Glenamaddy Town Walk – Part 1

On Sunday, July 7th 1991 a small group of people assembled at the Community Centre.  At 3.30 p.m. we embarked on a very interesting walk through Glenamaddy.  Our leader was Anthony Ward who was ably assisted by many of the people who accompanied us.  Our first stop was at St. Brigid’s Hall which was erected in the early years of the century.  It was, however, burnt down during the Black and Tan war and re-roofed later by Sonny Hussey’s father.  Many of you will have happy memories of good nights spent in what is usually called the Town Hall.  John L. Garvey told us he remembers it serving as a church, a school, a theatre for both local and travelling shows, a cinema, a bingo hall and a games hall.  He also remembers the days when in the ‘30s the town criers, Pat Clarke and Jack Morris, went around informing the citizens about the shows being staged.  You will be pleased to know that the Arts and Historical Society have plans to restore and refurbish this hall to its former glory.

Next, we arrived at Áras Bríde, a fine house, built by Joe Conneally who was a retired master of the workhouse. Three of his family became priests.  Later Mr. and Mrs. Sheahan lived in the house.  Mr. Sheahan will be remembered as a former headmaster in Lisheenaheilta N.S.. Mrs. Sheahan was originally Casby from Middletown.  Now the house serves as a cottage hospital for the area.

Next door is Mannions which was once owned by Doorleys who were butchers.  This house was later bought by Johnny Mannion and his wife Julia Garvey a sister of Jack from across the road.  Johnny Mannion carried on as a butcher in a stall at the road side.  He later changed to the petrol and sand business.

We then walked on to the premises originally owned by Patrick Garvey who was a rate collector and great grandfather of John L..  The Garvey family ran a business here until quite recently.  Tommy Raftery had a butchers stall on the premises between 1955 and 1977 and this was the rate collector’s office.

The Garvey family owned land where the Bank of Ireland now stands.  There was a building on the site set to a Mr. Corbett from Athenry who was a photographer.  He was secretly recruiting for the I.R.B..  The bank, originally the National Bank, was built in the early 1920s.

The next premises now known as the Four Roads was bought by the Kelly family in the early 30s from a Glynn family who had run a shop and a tailoring business.  Mrs. Gill of Clondoyle was a member of this family.

Our route then took us to MacDermotts. Dermot told us his grandfather came from Ballinlough to work in Keaveny’s on the corner.  He married a daughter of this household.  A new house was built for them across the road and they moved over there.

Another Miss Keaveny from the same family married James Connelly from Gortgarbh and the premises now occupied by the Phelan family was built for them.  There was some rivalry between the two young couples, more particularly between the husbands and each kept adding on to his house so that it would be bigger than his brother-in-law’s.  Both houses had cellars though the one in Connelly’s was filled in and now MacDermotts is the only house in Glenamaddy with a basement.

Later a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Connelly married a Mr. Rafferty from Roscommon.  They spent their lives in Glan and subsequently Martin their son sold to Eamon Phelan in the 60s.  Martin Rafferty also sold the field which later became the G.A.A. pitch and the plot on which the new Community Centre stands.

Around the corner is the Gerry Mee Memorial.  Gerry Mee was a member of the R.I.C and was stationed in Listowel at the start of the Black and Tan war.  He refused to obey the orders of an English Colonel saying he would not shoot fellow Irishmen.  He laid down his arms and fled to Dublin where he worked for Michael Collins. This became known as the Listowel Mutiny.  Gerry Mee was of course a native of Knockauns where the family home was burnt by the Black and Tans while Gerry was on the run. The next premises, The Welcome Inn, was formerly the seat of the local landlord Brown.  A portion of this building housed the local school at one time.  It was at one time owned by the Owens family who ran a Hotel here.  Miss Owens married a Mr. Dockery and during the Dockerys time the building housed the local Post Office, a sub-office of the Ulster Bank and also Brady’s Medical Hall which was situated where Geraldine now runs a hairdresser’s business.

The mention of Dolly Grey’s shop which was situated below Mr. Kelly’s, the shoemaker, evoked memories for many on the walk.  Dolly died in the 30s leaving the considerable sum of £600.  Katie McGreil operated the shop in later years up to 1971.   John Donlon told us how he had bought cigarettes there at a very reasonable price during his school days.  The house is now in the possession of Johnny Murray, our ex-postman.

The building which now houses the Oakland Hotel was once owned by a very wealthy family, the Donelons.  They also owned a lot of land in Clondoyle which included part of the Turlough.  Some of the house dates back a couple of hundred years – some very old ceiling beams can be seen and there is also a very fine pitch pine stairs.  People remember the old pub with its flag stoned floor.

The Garda Barracks is beside the Hotel.  It was burned during the “Troubles” – this is the third building that I have mentioned being burned and this no doubt was because of Gerry Mee being from the area.  Jim Keaveney told us that it was re-built by his father.  Jim also said that he remembers talking to workmen who were in no doubt that Eamon Ceannt’s was born there.  John L. Garvey says that his uncle told him that Eamonn Ceannt’s father was transferred to Ballymoe at the time Eamonn was due to be born, but his mother remained in Glan for the birth and went to her husband in Ballymoe as soon as possible afterwards.  However, as this would have been frowned on at the time, for the official records it was stated that Eamonn was born in Ballymoe.  John L. says his uncle was in no doubt at all about this though Ballymoe people may dispute it.

We then went through the old Graveyard which has many points of interest.  There is a cross from the gable of the old church.  Members of the McFadden family of travelling fit-up fame are buried here, the first a boy was drowned while swimming in Kiltullagh Lake.  The grave of the O’Malley family of Clondoyle was also of interest.  Dr. O’Malley was the G.P for the area at the time of the First World War.  Mrs. O’Malley, being an English lady, encouraged her sons to join the fight but alas two boys died as a result, one of them Wilfred was killed on one of his first nights in the trenches and one died later.  There is a photograph of Wilfred in John L.s .  A daughter of Dr. O’Malley, who incidentially used to travel to his patients on horseback, married John A. Costello who became Taoiseach and they are the parents of Declan.

Coming out from the cemetery we approached Mooneys. Malachy who was with us told us that the Fahy family built the house in the early 1800s.  Mrs. Fahy was Garvey, John L.’s grand aunt.  Mr. Fahy was from outside the area.  The Fahy family donated land for the church and the old National School on the Ballymoe Road.

We finished our walk at St. Patrick’s church.  On the next walk the remaining two roads of our now famous Four Roads will be traversed.

Authors:  Malachy Donelan and Bríd Morgan

Source: Glenamaddy Arts & Historical Society Journal. Volume 1. 1991