Select Gallagher Miscellany

Here are some Gallagher stories and accounts over the years:


The name Gall (-a-) chobhair (the "a" was not used in Gaelic but implied) in the context of foreign helper translates properly as "the foreigner that helped."   "Foreign helper" would translate as Cabhaireoir gallach. Gall meaning foreigner is distinguished from gale meaning local.

In Gaelic the aspirations on consonents are merely accents.  Originally the "c" and "b" in Gallchubhair were aspirated.  It was only in the 1950's and 1960's that it was substituted to make it easy to print the language on typewriters.  The sounds of the consonents vary depending on the individual usage.  Thus "Bh" can be "V" or "W" and there is some regional variation in the pronunciation also.  "Ch" is a special sound to Gaelic and also has slight variations depending on usage and region.

The Gallaghers in Clan Wars

Many Gallaghers accompanied Red Hugh O'Donnell on his rampages through Connacht.  For example in 1494 William O'Gallagher was killed when O'Donnell, king of Tyrconnell, laid siege to Sligo castle.  In 1497, following a battle at the Curlew Mountains in Sligo Eoin and Toirdhealbhach O'Gallchobhair, sons of Tuathal O'Gallchobhair, were taken prisoner by the McDermott's.  They were released the following year after payment of a large ransom.

The same Eoin was the father of Eamonn O'Gallchobhair (died 1534), the first recorded chief of the sept.  In 1522 war broke out between the O'Donnells and the O'Niells.  O'Donnell was supported by four clans, the O'Boyles, O'Dohertys, Sweeneys, and O'Gallaghers.  A mass grave, believed to contain a number of Gallaghers and other dead, lies near Letterkenny in Donegal.

Gallagher Emigrants in the 1860's

Derry to Philadelphia

Hugh & Annie Gallagher, Churchill P.O., 2/1864, Mohongo, 5/1864
Neil Gallagher, Churchlil P.O., 3/1864
Francis Gallagher, Socker, near Letterkenny. 5/1864 + Sarah 12, child 10, child 8, child 4.
Ann Gallagher, Inniskil, Churchill P.O., 3/1865, Lady Emily Peel, 5/1865

Nancy & Hannah Gallagher, Gortin, Churchill P.O., Stadacona, 4/1865

Charles Gallagher, Gartan, Churchill P.O., 4/1865. Mohongo, 8/1865

Sarah Gallagher, Socker, Letterkenny P. O. 6/1866
Fanny Gallaher, Churchill P.O., 5/1867, Village Belle, 7/1867

Nancy Gallagher, Gortin, Churchill P.O., 2/1868 Stadacona, 5/1868

Margaret Gallagher, Churchill P.O., 6/1868, Village Belle, 8/1868

Unity & Ellen Gallagher, Meenawilligan, Churchill P.O., 7/1868, Minnehaha, 9/1868
Mary Gallagher, Drumsallagh, Churchill P.O., 3/1869, Minnehaha, 4/1869 

Plymouth to New Zealand

James Gallagher, 30, ploughman, Hydaspes arrived 30 Sep 1869

Patrick Gallagher, 24, ploughman, Hydaspes arrived 30 Sep 1869

Catherine Gallagher, 22, general servant, Hydaspes arrived 30 Sep 1869
Hugh Gallagher, 28 yrs, ploughman, + wife Mary, 25 yrs & son Edward, 7 weeks, Ramsey arrived 17 Jun 1870

The Tobacco King

Even on his death bed, Tom Gallaher's father knew his son was destined for great things.  "I'm leaving you nothing," he told the schoolboy, ""You have brains, so you don't need money.  You will make plenty."  In the years ahead, the young Gallaher grew into one of the richest men in Ireland.  Known worldwide as the "tobacco king," he went about everything with a hard-headed determination which established his empire.

In 1857, at the age of just 17, he set up in business for himself in his one-room accommodation on Sackville Street in Derry.  Here he ate, slept, and produced his products.  Beginning each morning at 5 am and working through until 10 pm, he would twist tobacco on a hand-spinning machine, package and then deliver it in person to his growing band of regular customers. 

In 1863 he took the decision to move to Belfast to tap a larger market.  The series of buildings ultimately constructed there used an estimated eight million bricks and incorporated many innovative machines.  To supply his tobacco, he puchased plantations in Kentucky and Virginia.

As forthright as his father, he was never overtly popular with either staff or business associates.  One of his habits was to stroll round the factory with a stick in hand with which he would tap any employee he felt wasn't working hard enough.

"There is no royal road to fortune.  You must work.  You must start out with a central fixed idea and never take your mental gaze from it," he often told people.

Gallaghers to Montana

Michael Gallagher was born in 1892 on a small farm in county Donegal.  He came to New York in 1912 and worked as a conductor for a streetcar company.  Then, along with several others who had come from Ireland, he decided to go to Montana where there was work in the copper mines in Butte and land was available for homesteading in the Flathead Valley.

Farming was the thing they were most interested in and they could work in the mines in the winter for money to use to improve the farmland.  Michael bought some acreage around Charlo and also homesteaded land bordering that which he had bought.  Many Irish families had settled in that valley, including a brother Francis.

Helen Loretta Gilruth became Michael's wife in 1918 and they raised a family of four boys and eight girls.  In the early 1940's the family sold the farm and moved to Butte where his first cousin James and Mary Loftus Gallagher were living.  Near the end of the war they went to Seattle where they lived until the end of their lives several years later.  All the remaining members of the Gallagher family still live in Washington state.

Dave Gallaher, All Black Captain

Dave Gallaher was the first captain of New Zealand's All Black rugby team, then called the "Originals," during their tour of England in 1905.  He was killed on the Western front at Passchendaele in 1917.

He is much revered in New Zealand rugby, as the following poetic tribute suggests:

"Through the mists of time, a figure stands tall,
An All Black legend from Donegal,
He played with power, poise and pace,
An iron man with an honest face,

Smart as a fox, he soon rose to fame,
A soldier’s instinct, in a magnificent game,
Hard as nails, strong and fast,
A superhuman with an unlikely past,

The name of Gallaher, still rings aloud,
A century on from the ‘Original’ crowd,
Dave was a hero, a leader of men,
His men would follow again and again,

A family man respected by all,
A tragic loss with an heroic fall,
A Nation inspired, history made,
An Irish Kiwi in Belgium laid,

One hundred years later, his presence still felt,
A child inspired wears a Tag Rugby belt,
His gift to Rugby is still very clear,
Ireland’s gift to New Zealand still held so dear."

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