As I told ye before I can remember back 85 years. I was there the day the foundation stone of the Church in Glenamaddy was laid. The stones of the old church were used to build the curate’s house and the Town Hall. If you want to know about the bell of the old church – it went down to Cultiafadda. Father Heaney gave the bell to Roddy Fahy who was a great friend of mine. I used to go down there to get horses shod. He’d ring the bell at twelve o’clock for people cutting the turf, to tell them the time. The outside stones of the present church were cut by hammer and chisel by Walter Murphy, an uncle of Dan’s. I’m not sure of the year but the Town Hall was built in 1909 so that will give ye an idea.
The Parish house, that’s where the nuns are now, was built after the church. The school on the Ballymoe Road was built in 1900. Before that they had a school opposite where John L. Garveys is now. It was an old thatched barn with no lavatories and rain down through the roof. There was no house between the Church and John L Garveys except one and that’s the house where Christy McGrath is living now. Where Gerry Fitzmaurice is living now was known as the school garden and it was surrounded by beech trees around about. There was no Bank there then, only a public house where the bank is now. It belonged to a family named Reilly and it was sold to a man named Donlon who was over from Manchester. The Ulster bank was built in 1921.
Now we’ll go up to Jim Keaveney’s, Kilkerrin Road. That’s where the old post office was years ago. The woman that owned it was Mrs Reilly. There was no postman in my young days. Later they appointed one and he came down this road as far as Ardeevin. He had a horn and he’d blow the horn and they’d come out from Englishtown to meet him. The first postman was a man named Joyce from Kiltullagh. The post came that time from Ballinasloe in a mail car.
At the time the people deposited what little money they had in the Post Office and she gave them false receipts for it. One morning she left for Tuam, mar ea, and her husband left for Ballinasloe. They met in Queenstown and off to America with the money. There was a policeman in Glan that time named Gorry. He was in the house where Christy McGrath is now and he took the next boat after them and they never landed in New York until he brought them back again into Glan. I was in the court in what is now Richard Dockery’s store but Richard wasn’t there then. It was a Mrs Owens that was in it. Mrs Reilly got a year in jail and her husband got a month. I can’t tell you a year but I would be about twelve years old then. Well, she returned home after a year and she set up a shop over the Dunmore road where Plunket Marron was. Her husband who was from Garranlahan left her and went away.
There was a public house where Mannions is now. It belonged to a man named Ward from Shannagh and he had a family that went to school with me and he sold it to Martin B Collins, that was Sis Collins’s father and that’s how he came to be in Glan.
There was a Dr. O’Donnell or McDonnell living out the road where you turn up for Meelick. He belonged to a family of the McDonnells from Dunmore and he was a great boozer and always half drunk. I remember the first Master of the Workhouse. He was named Keogh and himself and his wife and two daughters were there and it was packed to the door with inmates. There was a graveyard there too. I was talking to Father Glynn about it and a lot of people were buried in it. It was up at the back of the hospital. There was no other house on the side of the road from the Workhouse into Garveys in Glan. That’s Garveys where Tommy Raftery is now. Garveys would be the oldest family in Glan. There was a big old house where the National Bank is now that belonged to Garveys and it was he who sold the site to the bank. Where Seán Kelly’s is now there was a tailor’s shop and a bar and a big trade he did too. It belonged to a man named Glynn. Glynn died away and his family got married and married well. One daughter was married to a teacher named Jack Gill in Ballyhard and they had three sons priests. Gill was a County Mayo man.
There was no other house on that side of the road until you came to Dockerys. All that was a big bleak field with big beech trees growing along the roadside. In those days there were markets in Glan with people selling meal and flour on the streets and buying eggs. I remember my mother – God rest her – telling me that when she was young she was a book-keeper in town and she had all the news and she told me all about it.
It was old Brown, the Landlord, that lived in Dockerys first. He built a barracks where the Guards are now but that one was burned down at the time of the Black and Tans. He built that to protect him from the Fenians around 1885. After that he built where Danny Mulryan is now and he went to live there. Across to Donlon’s, where Joyce is now, there was doctor living there and he is buried along the wall at Malachy Mooney’s garden. There was some sort of a dispensary there in them times.
