Retired forester recalls his years in Carrick’s woods in new memoir

A 98 year-old retired forester, who worked in the forests around Carrick-on-Suir for many years, will launch the second volume of his memoirs in the town in two weeks time.

A 98 year-old retired forester, who worked in the forests around Carrick-on-Suir for many years, will launch the second volume of his memoirs in the town in two weeks time.

Thomas Briody, who will turn 99 at the end of October, is one of the oldest foresters in Ireland and the only Irish state forester to date to pen his memoirs.

He spent the last 18 years of his career working in the forestry service around Carrick-on-Suir and his time there is featured a lot in this volume of his memoirs called “In the Service of the State”. Thomas lives just outside Carrickbeg, Carrick-on-Suir.

In the first volume of his life story, “The Road to Avondale” published in 2009, Thomas Briody recounted the story of his childhood in south-west Cavan, his path to forestry and his first few years as a forester.

The 530-page “In the Service of the State”, takes up his story where “The Road to Avondale” left off.

It tells of his transfer to the Sleeve Blooms from Slievenamon, his marriage to Nora O’Hickey of Portlaw, and their life together down until Thomas’s retirement from forestry in early 1979.

From the Sleeve Blooms, Thomas was transferred to Mount Bellew in east Galway; from there to Castleblaney, Co Monaghan; then to Foxford forest in east Mayo.

From Foxford he was transferred to the Carrick-on-Suir forest and it was to be his last transfer.

Thomas’ son Michael, who edited “In the Service of the State”, said unsurprisingly Carrick looms large in the book, but the trials and tribulations of the time he spent at the other forest centres are also described in detail.

He told The Nationalist that “In the Service of State” should have a wide appeal, and not just for people interested in Irish Forestry in pre-Coillte days.

“It is a very human story, and very well told. It tells of a struggle against the odds to raise a large family; of great personal sacrifice; of unbending attitudes in certain quarters of the Irish Civil Service; and how the author, despite everything, managed to preserve his humanity as well as his youthful vision of re-afforestating Ireland,” said Michael.

“In the Service of the State” will be launched in The Carraig Hotel, Main St., Carrick-on-Suir on Sunday, October 14 at 3pm by Donal Magner, who is author of the book, “Stopping by Woods”, and a former forester.

The book will retail at E25 but can be purchased at the launch for € E20. All are welcome to attend.