Meet a man who has spent his working life making and maintaining the roads of Tipperary.

Michael Cleary, like his father before him, works on the roads of County Tipperary. As the county has over 1,500 miles of roads he is never short of work. While machinery has brought about some changes to his job, the brush, shovel and tar bucket are still the tools of the trade.

Michael Cleary lives with his wife and children in the countryside near Cahir. Their eldest son Denis goes to the technical school in Cahir, and may become a carpenter when he leaves school. Denis comes from a generation with education and money. These provide him with opportunities that were unavailable to his father.

The Cleary family go to Cahir every Saturday morning, where Michael’s wife does most of her shopping for the week ahead. She is very content with her life.

For some people life in the country is very difficult, it is dull hard and tough, but I’m very lucky, I’ve got a lovely home a lovely family a good husband, I’m very happy.

The world is rapidly changing and by the time Michael Cleary reaches retirement age, much of his work will be carried out by machinery. It is certain his sons will not be doing the same work that he is doing but,

Whatever work they have, they will be very lucky if they are as half as happy and contented in theirs, as their father has been in his 50 years of work making the roads of South Tipperary.

The ‘Rural Portrait’ series was devised by producer and director Odran Walsh. It portrays the lives of ordinary county people. The series consists of three men, a road worker, a vicar and a factory worker. 

‘Rural Portrait: King of the Road’ was first broadcast on 23 December 1968. The reporter is Brian Cleeve.