to - Brady`s Butchers


The Brady Family of Athenry, Co. Galway:

A Commercial Impact in the Early Twentieth Century.

Edward Brady

M.A. in Irish Studies

National University of Ireland, Galway 2012

Supervisors: Dr. Tony Varley

Dr. Aidan Kane


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 3

Acknowledgements 4

Abstract 5

Introduction 6

Chapter 1: Family 9

Chapter 2: Diversity 19

Chapter 3: Opportunity 37

Chapter 4: Constraints 48

Conclusion 57

Bibliography 59


List of Illustrations

Fig. 1

Family Tree 10

Fig. 2

Paper Bag from Grocery of Mary Brady (circa 1905) 16

Fig. 3

Irish Land Commission Purchase Certificate (1910) 17

Fig. 4

Michael Brady (1930) 18

Fig. 5

Live Stock Exporters and Traders’ Association Membership 1930 30


Land Registry Document: 102 Acres (Moanbaun) 31

Fig. 7

Invoice from Joseph Mooney, Dublin (1931) 32


Indenture of Roger Brady (Tailor Apprenticeship) 1911 33

Fig. 9

Advertising Invoice (The Redemptorist Record) 1939 34

Fig. 10

Legal Letter (Confirmation of Public House Purchase) 1926 35

Fig. 11

Page from Public House Cash Book 1930 36

Fig. 12

Purchase of 100 Apex (Trinidad) Oilfield Shares 1937 44

Fig. 13

Imperial Tobacco Company (Bonus Certificate) 1930 45

Fig. 14

Receipt from Andrew Dunne 1936 46

Fig. 15

Sale of Site to Michael Cronnelly 1937 47

Fig. 16

Stock Market Losses 1929 – 1930 53

Fig. 17

Michael Brady: List of Creditors 1934 54

Fig. 18

Michael Brady: List of Assets 1934 55

Fig. 19

Land Transfer to Richard Brady 1929 56



Researching and detailing the history of the Brady family has been an overwhelmingly rewarding and exciting experience over the last number of years. However much of the credit for this study must be given to Mattie Brady whose infectious enthusiasm for local and family history has now been captured in print. His untimely passing on January 12 th

2011 has been a great loss to us all. The detailed knowledge he possessed and shared has been the inspiration behind the undertaking of this project.

I also wish to thank my family and relations for their continued guidance, patience, knowledge and support over the course of study. Many family members, aunts and cousins have also aided in the accuracy of information associated with this project. To them I am forever thankful.

Finally I would like to thank my supervisors Dr. Tony Varley and Dr. Aidan Kane for their patience and guidance over the last number of months. Their direction has been critical to the formation of the following chapters.



This thesis explores and documents a short period in the business history of the Brady family of Athenry, Co. Galway. The period in question, the early twentieth century, through the inter war period, was a time of significant change and upheaval in Ireland. It was during this time that the Brady family, concentrating their collective efforts on the growth of their business’ rather than political contentions that a significant contribution to commercial activity was made in the west of Ireland town. This commercial influence soon spread to other parts of

Ireland and the British Empire as the archive suggests.

This study represents the commercial rise of the Brady family who began trading in the early years of the twentieth century. Diversification is evident at different stages of development which can be seen through the losses suffered during the Wall Street Crash of October 1929 and the months that followed.

Further devastation and arguably an even more destructive influence on commercial success can be attributed to the events of the Economic War (1932 – 1938).



According to Kieran Kennedy, Thomas Giblin and Deirdre Mc Hugh


“The new Irish state in

1922 consisted of a

small, late-industrialising, peripheral

economy with a long-standing

labour surplus.

Each of these features imposed its own constraints and opportunities. A small economy, unless it is to operate at a very low living standard, is inevitably going to depend greatly on international trade”. It appears that those who had continued to trade with the

United Kingdom in the years following partition and the birth of the Free State had continued to flourish although agricultural export prices in particular had reached their peak by 1920.

Nevertheless, economic opportunities were still available in the midst of a declining Irish population, particularly in the export sector with a growing British population. David



has estimated that a steady outflow of population from Galway, among other counties between 1851 and 1911 was constantly in excess of 35 %. Most scholars now agree that by 1911 the total Irish population had fallen to 4.4 million. However, while the Irish population continued to decline the number of the national herd had almost doubled to in excess of 5 million. This significant increase can be in part attributed to war time demand for

Irish produce in the United Kingdom. This trend continued to a large extent after the war and by the mid-1920s the free trade policy pursued by the Cumann na Gael government was considered by many to have been a huge success.

However, much of the scholarship surrounding the early years of the twentieth century and the beginnings of the Irish Free State have tended to concentrate on the larger issues of national importance. Tomás Kenny


has pointed out that, “The period 1910-23 in Ireland was one of dramatic change; change of governments, of states, of political attitudes and in day-today life. This was not something that occurred in isolation, but was rather contextualized within the wider land resettlement that had been accelerating from the first land act of 1870 to the revolutionary years. It is unmatched as a turbulent period in national history and at a local level in Co. Galway”. Therefore it is not surprising that local business history among other


Kennedy, Kieran A., Giblin, Thomas and Mc Hugh Deirdre.

The Economic Development of Ireland in the

Twentieth Century

(London,Routledge) 1988, p130


Fitzpatrick, David.

Ireland Since 1870

in Foster, R. F. (ed)

The Oxford History of Ireland

(New York, Oxford

University Press Inc.) 1989, p177


Kenny, Tomás.

Galway: politics and society, 1910-23

(Dublin, Four Courts Press) 2011, p7


topics have been largely neglected by the historians of this period. Kevin Whelan


in a 1988 article was equally as critical suggesting that “we have very few studies of the relationship between towns and their hinterlands, and only a handful of their internal dynamics”.

In terms of Irish investment capital, J. J. Lee


has pointed out that Irish capital had always found a safe place to go and that the Irish psyche ensured that there was very little risk involved suggesting, “The reluctance to invest was not due to lack of savings – Ireland saved far more capital than she invested at home, but this capital was rarely risk capital. It only slowly found its way into even joint stock companies, as the experience of the banks and the railways clearly shows, until English money came in first and bore the initial risk”. However in spite of this overgeneralization and perceived reluctance to invest, this study intends to prove the commercial aptitude of the Brady family in Athenry, Co. Galway during this time.

In a family that shows no trace of emigration during this time it will be argued that through innovation, diversification, modernization and an entrepreneurial spirit this family created and sustained various business interests during these aforementioned times of unprecedented turmoil in Irish history while exerting a significant impact on commercial activity in Co.

Galway and beyond. Alvin So


has pointed out that “modernization researchers tend to anchor their discussions at a highly general and abstract level. Since their aim is to explain general patterns, universal trends and common prospects for Third World development, they do not want to be preoccupied with unique cases and historically specific events”. In this case, however, with the aid of the family business archive, it will be shown that throughout the first third of the twentieth century and despite the turbulent economic and political circumstances both within the country and on the world stage, economic opportunities had always been present but rarely seized upon by Irish citizens. L. M. Cullen


has argued that

Ireland was not held back or underdeveloped due to lack of capital or education, stating in fact that “Poor entrepreneurship may have been at fault, and the success of individual business and the industrialisation of the north-east may confirm this”.


Whelan, Kevin.

Town and Village in Ireland: A socio-cultural perspective

in Barry, Kevin, Dunne, Tom, Kearney,

Richard and Longley, Edna (eds)

The Irish Review

(Cork University Press) No. 5 Autumn 1988, p34


Lee, J. J.

Capital in the Irish Economy,

in Cullen L. M. (ed)

The Formation of the Irish Economy, (Cork, The

Mercier Press) 1976, p54


So, Alvin Y.

Social Change and Development: Modernization, Dependency and World System Theories

(London, Sage Publications) 1990, p35


Cullen, L. M.

