The Irish in America

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Listowel Man Remembers…

Vincent Carmody brings us a moment in history when two seemingly disparate, yet equally impactful events in his life, took place. We take a side trip to Ballybunion for this one.


Bridie Gallagher (photo from Wikipedia)

In the latter part of July 1969 my first cousin Eileen McCaffrey (nee Buckley) and husband Brian were down in Listowel from their home in Portmarnock, County Dublin, for a holiday.

Being fairly young and carefree we decided to visit the nearby seaside resort of Ballybunion to sample the nightlife.

Entering the town we saw large signs announcing that the most famous Irish female singer of the day, Bridie Gallagher, (The Girl from Donegal) was appearing at the Hibernian Ballroom on that night, for one night only.

Cousin Eileen, was beside herself with excitement, “we have to go and see Bridie” she said, ‘did you not know that she attended the same primary school in Creeslough, County Donegal, at the same time as Brian’, she told me, ‘although she was in a more senior class’.

So after socialising ‘down town’ we made our way back to the Hibernian and the Bridie Gallagher appearance. We got some good seats and enjoyed the singing as the night enfolded, during the performance; Eileen scribbled a note which was taken to the stage, asking that Bridie sing one of her most popular songs ‘Sure their cutting the corn down in Creeslough today’ and dedicate it to an old school friend.

Looking down from the stage at the enormous crowd, she said ‘ Ach, Brian, wherever you are in the crowd, don’t leave till we meet up and catch up on old times’.

NeilArmstongSo after the performance we met up and were ushered into the residents lounge.

Already in the room was quite a sizeable crowd assembled around two black and white television sets. What was being broadcast was the live telecast of the first lunar landing. The date, July 20th/ 21st 1969.

So as the century’s most famous moment unfolded and Neil Armstrong uttered the famous words, ‘one giant leap for mankind’ I and the others were in the wonderful company and sharing hospitality with probably one of the most popular Irish artistes of her time, Bridie Gallagher.

Are you getting excited for The Irish in America St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway? We will announce the details tomorrow…



New Dungarvan Guide!

Exciting things are happening at the Waterford County Museum.

My sister, Regan, and I were lucky enough to visit Dungarvan this past September. Willie Whelan personally showed us around the Waterford County Museum and brought us on a quick tour of the town. A group of dedicated and talented volunteers make the museum happen, and they are doing a fantastic job. It is truly a gem, and this book is a must-have for anyone interested in Dungarvan or Irish history in general.

Read the press release for :

The Ideal Christmas Gift – Dungarvan: A Historic Guide & Town Trail
Waterford County Museum will launch their new 80 page guide book about Dungarvan on Wednesday 28th November. The guide book content includes a history of Dungarvan, articles on notable local personalities, historic sites in the locality, a town walking trail, numerous full page photos and maps. The book is produced to a very high standard and the museum will arrange shipping worldwide. All profits from the book go the upkeep of the museum.

One of the book’s authors William Fraher said that “I am delighted with the finish and appearance of the book. The larger scale landscape format allows the wonderful photographs from the museum archive to be seen to best advantage. I think it would make an ideal Christmas gift for anyone with relatives or friends living abroad”.

Co-author Willie Whelan stated that “We think this book will be attractive to local history enthusiasts, tourists, locals and school children. It also provides an authoritative basic historical guide to the Dungarvan area.”

Support from Waterford Leader Partnership has enabled the price of the book to be kept at €10 allowing as wide a range of people as possible access to their local history.

Pádraig Ó Cuirrín, President of Waterford County Museum welcomed the launch of the new book and added “I am really delighted that the museum has managed to produce such a quality publication. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the Waterford Leader Partnership in helping fund this book. Without the ongoing support that we receive from the Leader Partnership our work would be much more difficult. Dhéanfadh an leabhar seo bronntanas oiriúnach; go háirithe do cáirde agus gaolta thar lear.”

Dungarvan: A Historic Guide & Town Trail (printed by local company Printmaster) is available to buy in the museum at St. Augustine Street, Dungarvan for €10 or it can be bought on-line via

For more information about buying the book contact:
Phone: 058 45960

If you want to learn more about the Waterford County Museum…

1. Follow the Waterford County Museum on Twitter – every day they tweet great photos from their collection. Click here to follow them.

2. Browse around the website – there is a great search engine at the bottom where you chose a time period from the drop-down menu and search for articles about that era…try it out!

3. Get the Town Trail app from iTunes or Google Play for your iPhone (99 cents) or Android (free).


Donaghmore Workhouse Museum

Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum Donaghmore, County Laois

The Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum provides a fascinating “two-in-one”  museum experience. It seems odd at first – agricultural artifacts displayed in a nineteenth century workhouse?

Names etched into walls by Black&Tan soldiers at Donaghmore Workhouse

But in the case of Donaghmore, it makes perfect sense. The workhouse opened in 1853. By that time many of the Irish who suffered the effects of the Great Famine (1845-59) had already died or emigrated. The workhouse remained open until 1886. The Black and Tans (British soldiers in Ireland) used the workhouse as a barracks in the early 1920s before the Donaghmore Co-operative Society established the Donaghmore Creamery in the workhouse buildings in 1927.

Butter label

The Co-operative donated two workhouse buildings to the community, and in 1988 a committee of volunteers was formed to renovate, interpret, and manage the buildings.

Liam Phelan

Our tour guide in October was Liam Phelan who explained that the workhouse buildings were so well-preserved because they were used, but not altered, for so long by the creamery and the Co-operative Society. This also explains why the displays of farm machinery and implements fit right in at the workhouse.

Original door to the girls' dormitory

There are several panels throughout the museum that address specific topics related to the workhouse. The one below discusses emigration.

click image to enlarge

Trivia Question

What longtime Donaghmore Creamery employee and current Rathdowney resident was also a member of the 1949 All-Ireland Leinster Hurling Championship and All-Ireland runner-up teams?

The first person to leave a comment with the correct answer will win a special prize!

For more information on workhouses:

All photographs taken by Regan McCormack, October 2011.