IT’S hard to break the habit of a lifetime. Patrick Daffy has had 35 years of getting up at the crack of dawn, ensuring that Ennis’ streets looks pristine. And even though he has recently retired from the outdoor staff of Clare County Council, he confesses that the early starts are continuing.
“Our week would start on a Friday and we would work seven days a week, starting at 7.30am and 5.30am on the weekends. I was always a good time-keeper, I was hardly ever late. I’d say you could count on one hand the amount of times I was late in all the years,” he said.
However, when asked if he is enjoying the chance of a long lie-in now he has retired, he laughed. “I was still up this morning early! You get into the habit but it’s grand – I went for a walk.”
Patrick started working with Clare County Council on March 31, 1980. Over the years, he has become a fixture of the town, a well-known sight, sweeping the streets in the early mornings, before shop shutters have even been raised.
Always part of the outdoor staff of the local authority, he had spent 15 years working with Clare County Council on the refuse lorries before joining what was then Ennis Town Council in 1996, where he worked in street cleaning.
“I was with them ever since. I’ve always been in town. I’ve never been moved anywhere else, I’ve been lucky that way. And I’ve never done anything other than the streets.”
The Hermitage man has spent his life in Ennis and, with his unique early morning view of the town, he has certainly seen some transformations.
“There’ve been an awful lot of changes here, [such as] the one-way system, compared to years ago. And there are so many houses. But the town looks very well in the last few years,” he said.
When asked if he believes that his efforts have in some way contributed to that, he modestly replied, “I do my little bit.”
He added, “The people are good. They are lot more conscientious about keeping it (the town) clean.”
And he said he was particularly proud of Ennis’ recent achievements in the Tidy Towns competition. “I was up there when the results were announced for two years, and I even held the trophy and all,” he recalled.
Patrick also believes that Ennis has what it takes to once again take the overall prize.
Patrick’s colleagues at the council marked his retirement with a presentation in the civic room, where he was joined by family and friends. “They gave me a great send-off, I was delighted,” he said.
Speaking about his time with the council, Patrick said, “I made great friends when I was there, past and present. Some of them are deceased, it’s a pity to say.” He added, “I was 35 years working there and I was very happy.”
Patrick is now planning his retirement, spending time with his wife, Mary and children, William and Pamela. “I’m just taking it easy, visiting a few places,” he smiles.
Gerry Murphy, one of Patrick’s colleagues at Clare County Council, said, “We all want to wish him well in his retirement. All the lads will miss him. He was always happy and great to work with. We will certainly miss him around the town.”
Mary Howard, on behalf of Ennis Tidy Towns, commended Patrick on his retirement.
“Ennis Tidy Towns will miss Paddy Daffy. Paddy was old-school in every sense of the word – he worked tirelessly, keeping our streets and lanes clean but always with the biggest smile on his face.
“Paddy always had time to stop and chat with locals and tourists alike. He was a dab-hand at giving directions and recommendations to visitors to the town, always with a big smile. He is well loved by the people of Ennis.
“We, in Ennis Tidy Towns, will certainly miss Paddy’s good humour and his ethic of hard work, and we want to thank him for all that he has given to the town. We are losing a great asset. We wish him all the very best in his retirement,” she said.
By Jessica Quinn