On the 23rd of October, 1936, Michael Cahill from Tuam purchased Number 6 Williamsgate Street from Jeremiah O'Donovan who had a sweet and vegetable shop there. The front part of this building was converted into a bakery shop which was supplied by horse drawn trucks from their bakery in Mary Street. It was situated where O'Donnellan and Joyce have their offices today. Their advertisements stated that "Only the best ingredients were used in their bread and confectionery, supplied to all the leading shops, hotels and institutions in the County. See that "G.B.C." is stamped on every loaf to ensure satisfaction. Van deliveries daily. Telephone Galway 94". The business thrived, and during the war it was the only bakery still supplying bread to outlying areas, especially Conemara, thus making the brand name G.B.C. a familiar one in country areas.
The remainder of the Williamsgate St. shop was developed into a popular café and tea rooms. Michael, who was known as 'the boss' married Kathleen Deegan in the late thirties. They had no family. As Michael became less active in the business, Kathleen took over the management. There was a fire in the bakery in 1959, and Kathleen had the place completely renovated installing the most up to date ovens in the plant. Michael died in 1960, but she continued in business, employing her sister Vera McSweeney as manageress. When Kathleen died in 1966, Vera took over the business.
The GBC was a very popular place to eat and be seen, with the ice cream parlour and confectionery shop in the front and the café where one could get teas, coffees and grills at the rear. Many can still remember the taste of sausages and chips, and especially the éclairs there. It was very popular with Conemara people and lots of Irish was spoken there.
In 1969, Vera bought Michael McDonagh's greengrocery next door and incorporated it into the existing business. Unfortunately, in 1970, much of the building was destroyed in the big fire which also decimated Corbetts and The Blackrock Clothing Company next door. Reconstruction followed and they reopened for business in 1972. They expanded the bakery in the 1970's, buying some property from the Shapiro family, but times were changing and they closed down this part of the business in 1983. Since then the Williamsgate Street shop was converted entirely into a coffee shop, and happily, seventy years after opening, it continues to thrive under the direction of Vera's son Gerry.
Just arrived is the latest Journal of the Galway Archeological and historical Society. Volume 58 is a wonderful collection of articles and reviews, in Irish and English on a variety of subjects, such as Galway during the Great war; The Rising of the Moon, Galway 1916; Tribes of central east Galway; Connacht agrarian unrest in fiction from 1800 to 1850, etc. It is profusely illustrated and very highly recommended and is in good bookshops now. Incidentally, the full text of 55 volumes (1900-2003) is available on CD. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details of this remarkable resource.
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