The new Galway Tribal Diaspora Project is gathering tales from native Galwegians who left Ireland to start a new life abroad. This is Patrick J. Conneely, in Massachusetts, USA's story.
Born beside the docks in Galway City, Patrick’s family was steeped in a maritime tradition and the sea has shaped his entire life. He achieved local notoriety at Long Walk when he unintentionally burned his house to the ground at just four years of age before his family moved across the River Corrib to the Claddagh.
He doesn’t view his West of Ireland childhood through rose-tinted glasses, as he felt his family were treated as outsiders in the close-knit seaside community. Patrick was also badly beaten in school when a classmate made him laugh after he was told to bless himself in the Irish language.
“School also could be harsh and to my dying day I will never forget or forgive the brutal treatment of my fellow pupils at the Patrician School on Lombard Street,” he says.
Patrick loved the sea, however, and began working on Galway trawlers. He became an accomplished mariner at a very young age and met his wife, Winnie, at an amusement arcade during the Galway Races. They married in the US in 1954 and had five children, four boys, and a girl. He joined the merchant navy and traveled the world.
Patrick has a passion for poetry. He wrote a poem for Winnie before she died in 1996 and he subsequently married his second wife, Evelyn Crowe, after he also wrote her a poem to deal with the loss of a loved one.
“My days are now spent working with a labor of love of on my wonderful daughter’s sports fishing vessel, getting it ready for the season to come, writing more poems and enjoying recitations for various groups. I hope in a couple of years to visit my hometown of Galway – even the salmon return to their place of birth,” he says.
You can read more stories from the Galway Tribal Diaspora Project here:
The entire Galway Tribal Diaspora Project can be viewed online at galwaytribe.com. If you have a friend or family member who would be interested in taking part, you can email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the online application form at www.galwaytribe.com.