A former shirt factory worker will launch a DVD of his recent play on Tillies the shirt factory in the Central Library, Derry, tomorrow night.
Patsy Durnin worked in Tillie and Henderson shirt factory as a cutter for twenty-two years until it closed in 1972.
Opened in 1856, Tillies and Henderson’s factory stood for one hundred and forty seven years until its eventual demolition in 2003.
Patsy told the ‘Journal’ how he began in Tillie’s.
“I had practically no formal education so I began life in the factory as a message boy.
“It wasn’t a bad place to start, to be honest. I was able to go from room to room and got to know a lot of people, some of them less friendly than others.
“I got ‘the rattle’ from the girls a few times but it was all in good fun.
“I saw first hand how hard the women worked under the harsh production methods of the Speed Belt and Time and Motion.
“The same conditions existed in all the city’s large shirt factories as the women with their strong family loyalties brought home the much-needed money to feed their children and other dependents.
“With this in mind, I decided their story should be told and recorded as a major part of Derry’s culture.
“To this end I wrote the book, the play and now Tillies: a DVD of memories which was produced in association with Guildhall Press and the Hive Studios at Rath Mor.
“The play was produced by The Playhouse and the live recording in the DVD was from a performance in the Millennium Forum in early 2013. It provides a keyhole peep into the working life of the Derry shirt factory women as told by the workers themselves.
“Hopefully the video will be seen as a commemoration, appreciation and admiration of all the women and young girls who laughed, cried, sweated, and sang in all the city’s shirt factories and of their massive contribution to the economic and social life of the city which put Derry on the industrial map over many decades.”
The book, play and DVD have been a labour of love from Patsy in an attempt to keep the history of Derry’s shirt factories alive.
“I honestly believe Derry owes the shirt factories a lot. Someone had to mark the contribution they have made to the town,” he said.“I was happy there, the factory was its own wee community, everyone’s business was discussed, information was passed on everything and there were more than a few tears shed.”
Some of the actors from the play will give a short live performance at the launch in the Central Library and a fifteen minute extract from the video will also be shown.
Afterwards some ‘chat’ and light refreshments will be available. Everyone is welcome. The DVD is £7.50 and will also be available from Guildhall Press (www.ghpress.com) and local outlets such as Little Acorns, Shipquay Books and Foyle Books.