid 20th century and still play a significant role in the commercial fabric of the town and surrounding area. It is hoped in the near future to raise a monument in Wolf Tone Square to the beginning of Smart Irish Economics so that all may realize and remember the importance to the whole country the Industrialization of this small town in the mid 20th century.