Situated about one hundred metres on the town side of the Church, this imposing building houses one of the oldest clubs in the Parish. It is a two-story building which is accessible via an outside stairs as well as the one inside. The building houses two snooker tables which are regarded as being the finest in the country.

In the 1905, there was a hotel on Bridge St (now Browne’s Shop). This was called the Abbey Hotel which was owned by a local man named Paddy Judge. His family grave is in the old grave yard in the square. The hotel had a fine billiards room. The billiard table they used came from the Lucan Hotel in Dublin.

The Parish Priest in Athenry at the time was a man named Canon Canton who owned a site quite near the church. He decided to give this site to the local “Temperance Society” to be used as a Parish Hall mainly for the purpose of playing billiards and snooker, as well of course, for other activities such as card games, meetings etc.

The billiards table was acquired from the Abbey Hotel. While the Canton Hall was being built one of the houses across the road from the club was used as a temporary snooker club (Miss Rabbitte’s House).

By 1930 Canon Canton had died and the Parish Priest was a man called Canon Conroy. It was unanimously agreed to call the club after the late Cannon Canton. The club was run for the first two years by the members of the Pioneer Total Abstinences Society, (a follow up to the temperance society). In 1932 it was decided to invite the general public to become paid-up members.

Incidentally 1932 was to become a very famous year in Irish history because it was the year of the Eucharistic Congress of Dublin.

I am delighted to be in possession of the minutes of all the meetings which took place in the club for the years after and including 1929-40. I have published a photocopy of the document which names the trustees, officers, life members and general membership for the year 1932. The membership is all male and there are no junior members. I don’t see anything in the constitution of the club which would deny ladies from becoming members – so come on ladies there’s always a first time.

Ironically the vast majority of our memberships at present are juniors. There were seven members of the local Gardaí among the membership in 1932 and the first perpetual trophy to be played annually was the very prestigious trophy presented to the club by the Garda Siochana. This was known as the Garda Cup. The club has a fine chairperson in Garda Kevin Devally.

At present the club runs eight major domestic competitions during the year – three senior and five junior. The highlight of the year was the hosting of the County Team Championships. The local team of Matthew Murphy, Seamus Lynch (billiards), Noel Mulkerins, Paul Donohue, and Philip Kelly were beaten by the narrowest of margins in the final (three games to two) by a fine Ballinasloe team.

The day to day running of the club is in the very capable hands of Matthew’s father Stephen Murphy, who is also the Club Treasurer. The club is used on a daily basis for other functions such as Chess Classes conducted by Christy Archer, Women’s and Children’s groups, art classes, and a variety of other types of gatherings and meetings. The regular Saturday night games of 25 (usually 9s or 6s) are always very popular.

The club has been re-furbished during the past year and new seating throughout has added greatly to everybody’s enjoyment. The annual membership fee is €10.00 for adults and €5.00 for juniors.

As a member of the committee and an officer of the club I would be delighted, as of course would any other committee member, to introduce anybody who might be interested in becoming a member. Come along and see what this fine club has to offer.

See also – Canton Hall August 1995

Archery in Athenry

Why not come down to the Heritage Centre and add another string to your bow? You don’t even have to be fully fit, says Seamus Lynch

One of the most popular facilities provided by the Athenry Arts and Heritage Centre, since it was opened to the public, has been the daily activity, involving the sport of Archery. There are fully qualified instructors on hand at all times, and it is available for most of the year. The Have-A-Go situation, which pertains, is particularly suitable to young and old, as well as the fully fit and maybe not, so fit participants alike.

Equipment

People are generally attracted to the Centre, because they have access to real bows and arrows, a first class target, and a very adequate sheltered firing range. Because we use fibre-glass and wooden arrows, which have steel tops, they are in fact, real weapons. Safety is obviously paramount. Every session is fully supervised by trained personnel so a period of enjoyment and relaxation is guaranteed.

Longbow and Yew Wood

Nowadays, Archery is a hugely popular indoor and outdoor sport, which is practiced in many different forms. There, are many makes and sizes of bows including the Long Bow and the Cross Bow.