Irish Economic History: Fact and Myth

in Cullen, L. M. (ed)

The Formation of the Irish Economy

(Cork, The Mercier Press) 1976, p123


Through this case study it will be proven that the ability to adapt to market conditions, to change focus in times of economic difficulty and the willingness to speculate while having a strong family support base and work ethic were the essential ingredients in sustaining a commercial impact throughout the period in question despite its uncertain nature. The aforementioned political events concerning land redistribution and independence have attracted much attention from scholars to date. However the often neglected Wall Street

Crash and the Economic War will be explored to some degree here albeit with the aid of the

Brady family archive.

The thesis now being presented seeks to evaluate the impact of an entrepreneurial family based on its commercial activity through primary documentary evidence from this period.

The impact upon the locality appears significant amid the turbulent events already described.

It is also hoped that this study will make a substantial contribution to our understanding of the daily economic activity of a business family in a small west of Ireland town and how diversification often became a necessary tool in order to preserve the ability to impact upon society amid changing political and economic circumstances.


Chapter 1


As already mentioned in the introduction, Ireland in the early twentieth century had lost and continued to lose a considerable portion of its most productive citizens. However, the Brady family had avoided this fate throughout the period in question while on the way to economic prosperity. This prosperity, it will be argued here had a huge impact on the commercial life not only in a small town in the west of Ireland but one that had an impact on business at a national and international level. The family first appears in Athenry in the late nineteenth century through the marriage of Edward Brady to Mary Mahon.

Edward Brady (1852-1941) was the first of the Brady family to appear in the locality and was employed by The Great Western Railway. Edward was originally from Ballymakane in Co.

Meath who while employed in Athenry, married a local girl, Mary Mahon and remained in the town until his death in 1941 leaving five surviving sons. Interestingly, an unusual set of circumstances chronicled in the family archive reveal the subtle differences between the family census returns for the years 1901 and 1911. In 1901 Edward is described as a

“Railway Signalman” on the census form. However, his position in 1911 has changed to

“Farmer”. It is at this point that deeper investigation into Irish family life, economics and trade is warranted based on this striking evidence. One must ask why he changed his occupation at this time while in his mid-fifties. Was it due to economic prosperity and the prospect of further success in farming that his position changed? Was it due to the success of his wife Mary in her grocery shop that afforded Edward Brady the chance to embark on a new career? There are many questions to be answered regarding the fortunes of a family business at this time. Historians such as J.J. Lee, Kieran Kennedy and Gearóid O’Tuathaigh have already traced the rise in agricultural export prices at this time. Therefore does the answer to this question regarding the rise to prominence of the Brady family as shopkeepers, farmers, dealers and exporters during the first quarter of the twentieth century lie in the rise in agricultural prices in the years surrounding World War I?

Various historians have written on the time period in question. Samuel Clark and James

Donnelly have written extensively on local and national politics, agrarian uprisings, the land question and other related issues. Alvin So has covered the question of the entrepreneurial family in the capitalistic rise of Hong Kong. Joe Lee in much of his early work has dealt with

Irish economic history while other historians, economists and political scientists have


weighed in analysing and dissecting data in different ways, all of these supporting and challenging our understanding of life in Irish society during the early years of the twentieth century. However, rarely does an archive become available, so rich in such material as land purchase documents, invoices, shop diaries, bank receipts, tax receipts, pub accounts, railway freight documents and various other evidence all pointing to the fact that both directly and indirectly one family run business had a positive impact and effect on commercial life in the town and hinterland by which it was surrounded. Therefore this study may be a rare glimpse at social history through a microeconomic lens spanning the first third of the twentieth century considering the economics of pre and post - independence. Many areas of Irish life from social, economic, business and historic can be clearly traced through this family archive, leaving the reader in no doubt as to the profound impact this family had on the wider community in the early twentieth century.

Fig.1 Family Tree:

Roger Mahon (1800-1885) + Bridget Mahon (1821-1901)

John Mahon (1848- ?) Michael Mahon (1852- ?)

Mary Mahon (1851-1926) + Edward Brady (1852-1941)

John Brady Richard Brady Michael Brady Roger Brady Edward Brady

(1881-1966) (1884-1965) (1886-1933) (1888-1945) (1891-1983)

The above family tree paints a clearer picture of the major players in this family’s fortunes.

Roger Mahon, born in 1800 first appears on Chapel Lane in Athenry in 1857. The Brady


family archive holds an indenture from this year which states: “This Indenture made the fourth day of September in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and fifty seven, between William Vessey Fitzgerald Hickman of Athenry, Solicitor, Esq, of the one part and Roger Mahon of Athenry of the other part”. Through this indenture, Roger Mahon secured a lease at the Chapel Lane address at an annual agreed rent of £2 8s. A later document, “dated 29 th

September 1873, from W.V.F. Hickman to Roger Mahon, for the term of 31 years from 29 th

September, 1873”. By 1876 the annual rent at Chapel Lane had increased to £3. However on February 14 th

1876, the Landed Estates Court issued a notice to all interested and concerned parties stating, “notice is also given to the Owners and Occupiers of adjoining premises that I have fixed Thursday, 20 th

day of April, 1876, at my Chamber,

Landed Estate Court, Inns’ Quay, for the settlement of the Rental of the said premises, when any person interested is at liberty to attend”. Clearly, Roger Mahon had intended putting down roots at his new Athenry address and secured this and another adjacent property, aided in no small part by the breaking up the said estate of William Vessey Fitzgerald Hickman.

Roger Mahon, on his death in 1885 willed his estate to his wife Bridget Mahon. This estate according to the archive was then valued at £238. In turn, Bridget Mahon, who died on 13 th

May 1901 in her last will dated 23 rd

January 1899, willed the family home to her daughter

Mary and “my other house to my trustees to hold in trust for my son Michael Mahon should he return from Australia”. However, no other reference is made to either son, John or Michael

Mahon. Therefore, daughter Mary Mahon and her husband Edward Brady became sole heirs to these premises in the town of Athenry on the death of Bridget Mahon in 1901. With two premises on Chapel Lane in the busy market town of Athenry, family fortunes altered rapidly.

The aforementioned 1901 census records Edward Brady a 49 year old “Railway Signalman” and his wife, Mary Brady a 50 year old “House Keeper”. The striking difference by 1911 tells us that Edward Brady had now become a “Farmer” and his wife Mary had become a

“Grocer”. It is quite understandable that Mary Brady would become a grocer at this time particularly as she had now acquired the premises to do so. However, what becomes more interesting in the study of this family is the change of occupation of Edward Brady at this time. It is at this point one begins to wonder how favourable economic conditions were for those involved in agriculture at this time. Was the trade in agricultural produce the real motor of Irish commercial success from this time to the Economic War? This and other questions will be discussed in greater detail in the following chapters.


On returning to the evidence presented in the 1911 census, John Brady, the thirty year old eldest son of Edward and Mary Brady is described as an “Assistant to Grocery”. Richard

Brady, the second son is also by 1911 an “Assistant to Grocery”. Third son, Michael is described as a “Saddler” while fourth son, Roger was now twenty two years old and a “Tailor

Apprentice”. Interestingly, only the youngest son, Edward, now twenty years old is described as a “Farmers Son”. This information raises serious questions regarding the source of economic prosperity gained by the Brady family at this time as it appears that agricultural prices were not yet relevant to family fortunes. By 1910 the family had already secured the purchase of various parcels of farmland in the Athenry area which was assisted by The Irish

Land Commission and the Irish Land Act of 1903. Between 1908 and the end of 1910 youngest son Edward Brady had procured three separate small parcels of land in the town.

Two of these parcels were purchased from the Lambert estate costing £70 and £8 and at an interest rate of 3 ½ %. The third piece of land purchased was from the Kinneen estate at

Caheroyan at a cost of £31, also at 3 ½%. It is clear therefore that the family began its life in

Athenry as shopkeepers and that the family unit itself was primarily responsible for its success and longevity.

