This article first appeared in Anach Cuain 2010.
When Br. Conal asked me for a memorandum for the Anach Cuain book I couldn’t think of an item to write about. I started looking through old photos and trying to resurrect ones that might be suitable. After some searching I found a person I could write about as when I pass on, other generations might like to know where this relation of mine stood in the family tree line.
I write a few memories I have about my uncle Fr.Martin Goaley R.I.P. He was born on the 29th of October 1889 to Denis and Mary Goaley; the eighth member in a family of ten and the fifth son. Altogether there were six sons and four daughters in the Goaley family. He must have shown signs of his vocation when he was boarded in St. Jarlath’s in Tuam. His classmates there included Canon Curley in Claremorris and Canon Gunnigan who was President of St. Jarlath’s in later years. Another classmate of his was Sir John Sheehy, who was killed by bandits in Germany after World War Two. Sir John was an uncle of the well known Kitt family of T.Ds.
Martin Goaley then went to Mount Mellery for his third level education and studies in Theology. A classmate of his there became Abbott of Mount Mellery in later years. This was Dom Camillus Claffey. I think he was a native of Portumna. Fr. Martin’s ordination to the priesthood came as a surprise as it was brought forward a month or six weeks. Conscription was looming at this time and any students who weren’t ordained would be conscripted into the army. He was ordained in St. Patrick’s in Thurles and he used to go there to visit his nephew John Gardiner who taught there until his retirement.
Back at home the relatives were discussing suitable outfits they might wear for the ordination. Shawls were the usual style at the time but some younger ones liked to wear coats and hats instead. So those who hadn’t changed over to the new fashion had a good excuse, or else borrowed from some friend or relative. I suppose those who hadn’t purchased a new outfit had to be satisfied with their Sunday best such as it was! Suddenly Fr. Martin arrived in a Hackney car from Athenry Station and his ordination already over.
As he was ordained for the English Mission, his appointment was to Leeds Diocese. His first place was to St. Mary’s in Bradford as a curate. Bradford was the centre of the Woollen Mills and had a big Catholic population. There was a new parish springing from St. Mary’s called St. Peter’s. So when the division was finalised he was sent there as a curate under its new Parish Priest. His next move was ten or twelve years later to a rising new parish in a coal mining area. There were five coal pits in his parish. The underground became like the makings of a large coal cellar in time! There was no parochial house and only wooden buildings for the church and school. He had to travel from the original Parish House until he got a site for a house. Soon he purchased a farm yard with house and barns etc. The house was made habitable and there were a few acres of land for the church. He turned the barn into a parish hall and another building into a catholic club with a bar licence! So there was a centre now for the Catholic community. The district around was a bigoted Methodist area and so he had to tread carefully. In time he started a new presbytery there and World War Two broke out before it was finished.
He used to have a lot of converts to instruct in his time, mostly to avoid mixed marriages. These were usually individual instructions held in the house in a waiting room used for parish purposes. Just imagine how difficult it would be to hold such meetings with all those scandals. How times have changed. There was also a curate in the house in my time and he used to have his instruction classes just like Fr. Martin. There was somebody there for instruction almost every evening. There was a Methodist church across the road and a Sunday school in front of the proposed new church grounds, so he was in good company. There was also a police station whose Super parked his car in the grounds in one of the church buildings. So he had police protection!
As the church was being built, subsidence from coal pits made the proposed church grounds almost unsafe. He was in his sixties now and the Bishop in his wisdom gave him a choice to change to another parish where there was an existing church, house and schools on one site and with no debt to pay. So he took the chance and said he’d hand over the problem of the coal pit area to a younger man.
He always worried in case he died in England, so he stayed only until his Golden Jubilee. He retired to Annaghdown where he survived to reach his Diamond Jubilee. He was invited to an ordination in Thurles as a guest of honour but he didn’t feel up to it. That was the day Fr. Des Forde was ordained in St. Patrick’s in Thurles in 1978. A year later Fr.Martin died on the 29th June 1979. May he rest in eternal peace.
This article first appeared in Anach Cuain 2010.