The longbow, famed in history and legend was, generally, if not always made of wood from the Yew Tree. Indeed the word Yew became synonymous with bow. It is probable that in the several centuries beginning with the 11th, bows in England were made of native grown yew wood, which was uniquely suited for the longbow because of its combination found in relatively few other kinds of wood. When the use of the bow became widespread, prior to the advent of firearms, the quality of yew wood grown in England of suitable quality for bows was inadequate to meet the needs.

It became necessary- and statutes were enacted to this end – that staves of yew be imported from Italy, Switzerland and elsewhere to supply the demand.

The Battle of Athenry

Fought on August 10th 1316, the Battle of Athenry is undoubtedly the greatest battle ever fought in the history of the town. The Anglo Normans, led by Sir William De Burgh and Richard De Bermingham who was known for the numerous successful battles he fought against the Irish, met a strong Irish side at Athenry.

The Irish proved no match for the Anglo-Norman side, whose bowmen cut the Irish side to pieces. It was reported that 8,000 lrish men were slain, including O’Connor and most of his chiefs.

Target and Field Archery

Target Archery is the most popular form of sport in this country, but a growing number of people are taking up Field Archery which normally takes place in woods and rough fields. Targets of various sizes are used instead of the standard four-foot one, and they are placed in all sorts of awkward places over a roughly circular course. The target faces are either black and white circles or pictures of animals. No sights are used, nor are the distance of the targets known, for shooting is purely intuitive. In other words, the archer must guess the distance and must also guess where to aim, but with constant practice the field archer can become very accurate indeed. The archers move around the course in small groups, shooting at each target in turn from marker pegs.

Flight Shooting

Slightly similar to this in appearance is Flight Shooting, but now the archers are no longer trying to hit a target. They are simply trying to shoot an arrow as far as possible. Considerable skill is needed to shoot an arrow a long way, but also special bows are needed that are designed solely for this purpose, and are never used for any other form of shooting. Advances made in equipment for flight shooting gradually improve the design or materials used in equipment for target shooting, so it is an important branch of the sport.

ln the 1960s the record distance was more than 850 yards (777 metres). In 1970, in an English National competition, one contestant using a modern flight bow – a ‘foot’ bow, with which the archer lies supine, pushes the bow with his feet, and draws with both hands – exceeded a mile (1.6 km) by more than 100 metres.

Today, I will attempt to describe some buildings, which in my younger days, seemed to be an integral and very important part of the town. Those buildings lay in the environs between Abbey Row and Caheroyan House, on either side of the Clarin River i.e. The Ball-Alley, The Forge, Taylor’s Mills, The Bag Factory, and of course, Caheroyan House.

The Ball-Alley has been well documented in these pages in a previous issue. I myself spend a lot of time whiling away the hours in the Forge. Traditionally the Forge was a well-known place to relax and have a chat. One can see Eamonn (Madden) working with animals, which can range from the humble donkey to a thoroughbred horse. His work can also be as diverse as shaping a bar of iron into all makes and sizes on the anvil, to the making of farm equipment, with his ultra modern machinery.

Taylor’s Mills provided much needed employment to people from the area. Men such as Joe “The Nailer” Howley, Mattie Ryan and Gerald Collins, cut and shaped different timber into all sorts of shapes and sizes. They also manufactured a large amount of Egg-Boxes, which, obviously, were supplied to the poultry trade. Charlie and Herbert Taylor were Directors of the firm. Herbert lived in Bridge Street. Charlie and his mother lived alongside in a beautiful, quaint little cottage, which was surrounded by immaculately maintained out-houses.

As kids we would “perform” plays in one of these. One of the Mill-Bridges housed a machine, which was known as a Turbine. This apparently, was kept in motion by the constant flow of water from the dam to the bridge and provided the necessary power for the milling process. It seems a pity that we could not have preserved some bit of this as part of our history. There was also a huge chimney that serviced the Mill. They would surely enhance the immediate area of the Castle and its surrounds.

Caheroyan House, in my early teens, was owned by the Murray-Alliston family. It was previously owned by Colonel D’Arcy, who later re-located to the New Line to the house now occupied by the Walls family. It is now completely renovated and the out-houses have been converted to a Mini-Tourist Village. It is owned by the Coyne Family from Oranmore. At one stage, the house was also owned by the well known Dempsey family who had a butcher shop on Old Church Street.