This chapter describes and argues that it was the family unit itself, working closely together and depending on each other that facilitated the rapid improvement in the family’s fortunes at the start up stage. In a similar study in Hong Kong by Wong, Alvin So


points out the reasons why nepotism is preferred in family firms. Here he suggests that, “There exists a much stronger measure of trust among


(family) members than among unrelated business partners; consensus is easier to attain; the need for mutual accountability is reduced. These factors enable family firms to be more adaptable in their operations. They can make quick decisions during rapidly changing circumstances and maintain greater secrecy by committing less to written records. As a result, they are particularly well-suited to survive and flourish in situations where a high level of risk is involved”. The family archive suggests that quite a lot of risk was indeed involved, particularly in the early stages of development as the family consisted of seven adults all working together in various aspects of a family business.

Therefore, in times of economic slowdown or depression all of the family would suffer losses together. However, it is at times like this one must look further and diversify. The Brady


So, Alvin, Y.

Social Change and Development: Modernization, Dependency, and World-System Theories,

(London, Sage Publications Ltd.) 1990, p64


family clearly did diversify and diversified quite quickly while pooling their resources together.

Evidently, the family was working together by 1911. It also appears that education played an integral part in the ability of this family to adapt quickly to economic conditions, exploit gaps in the market and seize opportunities. John Brady (1881-1966) in 1911 was described by the census as “Assistant to Grocery”. However, in reality John appears to have been the motor that drove the business to success. John Brady was educated at St. Patricks College

Maynooth. According to college records he first enrolled on September 19 th

1900 to study for

“the Diocese of Tuam”. However a fire at the college in 1940 destroyed any other records. It is known that John Brady studied at the college until he was within a few months of ordination. Therefore one can conclude that his level of education was to be of particular benefit to the family in the following years and decades of business development. He was a highly respected individual in the community and helped organize the running of the family enterprise and aided other locals in their business and legal dealings. His younger brother

Richard, who was also described by the 1911 census as an “Assistant to Grocery” was later employed by the ever expanding business as a collector and purchaser of eggs from fairs and farms throughout County Galway. These eggs were sold at the family grocery shop at first and later this endeavour expanded into an export trade as the family had seen a gap in the market and had procured its own market in England for this produce, much of which was sent to Carlisle and Liverpool for re-distribution. Michael Brady in 1911 was described as a

“Saddler” but in the following years Michael would become the public face of the export trade, spending much of his time in Dublin where he sold cattle and sheep at fairs there.

Youngest brother Edward who by now had been purchasing lands in the Athenry area also played an integral part in this family run operation. Described by many as a “stockman” he purchased cattle and sheep at fairs and from farmers in the locality then sending these animals by rail to be received by Michael in Dublin where they were prepared for sale or for the export market. The only brother not to have any direct contact with this element of the family business was Roger. Roger at this time was described as a “Tailor Apprentice”. This break from the family enterprise was due to a childhood accident that left Roger stooped after breaking his back when falling from the signal box where his father had previously been employed as a “Railway Signalman”. However Roger later went on to own his own tailor business on one of the family premises located at Chapel Lane in Athenry. Obviously, the


family had seen an opportunity in this field and Roger was to have his own impact on life in the locality and in national economics until his untimely death in 1945.

The prosperity in the early years of the twentieth century within the Brady family which fed into the local and national economy is in stark contrast to much of the story surrounding the manufacturing that was favoured, discussed and promoted at government level. Cormac Ó



in his review of Andy Bielenberg’s book

Ireland and the Industrial Revolution: the

Impact of the Industrial Revolution on the Irish Industry,

comments that “only those closely linked with agricultural raw materials managed to survive”. Ó Gráda further questions the reasons for such economic decline in many industries during this time while the focus shifted to the industrial centres of Britain. Why, he asks, “despite evidence for an expansion in employment and productivity in Irish manufacturing for much of the nineteenth century, did manufacturing’s share in total employment fail to even hold its own? Why, as a result, did population plummet from almost one half of Britain’s in 1800 to one-tenth in 1914?”


These questions and ideas help focus our thoughts on the small town of Athenry in the west of

Ireland. At this time with the national population in rapid decline and industrial based unemployment on the rise one might ask how a small family business was to have any impact on its hinterland in terms of commercial activity in the area, particularly as many families and communities were now in a battle for mere survival. The records clearly show that due to its unity, diversity, adaptability and knowledge of the marketplace this family had a profoundly positive impact on commercial life in the town of Athenry during the early years of the twentieth century while bringing this small town on the periphery of Europe much closer to the centre of the Empire that it served.

Kieran Kennedy, Thomas Giblin and Deirdre Mc Hugh


have pointed out that “Given developments in agriculture were exacerbating the problem of rural surplus labour, the question arises as to why more of this was not absorbed into industry through internal migration. Despite the great rural exodus, however, the population of Ireland in the early

1920s remained largely a rural one with only one third of the people living in towns. Why did

Ireland not succeed in developing a larger industrial base? It may be pointed out, of course, that if Ireland is viewed not as a separate country, but merely as a region within the United


Ó Gráda, Cormac.

Did Ireland ‘under’- industrialise

? in

Irish Economic and Social History,

Volume XXXVII, p.117



Ibid p.118

Kennedy, Kieran A. , Giblin, Thomas & Mc Hugh, Deirdre.

The Economic Development of Ireland in the

Twentieth Century

(New York, Routledge) 1988, p. 7 -8


Kingdom – as it was in fact up to 1921 – then the failure to develop a stronger industrial base appears less unusual”. Given the highly contested and unpredictable nature of the industrial sector in Ireland at this point one might ask why further developments were not pursued in agricultural output outside of the reactionary quality control measures adopted after World

War I? Why, if agricultural output was the main area of expertise in Ireland did government wish to enter an economic conflict with its largest market? Why, if the only known raw material that Ireland possessed at the time was in fact the land itself, did government not decide to invest in the agricultural industry? These are questions that have been asked and debated for many years and still remain contested. The following chapters will provide evidence of the fact that a vibrant market existed in Ireland and in the United Kingdom at the dawn of the twentieth century based upon archival evidence. However, evidence also suggests that these markets were still there to be exploited despite crippling losses suffered during the Wall Street Crash in 1929. The events of the Economic War that began in 1932 proved to be a much greater burden to the agricultural export sector and one which would eventually grind this lucrative business almost to a complete and unsalvageable halt.





Chapter 2


According to Theotonio Dos Santos, industrial development in underdeveloped countries carries with it many hopes and aspirations but in reality bears many limitations and overdependence on external factors to survive. Alvin So,


while investigating the theories of

Dos Santos has concluded that “According to Dos Santos, there are fundamental structural limitations placed on the industrial development of underdeveloped economies. First, industrial development is now dependent on the existence of an export sector. Only the export sector can bring in the needed foreign currency for the purchase of advanced machinery by the industrial sector. In order to preserve its traditional export sector, an underdeveloped nation must maintain the pre-existing relation between production and the maintenance of power by the traditional decadent oligarchy. In addition, since the export sector (especially the marketing network) is usually controlled by foreign capital, it signifies political dependence on foreign interests too”. Therefore overdependence on one sector of the economy such as industrial output can lead to major commercial difficulties at a later stage particularly as markets contract. In the case of the Brady family business interests, the diversity shown limited its susceptibility to such difficulties. It appears that all players in the success of the family enterprise worked together for the greater good of the family business while in turn exerting their influence on the fortunes of the community at large.

As already mentioned, the rise to prominence of the Brady family during the 1900’s began in the grocery shop of Mary Brady in the years before 1911. Also by this time, youngest son

Edward had followed in the footsteps of his father, also called Edward and embarked on a career in farming while purchasing lands in the locality needed to graze his expanding flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. The aforementioned change in occupation from railway signalman to farmer by Edward Brady at this time may have been well timed or a stroke of luck. In any event this signalled the beginnings of the family’s trend towards diversification.

Diversification towards farming at this particular time of course was not without its benefits.

However, further diversification would be needed in order to gain a market share in the rapidly expanding and lucrative business of cattle and sheep export. Based on the study by


So, Alvin, Y.

