A Day in the Life: Seamus Joyce

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AT YOUR SERVICE Seamus Joyce has been busier than ever during the pandemic, delivering milk and other products to houses across the county. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Factfile

Name: Seamus Joyce
Age: 55
From: Ballyheane
Occupation: Milkman

I’m a milkman so I would be up early to start my deliveries. I’m usually up out of bed at half five. You get used to getting up at that hour. You get to the stage when you don’t need the alarm to get up. It becomes part of your pattern for the day.
It can be tough in the winter time to head out when it’s dark and wet but you get used to it too. Once you are togged out right and have your proper wets on you you don’t mind it so much.
I’d have a cup of tea to get you motoring and wouldn’t have anything else until about 10 o’clock, when the morning deliveries are done.
I am the Avonmore Milk agent for Castlebar and Westport, and I have been at it for the last five years. The milk comes in fresh every morning at 6 o’clock to our refrigerated coldroom in Ballyheane. We load up then and are on the road around a quarter past or half six.
During the summer time I am usually able to get a bit of help, but as a rule I am usually on my own. In the morning I would have the radio on and at the moment the lad working with me is mad into entering the competitions on 2FM and Today FM. There wouldn’t be too many up at that hour of the morning applying for competitions, but he hasn’t won anything yet …
We cover a fairly big area and it’s great fun meeting the people. It is a job where you need to be a people person to do it. You get to know the people in the shops really well. Depending on the time of year the topic of conversations would be different but at this time of the year it would be all football and how Mayo are doing.
At ten o’clock or so I have a break. I’d be a breakfast roll man. There might be other people who would be healthier eaters than I am but I have a bit of grá for the fry.
I am involved in the mymilkman.ie system where I deliver milk and other products to people’s doors. A milkman calling from house to house was something that became a rare sight but in the last three or four years it is something which has become more popular again, especially in the last 18 months or so.
Once we make the deliveries to the shops we load up again and start the deliveries to the homes. In other parts of the country they deliver through the night. We were given that option but you don’t want to be going around the countryside in the middle of the night waking people and having dogs barking …
We started five years ago and the first night we delivered 29 items and now we will be delivering a thousand items a week. We don’t just deliver milk, we deliver a wide range of products. We started delivering vegetables from Lavins, the Polish Breadski bread and we deliver free-range eggs from West a Wake.
Since Covid we have picked up more business because people did not want to be going in and out of shops. People often discover the first thing in the morning or the last thing at night they have no milk for their breakfast, and when you can be sure you have your milk it is great relief. They prefer having the milk delivered to their door rather than having to go out on a cold and wet morning. There hasn’t be any occasion whether there is snow or frost where we haven’t been able to make deliveries. Nothing has stopped us yet.
During the afternoon I will probably have a takeaway or a proper dinner on the road. You wouldn’t be spending a lot of time eating. There are so many places doing food now you can pick something up fairly handy. I’d eat it in the van and try to pick a nice spot to pull in and enjoy the view while eating.
When we finish in the evening there will be little or nothing left, so the milk is all fresh when it arrives the next morning. We work off the mymilkman system and order what we need. With the mymilkman system people pay online where one time you would have to go around knocking on the door and collect cash. It is a great way of operating.
I would finish up around seven or eight in the evening. The days are long and hard, but you get used to it.
When I’d get home I’ll sit down and have a cup of tea and talk to the family. I might watch the news and the weather if I can. My daughter does be watching Love Island at the moment so it can be hard enough to get her to switch over.
You are going most of the day and there wouldn’t be much left in the tank, so after an hour or so I’d head for the cot.

In conversation with Anton McNulty

Quickfire questions

If money was no object what would you do all day?
I don’t think I’d change anything, I enjoy doing what I’m doing

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
It is my birthday in two weeks … a hint for a few people

What makes you angry?
Incompetence

Favourite place in the world?
In Tourmakeady looking down a Loch Nafooey

Most unusual thing your have eaten?
I ate kangaroo one time

Three things always in your fridge?
Rashers, sausages and milk of course

Who was your first hero?
Ray Clemence the former Liverpool goalkeeper

Most famous person you ever met?
Seán Kelly the cyclist

Favourite TV show?
Peaky Blinders

What makes you nervous?
I don’t really get nervous

Most prized possession?
My first football jersey which I got when I was ten, it was a Kerry jersey

Bets advice you ever got?
Always say you’re sorry

What do you miss most about being a kid?
The ability to be carefree