Mayo's Michael O’Connor and his courtesy and good humour

by Auld Stock

THERE are people in towns and villages all over Ireland who work on a voluntary basis to better the lot of their neighbours and friends.

One of those people is Michael O’Connor, Parke, Castlebar.

Michael worked in Castlebar for a number of years where he was manager of the shop and service station opposite the Welcome Inn Hotel owned by Peter Dever, Ballynew, Castlebar, a native of Westport and a prominent breeder of greyhounds.

Mary Corcoran, Ballynew, was a colleague of Michael O’Connor’s in Peter Dever’s business, a dab hand when it came to bookkeeping.

Peter Dever’s shop was a unique meeting place for popular local characters such as Charlie Hayes, grandfather of Fr. Charlie McDonnell, Westport, Michael Gunning, fruit wholesaler, and George Garvey, St. Patrick’s Avenue, brother of Paddy Garvey and Vincent Garvey, mechanical engineer with Castlebar bacon factory.

The Garvey brothers were sons of George H. Garvey, county surveyor.

George Garvey was an incurable pessimist who never believed the Americans landed men on the moon.

‘It’s nothing but a lot of propaganda,’ he told Michael O’Connor.

George loved chocolate and when he called to Michael O’Connor each morning his first question was ‘Any chocolate today, Michael?’

Michael told me George’s favourite chocolate was Cadbury and he left a bar of the chocolate aside for George.

This gesture was typical of Michael O’Connor’s decency, always thinking of the needs of others.

Peter Dever’s shop has long disappeared from the local scene but many local people remember the courtesy and good humour of Michael O’Connor, one of life’s great characters, a gentleman to the core.