Social Change and Development: Modernization, Dependency, and World System Theories

(London, Sage Publications Ltd.) 1990, p100


Thomas Barrington entitled

A Review of Irish agricultural prices,

David Jones


has concluded that “prices were particularly buoyant from 1865 to 1883 and again between 1900 and 1920”. Using 100 as the base line for store cattle in the year 1845 the numbers had increased more than two-fold by 1900. Between 1911 and 1915 two to three year old store cattle had risen to 292 and by 1920 had further risen to 559. Therefore the decision by

Edward Brady to engage in farming at this time was very well timed due to the significant rise in the price obtained for young cattle by 1920. Running in conjunction with this rise in agricultural prices was a large increase in exports. David Jones


has reported that, “Between the late 1840’s and the outbreak of the first world war exports rose more than fourfold. By the first decade of the twentieth century nearly 25 percent of the national herd was shipped to

Britain annually”. The Brady family quickly moved from small farmers and grocers into the area of exports in an attempt to gain a portion of this market. Before long the benefits were to be seen for the Brady family and the local farmers of the area. Smaller local farmers sold their cattle, sheep and eggs to the Brady brothers. This system almost guaranteed the small farmer or producer a market for his product particularly as he may not have had the knowhow or the ability to market that product without this valuable service. The Brady family invariably sent their produce by rail to Dublin where it would be sold or exported. After a few years of trading in this manner the Brady’s began purchasing more land and more stock from local farmers. This guaranteed market afforded the farmers extra cash to expand their own enterprises while the Brady family expanded by becoming members of the Irish Live Stock

Exporters and Traders Association Ltd. This membership came at a premium of £1 per annum. However, in order to maintain and grow this portion of the family enterprise more land was required for the grazing of cattle and sheep before being sent to Dublin by rail.

Evidence suggests that small parcels of land were being purchased and rented by 1908.

During the next quarter of a century the Brady brothers purchased two farms at Moanbaun,

Athenry, one consisting of 102 acres purchased for £900, and another containing 45 acres adjoining this farm. A further 15 acres was purchased for £1100 adjacent to the Athenry railway station and 151 acres at Moyode outside the town. Only 1 acre was granted to the family through the Land Commission which was located at Caheroyan on the outskirts of the town. In addition to the various land purchases, many other tracts of land were rented for the purposes of sheep and cattle grazing. Land at Raheen containing about 25 acres was grazed in


Jones, David, S.

The Cleavage between Graziers and Peasants in the Land Struggle, 1890-1910

in Clark,

Samuel and Donnelly, James, S, Jr. eds.

Irish Peasants: Violence & Political Unrest 1780-1914


University Press) 1983, p376


Ibid p.376


addition to a further 10 acres just across the road at Ard Aoibhinn. In addition to these lands the farm owned by the Kindergan family at Ballydavid was also grazed for a number of years which contained about 50 acres. Therefore, such evidence suggests that by the outbreak of the

Economic War the Brady family had been grazing in the region of 400 acres of land in the

Athenry area alone. Local knowledge suggests that various tracts of land were also being rented in Co. Meath where cattle were often sent for “finishing” before being exported. The close connection maintained with Co. Meath, the home of Edward Brady (1852 – 1941) was an integral part of the business and remained so in the decades following the Economic War but due to the events surrounding the Economic War the family was forced to diversify away from cattle export and from this time forward concentrated on sheep dealing throughout the country, as west of Ireland agents for the Castles family of Athboy in Co. Meath.

Arensberg and Kimball


add further substance to this argument, telling us that as late as

“1930 the majority of all the agricultural produce of the Free State was exported…….81 per cent of the cattle and sheep production was exported”. By this time the Brady family had become strong players in the export trade. Evidence suggests that between August 11 th


September 9 th

1931, the Brady brothers sent 858 sheep to the grazing lands of Joseph

Mooney at Cabra, Co. Dublin in preparation for sale at the Smithfield fair in Dublin. In many cases these sheep were purchased for export. The total invoiced to the Brady brothers for this service was £8 9s 6d. Therefore it was not only the local farmers who profited from the entrepreneurial spirit of the Brady family. Those like Joseph Mooney were also positively impacted upon by the commercial spirit of the Brady family. The impact the family had on the livelihood of Joseph Mooney seems quite significant as this arrangement usually consisted of a business engagement generally lasting about six weeks annually. The business relationship continued for some years. The following year, 1932, at the same time of year the

Brady brothers were invoiced by Joseph Mooney for £17 4s 7d for the keeping of 843 sheep between August and October. In 1933 a total of 425 sheep spent between one and five nights at the grazing lands of Joseph Mooney between August 17 th

and September 29 th

. The total invoiced was £5 11s 6d. The significant decrease in numbers cited for the year 1933 relates to the death of Eileen Lynch, wife of Michael Brady on Christmas Eve 1932. The couple had been married in December 1926 and their only daughter Mary Virginia was born in 1931 and was little more than one year old when her mother died. These events proved a heavy burden for Michael to carry and reports suggest that he never recovered fully from her death and


Arensberg, C.M. and Kimball, S.T.

Family and Community in Ireland,

(Ennis, Clasp Press) 2001p.18 -19


retreated from the business to look after his daughter. After complaining of feeling unwell at his pub on North Gate Street the following year he went back to his place of birth on Chapel

Lane still occupied by his family to escape the noise and the bustle of the bar. There, he went to bed in an attempt to sleep off his illness but he too died quite unexpectedly on the night of

November 13 th

1933 leaving orphaned his daughter at only two years old. In terms of the economic impact of the Brady family at this time, the death of Michael can only be described as a seismic event as the export of livestock eventually died with him, which happened to coincide with the beginning of the Economic War.

This entrepreneurial spirit of diversification is possibly most visible however, in the investment made by Edward Brady in his injured son Roger. As already mentioned, a serious injury left Roger Brady semi crippled after falling from the signal box at Athenry railway station where his father had worked. Therefore Roger was rendered no longer able bodied and unfit for a place in the family business where long hours and hard work were always expected. However, rather than being cast aside, Edward Brady arranged a tailor apprenticeship for his son ensuring that he would be in a position to make a living for himself from that point onwards. The original indenture states that “Roger Brady of Athenry in the county of Galway, youth, of his own free will and accord, and with the consent of his father

Edward Brady doth put himself Apprentice to Martin Mc Donogh of Eyre Square Galway,

Tailor to learn his art, and with him (after the manner of an Apprentice,) to dwell and serve from the first day of February 1911 until the full end and term of three years”. In terms of economic benefit it is stated that “The said Edward Brady paying to the said Martin Mc

Donogh the sum of thirty pounds as a fee for said apprenticeship”. However the later benefits for the wider community were seen in the following years when on completion of his apprenticeship Roger opened his own tailor business on the family premises in Athenry.

Thoms Directory

for the year 1931 suggests that there were no tailors operating in Athenry at this time. However, four other “Drapers” were present and doing business in the town. Roger, at a later stage trained other young tailors in the art while purchasing goods from all over

Ireland and England. Suppliers such as Martin Mahony & Bros. Ltd. Camden Quay, Cork,

Magee & Company, Ltd, Donegal and Kay & Lee Ltd. Manchester were just three of the

Irish and English suppliers of “Brady’s Drapers and Outfitters”. Interestingly, many of the same customers appear to have held a “running account” in the drapery and in the butcher shop simultaneously. Many long standing customers such as “Mrs. Clarke”, “Mrs. Curran”,

“Mrs. Tommy Heavey”, “James Quinn”, “Rose Scully”, “Presentation Convent”, Mrs. Leo


Mahon”, “Mrs. Corley”, and “Mrs. Houlihan” operated this credit system in both establishments.