The Bag Factory on the Caheroyan Road, which was until recently, used as a very successful multi-purpose car garage by the local McNamara family, was set up in the 1930s as a factory which to supply all makes and sizes of Canvas Bags, mainly to the four Sugar Factories of Tuam, Mallow, Carlow and Thurles. A Scotsman, Mr. Weir, realised the potential of such a factory in our area, because of the proximity to the Tuam Plant. Inevitably the supply of these bags, expanded to individual members of the farming community.

They had machines which could print all the relevant details, such as name, size, weight etc., on these bags. Paddy Kilkelly, a brother of Frank, was the first Foreman. He was later replaced by Winnie Holian, now living in Newford. Any of these bags which were soiled, would have to be washed through a mangling-machine in the local river, and dried on the grass margin between the building and the river. They were later vacuumed in the factory.

To us kids, in those days, this area of the river was used as a Swimming Pool. Given the fact, that the entire workforce of the factory was female, and because swimming togs were at a premium, we learned at an early age how to dive (legs-first) into the pool! Incidentally after acquiring some swimming skill here, it was considered a major achievement to graduate to the deeper and more daunting waters of Cahertubber, courtesy of a lift on the crossbar of an adult’s bike.

As well as supplying the sugar factories, all sizes of bags went to prominent local firms such as McDonaghs of Galway, Palmer’s Mills of Galway and the Alginade Factory in Connemara.

The old photo (courtesy of Winnie Holian), depicts workers putting the finishing touches to material which was bound for this company. A large amount of bags were second-hand and were imported from Mr. Weir’s British factories in Liverpool, Glasgow and Dundee. Those bags came in Bales of 25 and 50. Ten to twenty thousand of these came at a time, via the Steam Ship Company Galway and C.I.E. Tender Lorries delivered them to the factory.

Company Directors:

Stephen Jordan T.D. Supervising Director,

Sean Broderick T.D. Director,

Jas. Ruane Co. Clr. Director,

Christopher Daly Director,

Charlie Taylor Director,

Benny Murtagh Director,

It is interesting to note that the town had two T.D.’s and a Co. Councillor., who lived a short distance from each other.

The Staff included :- Detta Fahy and Rosaleen Fitzpatrick in the Office.

Una Finnerty, Ballygurrane

Baby Nilan, Caheroyan,

Annie Healy, Mountain North,

Detta Burke Caheroyan,

The Spellman Sisters, Kilskeagh,

Sarah Bohan, Mirah,

Delia Corry, Moorpark,

Brigid Hession, Park,

Nora Higgins, Boyhill,

Nancy Lynskey, Abbey Row

Mrs. Payne, Athenry

Chris Loughnane, Ballydavid.

Shortly after its demise as a factory, the building was used as a very adequate Church, while the present Church was being built in the 1960s. It was also used in later years, as a centre for packing and storing wool.

Today it is once again being used as a very successful multi-purpose garage.

My sincere thanks to Winnie Holian for the “Chat” and the photograph, and to my good friend, Mr. Joe Keating, for the modern one.

I hope to relate some more of my ramblings in a later edition of “The Journal” D.V.. Until then Slán!

As it is a fine, if rather chilly November day, I decided to hit off on one of my favourite walks, which will take in an area known locally as ‘Paddy Kilkelly’s boreen’. Accompanied by my 12 year old terrier, I leave my sister Eileen’s house on the Tuam Road, but before I do, I make sure to put my name on the meal of bacon and cabbage which is about to be prepared. As in most other parts of the town, new houses and new families mingle with the older houses and older families. In the row of Park Houses, reside such people as the Collins, Morans and Ryans. Mrs. Ryan, mother of Tony, Sean, Lol, Michael, and Mary, lives here. She was born on 25/Aug/ 1900, which must surely qualify her as one of the oldest people in the parish.

As I pass along here, I think of the late Batty Cunniffe and his son, my good friend the late Barry. It is widely accepted that the Cunniffe’s are the oldest native family in the area. I am reliably informed that the first generation of this family indulged in the highly skilled trade of “weaving”. I should be very interested to know where they acquired the essential raw – material, which of course was FLAX. Among the newer houses further down the road are those of Dermot and Helen McNamara , Terence and Mrs Brady and Gerry and Mrs. Dempsey. On the other side of the road, a lovely new bungalow, formally owned by Gerry and Mrs Holland, is now the property of my good friend and neighbour, Noreen Hession. The Holland’s relocated to a new house in the Raheen area.

