Old Galway

Browne's Post Office
 

20th October 2005


Mrs. Eibhlin Browne (née Keane) was a Dublin girl who was steeped in politics, and very involved with the Abbey Theatre in its founding years. She came to Galway in the early years of the last century, and started a tea rooms in No. 26, Dominick Street. It was called An Stad. A few years after establishing the tea rooms, Eibhlin became the Post Office mistress, and her tea rooms became a wonderful shop, where she sold sweets from big jars, and biscuits from large tins. You made your selection, and paid for the goods by weight. She also stocked fresh fruit.

She was, as stated, politically minded, and in the years leading up to Independence she had many well known people visiting, among them Liam Mellowes. The name over the door changed to E. Brun, and there was lots of Irish spoken there. In the 1930's, a speciality of the shop was home made ice cream, sold in either cones or sliders. The boiling of the ice cream had to be watched very carefully, as it could burn easily. There was invariably a beautiful smell issuing from the shop. Unfortunately, the scarcity of sugar during the second World war put an end to this enterprise.

The Post Office was in at the back of the shop, and was always a place of welcome and good cheer. It had its busy times with queues on Children's Allowance days, or old age pension days. Lydon's Woolen Mills across the street were important customers, as they posted lots of parcels to America every Summer. Eibhlin Brun was Post Office Mistress for a remarkable 62 years, and was properly honoured for her contribution. She died on December 1st, 1969, aged 93 years. The shop closed but the Post Office continued in the capable hands of her niece, Phil Coyne. Bea Burke from Palmyra Park also worked there. When Phil died in 1991, the Government closed down the Post Office. It had originally opened on February 15th, 1853.

Today's photograph (which was kindly sent to us by Aoife O'Tierney from Templeogue in Dublin) was originally taken in September 1960, and shows the green marble façade, with the beautiful old Irish script on the Post Office sign, and the name over the door. Notice the trays of eggs in the window. The shop to the right was Walsh's Chemist, while that on the left was O'Toole's Newsagents. It was one of the very early morning shops where you could get your paper. It was run by Bobby and Mary O'Toole, and later by their daughter Olga. They distributed newspapers to shops all over the city, and also to the newspaper boys who sold papers outside the various churches on Sunday. These fellows could be seen trooping back to Dominick Street after 12 Mass, with their unsold papers, and counting out their money as they handed it over to Mrs. O'Toole.


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