In many ways the spirit shown by the Brady family in the case of Roger points directly to a positive impact on the community at large. In many such cases the injured son would be the one to remain at home and arguably be described as the “Assistant to Grocery” while placing an extra burden on the family and therefore having a less productive member of society. The stocktaking accounts of Roger for “Brady’s Drapers and Outfitters” in January 1928 boasted a healthy level of stock on the premises, valued at £705 18s 9d. Therefore his impact on society had reached much further than even the archive itself can suggest. A vast array of items of clothing for men, women and children were stocked in addition to shoes, boots, towels, umbrellas, cushion covers, table cloths, hats, caps, pillow cases, blankets and various other items. Therefore, the suggestion of Wong explored by Alvin So


that “the family does have a positive impact on economic development” is certainly robustly supported in this instance. However, although business remained relatively healthy for almost two further decades the levels of stock maintained on the premises was reduced, particularly during the years of the Economic War. The stocktaking book for the year 1935 reveals that the stock levels were significantly reduced to a value of £389 7s 24d at the end of the year which suggests that the buying power of customers was also severely impacted upon by the decisions of the Fianna Fáil government that had gained power in 1932.

With diversity a key ingredient in the success of this family enterprise and with favourable economic conditions due to British demand for Irish products particularly during the war years, the Brady family diversified even further in 1926. By this time brothers Michael and

Edward Brady were the family’s major players in the export business. The trade in cattle, sheep and eggs appears to have been particularly lucrative for the family by this time as in

1926 Michael purchased a public house at North Gate Street, Athenry while Edward opened a butcher shop in Chapel Lane, purchasing the necessary equipment from another butcher in town, Josie Curran who was going out of business.

Thoms Directory

tells us that by 1931 there were two other “victuallers” in the town, namely Dempsey’s and Hession’s.

Evidence suggests that on March 18 th

1926, Michael Brady purchased a bar in North Gate

Street, with the assistance of Hogan & Shields Solicitors. Over the next number of years the


So, Alvin, Y.

Social Change and Development: Modernization, Dependency, and World System Theories

(London, Sage Publications Ltd.) 1990, p63


business generated at the bar benefitted the family, the suppliers and its many customers who availed of the generous system of credit offered. In December of the same year Michael was married to Eileen Lynch and it was in the accommodation over the bar that they made their home from that point forward.

The economic spin off was experienced countrywide by this new venture. In terms of employment, Michael employed his cousin James Brady from Co. Meath as bar manager.

James Brady was scarcely twenty years old when he first appears on the bar records in 1930.

Surviving accounts tell us that this set of credit accounts began on “Sat. 27 th

Sept ‘30”. In its first surviving entry Guard Dunne, who had purchased “goods” and “cigs” at various dates previously, paid his outstanding balance of £2 3s 4d. The entry was duly signed by the new manager, “J. Brady”. James Brady also held a “running account” at “Brady’s Drapers and

Outfitters,” which had an opening balance on July 31 st

1928 of £5 5s. Various purchases were made and instalments paid over the course of the following years until in April 1940 he borrowed 10s from Roger Brady, leaving him with an outstanding balance of £3 4s.

The system of credit, common at this time afforded many consumers increased buying power due to the availability of such a credit facility. This credit system in the bar of Michael Brady also had an increasing impact on the commercial habits of many local and occasional consumers. Many of the consumers recorded in the bar’s accounts appear to have operated a running account as was customary of small business credit culture during this time.

Arensberg and Kimball


explain that “The term ‘running account’ is descriptive of the practice whereby a farmer continues to buy from the same shopkeeper over a period of years, occasionally paying instalments on his debt. He ordinarily makes a partial settlement with the shopkeeper after the sale of his agricultural produce”. An example of such a running account was held by M. Keogh of Tiaquin. This account opens with a balance of 13s 6d and “goods” to the value of 6s 4d are added on August 25 th

. Several other transactions are added to the account both as goods purchased and as cash payments. This account shows an ending balance of 8s 4d. The aforementioned Guard Dunne appears again with his running account carried forward into 1932. With almost thirty entries in a period spanning about six months,

Guard Dunne’s running account increased from 15s 6d in May to in excess of £9 by the end of June. However, on July 4 th

the sum of £5 was paid by Guard Dunne and by October 5 th

the account balance had been reduced to £3 2 ½ d. It is entries such as these that point to the


Arensberg, C.M. and Kimball, S.T.

Family and Community in Ireland

(Ennis, Clasp Press) 2001, p396


essential nature of credit culture on commercial life in any town particularly in the years following the Wall St. Crash which resulted in commercial contraction worldwide and leaving capital in short supply. This system of credit ensured a loyal customer base not only to the local publican but to business owners of all kinds willing to engage with the needs of the consumer. It is quite obvious that the Brady family were willing to meet the needs of the community in this respect which in turn had a hugely positive impact on commercial life in

Athenry in the early twentieth century. Arensberg and Kimball


remind us that “in Ireland credit is much more than a commercial practice; it is a social mechanism performing an important function for the society- that of stabilizing the relations between the shopkeeper and his customers”. Interestingly, many of the names appearing as entrants in Michael

Brady’s book of bar accounts doubled as farmers who were also engaged in another form of trade or business with Michael and Edward Brady. Many of these customers were the local farmers who supplied the cattle, sheep and eggs to the Brady brothers who then sold them on for export, generally at the Smithfield Fair in Dublin.

The family saw further diversification in 1926 as Edward Brady opened a butcher shop in

Chapel Lane which celebrates eighty six years in business in September 2012. Again a similar system of credit culture is evident although the benefits to other local businesses are quite obvious. A large volume of trade between the workings of the butcher shop and the local community add further substance to the argument that the Brady family had a sizeable impact on commercial life in the town in the early twentieth century.

Much of the evidence suggests a far reaching impact on the wider economy, particularly with the opening of Brady’s Butchers in 1926 which replaced the grocery shop of Mary Mahon who died in the same year. Diversification was rapid and the impact of such changes had a positive impact on local commercial activity. By 1932 business relationships had extended to

Ruane’s Gereral Merchants who had supplied electricity to the town of Athenry. On

November 25 th

1932 Edward Brady paid the sum of £2 15s on his electrical account with

Ruane’s electrical engineering works division.

With business in a state of relative prosperity Edward Brady employed the services of John

Broderick, a local builder and contractor for the remodelling of the butcher shop. These works were carried out by November 11 th

1931 at a cost of £9 6s 7d, a significant sum and one which represents a further impact on local business in terms of revenue & employment


Ibid p394 - 395


for John Broderick but indirectly in terms of revenue and employment for his materials suppliers. Previously, John Broderick had also built the same premises, originally a three storey building in 1921. The Architect and Civil Engineer M. Sarsfield of Eyre Square,

Galway was employed to draw the plans and contracts for the building that still stands. The same team was employed again in July 1929 when an interior bathroom and kitchen range were added which had further boosted local commercial activity on the eve of the Wall Street


Local and national commercial activity was further impacted during these years by other business investments associated with Brady’s Butchers. Other than the staple supplies such as cattle and sheep for slaughter which were not in short supply, this portion of the family enterprise also engaged in trade with companies such as “O’Gorman & Company”. This

Galway based company advertised as a “printing house” but supplied reams of grease proof paper to Edward Brady for the packaging of meat that was purchased by his customers. One ream of such paper in 1932, depending on quality had cost between 5s and 7s. Advertising materials such as posters and flyers were also purchased from O’ Gorman’s at this time.

Various other products and services were also used on the premises which supported other local entrepreneurs such as P.J. Duffy of The Arch Athenry who supplied quantities of salt to the butcher shop. This salt was often used in the curing of bacon and preservation of meat related products. On July 16 th

and again on September 17 th

1932 “coarse salt” was purchased and 17s paid for these two transactions.

