By Mary Forde (née Goaley), 1925-2018.

This article first appeared in Anach Cuain 2006.

When Fr. Pat Garvey was parish priest in Corrandulla in the forties there was an annual Gymkhana on 29th June which was a holyday of obligation at the time. In 1946 St. Peter and Paul’s Day fell on a Saturday. So between himself and Fr. John D. O’Malley they decided to make a two day event with a Show and a Sale of Work thrown in.

This was to be a fund raiser for the proposed Parochial Hall which would be a start for a Secondary School. At that time, the government were proposing Secondary Schools throughout the country. I think they were to be a form of Technical School. Headford was in its infancy and Athenry was the next base as Coolarne had a Domestic Economy School and Fr. Garvey wanted to have his foot in the door first for Corrandulla. Headford was too near Mayo!

The weekend was very fine and there was a large turn out. The Sale of Work was in the Franciscan College which was then a wooden building. There was a very large display of local handcrafts there: homemade garments of all types both knitting and sewing… cushions, quilts, etc. Unfortunately for that department there didn’t seem to be a lot of sales during the day. In the evening Paddy Hogan from Galway came along (he was an auctioneer married to Sadie Kavanagh from Ardgaineen). He started to auction off the goods outside the College door and they started to sell off like hot cakes. There were very few items left if any; it was unbelieveable. Mrs. Hennelly was in charge of that department.

Miss Lydon was in charge of the catering for the workers – we young ladies weren’t regarded as such! It was only for the men who helped in the field. That event took place in what was then known as “Gavin’s bungalow” – now Albert Lawless’s house. Bungalow was a new word in our vocabulary and the house was a peculiar structure for us at the time with its roof of galvanise, hence the name. In those days there was no electricity, no bottled milk and no sliced pans. The only convenience for the event was the supply of water as the pump was beside them. There was only an open turf fire on a very hot day to boil a very heavy black kettle so to get a cup a tea one had to show they really deserved it. To keep milk that arrived in bottles from all over the parish on a hot summer’s day was an ordeal in itself. I don’t know how they achieved it as I only called in once there during the day and I went back again to the sale of work where it was cooler.

There were some other activities on Sunday and the weekend events wound up in Annaghdown School (the old one) for a dance. It had a large classroom and it was the only ideal place at the time. Fr. O’Malley had all the left-over sandwiches from the day before and he expected us to sell them off. It was a non-runner as you could kick them as far as the pier and back. Batch loaves cut since the day before on a hot summer weekend weren’t very appetising.

Anyway in spite of all the humorous side to it, the event was a success. Sale of work left-overs disappeared on Sunday as well as other bits and pieces. The total takings in all was over £800. It was a lot of money at that time. That covered the outlay for the foundation for the hall. The committee got the cloakroom area up first (now the stage) and ran Sunday night dances with local musicians. These dances were a fund raiser too. When Corrandulla hall was completed it attracted big crowds and caused a lot of small halls around to close. It flourished while the country dance halls lasted. What happened to the secondary school idea? Well it remained an idea only. Ní mar a síltear bítear.

The Great Fund Raiser of 1946

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