I continue on until I come to a right turn, which will take me some length to the next family I meet, which is that of Jim and Helen Reidy. Jim is an official in the Dept. of Agriculture, and was until recently, very much involved in local Handball activities.

I pause for a moment at the top of Kilkelly’s – On my left is a new bungalow belonging to Sean and Martina Kilkelly, Martina is employed as a clerk in the local Post Office. Paddy Kilkelly along with his daughter Brigid, live in the farm house on this side of the hill. Towards the railway are some beautiful new houses including those of Kevin and Geraldine Healy and Gerry and NoreenDoherty. But today, I decide to continue straight on for an interrupted half – mile which will bring me out on the Monivea – Athenry road.

The last house here is owned by Theresa Dempsey and her family. Sean Dempsey’s sudden and much lamented passing from this life has already been well documented. His various sporting abilities were second to none. Like countless, I considered myself very fortunate to be a personal friend, and I was privileged to play alongside him on the local snooker team on numerous occasions in many venues throughout the province. He will be greatly missed. ‘Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.’

On my left, on the main – road is the village of Cahertubber. I have happy memories of fishing and swimming here as a child. In those long – gone days, it was considered a major achievement to graduate from the local ‘swimming pool,’ ( the widest pool in the local river at the Bag Factory) to the daunting waters of Cahertubber. In Cahertubber there was a small lake where we fished for tiny fish which we called ‘Roach’. Nobody ever seemed to eat those fish but the ‘craic’ was always great.

We were fascinated with the various stories relating to the hilly area, known locally as ‘Cnocán – Gabhair.’ This is reputedly a Pagan Fairy Lios one of many which bound the Athenry locality.

The road which passes to the left hand side, alongside the old Council Irrigation  Grounds, leads to a vast open area of bogland, known as ‘The Moneen’. Little known locally, this wide expanse of bog, (a haven for all sorts of wide life and a great escape for anyone wishing to get away from the hustle and bustle of town life) goes right across until one comes out in the vicinity of the Gloves area.

I am now in Ballydavid, and on my righthand side, Rene Doherty lives alongside her son Noel and his wife Mary. The old Ballydavid houses are next. They consisted of families such as Maddens, Loughnanes, Cunniffes, Mulkerrins, Dohertys, (Michael Doherty was a renowned local handballer) and of course Tom and Gerry Mc Namara as well as the Delaneys. On the left are some beautiful new bungalows, belongs to Luke and Marion Glynn, and Raymond and Midge Glynn. Tommy Quinn’s hugely successful enterprise, ‘Arch – Trailers’ is also along here. His top quality products can be seen in every corner of Ireland.

I continue on towards the railway bridge. Martin Burke has just recently completed the construction of some beautiful new two storey houses in what we once knew as the ‘Captain’s Pond’. Over the bridge, I am now in the New Line what I consider to be one of the nicest and most modern areas in the town.

The New Line at the appropriate time of year, the front and rear gardens on either side of the road are truly a sight to behold. Along the right – hand side are families such as the Fitzimmons”, Christy and Patricia Kelly, Michael and Mrs Burke, Sean and Mary Mc Govern, Mattie R.I.P. and Bridie Gannon, John and Mrs Wall, the residence of the local curate is in between these.

The Day Care Centre (formally the home of the local Doctor) provides a wonderful and sometimes little known service to the locality. A team of volunteers, render an invaluable service to the less mobile and house bound in our community. Gerry and Claire Nevin are next, while Professor Eitenne Rynne and his wife Aideen live in the comer house which was once the home of Supt. Kelly and his family.

On the left – hand side live such families as Vincent and Mrs Rohan, Oliver and Mairead Torpey , Christy and Winnie O ’Grady, Greg and Ann Rabbitte, Michael and Ann Moran, Christy and Theresa Archer, Ned and Ann Waldron. Eddie is well known for his voluntary work contributing to the Athenry area and I would like to wish him many happy and busy years of retirement from his position in the ESB Redmond and Ita Carr and Mattie and Mrs Fitzpatrick are the far side of the local Health Centre.