This diversification in the business interests of the family spread further and deeper into the local economy. The aforementioned “running account” was also extended to Edward Brady by Broderick’s Chemist of Old Church Street. In this case the account opens on August 29 th

1929 with a film being “printed and developed” at a cost of 1s. Various other items were added to the account until January 11 th

1932 but not until May 1 st

1934 is this invoice forwarded. The total amount invoiced was £3 10s 1d. Other local businesses engaged in trade with Edward Brady at this time were A. Taylor who operated a saw mill in the town, Joseph

Sweeney who had advertised as an ironmonger, stationer and general merchant, Healy & Co. who specialised in manure products and Corbett & Sons Ltd. who also traded as general merchants and builders’ providers. Various types of manure products were purchased from

Healy & Co. One such invoice dated January 4 th

1934 lists products such as sulphur, ammonia and potash purchased by Edward Brady for the sum of £9 5s. Taylor’s sawmills provided the service described as “crushing” which was invoiced at 1s, a minor sum but in


many ways describes the impact of the family business on supporting commercial life in the town of Athenry during the early years of independence. Joseph Sweeney provided various other products such as cement, cut salt, barb wire, guard rails and 8 foot sheets of timber for the various projects undertaken by the Brady family due to the diverse nature of their business dealings.

As the buying power of the Brady family increased further diversification in existing areas of business become noticeable which highlight the impact this family had on commercial life not only in the town of Athenry but within and outside of County Galway. One such example is a transaction with J. J. O’Toole of Catherine St. Limerick who supplied Edward Brady with paper bags and twine used for the tying of meat products. An invoice dated in May 1934 shows that goods to the value of £2 18s 5d were purchased here. In February 1936 two twelve inch buckets were purchased locally from Sweeney’s for 2s while a knife was purchased from

Corbett & Sons for 4s. Various other transactions are visible throughout the archive suggesting that the town of Athenry was a bustling market town at this time and the Brady family were integral players in its commercial success.

Diversification continued throughout the 1930’s as business expanded in the fledgling state.

By the late 1930’s Edward Brady had started to advertise his business and chose to do so in

“The Redemptorist Record” at Clonard Monastery in Belfast. Edward Brady appears to have advertised for two months per invoice at a cost of £1 16s. The September – October issue and the November – December issue of “The Redemptorist Record” for 1939 holds adverts advertising the butcher shop of “E. Brady” as stockists of “Prime Ox and Heifer Beef, Best

Wether Mutton always in stock. Pork and Lamb when in season”. Edward Brady, during this time also made an annual donation to the “National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Children” which was located at 20, Molesworth St. Dublin. The annual subscription to the society was just 5s but must have proven to be a valuable contribution to the society during the period. Such contributions as this combined with the annual 5s dog licence paid by

Edward Brady ensured that he maintained an economic impact from coast to coast during the inter war period in helping to maintain other businesses throughout the island.

By 1938 Edward Brady had adapted to market conditions and become less active in the export market due to the high tariffs imposed by the onset of the Economic War. More time, effort and money appears to have been spent on the development of his butcher shop. On

June 30 th

1938 a very significant investment was made when Edward Brady spent £105 on a


new 100 cubic foot cold room for his butcher shop in Athenry. Amid the turmoil of the

Economic War which obviously had a serious effect on one part of the family business,

Edward Brady was quick to refocus his attention on another area of business while still having a significant impact on commercial life at this time. The company Oswald & H.

Jamison, Ltd of Cork St, Dublin were the company employed to install the cold room, compressor, coil and motor. The impact on this business continued for some years in the servicing of the motor until during the 1940’s the refrigeration engineer Vincent McLoughlin of Bridge St. Sligo was employed in the servicing and repair of the cold room. In 1945

Vincent McLoughlin was paid £15 1s 6d for his services which included refitting the motor and fitting a new expansion valve while on March 4 th

1946 further expansion valves were fitted at a cost of £5 7s 6d. Previous to the installation of an on-site cold room Edward Brady had employed the services of the Galway Ice and Cold Storage Co. Ltd at Nuns’ Island and was invoiced for 9s on July 17 th

1936 for the use of this service. This type of diversification had quite an impact on business activity in many parts of Ireland in a time of economic retardation, pointing to the findings of the McClelland


study on Achievement Motivation in which it is argued that “domestic entrepreneurs, not politicians or Western advisers, play the critical role”.

Such examples of some of the diverse activities of the Brady family give the reader a clearer indication as to why this family appears to have had a significant impact on the community at large by the 1930s. The aforementioned scholar at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, John

Brady, an integral part of family and community operations, due to his education and integrity was pursued by many of the townspeople for legal advice. The archive holds many examples of his prowess in this area. One of the most interesting surrounds the last will and testament of Bridget Lardner, a neighbour also residing on Chapel Lane. Bridget Lardner was a widow and mother of two sons James and Lawrence Lardner. The latter, Lawrence, according to

The Connacht Tribune,

of Saturday, April 2 nd

1966, was “the highest ranking officer” of the volunteer forces in Galway during the 1916 rising. In any case, in the will dated “this sixth day of March One thousand nine hundred and twenty nine”, Lawrence P.

Lardner was given by his mother Bridget “my house and shop situate at Chapel Lane Athenry together with the stock in trade therein”. The will was signed by Bridget Lardner who

“appeared to perfectly understand and approve of same”. The will was then signed by the two


So, Alvin, Y.

Social Change and Development: Modernization, Dependency, and World System Theories

(London, Sage Publications Ltd.) 1990, p.38


witnesses present, “Peter M. Houlihan, Solicitors Assistant, Athenry” and “John Brady,

Chapel Lane, Athenry”. Therefore, it is fair to say that the influence of the Brady family stretched far beyond the economics of shopkeeper graziers in the early years of independence.









Chapter 3


The aforementioned economic success of the Brady family in the years preceding independence enabled the family to pursue various other opportunities. However the major successes of the family and its economic prosperity depended on favourable economic policy pursued by the fledgling state. David O’ Mahony


has argued that in 1922 “the Government was mainly concerned with trying to establish the various organs of State rather than with economic affairs. A newly established State could hardly be expected to have a fully fledged economic policy all at once in any case. Besides, as we have seen, when the Irish Free State was established the normal scope of economic policy was still relatively narrow. It is not surprising, therefore, that economic policy did not loom very large in the first decade or so of the life of the newly established State, and that it played a relatively minor role compared with the dominating position it occupies today”. In November 1922 the Commission on

Agriculture was set up. However it wasn’t until 1924 that the first government commissioned report regarding agriculture was published by the Free State. This report however, advised on the continuation of the policy already in place but with minor alterations which included better marketing practices particularly in the much talked about areas of export concerning such products as eggs and butter. Therefore in the early years of the 1920’s it appears that business as usual was the order of the day for those involved in the business of agriculture although conditions were not as favourable as in previous years. At the same time the new government was now faced with the task of reversing the current depression that was being experienced in agricultural prices since 1920. In April of 1924 the commission’s reports were being debated. Many reports still recognized the importance of the export sector for Irish agriculture. James Meenan,


in describing these reports has written, “In general, therefore, the positive recommendations were directed towards improvements in the existing system: in production by better breeding policies, in marketing by branding and standardization; and, to return to the point of which the survey began, these efforts were to be directed towards the recovery and expansion of the export market”.

With favourable government policy during the early inter war years the Brady family would continue to trade and exert an impact on local commercial life as before. However the archive


O’ Mahony, David.

The Irish Economy: An Introductory Description,

(Cork University Press), 1967 p.177


Meenan, James.

The Irish Economy Since 1922.

(Liverpool University Press), 1970, p. 93


suggests a seismic shift in business activity during the Economic War after the accession of

Fianna Fáil to power in 1932. It is at this point that the family had to once again begin to reinvent itself in order to avail of other business opportunities as the export of cattle suffered heavy losses during the Economic War between 1932 and 1938.

