The Geraghty sisters
The Irish Hospitals sweepstakes draw always created great excitement with the expectation of winning a big prize on the English Derby or Grand National. The draws were discontinued some years ago under something of a cloud. The man originally behind the sweepstakes idea was Joe McGrath, a shrewd businessman. Tickets cost £1 and half shares and quarter shares could also be purchased.
Paddy Kelly, Spencer Street, was a popular seller of the sweepstake tickets. Across the road from Paddy lived the Geraghty sisters. The sisters were renowned for selling winning tickets and people travelled to Castlebar from all over the west to try their luck.
The Geraghtys were aunts of Johnny Armstrong, Manulla, who was a member of Castlebar Pipe Band alongside Johnny McNeela, McHale Road, Paddy Rainsford, McHale Road, Thomas Halligan, Lucan Street, Sonny Guthrie, McHale Road, and Jarlath Bourke, Lightford.
There were many other local men in the band and they played all over the west at sporting occasions and other events.
Paddy Rainsford Senior, who came from Tipperary to Castlebar when the Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was being built, was a founder member of the band and his son Paddy trained the members of Balla pipe band when they were being formed.
Johnny Armstrong was a prominent member of the Local Defence Force and later joined An Garda Siochána.
The Geraghty sisters have long since passed away but their home in Spencer Street proved lucky for many punters.
A day in the bog
I see where Councillor Ming Flanagan, chairman of Roscommon County Council, is taking a brave stand to retain turf-cutting rights in the county.
It is time the madness coming from Dublin was put a stop to. Apart from the labour involved, a day in the bog can be a most refreshing experience, whether it's on the White Mountain, Ross, Clydagh or Derryvulcaun.
Tea brewed in a bog has a distinctive flavour and coupled with a few ham sandwiches, it is very appetising.
With the ever-increasing cost of oil, turf is the new gold and must be preciously guarded. However, things can occasionally get out of hand regarding the ownership of bogs and some people overstep the mark in this regard and become quite abusive.
This is a pity and people who engage in this activity are only bringing trouble on themselves. Ownership rights should always be respected. After all, this is what Michael Davitt so vigorously fought for over 100 years ago.
Louis Brennan's burial place
In Castlebar Parish Magazine of Christmas 2009 it was stated that Louis Brennan, the famous Castlebar-born inventor, is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Harrow Road, London. This fact is borne out a in book by Norman Tomlinson, a friend of Louis Brennan.
This book has been lent to me by Michael Nolan, Milebush, Castlebar, and has many interesting facts relating to the life and times of Louis Brennan.
Along with the body of Louis Brennan, the grave is also the burial place of his wife, Anna Mary Brennan, formerly Quinn from Castlebar, his sons, Charles Michael Brennan, and daughter Norah Brennan. Louis Brennan's father was Thomas Brennan, hardware merchant, whose wife was formerly Bridget McDonnell.
Brennan was an amazing man and apart from the dirigible torpedo, 'Flying Machine', a forerunner of the helicopter, and monorail, he invented many other important items.
He and his wife and family lie in an unmarked grave, and as pointed out in the Parish Magazine, surely it is time to have this situation rectified.
Louis Brennan's brother Michael, a distinguished artist, died from tuberculosis at the age of 32 in Capri. He has a long list of paintings to his credit, some of which hang in the National Gallery of Ireland and in the Musee de Hambourg, Hamburg, Germany.
The Brennans were two distinguished and noble sons of Castlebar and should be remembered in their native town in an appropriate fashion.
Down Under Diary
The Irish are everywhere, it is often said. And nowhere is this more evident than in New South Wales, Australia. For example, James McGirr, the son of John Patrick McGirr, a native of Louisburgh and a member of the Labour Party, was elected Premier of New South Wales in 1947.
Another Mayo man, Walter McEvilly O'Malley (1820 to 1867), who probably also came from Louisburgh, was appointed as librarian on the Legislative Council Library, New South Wales, in July 1850.
James McGirr has a number of relatives living in Culleens, Kilsallagh, Westport.
Walter is a very popular Christian name with the McEvilly families. We immediately think of Walter McEvilly, Ballyheane, Walter McEvilly, Louisburgh, Walter McEvilly, Kilkenny, Castlebar, and Walter McEvilly, Station Road, Castlebar, whose father Michael was a native of Louisburgh.
Many will remember Michael as a popular member of the nursing staff of St. Mary's Hospital. Surely there must be some connection with Walter McEvilly O'Malley, New South Wales.
John Riley, the Man from Snowy River, was born in Glenisland, Castlebar, one of the folk heroes of early Australia. Banjo Patterson, the legendary musician and folk singer, has written songs about Riley.
Tony Deffely, Glenisland, has written a fine article about Riley, a very colourful character who deserves to be remembered in his native Glenisland with a plaque or such like.
The biggest off-licence business in Australia is owned by a man named Dan Murphy. I'm not sure if, like our Irish Dan Murphy, he has a stone outside his door, but he certainly has made his name big in Australia.