This building has just been re-furbished. Incorporating the house which was once Nurse O’ Gorman’s, it has several new treatment and waiting rooms. There is a wonderful service provided here by Doctors Vivian and Anne Brennan, along with their Staff of Nurses; Mary Jo Curran, Patricia Flannery, Sadie Casserly and Sheila Kelly whenever they are needed. I would personally like to wish Sheila a speedy recovery to full health and look forward to seeing her back on duty in the near future. Not forgetting here‘, the always diligent and ever co – operative clerical staff of Eilish O’ Neill and Maura Hardiman.

The house on the corner, ‘Mount Amber’, which was until recently owned by the late Paddy Murphy, Veterinary Surgeon, and family, is now the property of John Doctor Frances Lenihan. From this point I can almost get the aroma of the bacon and cabbage, which at this stage should go down a treat.

Thank you for joining me on my rambles today. Please join me once again in some future edition of the Journal.

Séamus Lynch for the Athenry Journal Easter 1998

As it is a nice fresh spring day, I decide to walk a few miles into the country. I will bring along my 12 year old terrier for company. My target will be, what I loosely term the “perimeter” of the town, or in today’s case, about half of it. I call to the forge and have a chat with Eamonn Madden. Next stop is Lady’s Well, looking splendid as usual, due in no small way, to the efforts of the local F.Á.S. team and a very diligent parish committee. My dog has a drink of the ice – cool spring water, which is in abundance here. On my way to the Well, I would often meet with several other people who are enjoying the fresh air. Many a time I have assisted Mrs. Fred Whyte in the picking of crab apples and the wild red and black berries, which went into the making of her beautiful home-made jams. These bushes have mysteriously disappeared – progress? At the risk of sounding selfish, I must admit that I miss my reward of some of this jam.

I continue past Lady’s Well, through Rahard, to the T. junction at the top of the road. I am now exactly two miles from the Square, so I decide to have a rest. The dog makes herself comfortable at the head of the boreen which leads into Mary Fox’s house. I think of her late husband Paddy, a character, who was known for his many great sayings. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog”. I have often stood at the top of this hill at twilight and admired the panoramic view of the town with its flood-lit castle, the town walls and the majestic spire of St. Mary’s church. On a clear night, one can see the lights of Loughrea town in the distance.

I continue on towards Sice’s cross and I can see the daffodil shoots beginning to blossom and the spring-lambs are getting more plentiful by the days. “Modern technology” has ensured that these lambs can nowadays be born before Christmas.

I pass along by Mike Murphy’s, and Joe Hynes’. They are both renowned for the quality of their livestock, as well as their efforts in preserving the various forms of crops and tillage which have got somewhat scarce in the locality recently.

Around the “pound” and back to the Square, where I will feed my dog and give her a well earned rest. I decide to continue in the direction of Raheen. I stand at the railway crossing and memories quickly come to my mind of many years ago when the “special” cattle and beef trains were a common sight. I would always be fascinated watching Johnny Whyte and his fellow workers, as they shunted the endless line of wagons together. A considerable feat, when you consider, that during this process, the train was invariably moving!

To my left is the base for Goulding’s fertilisers, a vital service to the farmers of the area. Across the railway is Byrne-Mech’s Light engineering outlet, which offers valuable employment to many young people from the area.

On my right is the beautifully maintained Árd Aoibhinn estate, which has a magnificent green area, right in the middle. On my left are some lovely houses, which include Irene Molloy’s, Dick Smyth’s and Mrs. Melia’s.

I will meet my good friends, Sean and Ann Pomphrett. Ann is a sister of Billy Fitzpatrick, of Kilkenny hurling fame, while Sean considers himself somewhat of a Nomad. His father was a station-master which meant that in his youth, he lived in several other towns. Seamus and Ann Cullinane are next

Across the road, Doctors Vivian and Ann Brennan now live in what I once knew as “Bompherets” Canon North – Bompheret M.A., while a scholar, was also known for his extraordinary love of cats! Nowadays one is more likely to encounter a half dozen jumping ponies as they graze next to the house. Michael and Angela Crimmins are next, while Brenda Ruane has the next house to the hurling pitch.

