Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

John bows out after 51 years of seamless customer care



Date Published: {J}

John Sheridan was only 14 years old when he got his first job in the city, where he remained in the retail business for over 50 years

until his retirement.

John doesn’t look anything like his 65 years and for the last 25 of those he spent serving customers in the menswear department of Anthony Ryans, where he says he enjoyed every minute.

“They are great to work for. There were great people working there and I really liked my work but it was time to retire,” he says.

For the native of Oranmore, who was one of ten children, there was no talk of further education in those days and getting a job was high on the agenda for most people.

It was his mother, a regular customer at The Blackrock Tailoring Company in Williamsgate Street, now long closed, who got him the job.

She came home from town one day and announced that John would be starting as a shop assistant. That was 1960. John was just 14.

“That was the way it was. You learned your trade. You started at the bottom, not even serving customers. I remember learning how to package goods people bought. Blackrock was known then for its brown paper packaging tied up with a green twine. That was before plastic or paper bags. I got £1 7s 6d (one pound, seven shillings and sixpence) and like most young boys still living at home, I handed it all up to my mother and she gave me what she thought I needed for the week!

“Training was very important in those days, no matter what age you were. It was expected that the job would train you.

“Not only were we trained in practical ways – like I spent most of my time upstairs at first folding shirts and sweaters – but on how to say ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’ to customers. There was great importance put on being polite to customers. I think all that has changed now in a lot of the high street stores where shop assistants don’t even feel they have to look at you, let alone greet you!” he says.


Sure enough John did learn his trade and he found he loved everything about it, most of all dealing with customers. It wasn’t long before he got his opportunity to move down the town to Mainguard Street to a specialist men’s shop called Burtons.

One of the reasons he left Blackrock was because the premises closed for a while following a fire.

He was still commuting between his home and work. Commuting in those days meant “thumbing” as in walking up College Road until he was in the countryside and hitching. That side of town was still undeveloped.

“In those days there was no public transport from our side and I was often running late but that was acceptable at that time because most workers didn’t have a car.”

He says that in those times everyone was at the same level. “We had nothing but we had everything, as in values and respect.”

They were, he says, simpler times, which is why he has appreciated everything he has achieved.

It was inevitable then that a young, athletic man with a steady job (though no car) would meet a girl and settle down. And that’s what happened when he met Bridie Gills from Ballindereen. Her uncle Mick won two All-Ireland medals, one for his native Galway and one for Dublin where he was based later.

As a young man John too enjoyed a few sporting achievements. He hurled with Oranmore. They won the county Minor title in 1963 and the county Junior in 1965 but were beaten in 1968 in the Senior finals by Castlegar who brought an end to Oranmore’s good run.

As a sports lover, it was natural for him to get involved with Galway United when he became a father to three sons, though he quickly adds that he couldn’t kick a ball!

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

Continue Reading

Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Continue Reading

Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


Continue Reading