A purchase certificate from Hunter & Ruxton dated July 20 th

1911 suggests that this was one of the early transactions the family had made in the purchase and trading of stocks and shares. This transaction completed by Edward Brady for the sum of £63 13s represents the

Brady family’s ability to adapt and avail of opportunities outside of the agricultural sector when presented. This trend appears to have continued in the following years. Although this initial transaction does not tell us what shares were purchased, later accounts point to the preference of shares in the “Great Southern Railways Co.”, “Cables & Wireless Ltd.”, “The

Imperial Tobacco Company (of Great Britain and Ireland Ltd.)”, “Apex (Trinidad) Oilfield

Shares”, and “Courtaulds Ltd.”. Various companies were employed by the family in the purchase of the shares including Morison, Ogston & Co., Stock and Share Brokers located at

7 & 8 Great Winchester Street, London, Lloyd & Ward, 3 Throgmorton Avenue, London,

Capel-Cure & Terry, 10 Old Broad Street, London, O’ Donnell & Fitz-Gerald, Government

Stock Brokers, 1 St. Andrew Street, Dublin, Low & Wilkinson, 6 Foster Place, Dublin,

Porter, Millard & Vernon, Government Stock Brokers, 2 Foster Place, Dublin and the Ulster

Bank in Athenry. This ability to adapt to conditions and diversify in times of crisis ensured longevity in the business practices of the family and on their ability to maintain a positive economic impact on commercial activity at this time despite the decline in cattle exports.

The ability to make an impact in this new area of business was to continue to beyond World

War II. On June 22 nd

1945 a letter drafted to Edward Brady from “Hunter & Co.,

Government Stockbrokers mentioned “that Courtalds Ltd., is a first-class industrial concern” and that “the yield is under 2 ¾%”. Hunter & Co. continued “we enclose a note on

CARRERA’S LTD., “B” Ordinary shares which we have been buying lately. This is a sound company and you will observe that the dividend has been covered by a substantial margin.

Current price is well below its pre-war peak and in our opinion the shares have ample scope for recovery. In the more speculative section, we consider that West African Gold shares are worth attention and we enclose a note on MARLU GOLD MINING AREAS LTD., stock which looks promising”. The attached information reveals the nature of the speculation involved in this endeavour. In the case of both of these companies, World War II appears to have had a significant impact. In the case of Carrera’s Ltd. earnings were at a high of 66.1 %


in 1936 which paid a dividend to shareholders of 45%. By 1942 the dividend paid had fallen to 27 ½ % due to war time retardation which the company expected to recover in the years to follow. The price of these shares sought in 1945 was 20s which it is pointed out was considerably less than the 30s 6d premium of 1936. The case of Marlu Gold Mining Areas

Ltd. was quite similar. In 1938 a 25% dividend was paid to stockholders. Wartime difficulties had also played a part in the retardation of this company as “The absence of a dividend since

1941 has been due to the temporary closing down of the mine owing to difficulty in obtaining plant and equipment”. The letter further states that “Now that the European war has ended it should not be long before the company is in a position to obtain fresh supplies of plant and equipment and we see no reason why this should not then be a big profit –earner again as it has been in the past”. However, between the first available evidence of stock market trading in 1911 and post- World War II trading many opportunities presented themselves in areas other than those in the aforementioned agricultural export sector.

During the Economic War of the 1930’s the Brady family began to invest more heavily in the stock market as the export trade in cattle had slowed considerably. The decision to pursue the stock market as a means to further economic prosperity was obviously an educated decision and one not taken lightly given the losses incurred after the Wall St. Crash which will be explored in greater detail in the next chapter. Therefore, the Brady family continued to exert an influence on commercial activity when others were fearful of speculation which aided the economy in difficult times. On February 13 th

1937 O’ Donnnell & Fitz- Gerald replied to an earlier communication from Edward Brady stating “We thank you for your letter of the 12 th instant, enclosing cheque £205. 11. 0. for 100 Apex (Trinidad) Oilfield Shares, for which we are obliged”. This trend increased throughout March and April of 1937. A letter from the same company dated March 22 nd

confirmed the purchase of 100 Courtalds Ltd. ordinary shares at a cost of £263 2s 6d, although the final bill presented amounted to £269 16s when

£3 15s of commission was paid together with an additional £2 17s 6d “stamp & fee” and a further 1s “contract stamp”. Interestingly the preference for Courtalds stock and shares continued into 1938 and 1939. On March 25 th

1938, Porter, Millard & Vernon completed the purchase of a further “50 Courtalds Ltd. Ordinary shares” at a total cost of £101 15s 6d.

Again in 1939, on February 2 nd

a further £50 of “Courtalds Ltd. Ordinary stock” was purchased through Low & Wilkinson, Dublin, costing £66 4s 3d in total. Therefore, given this evidence, one can conclude that the entrepreneurial spirit present within the Brady family


resonated far and wide during the early twentieth century while exerting a hugely positive impact on commercial activity throughout Ireland and the British Empire.

Other areas of opportunity to be further explored during this time included an expansion of the trading in eggs and butter. Commenting on the memorandum submitted by Daniel

Twomey, secretary of the Department of Agriculture when summoned before a commission sitting in December 1935, James Meenan


has written that “In particular it would involve a reduction in the production of cattle. On the other hand, although handicapped by the special duties, the export trade in butter, eggs and bacon would not be seriously affected”. At about this time, the Brady family began purchasing larger quantities of eggs and butter for export from all over the county of Galway. It appears that the common denominator in this instance was the proximity of the Brady operation to the Athenry railway station. Almost all of these goods found their way to Athenry via carriage by The Great Southern Railways Company.

By late 1934 small shipments of butter were being received regularly from south Galway and north Clare. On October 21 st

1935 Edward Brady received a shipment of butter from Gort railway station. The cost of carriage was 1s 6d. This trend would continue for many years.

The major suppliers on this route were J.J. Ward “Grocer and General Provision Dealer” of

“The Square, Gort” but to a larger extent A. Mc Mahon of Corofin, Co. Clare who also used the railway station at Gort for the purpose of shipping produce to Edward Brady in Athenry.

During this difficult time in terms of economics the Brady family still appear to have been major players in commercial life in the west of Ireland. Evidence suggests that large quantities of produce of varying kinds were always in demand due to family connections in foreign and domestic markets. Therefore these local suppliers were positively impacted upon by the entrepreneurial spirit of the family. The Great Southern Railways Company was also a major beneficiary in this commercial activity as shipments of butter, eggs, cattle, sheep, alcohol, oil, coal and various other products were sent by rail from all over Ireland on a daily basis for which the costs of carriage were paid on delivery of the various goods. Many different railway stations appear in the records such as North Wall in Dublin, Galway,

Oughterard, Tuam and Gort which were all used on a regular basis ensuring a vibrant commercial centre remained in the town of Athenry.

Various other opportunities also presented themselves at this period in the commercial history of the Brady family activities. With the retardation of the export trade in live cattle and the


Meenan, James.

The Irish Economy Since 1922.

(Liverpool University Press), 1970, p. 98-99


investment made by Edward Brady in 1926 in opening a butcher shop in the town, more time was now being spent building the butcher business. Curiously, the family had been in possession of a slaughter house licence since 1900 which had been renewed on an annual basis. Now the animals being slaughtered here were also being consumed by the local customers. Records suggest that during 1933 and 1934 an average of 2 cattle and 16 sheep were being slaughtered each month to be sold over the counter at Brady’s butcher shop. On

Saturday, February 20 th

1937, twenty eight customers used the aforementioned “running account” system available at Brady’s Butchers. Many customers had running accounts spanning a number of years and in some cases these accounts carried forward through generations. One such account for the monastery at Esker records a healthy account that survives at the time of writing (2012). In October 1937 Esker College as it was known had a running account with an outstanding balance of £57 6s 7d at Brady’s Butchers. Large quantities of various cuts of meat were being supplied on a daily basis to Esker, The Railway

Hotel, Hanberry’s Hotel, The Civic Guards and a multitude of household accounts.

Therefore, Edward Brady seized the opportunity to operate his own slaughter house for the supply of meat to his increasingly busy butcher shop during the years of the Economic War when the export trade in live cattle was severely and irrecoverably interrupted. During

December 1934 Edward Brady paid the Department of Agriculture £5 5s for animals slaughtered during that month under the “Levy Payable under the Slaughter of Cattle and

Sheep Act, 1934”. The upward trend in trade continued for some years and on July 19 th


Edward Brady made a further investment in this portion of his business. On this day he purchased “One Humane Killer”, “50 No. 5 Cartridges” and “1 Brush” at a total cost of £3

16s 6d from W.M Broderick & Co., Butchers’ and Fishmongers’ Complete Outfitters, 25

Wellington Quay, Dublin. The substantial investments made in the early years of trading by

Edward Brady in supplies and equipment point to the commitment to expansion and preservation of this endeavour.

