On Sunday August 22nd a small select group met at the Town Hall, and then under the guidance of Anthony Ward and John L. Garvey the group set out on the final leg of a town walk begun two years ago.
Facing the restored St. Brigid’s Hall are two semi-detached houses which were built in the early 30’s for Nora Garvey by the Mannion Brothers who lived across the road. These houses were occupied by a Mick Ryan who worked in the National Bank and by a Garda Slattery.
Garda Shannon also occupied one of these houses and so Fr. Tommy Shannon and Mrs Sean Purcell grew up in Glenamaddy. Next, we came to the premises of a long established Glenamaddy family, the Garveys. Stephen McNamara operated a chemist shop where the funeral parlour is now located. In the 30’s and early 40’s Martin Kelly, Fartown, had a boot and shoe repair shop next door. He employed many apprentices, including Jackie Murray, Roddy Keaveney, Clooncun and Mick O’Halloran. Honnie Burke lived where the Chemist shop was until recently. She worked as a housekeeper for Mr. Christy in the Ulster Bank and also gave teas on market days. She was a native of Sonnagh and a cousin of the Rafterys. She had been in the U.S. through the 1890’s and early 1900’s and she died in 1957.
Next we came to the premises now owned by Willie Mannion. He is the third person to own a business on this site. The first family to operate here was Ward who sold to Martin B Collins. He built a beautiful stone house and this was the leading business premises in the town in his time. His daughters Miss Ciss and Miss Josephine took over and ran the business until they sold to Willie Mannion in the 60’s. In Martin B.’s time there wasn’t any petrol station in Glenamaddy and he sold petrol in 2 gallon tins.
The building between Mannions and the weigh house was the MacDermott family’s garage. This store housed the MacDermott motor cars. The MacDermott’s were commercial agents so they had lots of cars. J.J. McDermott and his son later had a taxi service.
At the back of the tripod is the little market house which held weights for the scales. Pat Fahy owned this house and he owned the weighing rights of the town. It was illegal for a person to come in with scales and start weighing. Pat Fahy employed men to weigh the grain, potatoes, pigs and fowl at Christmas. Everyone was obliged to come to the tripod. ‘Pencil’, one of those employed could often be heard arguing about weights with customers. The Fahy family paid rates on the weighing house. They also had toll rights to the town but they didn’t exercise these.
At MacDermotts it was pointed out that J.J. MacDermott’s wife was Fahy, their daughters live here now. There was a pub here in J.J. McDermott’s time but now this business is a supermarket run by the Fallon family.
Around the corner there are scales on the ground near the entrance to the old bakery. Carts were put on top of these scales to weigh the contents. There was a building with a beam inside to record the weight. This building was knocked during the Debbie hurricane in the 60’s.
The old bakery was purpose-built as a cinema by Martin Connaughton. Before then, films came to the Town hall from Castlerea where there was also a cinema. John L. told us how he had become an expert on operating a projector at the town hall when travelling groups played there. The Drama festival was later held in the cinema. The Festival Committee could have bought the cinema for £800 when cinema-going declined but the deal fell through because of a shortage of funds.
In the old days travelling groups used the street from Macs up to Waldron’s to site swinging boats and other amusements. The village pump was at the side of MacDermott’s and John L. and his friends enjoyed plugging the tank and having it overflow. They also played handball against the gable wall.
The Hotel was owned by the Raftery sisters, Ellie and Bridge. They returned from the U.S. with culinary skills and opened the Temperance Hotel. It was a high class establishment frequented by commercial travellers from a wide area. Stephen McNamara was a full-time resident. The sisters originally came from Melick and the building is now owned by their nephew as is the house next door.
On the site of the Glencar Nursing Home was the home of Tommy Raftery, tailor, and his wife, parents of the owner of the Oakland Hotel. There was a thatched house situated where the forecourt of the Jet Petrol Station now is and this was owned by Patsy Keaveney, Sergeant, and his wife, Nora Keane, who was caretaker at the Health Centre. The two-storey house next door was owned by Paddy Glynn who drove the mail van from Castlerea. He later operated what was one of Glenamaddy’s first delivery services when he owned a lorry that delivered goods to Glan from Ballymoe Station. During the war three Canadian Airmen baled out of a plane and met Gerry O’Keefe. He took them to the L.D.F. leader who was Paddy Glynn. He brought them to the barracks. They had boots with batteries built into them which generated heat from their uniforms and these boots were offered to the lads in exchange for shoes. Paddy Glynn, a very progressive fellow indeed, had in former times owned a Charabanc in which he took people to Knock.
At Johnny Keaveney’a garage we looked out towards the Turlough and were reminded that all this area was green in the olden days and was owned by Jimmy Connelly. Tom Treacy owned the house which in modern days was home to ”Dóchas”. James Daly who was executed for leading the Connaught Rangers mutiny in India in 1920 lived in Mary Treacy’s house beside Brogan’s Bakery. The People Newspaper did a series of articles on famous Irish People and included James Daly. John L. sent a photograph of his house and was paid the sum of £25 which was enormous in those days. Canon Hanley who later became Parish Priest of Roscommon lived in McLoughlin’s house at one time. He spent his retirement in Kilteevan Parish home of Malachy Mooney our Chairman and of Pauline O’Brien. Did you know there was a golf course on Lowry’s land in the olden days? Well there was and photographic evidence of this can be seen in John L.’s lounge.