Along the left hand side some ultra model houses mingle with the old – Leo and Marie Gardner’s, Mr. & Mrs. Alfie Deehan’s, Mrs. Tommie Fox’s and Noel & Eileen Grimme’s are testimony to this.

The facilities in the Raheen grounds include two modern flood-lit tennis courts. Despite the Trojan efforts of people like Stephanie O’Regan, it must be said, that they are very much under-used. There is also a fine complex here, which includes showers and changing facilities. Pat Holland has a garage further down the road and specialises in the sale and service of Russian-built tractors. I continue for an uninterrupted mile towards the new, fully serviced soccer pitches, I look into Kathleen Bane’s huge-hilly field which gained some renown as the “torture-ground” for the now famous All-Ireland Winning Hurling team of last year. I look across the fields and can see my sister Eileen’s house on the Tuam Road. I can jump a few stone walls, and be there in jig-time, but in the distance I see a herd of cattle, which includes, what seems to be a very fit-looking 3 year old Charolais Bull. I am conscious of the fact, that he just might not have a warm welcome for some stranger invading his territory, so “discretion being the better part…”, I decide to double take, and cross the back of Árd Aoibhinn, through another fine estate, Cullairbaun.

If I play my cards right, and my timing is reasonable, I should be in line for a very welcome meal of bacon and cabbage. After about eight miles of brisk walking, I can assure you, that the spuds will go down a treat. It doesn’t seem so long ago that Bernie and Eileen’s and Michael and Maura’s were only two houses between P.J. Murphy’s and Corbetts’. Today it is a different story, but that it is something, I intend to cover for a future edition.

Thank you for joining me today. I intend to do the half of the “perimeter” tomorrow so please join me in some other publication in the near future.

Slán

Seamus Lynch for the Athenry Journal 1997

From the Square to Ladys Wells to the Village of Blaine, Backpark, Sice’s Cross, Bottom, Farnablake, Prospect and home…

It is a nice fresh sunny April day, so I decide to go for one of my favourite walks.  Because I will bring my 10 year old terrier, this route is most suitable.  Apart from being scenic and quiet, it is also relatively traffic free and will bring me a few miles into the country past Lady’s Well.

I meet first with Paddy Corley at the River Bridge and as this month is usually the height of the fishing season we anxiously anticipate the next flood.  Paddy and Eileen’s family were all gifted athletes.  Their eldest son Tony, now living in Boston, is a personal friend of mine and I was privileged to be his partner in many an Inter-county handball competition.  Tony was also a very skilled rugby player and played many a Senior Inter-provincial with the Connaught tewn.  Indeed there was an unusual occurrence in the mid 60s when three Athenry lads played with the Connaught team versus Ulster in the Sportsground in Galway, despite the G.A.A ban.  Tony was fullback, while Gabe Cronnolly and Mike Browne, first cousin to Milhe, played in the forwards.

We look down at the old school, now in ruins. 1 have happy memories of spending many cold winter nights there rehearsing plays as diverse as John B. Keane and O’Casey, from Stringberg to Oscar Wilde.  These rehearsals take place nowadays in Payne’s Hall.

I call regularly to Eamonn Madden at the forge.  Here I am liable to meet anyone from the local farmer to the Master of the Hunt and animals ranging from donkeys to thoroughbred horses.  I look in Phonsie Madden’s haggard.  Thankfully, the orchard is as it always was, and still fruitful.  Across the road is the ultra modern boys National school, built in what was once Paddy Hession’s field. I have a chat with Sean Ward, a local vet as he heads off on his rounds.  Joe Howley’s two fields have been rented out to a local farmer.  Joe has left Abbey Row and now resides with the Monaghans in Kingsland.

The field beside Jody Curran’s house is nowadays used for any circus or amusements that come to town.  Further up the roadsome lovely new houses are under construction by local contractors, the Lallys and the Rooneys.

