98 year-old Thomas recounts his service to the state’s forests in second memoir

Ninety-eight year-old retired forester Thomas (Tosty) Briody launched the second volume of his memoirs surrounded by a large gathering of family and friends in Carrick-on-Suir on Sunday.

Ninety-eight year-old retired forester Thomas (Tosty) Briody launched the second volume of his memoirs surrounded by a large gathering of family and friends in Carrick-on-Suir on Sunday.

“In the Service of the State” by Mr Briody from Crehana near Carrick-on-Suir, was officially launched by forestry expert, journalist, author and environmentalist Donal Magner in the Carraig Hotel just a few weeks before the author celebrates his 99th birthday.

The book is the sequel to “The Road of Avondale” and follows the author’s forestry career from his marriage in 1943 until his retirement from forestry in 1979.

Tom’s son Mattie was Master of Ceremonies for the occasion and he welcomed the very large attendance including a number of Tom’s family and forestry colleagues.

Tom Briody was born in Mullahoran, Co. Cavan on November 9, 1913. He is one of the oldest State foresters in Ireland and the only Irish forester to pen his memoirs.

“The Road to Avondale”, published in 2009, dealt with his childhood, early manhood and path to forestry as well as his early years as a State forester.

“In the Service of the State” picks up his story from then and continues it up to his retirement from forestry in 1979.

During his career, he worked in five forest centres in the four provinces, Clonaslee in County Laois, Mount Bellew in County Galway, Castleblaney in County Monaghan, Foxford in County Mayo and in the Carrick on Suir area covering Counties Waterford, Tipperary and Kilkenny.

In addition to telling the story of one man’s struggle against the odds, ‘In the Service of the State’ sheds valuable insight on Irish Forestry in pre-Coillte days.

In the book’s acknowledgement section, Tom dedicates the memoir to his daughter Geraldine, who died in October 2011 and who, he says will always be a guiding light for the Briody family.

He gives fulsome praise to his wife Nora who passed away in 2000, his children and their spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The book was edited by Tom’s son Micheál, who is a Lecturer in the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Micheál, who was three when his father was transferred to Carrick-on-Suir, traced his father’s career in forestry and family life in great detail in a very humorous contribution that received much applause from the appreciative audience. He acknowledged the assistance of his brother-in-law Tom Dunne in respect of some queries in relation to the Carrick on Suir area.

Donal Magner congratulated Tom Briody, adding that it was a privilege for him to be asked to launch the aptly named ‘In the Service of the State’.

He read some excerpts from the book including a paragraph about the 150 miles car trip for the family when Tom was transferred from Foxford in County Mayo to Carrick on Suir.

Donal said Tom was a highly regarded forester and he traced Tom’s career in the various areas in which he was posted.

He spoke about the tough conditions foresters and their wives had to endure in the 1940s and 1950s with inferior accommodation and poor toilet facilities.

Although present and looking extremely well for his age, Tom Briody had a recent health set back and his daughter Maura Roche read on his behalf. She spoke in both Irish and English offering a warm welcome to all present.

Maura thanked her siblings and family relations for the support they gave her father in compiling and editing the book with special mention of Geraldine, to whom the book is dedicated. She thanked their neighbours especially the Holden and Dowley families, and also the Society of Irish Foresters.

John Mc Loughlin, President of the Society of Irish Foresters, presented a specially minted medal to Tom Briody as the oldest surviving member of the Society founded in 1942. The Society now has 700 members.

Copies of the book were presented to Society President John McLoughlin, former President Kevin Hutchinson, Secretary Pat O’Sullivan and Donal Magner.

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.