One of the most infamous events of the Black and Tan period was the murder of Father Michael Griffin, who was a curate in Saint Joseph's Church in Galway. A man who was supposed to have been an informer went missing, and was presumed to have been killed. Someone told the Black and Tans that the murderer had confessed to Father Griffin. They lured the priest out of his house on Montpelier Terrace, brought him to Lenaboy Castle, where they tortured him, and eventually killed him. His body was dumped in a bog in Barna, where it was discovered a few days later. His funeral was to receive huge international publicity, because of the fact that Fr. Griffin would not break the seal of confession. It was attended by many thousands of people There is a monument to him at the location where they found his body in Barna.
In 1970, on the fiftieth anniversary of his death, a plaque was erected to his memory by the Father Griffins G.A.A. club. It was a well-attended event, with lots of colour. Mass was celebrated by the Bishop, Dr. Michael Browne, in the Cathedral, and then a large body of people paraded to Montpelier Terrace. Included in the group were members of Galway Corporation accompanied by the Sword and Mace, members of Fr. Griffin's G.A.A. club, representatives of the Old I.R.A. together with relatives of Fr. Griffin's. The parade was led by St. Patrick's School Brass Band, and there were large numbers of the general public present also. The plaque was unveiled by the President of the G.A.A., Mr. Pat Fanning, and he was accompanied by the General Secretary, Sean O'Siochain.
Our photograph today (which was kindly given to us by Paddy O'Brien of St. Bridget's Terrace) shows a section of the crowd at the unveiling. Included are several mayors of Galway, Councillors Mary Byrne, Paddy O'Flaherty, Fintan Coogan, Gerry Colgan, Paddy Ryan and Michael Smyth; members of Fr. Griffin's Club include Father Sean Foy, Mick Dolan, Jim Kilroy, Dan O'Neill, Mathew Deane. With the banner you can see 3 All-Ireland winners.Liam Sammon, Martin Newell and Colie McDonagh. In the foreground is Nick Dolan carrying the Mace, and on the right is Club President, Sean Turke. The man we see bottom left in our photograph was a well-known newspaper seller, and also included are Pearse Conneely and Billy Quinn.
Fr.Griffin's G.A.A. club was founded 58 years ago, and happily, two of the founders are still with us, the aforementioned Paddy O'Brien, and Sonny Molloy, who, having once scored five goals in a game, was subsequently known as "Five Goal Molloy".
IIB Bank Galway Archaeological & Historical Society Lecture - Title: The Great Book of Irish Genealogies. By Dr. Nollaig Ó'Muraile, NUI, Galway. On Monday 14th November 2005 at 8.00pm at The Harbour Hotel, The Docks, Galway. Admission is free, visitors welcome.
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