Tommy was son of John Murray, building contractor, a man with a great head for heights, described by many as the ‘spiderman’ of his day. He could scale the highest building without any bother.
Passers-by who witnessed Tommy Murray’s tumble onto the footpath at Main Street rushed to his assistance convinced that he had probably lost his life in the fall. They were amazed when he stood up, brushed his clothes and was surprised at the commotion his fall had caused. Murray had literally fallen on his feet.
Tommy Leonard, a local hackneyman, rushed Murray to the County Hospital, where Patrick Bresnihan, county surgeon, and colleagues gave him a thorough examination. To their amazement, Murray was completely unharmed.
Mr. Bresnihan said it was nothing short of a miracle that Murray had survived the fall. ”Someone up there was keeping an eye on him,” he said.
Dr. Ralph Jones, another doctor, said young Murray was very lucky to be alive after falling 40 feet.
The Murray family lived at 26 McHale Road, Castlebar, for some time and later emigrated to England. I remember Peter, Ollie and Pauline Murray but there were other members of the Murray family as well whose names I cannot recall. Old age and all that.
Five Parke sisters on the buses
IN the late 1940s five sisters from Ballygarriff, Parke, made a little bit of transport history. They were all bus conductors employed at Yardley Wood Garage, Birmingham.
The five sisters were Bridget, Ellen, Catherine, Margaret and Norah Barrett and they made national headlines at the time. They were daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Barrett, Parke, and a brother, John, and sister Lily were living in Ballygarriff at the time.
Emigration was rife in Ireland in the late ‘40s and towns and villages throughout the country saw hundreds of thousands take the boat to make a living in England.
Frank Hunt, a great cyclist
FRANK Hunt, who lived close to The Mall, Castlebar, spent many years as a bicycle mechanic in Tommy Bourke’s garage, Ellison Street, Castlebar. In the 1920s, Hunt was regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest cyclists. Yet he never spoke of his prowess as a cyclist; he was a quiet, retiring sort of man who kept to himself.
James O’Quigley, a teacher in Snugboro National School and a member of Castlebar Urban Council, remembered Frank Hunt as a young man and could vividly recall his many triumphs in different parts of Ireland. He specialised in road racing at a time when track racing was very popular.
Hunt was a reluctant hero who made his bike do the talking. Were he alive today, he would probably make national headlines. Sporting heroes are now a dime a dozen but in Hunt’s time there was no radio or television, and newspaper coverage of cycling events was sparse.
Some years ago, while I was holidaying in Dublin, I spotted Hunt’s bicycle repair shop and the owner turned out to be a son of Frank Hunt, who remembered his boyhood days in Castlebar. Repairing bikes was obviously in the Hunt blood.
Another man who repaired bikes in Tommy Bourke’s garage on Ellison Street was my next door neighbour for many years, the late Tommy Ansbro, an expert bicycle mechanic.
Captain Malone’s invention
NOWADAYS plastic is extensively used in the manufacture of countless items. This wasn’t always the case and in its infancy the material was often frowned on.
However, one man who saw the vast potential for plastic was Captain James ‘Broddie’ Malone, The Yews, Westport Road, Castlebar.
Captain Malone, a native of Westport, played a prominent role in the fight for freedom. A man with an inventive mind, he developed a machine for the manufacture of plastic goods. In the 1950s there were very few incentives for people with novel ideas.
Despite Captain Malone’s best efforts, and at considerable expense to himself, his initiative never reached its full potential.
There is an old saying, prophets are seldom recognised in their own country. Perhaps if Captain Malone had come from Japan or China his venture would have received greater support but that’s another story.
Some years ago, when a group of young local men were swimming at Lough Lannagh, they came across a rifle with the initials ‘BM’ etched on its stock. I was asked at the time what the initials stood for and I had no doubt they represented Broddie Malone, a grim reminder of stirring times in Ireland. Captain Malone was a true patriot and gentleman.
Mike Morgan’s weather forecasts
THE weather people on RTÉ got their forecasts in a bit of a twist last week. They promised viewers a few light showers but instead the heavens opened and we had a deluge.
I don’t have much faith in our television weather forecasters. Of course, this wasn’t the first time our television weather pundits made a hash of things.
The same thing happened on the BBC some years ago when Michael Fish got his weather forecast badly wrong. His slip-up almost caused a national emergency. A Fish out of water perhaps!
The only person I had faith in when it came to weather forecasting was my old neighbour, Mike Morgan. Mike could forecast weather conditions a few days in advance with pinpoint accuracy.
One of the best known cattle drovers in the west for many years, Mike could speak about cloud formations and wind movements with great knowledge.
Over a few pints in Eddie Cannon’s of Market Square he often held his fellow drinkers spellbound with his expertise in the matter of rain, sunshine, snow and sleet. Now there was a man who knew what weather forecasting was all about, and a fine gentleman as well.
‘The Hero’ made his Point
WESTPORT United have published an excellent book to mark 100 years of soccer in the seaside town. When it comes to soccer there is a close affinity between Castlebar and Westport and there are lots of stories and pictures to interest Castlebar people in the book.
Congratulations to Pádraig Burns (well known to readers of The Connaught Telegraph sports section), Brian Cusack, Liamy McNally, Michael McLoughlin and their colleagues on a splendid production.
I remember Castlebar Celtic playing Westport United at The Point, Westport Quay, many years ago. The game was an intensely fought affair and a long clearance by Castlebar’s Joe Feeney ended up in the tide and as there was only one football available, it was felt the game would have to be abandoned.
But up stepped Castlebar soccer star Mikie Guthrie who dived into the Atlantic and retrieved the ball, which was fast fading in the distance. Guthrie went on to score Castlebar’s winning goal.
Little wonder he was popularly known as ‘The Hero’.
Tailor rescued a cat
THERE are many people knocking about who remember Johnny Waters, a tailor by profession, who had his business premises at Rush Street, Castlebar, before taking up residence in McHale Road.
Johnny was a useful footballer in his day and a prominent member of Castlebar Catholic Club attached to the Town Hall.
The story I tell concerns three men and a cat. Mr. Waters heard the cries of a cat under the bridge at Main Street, close to William McLynskey’s business premises. The unfortunate animal was lodged in a crevice for some days.
Mr. Waters drew the plight of the cat to the attention of two local gardaí, Felix Campbell and Vincent Brennan.
The gardaí made an entrance to the bank of the river, which was swollen at the time, and Mr. Waters was lowered down and returned in a matter of minutes with the cat. It was a tricky operation and he showed great bravery.
Mr. Waters procured a saucer of hot milk for the cat and it soon scampered down Byrne’s archway none the worse for wear.
I went to school with Johnny Waters’ son Vincent who married Annie McDonagh, McHale Road. Both were working in Castlebar bacon factory at the time. Sadly Annie passed away a few years after they were married.
Johnny Waters’ wife was formerly Delia Kelly from Ballintubber and they reared a fine family. The Waters family emigrated to England many years ago but visit Castlebar on a regular basis.