Established in 1778 by John Mullock
As a boy growing up in King's County (now Offaly) in the 1750's, John Mullock saw in wonderment the new Grand Canal, under construction from Dublin, pass his home place. This revolution in communication and transport caught his youthful imagination. Some twenty years later in 1778, the system having been completed to the Canal Harbour at Limerick a year earlier, he opened his office in Merchants Quay Limerick, the heart of the old island city, proclaiming himself Ship Broker and Commission Agent. The long tidal estuary of the River Shannon was his gateway to the ocean. The span-new canal his vital artery for the assembly of exports and efficient distribution of imports in volume. His earliest documented trading venture (1792) was the direct importation, in Chartered Brigs, cargoes of "Lisbon Wine" in pipes (110 gls. ea.) from Portugal.
This strong "port-type" wine was the tipple of the working class at the time. This he forwarded up the Canal to the many Inn-keepers who had by now set up business on the numerous Locks of the busy waterway. Some fifty years later "Guinness Stout" superseded this wine in popularity, and until quite recent times was distributed from Dublin over the same system in reverse.
In recent Years
There were good times to follow. Old trades; Grain for Milling, Corn for feed, Salt Pork & Bacon and Butter, Condensed Milk and Canned Steak, and all the downstream extras of shook's and staves for Barrels, salt for curing and Fresh Water Ice each Spring from Norway's lakes to pack the Cold Stores in warm Summer days are gone forever. The bustling noisy Quays are silent. Horse drawn "Dray carts" with iron shod wheels no longer rattle over cobblestones but Shannon trade has increased a thousand fold. This year Limerick and all the Estuary Ports will together handle over 5 million tons of cargo.
The once small port of Foynes, where Mullock's were first to open to a fully staffed Branch Office twenty years ago, has since then increased it mixed trade tenfold to 1 million tons in and out this year for the first time. In all this Mullock's have led the way where others now eagerly follow; "The rising tide lifts all boats".
A twenty year boom in mineral exports; lead, zinc and copper concentrates, and barytes ore in many forms; is sadly coming to an end with exhausted Mines, but new trades have more than replaced the old. New major berths on the Estuary; Aughinish Island (Bauxite - in and Alumina - out), Moneypoint (E.S.B. coal) are now handling "Capesize" and "Panamax" ships with quickest dispatch. To the casual observer the river may not appear busy but today a 10,000 toner is a very "handy ship" seldom in port for more than 24 hours. The more senior will recall when such ships spent perhaps 10 or 14 days in port to either load or discharge. Now a "Panamax" (70,000 toner) is cleared in four days.
We are, we believe, justly proud of our heritage in general but particularly of the slang word we gave to the idiom of our industry here. "Mullocking" what does it mean? Slang is never easy to define its value to the language rest in brevity. This word came into use on Limerick Dockside in the days of heavy physical stevedoring labour in all weathers, fair and foul alike, to describe the effort required with ample honest sweat to get the job done with speed and efficiency. Lest it should ever be forgotten we record here, that provided the "full whack" was paid, that often unjustly maligned worker, the Limerick Docker, when appreciated by "The Boss", was a "Mullocker non pareil".