BLOG: John McAleese shares memories of his time working as a plumber at Queen's
“I started working as a plumber at Queen’s in 1964... I am happy to have contributed in some small way to the success of the University.”
John McAleese shares memories of his time working as a plumber at Queen’s.
I started working as a plumber at Queen’s in 1964. Seeing my granddaughters study at and graduate from Queen’s makes me so proud, and I am happy to have contributed in some small way to the success of the University.
Queen’s was a wonderful place to be with lots of discoveries. I loved it because I saw so many wonderful people; doctors, professors, lecturers. They knew I was full of curiosity and were always willing to answer my many, many questions!
I worked in almost every department and building.
In 1966, I was instructed to fit a new bathroom facility in Whitla Hall. The supplies were delivered, we noticed there was no toilet seat.
I said to my boss, and he told me to never mind. I said, ‘Oh, you’d think the Queen was coming’ and all of a sudden, the colour drained from his face. I then realised that the Queen actually was coming!
It was super-secret; no one knew that the Queen was coming for security reasons. I never saw the toilet seat being attached. A member of staff from the Royal household team was instructed to fit it just prior to her visit.
On another occasion, I was working up a ladder, chipping away at the wall. All of a sudden, a policeman came out of nowhere and said, “Would you stop banging, we can’t hear the Prime Minister!” This would have been Terence O’Neill, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland at the time.
It was one of the greatest pleasures of my plumbing career to work at Queen’s. I loved working within Geology and learning about how ice sheets have shaped the landscape. I loved working within Physics and seeing the students and academics using lasers. Every day was a discovery and every day I enjoyed it to the full.