Where John Keaveny is now at the corner – that house was built by an old landlord from Stonetown before my time. He built it for a son. You might have heard of Micky Lacky. He was a wild man and he let the house to a man named Malachy Keaveny, you know he gave him a lease of it for so many years and Malachy Keaveny married a girl from Shannagh and they did a wonderful trade in it. He was there until time came to move out and he built a house across the road where Phelans is now and he put one of the daughters in there and she married a man named Connolly. He married a second daughter to a man named McDermott – the uncle of Bernie McDermott and they did a good trade there. He built that house where Dermott McDermott is now and made a damn good job of it – cellar and all.
Where Jack Garvey is now belonged to a big landlord named Reilly – Michael Reilly – the landlord of Creggaun and Lisheenaheltia and he was of a very low degree. He was supposed to be a gentleman. I remember a young girl that came home from America and she had £100 saved. There was no place to put it and she trusted him with it and she never got a halfpenny of it.
There was an election held here at the time for some kind of an urban council, it wasn’t like the County Council of nowadays. You’d get a ballot paper and they’d come round and collect it. Reilly and Brown were candidates and Father McNamara was very much against Reilly.
Reilly was a blackguard and Brown was a Protestant and the people in them days hated the Protestants a lot more than they do now. Father McNamara was canvassing for Brown and there was uproar between two sections of the people of the Parish. The priest was preaching against Reilly at Mass and there was an old lady from Lisheenaheltia named McGrath and she shouted up, “you’re a bloody liar, Paudeen an Aerachain” down from the gallery. The priest said, “I could put that woman’s face round the back of her head if I liked” and the following Sunday they were afraid of a riot and there was pews of police and old Brown came into the church. He was a magistrate and he could give orders to shoot and he stayed there during Mass.
I used to use a horse and cart bringing stuff from Ballymoe station to Glan. We were getting five shillings a ton and you’d need a good cart to bring a ton from Ballymoe. I used to bring barrels of porter and sometimes we’d tap them on the way and have a drink. We had spies on the road watching the police. A favourite place to stop was at the hill at Classagh. We had every yoke for doing it. We had a gimlet and you had to have a second hole in the barrel or it wouldn’t spill. Then we had Guinness pegs for putting in the holes and we had bottles and things for putting under it. The porter in them days was very strong and we’d give a drink to whoever was spying for us too.
Micky Lacky who I mentioned earlier came home from Spain and he never paid for travelling only on the boat. He walked the rest of the way. Before he left Spain he was enquiring his way to the boat and no one could understand him and it was the Queen of Spain who eventually answered him. She knew English. Anyway, he came home and they were going to have a big party for him where Bill Timothy is now. Micky was broke and he was lonesome enough when he had no money. He waited until they were all gone to bed and he went out and got a bucket of water and cow muck and a brush and he painted the room with it. He was a bit mad. Another time he thought that he was able to fly and he made wings out of paper and something and he went up the stone steps of the old school house and put the wings out and fell down and broke his leg. He had a bed out in the cow house hanging from the rafters and he slept in it, a swing bed. He wouldn’t talk to any woman or girl – he couldn’t bear them at all.
The time father Conway came to the parish it was in a very poor state. There was no road to Englishtown and they used to carry the bags of oats for the market on asses’ backs. Markets were big at the time. There were three women used to come, a Mrs Moran from Dunmore selling cloth and remnants, another from Roscommon selling fruit and sugar stick and another from Ballymoe selling apples. She had a big ass and cart and you could get as much as you could carry for tuppence.
There was no such thing as going to hospital in them days. They wouldn’t call a doctor. You wouldn’t hear of heart failure, cancer or appendix. They would say that it was the fairies that took him. I remember an operation was done in the workhouse by a German doctor on a man named Jack Garvey and he survived. If you had a broken bone you went to a bone setter named Brady in Williamstown. They used to pull their own teeth with a pincers. I pulled all my own teeth. The food was better in the old days. Potatoes twice a day and a pot of stirabout. They wouldn’t eat it now.
Author: Michael Murphy, Gloon, in conversation with Tiernan Walsh.
Source: ‘Glan to Glan’, December 1976