Date of Birth: 10th May 1944
Place of Birth: Maudlintown, Wexford
Date Interviewed: 7th July 2008
Summary: Jack O’Leary describes the Maudlintown area of Wexford town where he grew up as almost a separate village with a strong seafaring tradition. He names those neighbouring families where generation after generation went to sea for their livelihoods and the inevitable loss of life that each family suffered as ships foundered and sailors drowned. Jack himself became a sailor more by accident than design and spent many years on ferries crossing the Irish sea from Rosslare Harbour to Wales. He describes the hardships the ferry passengers endured – especially those in second class. Jack recounts one humanitarian act when a Wexford ship saved as many German sailors as it could carry after a naval battle during World War Two. Jack leaves the comfort of his armchair to bring the listener for a stroll along the Wexford quayfront – his favourite place. Jack’s love of music has led to an increasing interest in sea shanties and he is trying to build up a collection of songs with a Wexford connection. Jack sings a couple of verses of a song about a Wexford schooner.