In 1892, John Kirwan bought this premises from a Mr. Nolan, and he opened a butcher shop. Some years later, his daughter, Delia Agnes, married John Whelan, a pharmacist from Shanaglish near Gort. In 1898, they opened a pharmacy here, and lived on the premises. They had eight children�Gay, Ursula, Hilda who was the second girl to qualify as a medical doctor from UCG, Harry who became a dentist, Pauline, Rosie, Johnny and Michael.
John Whelan's business was the second pharmacy to be opened in Galway . He had trained in Greallys of William Street which was the first. The third was Wallace's which was also on William Street.
John Whelan advertised his prescriptions as being compounded with drugs and chemicals of the purest and finest quality available. He manufactured "Whelan's Compound Syrup of Hypophospites, a wonderful nerve tonic and strengthener which will not disagree with the most delicate stomach and never fails to build up the most shattered constitution, for 1/6 a bottle". "For coughs, colds etc., try Whelan's Pectoral Balsam of Honey, an invaluable compound for the relief and cure of all troubles arising from the throat, chest and lungs. Bottles 1s and 2s each". "Whelan's Nutritive Hair Fluid, a most agreeable and beneficial preparation for the hair. Prevents it from falling out. Preserves the skin and keeps the hair soft and glossy. 1/6 a bottle".
John's sons Michael and John both qualified as pharmacists, and worked with their father. In 1946, they divided the business between them and John ran pharmacies in Dominick Street and in Salthill, while Michael ran the shop in Williamsgate Street until he died in 1967. For some years it was managed by John Williams who had worked with the Whelan family for over 40 years, and then in 1972, Michael, a grandson of the founder, qualified as a pharmacist, and took over the business, and still runs the oldest pharmacy in Galway.
The premises escaped with only minor damage during the great fire of 1971, thanks to a portion of the ole Galway wall which was at the rear . It collapsed with the intensity of the heat, but managed to protect the building.
This photograph of Whelan's was taken in June 1963, when President John F. Kennedy visited Galway. He had just made that famous speech in the Square, and was on the way to Salthill, where his helicopter was parked.
The drapery shop on each side of Whelan's was The Blackrock Tailoring Company, which was badly damaged in the fire. It was rebuilt, and then sold to Winstons, and later to Heatons. The it became known as News At Ten, and today trades under the name Monsoon.
We have had a request from MacDara O Cuirrin from Baile an Ghleanna in Spiddal who is working on a documentary on the Spanish Sculptor Jesus Modia, who lived in Spiddal and set up The Stone Art Gallery there. He is looking for personal memories, anecdotes, biographical material, photographs or home movies. Everything will be cared for and returned, and he would be most grateful for any help received He can be reached at 091 504858.
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