Perhaps best-known to IFJ Junior readers as “Muinteoir Ray” from RTÉ’s Home School Hub, Ray Cuddihy, is also a puppeteer, radio DJ and presenter of the award-winning Mise Freshin’
My very first job that I can remember was helping out my grandfather, Jim Cuddihy, with farm work. I would be out picking spuds and firing them into a bucket. It is an unbelievably happy memory, because I’m guessing that I didn’t pick very many (since I was very small) and it would have been an excuse for myself and Jim just to pal around, have the chats while we got mucky and build up an appetite.
My first paid job was in a flower nursery. It was a pound an hour and my job was simply filling pots with moss peat. We would have Atlantic 252 or 2FM blaring and it was great. We used to cycle to work; there were lots of old bikes thrown everywhere in the nursery, with a kind of hop-on-hop-off, take-one, leave-one system. We were light-years ahead of Dublin Bikes. We were like a little gang cycling from spot to spot, filling pots, planting, watering, sticking those little tags in and getting orders out to the entire country. I learned lots about all sorts of plants, but I especially loved the herbs.
When the weather was cold, it was a nightmare, because the moss peat would be frozen and you just had to keep filling – with numb or sore fingers. Then in summertime, the greenhouses would swelter! But working in horticulture is a beautiful line of work. The main thing I learned from that job is that absolutely every other job in comparison feels like “a cushy number”. If you’re not getting frozen, roasted, drenched and earning more than a pound an hour, then you simply are not allowed to complain.
Lilly Higgins is a food writer and chef. Her latest book, The Homemade Year: Things to Make, Do and Eat at Home to Welcome Every Season, is out now
My grandad and uncle were potato and dairy farmers, so naturally we spent our summers picking spuds. I remember the first year I was old enough to follow my three-year-older siblings into the fields. I couldn’t wait and was so excited the first morning.
Reality soon sunk in though! We had to go the long way round to some of the fields to avoid those full-of-play bullocks. I had usually eaten most of my lunch by about 11am and was not the best picker. We got about 25p a bag, I think.
All I know is that by the end of the summer, I had saved up enough to buy my first pair of Levi’s jeans. So, I made the trip to Cork city to spend my £30. I was so delighted. I’d really learned how hard it was to earn real money. It was a great lesson!
It was brilliant spending the summer with my siblings outdoors in the fresh air with our hands in the earth. Every morning felt like a new adventure. After that, I did lots of waitressing jobs through secondary school and worked in Dunnes Stores, a Christmas decoration shop for several years, a kitchen shop and a really lovely local restaurant.
At one stage in college, I had two part-time jobs and showed up in the wrong uniform to one. It was non-stop with very little money and very little sleep, but lots of fun and great experiences.
Kerry footballer and All Star, Gavin White, recalls his first job with GAA Cúl Camps
My first paid job was with the GAA Cúl Camps around Kerry. Throughout my teens, I had done a bit of work with my father who was a mechanical engineer at home, however, the Cúl camps was the beginning of my career in physical education, which I later completed in University of Limerick.
Throughout that summer, I coached at various club grounds around the county with children between the ages of six and 12. I vaguely remember starting at my own club grounds, Dr Crokes, with Vince Cooper to commence a summer of fun and games. It was unusual to begin with, as I myself spent my summer as a young boy, participating in such camps where Vince was the coordinator and trainer.
Here, the tables had turned. Now I am coaching the younger generation, starting at 10am and finishing just after lunchtime.
As with every job, there were plenty of good and bad days, however, looking back now, I am a firm believer it sparked my love for coaching and teaching. Summer jobs have some huge, obvious initial benefits, but I have also found it having a positive impact on my career, which you might not realise until further down the line.
Méabh Collins is a writer who recently released her first novel for young adults called Freya Harte is not a puzzle, a story about friendship, discovering who you really are and being OK with that!
My first job was working as a childminder for a family of three children in my neighbourhood one summer. I was 15 years old.
I had already done some babysitting for the family, so I knew them well enough, but I had never spent full days with the children. I was nervous at first, especially when we were near main roads, as I had to bring them to the park and the swimming pool. The youngest was only four at the time and she was happy to hold my hand, but the two older boys wanted more freedom. Thankfully, their parents were very clear that I was in charge and they had to listen to me ... even if they didn’t want to!
My favourite part of the job was spending the afternoons drawing pictures and doing arts and crafts with the children. I loved doing those things anyway, so it was really nice to be able to share my interest.
I earned more money that summer than I ever had before, and the first thing I did was go shopping for my family holiday. I learned a lot from my first job, and I think it even inspired me to become a primary school teacher as I got older.