You can be reasonably sure that anyone who speaks of Foggy Spelman is a genuine old Galwegian. Those who refer to him as Paschal Spelman are Oranmoreroaders.
Foggy was born in New Road. He worked in Naughton's for some years before teaming up with Dermot Murray to form their own insurance brokerage. In addition to the day job, he had a very distinguished career as a comedian and entertainer, appearing on stage, on radio and on television all over this country, in the U.K. and the U.S.A. He has entertained countless thousands over the years, and has been one of Galway's great Ambassadors.
It all began when he appeared in school plays. Then, in 1948, he joined CHEC Productions (The Columban Hall Entertainments Committee) who were also known as The Crazy Gang. They were Jimmy Walshe, Archie Barnett, Charlie Donoghue and Sonny McLoughlin. They performed regularly, doing variety concerts and revues, mostly for local charities. Between them they had huge experience on stage, and provided the ideal training ground for young Foggy.
Tom "Mossy" Murphy was a son of Guard Murphy's from Newcastle. He worked with the Scottish Provident Insurance Company in Galway for a number of years before moving to Dublin, where he spent the rest of his life until he died in June, 2000. Mossy, who was 6'5", and Foggy, who grew up to be 5'6", were an outstanding comedy duo in Galway in the fifties. They produced their own revue every year, and wrote most of their own material. They played in the Savoy and in the Town Hall and on other stages, but it is The Columban Hall that will always be associated with this pair. They played to packed houses there, and gave a platform to many Galway talents like tenor Ned Joyce; soprano Mary Angela Coyne; illusionist Vinny Lyons; boy soprano Dick Byrne; Pat Margetts who used to play the hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica, which was a series of crystal glasses filled with varying amounts of water. Pat usually played "Home on the Range" on these with his fingertips.
The 1957 revue was titled "Spring Whoopee", and included several sketches based in the Ballydehockey Garda Station, and on the Ballydehockey football team. Everyone has their own memories of these sketches, and many vividly recall an Irish dancing act where Foggy appeared festooned with lids of tin (representing dancing medals), and he and Mossy would 'dance', with Mossy throwing his leg over his partner, and eventually carrying him offstage in his arms.
The rest of the cast in that production included Marie Geraghty, Seamus McFadden, Peggy and Val Carty. The Ladies chorus was made up of Pat Moran, Mary Flynn, Thelma Neilsen, J. Leonard, Mary Molloy, M. Gill, K. Kenny, C. Moran, T. Corless, A. Walsh, U. Callaghan, Betty Conroy, I. Reid, Bernie Ryan, M. Curran & Nora Cahill. The gentlemen of the cast were Terence Cloherty, George Gibbons, Donald White, Sean Cooke, T.J. Tyrrell, Brian Quigley, H. Folan, P. Nicholson, Willie Wallace, Donie Sexton, P. White, N. Barrett and George Herterich.
Our photographs today are 2 publicity shots of Foggy & Mossy being 'arrested' by Sergeant Coughlan and Garda Tom Gilmore respectively, outside Oranmore Garda Barracks, probably for doing a sketch called "Cop On". Mossy and Foggy provided us with many memorable shows of good clean innocent fun, and it is an extraordinary compliment to them that people, fifty years later, still remember their jokes, stories and antics.
Sunday the 15th of May will be National Dawn Chorus Day, co-ordinated by BirdWatch Ireland. BirdWatch Galway is hosting a Dawn Chorus Walk along the River Corrib, meeting in the car park of the NUI, Galway Sports Grounds at Dangan at 5am. All are welcome - and there is no fee.