DIY/Crafts

Junk Shop Finds {Trunks} & History Lessons


You may have noticed that I seem to have found a new hobby these last couple of weeks. I really love the satisfaction you get when you take something that may not be the nicest and spruce it up to give it a new purpose! It’s kind of empowering too, knowing I did it all by myself (“because I’m an independent woman who don’t need no man” and all that…)

Well last weekend, as I was perusing through a couple of local second-hand and junk shops, I spotted these sad old forgotten trunks piled up in a dark corner of a junk shop. They were pretty beat up, but the lettering on one in particular caught my eye. It was obviously a storage case of some kind for a sergeant in the army here in Cork at one time.

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Collins Barracks, named after the famous Michael Collins, is very near to where I live. It looked pretty old, surely more than 50 years old, but I don’t know when exactly it was from. I couldn’t help but wonder at all the stories this trunk must have about life back then. It had obviously been out in the Congo with Sergeant Hayes himself. From basic online searches I have done, I know the Irish Army were deployed to the Congo in 1960 on peacekeeping missions. This coincides with the “UNOC” on the trunk, which stands for United Nations Operation in the Congo. A total of 6,000 Irish soldiers served in the Congo from 1960 until 1964, taking 26 casualties in that time. Sergeant Hayes was an infantry G.P. so he would have been dealing with those casualties and all other medical problems. Just call me Sherlock! Or Wikipedia, whatever. I wonder if there are any records of him in Collins Barracks…

Anyway back to my DIY hobby; I sanded both the trunks, (the one on the bottom had to be sanded A LOT) gave them an undercoat, then a top coat, and painted the handles gold! I decided I couldn’t paint over the text on Sergeant Hayes’ trunk, it just wouldn’t be right, so I painstakingly painted around each letter, one at a time. That’s how I feel about local historical items.

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Here they are now finished:

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I wonder what Sergeant Hayes would make of his army trunk now painted a lovely blush pink.

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