Retracing our steps on the opposite side of the street it was noted that the O’Hara’s house was owned by Coughlan’s.
Now we were at the O’Neill’s premises and this of course is the hall built by Paddy Timothy and known as Timothy’s Hall in the olden days. It was famous as a dance hall, one of many in the parish in those days. The Timothy family home is next.
There were some thatched houses along the road from the hall. One of these was O’Keefe’s which was situated where the entrance to O’Keefe Park now is. The O’Keefe’s owned the land on which the new houses are built, hence this area is known as O’Keefe Park. John and Gerry shared the house with its half door with their sister, Agnes. Their father, John Senior, was a teacher who taught in Stonetown National School and in the Kilkerrin Monastery. The Jeffers family built a house nearby for their daughter and Neville Chamberlain. Michael Heneghan built the family home which originally incorporated the shop.
The following terraces of houses were built by Jimmy Connelly and down the years came into the ownership of the present occupants. Passing by the Sound of Music Club, originally known as the Esker Ballroom, because its owner, Jim Keaveney, hailed from that village, we came to Jim Pete’s pub. This premise was originally owned by Jimmy Connelly – it was his second house hence the modern name “No 2”.
Next, we reached the imposing Keaveney residence. When this house was being built the landlord, Mr. Brown, was driving in from Mount Kelly. He said he wanted a three-storey building facing him as he entered the town, so Keaveney’s has three storeys.
Rounding the corner into Church Street we came to John L.’s own premises. This house was built by Tom Collins and was known as the “Imperial Hotel” in his days. The numbers are still on the doors. The Fenians held secret meetings in one room which has two doors. Various people owned this premises before Michael Garvey, John L.’s uncle, who in turn passed it on to John L.
Michael Garvey owned the land where McDermott’s house is built. This house was built by Dan Mulryan for Chemist Pat Brady who came from Co. Cavan and operated a Chemist Shop in the premises now called Speedys.
Glynn’s house which now incorporates a hairdressing business was originally owned by Geraghtys. Later, Tom Reilly and Pauline O’Dea who was also a hairdresser lived here. Pauline now resident in Dublin, is the daughter of local school master Joe O’Dea who taught in the old school on Ballymoe Road. He and his wife, Ellen Morgan, from Knockauns who incidentally was the great grand aunt of the youngest participant of our walking tour, 4 year old Mary Morgan, lived in the teacher’s residence on the Creggs Road. He later retired to the house where Joe O’Neill now lives which was built by Sean Garvey’s father.
Next we came to Keaveneys. This house was built by Hector MacDonald, a Galway building contractor. Donnie’s father, Bill, worked in Lyons’ Forge which was situated on the Kilkerrin Road before he set up a forge in Church Street. The forge evolved into a bicycle shop and later a motor car garage. The first lighting plant in Glenamaddy was in Bill Keaveney’s garage and Keaveneys also have the distinction of owning the first ice-cream shop in Glan.
Miss Sweeney operated a drapery business where Harte’s butcher’s shop now stands – her nephew James who spent a lot of time in Glenamaddy later became a director of Wimpey Contractors.
Opposite on Church Street we came to Gerry Fitzmaurice’s house. This house was purpose-built on a Pat Fahy’s site for Nurse Roche and Nurse Heneghan and was later sold to Mamie Muldoon of Keelogues who in turn sold it to Gerry. Nurse Roche deserves special mention as it was she who delivered the Editor of this journal Anthony Ward at the Bon Secours Hospital Tuam.
Martin Murphy’s stone house was built by Jimmy Glynn’s father from Leitra. The Geraghty family arrived here in the 30’s. Michael Geraghty was a rate collector.
Kevin Keaveney’s aunt’s house, now Brogans, was previously occupied by Ulster Bank clerks. One of them, Bill Hynes, later became manager. There was an old school behind dating back to 1849 and later a lawn tennis club. Bill organised cricket matches in the grounds. The imposing Ulster Bank was built in 1924. This story is told by Malachy Mooney as to why Glan has two banks. A bank director was driving into town from the Dunmore side in the early years of the century and on viewing the fine stone St. Patrick’s church decided that if Glan could afford such a beautiful church it would surely be able to support a bank. And so the National Bank was built and a few years later the Ulster Bank set up in competition.
Our last stop was at Quinn’s Pub, previously owned by the Kelly family, has to be regarded as historical as under proprietor Paddy Quinn and his wife it became the first singing pub in the West of Ireland.
We began and ended our walk at the beautifully restored Town Hall where Michael O’Brien and Malachy Donelan reminisced about functions in this hall in the olden days. Michael told us that he had played at the last dance there. He wondered when the hall will be as full again. It is appropriate that I should finish by saying that we in the Arts and Historical Society expect to see St. Brigid’s Hall filled to capacity in the near future when its doors will once again be opened and it will become a centre for Arts and Heritage.
Author: Bríd Morgan
Source: Glenamaddy Arts and Historical Society Journal. Volume 2. 1993