As I approach Lady’s Well, I can see Brigie Clasby’s house to my left.  This is now occupied by Jimmy Connell and his family. The great Dick Morrissey who brought hurling honours to Galway in 1923, lived here.  My dog has a drink of spring water outside Lady’s Well, while I admire the beautiful landscape created by a diligent local committee and the members of the local FÁS scheme.  To my left is one of the few remaining functional freshwater wells in this district.  This well still services some houses in Rahard.  Further up the hill I stop for a while outside the house which was once owned by Matt and Jimmy Hynes.  I have happy memories of picking mushrooms here as a child, while at the same time keeping a watchful eye on their ever-present Shorthorn bull.  These days, one would need to be up very early, as Jimmy Mullins and his wife Assumpta, who live across the road, have seven children, who know every blade of grass and probably the location of every mushroom in the area!

Many years ago, along with some other local lads, I would deliver the post in this area during the Christmas period.  Pa Donohue lived in a beautiful thatched cottage just off the road.  The hospitality here was outstanding and this was always a welcome stop during the rounds.  The house has now been demolished, but his widow Mary lives in a new bungalow nearby.

Paddy and Ethna Hynes and their son Frank and his wife life further up the road.  At the T junction, where I stop for a rest, I am now exactly two miles from the Square in Athenry.  The village of Blaine is some way to my left.  Esker is straight ahead but I decide to turn right towards Sice’s Cross.  The boreen to my left brings back memories of the Paddy Fox.  His wife Mary lives in a new house just off the road.  At the top of this road, there is a monument to young Shane Farragher, who tragically drowned there, some years ago.

Along the road to Sice’s cross, I meet with Basil King and his stablelads, who are out hacking their fine race horse.  Another family, the McCulloughs, who live along here, keep lovely horses also.  I have a chat with Basil’s father Eddie, as we stand at the old pump outside his house.  This pump is still in working order.  An orchard behind Eddie’s house also revives memories. I decide to walk straight on for an uninterrupted mile which will bring me out on the AthenryCraughwell road.
I have a chat with Tommy and Paddy Sice, and admire their prize winning Galway sheep.  I am now looking at newly born lambs which, inevitably, one day will win fame in Shows around the country, including the famous Ballsbridge Show in Dublin.  Some of the best maintained fields in the parish are on either side of this stretch of road.  Along here, one can see the modem breeds of Continental cattle belonging mainly to P J Greaney, and Joe Hynes.  In contrast, on the right side, are some fine fields of tillage, a rare enough sight nowadays.  Mike Murphy and Joe Hynes are widely known for the quality of their crops of potatoes, oats etc.

I call to Sean Farrell in his ultra modern abattoir.  Sean and his staff are as cheerful as ever and, thankfully, I am always welcome there for another chat. I proceed towards town and, once again, a row of new houses mingle with the old.  The old houses include Lou Fallon’s, Jim Keane’s, Michael Donnellan’s, formerly Curreen’s, Joe and Mary Byrne’s, Brady’s, Winnie Kennedy’s and John Caulfield’s. (John now resides in Galway city).  The new houses include Des Farrell’s, Galway Glass; Hayden Moore’s; Gerry Atkinson’s; Sean and Valerie Corbett’s.

Here I feel by a tinge of sadness as my next stop would normally have been my brother Martin’s house.  Sadly, he passed away from this life on New Year’s eve last.  May he rest in peace. I also think of the nights, long ago, that I spent with John Caulfield and Nancy.  There used to be some craic and great music in that house.

I visit the graveyard and pay my respects to many of my friends of times gone by.  There are, to date twenty six graves in the new addition to the graveyard.
I stand at the New Cemetry cross roads and admire the panoramic view of the town.  The floodlit castle, the town wall and its towers, and the majestic spire of St. Mary’s parish church. I turn left at St Mary’s nursing home and look towards Tommy Monaghan’s house, Ivymount, now occupied by his nephew Dermot. I have been told that the Galway Livestock Marts were inaugurated in this house.

The first meeting of the Mart Committee took place in the basement here.  I now attach a lead to my dog as the next stretch of road can be particularly hazardous.  A footpath would be welcome along here, as the “round the Pound” route is popular with the locals.  I stop at “Connors of the Pound” and have happy memories of the days and nights I spent fishing along the banks of Gort na hAbhann.  Names of great fishermen and wonderful characters like John Crosby and Gerry Collins quickly come to mind.

I pass the flourishing Livestock mart and continue towards base.  After approximately two hours and about five miles, I will feed the dog and enjoy a welcome cuppa.