It was a cold Monday early morning, the 3rd of December 1979, when I arrived at 8-11 Reduce Baggot Street in Dublin for my initial working day at my initially ever genuine task. I clumped up the stairs in my manufacturer-new tan cowboy boots to the third ground, exactly where I was requested to just take a seat in the cramped reception region.
As I sat down the small bells hooked up to my new peasant costume created a tiny tinkling seem. I will be without end grateful to whoever it was in JWT who noticed my income potential since I seemed much extra like a person who could head off to the Aran Islands to improve humorous weeds, than a journey government.
Like a lot of women who grew up in Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s, I harboured goals of currently being an “air hostess” for Aer Lingus. At a time when Ireland appeared to be powering the curve on almost everything from women’s legal rights to amusement, Aer Lingus was up there with the very best airways in the globe. The hostesses wore great designer uniforms and were being portrayed as glamorous ambassadors for Ireland, pretty much flying the flag overseas.
My desires of signing up for them died the day I received the letter telling me I had unsuccessful their “aptitude tests”. My existence appeared to be over prior to it had begun. The job with JWT was a variety of consolation prize. But it was the journey business enterprise, and I had a wonderful ample uniform. Though in contrast to Aer Lingus women, we weren’t issued with uniform footwear which grew to become a bit of a challenge for a tall hippie who disliked heels.
JWT was established in 1961 by Joe Walsh, a difficult, straight-conversing northerner who started by operating pilgrimages to Lourdes. As we rolled into the 1980s,
JWT was Ireland’s foremost tour operator, offering vacations to a wide vary of resorts in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy.
It was a young corporation. Joe Walsh loomed in excess of us all, like a taciturn father. He was a guy with no time for trade unions but considered incredibly a lot in maintaining morale higher and personnel faithful. He obtained this not by spending us generous bonuses or top wages but by laying on a great deal of entertainment and social events, lengthy right before the conditions “team building” or “away days” had been at any time uttered in company Ireland.
As Eire sank into a recession, the reservations office took on the guise of an African souk, with considerably wheeling and working to ‘get bums on seats’
There were mid-period parties, Christmas functions, an yearly meeting held in December in his lodge in Kenmare and different departmental get-togethers. And then there were the weekends absent in just one of the resorts, sometimes disguised as “educational trips” and from time to time just since we had free seats going out and maybe an vacant plane coming residence, which typically transpired among seasons.
Joe Walsh had no concern with this gadding about as long as you weren’t occupying a seat that could be offered, which meant we all were adept at final-minute packing. We also understood we had far better be back at our desk at 9am on the Monday.
After a 12 months or so on the product sales counters, primarily in the business office on Grafton Road, I moved up to head office environment to perform in tele-sales. In this article, alongside with nine other colleagues we manned a financial institution of mobile phone strains and dealt with queries from the two the general public and vacation brokers.
JWT operated the initial computerised holiday getaway reservation procedure in Eire. As Ireland sank into a economic downturn, the reservations department took on the guise of an African souk, with a lot wheeling and dealing to “get bums on seats” for that weekend’s departures.
From October till Xmas, the organization was dead and the business office tranquil with lots of staff members having advantage of “winter leave” – yet another of Joe’s wonderful concepts whereby team were inspired to consider unpaid depart for up to 3 months to head off to overseas shores, with the safety of understanding that our jobs would be waiting around for us on our return in January.
Several of us returned from overseas early in get to attend the yearly conference in December, when the new season’s Tv set ad was unveiled to team prior to its first airing nationally on St Stephen’s Working day. JWT’s Television adverts were popular in their own suitable. “Join the JWT Set” was Ireland’s version of Shake’n’Vac.
I have a million stories from these joyful years. I have a handful of close friends with whom I in no way misplaced touch and I am related to quite a few a lot more previous colleagues on social media. There is a collective disappointment amid us – that the company in which we put in our formative many years is no more.
But between the cascade of outdated pictures and memories flooding my timeline is a typical thread. We all loved doing work for Joe Walsh Tours. It was a unique put and a particular time to function in a small business that dealt in desires and sunshine.