Other areas of commercial opportunity were also explored during the 1930’s. The Fianna Fáil government, on accession in 1932 quickly demonstrated its commitment to protection in terms of agriculture as tillage farming was encouraged and subsidised. James Meenan


has pointed out that “Priority was to be given to the growing in Ireland of everything that the

Irish people normally wanted for food, except where climatic conditions made that obviously impossible. Production was to be for subsistence, not (except in a most subordinate sense) for


Meenan, James.

The Irish Economy Since 1922.

(Liverpool University Press), 1970, p. 95-96


exchange”. This policy was not favoured by the dynamic entrepreneurs of the Brady family.

A new labour intensive and less profitable system was now in place but efforts were still made to play a part in this system of commercialism albeit in a tentative manner. Merchants such as P. Fox, Wool and Oats Buyer, Athenry and Thomas Palmer & Co. Nuns’ Island,

Galway were just two merchants who profited from the labours of the Brady family endeavours to adhere to the Fianna Fáil protectionist ideals. The family at this time also devoted some former acres of pasture to the production of hay for the winter feeding of the animals that still remained. This was not without its benefits to the local community as

Edward Brady began purchasing quantities of hay covers from The Western Sack & Bag

Company Ltd. which was located in the town. On October 16 th

1936 Edward Brady was invoiced for 11s 6d for the purchase of three “hay covers”. By November 1939 five hay covers had cost the same customer £1 17s 6d, more than twice the price paid in 1936.

Obviously this smaller scale more labour intensive operation was not as lucrative as previous endeavours. Further efforts were also made to increase revenue through the sale of byproducts. Such products were to include but not limited to cattle hides, sheep skins and pelts used in the manufacture of clothing and other products favoured for protection by the De

Valera lead government. Therefore, the Western Sack & Bag Company Ltd. was still used by the Brady family for the purchase of “Wool Packs” used for the packing of wool. At the same time, “Andrew Dunne, Fellmonger, Wool, Hide and Skin Merchant, Kinnegad, Co.

Westmeath” sold the hides, skins, pelts and wool. On April 8 th

1936 Andrew Dunne sold four hides and twenty four fleeces of wool on behalf of Edward Brady for £11 17s.

Other opportunities were also explored. On December 13 th

1937 a site containing 0.16 of an acre to construct a dwelling house at Chapel Lane was sold to Michael Cronnelly on lands acquired by Edward and Michael Brady known as “The Rampart”. This parcel of land containing about fifteen acres was purchased for £1100 on March 15 th

1924 and was originally part of the Lopdell estate. This transaction was overseen by a new solicitor in the locality, Albert Cummins. This and various other transactions provide further evidence of the multitude of areas of opportunity explored by the Brady family in search of economic success during this time. The impact of this activity spread deep into the local community and resonated both nationally and empirically. Further investments included life assurance policies, fire insurance policies, and shop window insurance with various companies being employed such as “Irish National Assurance Co. Ltd.”, “Pearl Assurance Company Ltd.”,

“Phoenix Assurance Company Limited” and the “Royal Insurance Company Limited” being


the major beneficiary of this annual business. Various projects and investments were undertaken throughout the turbulent 1930s. Many appear to have been quite labour intensive and attached to the Fianna Fáil policy of protection but in terms of economic expansion the years of the Economic War appear to have had an overwhelmingly negative effect on family fortunes in general. Although heavy losses were incurred during the Wall Street Crash of

1929 which according to the archive appear to have been in excess of £6,000, the events of the Economic War and the government policy that surrounded this era ensured that economic retardation would apply to many of the family business interests in the years that followed.






Chapter 4


The events surrounding the Economic War from 1932-1938 had a major impact on the commercial power of the Brady family which in turn had a significant effect on the agricultural community in general who fed into this system for years previously. Therefore from 1932 onwards one can trace the beginnings of the constraints on economic activity previously enjoyed, in particular by Edward and Michael Brady. Gearóid O’Tuathaigh


has commented that “when Mr de Valera came to power in 1932 he sought to pursue a diametrically opposed strategy. If economic issues had dominated relations between the

United Kingdom and the Irish administration during the 1920s then political considerations would regain their primacy under de Valera, but they would have far-reaching economic implications”. The family archive contains ample evidence to support the statement of

Professor O’ Tuathaigh.

Of the two seismic events of the period 1929 – 1932, namely The Wall Street Crash and The

Economic War, one was to have much further reaching consequences for the inhabitants of the Brady household of Chapel Lane in Athenry. Firstly, when discussing the events and losses incurred in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash, the Brady family archive suggests that heavy losses were indeed suffered. On one day alone, December 19 th

1929, four of the

Brady brothers, John, Richard, Roger and Edward sold their shares in the Cables and

Wireless Company in an attempt to recoup some of the losses already incurred by the events of the Wall Street Crash less than two months previously. A total investment in “Preference

Stock” and “Ordinary Stock” amounting to £10, 293 was sold through the Ulster Bank which salvaged a little over £6, 242, or just over 60% of the initial investment. The total loss on one day and selling the shares of only one company amounted to in excess of £4000. The trend continued into 1930 with stocks being sold at heavy losses in order to recoup some of the money that had previously been invested. Between March 31 st

and April 2 nd

1930 Edward

Brady sold his shares in the Great Southern Railway Company all of which were described as

“Ordinary Stock @ 17 ¼ %”. The total investment of £1700 only managed to recover £291

10s 2d, a substantial loss of almost 83 %. These are examples of just two large companies in which a profitable return on investment was not guaranteed and companies which suffered


O’Tuathaigh, Gearóid.

From United Kingdom to Divided Island: Aspects of the Irish Experience 1850-1922


Thomas Bartlett, Chris Curtin, Riana O’Dwyer & Gearóid O’Tuathaigh (eds)

Irish Studies: A General Introduction

(Dublin, Gill and Macmillan) 1988, p.161


catastrophic losses in the months and years following the Wall Street Crash of October 1929.

If we assume that the rate of inflation between 1929 and 2012 to be 200, the current value of the initial stake of both of the aforementioned transactions would amount to the equivalent of

(£ 11, 993 x 200) = £2, 398 600. The total recovered in to-days terms would amount to (£ 6,

242 + £ 291.52) = (£ 6, 533.52 x 200) = £ 1, 306 704, leaving the family with a loss of £ 1,

091 896 in terms of this stake’s current value. Former Maynooth student, John Brady suffered the heaviest losses when the markets crashed. Of the aforementioned sales on December 19 th

1929 amounting to an initial stake of £10, 293, more than half or £6,581 was purchased in the name of John Brady. When the account was settled, the amount recovered by John Brady was

£3,803 18s 3d, representing a total loss of £2,778 18s 3d or in to-days terms, well in excess of half a million pounds.

However, as we have already discovered, retail trade continued to be reasonably healthy in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash, possibly as many rural Irish dwellers were not adversely affected by the events of October 1929. Exports in cattle, sheep and eggs continued. Operations in Brady’s Butchers, Brady’s Pub and in Brady’s Drapers and

Outfitters continued although with a slight reduction in trade. With a restricted market enforced by the Fianna Fáil government, the Brady brothers had little choice when downsizing operations previously servicing the export market. As this market declined the profitability of the export trade also declined. As the Brady family were by now hugely influential players in local commercialisation, small farmers and producers who once relied on the Brady family to purchase their stock were also seriously affected by stagnation in the export trade, particularly in the cattle trade. The knock on effect of the Economic War was felt far and wide and filtered down to all levels of society.

The aforementioned death of Eileen Lynch, young wife of Michael Brady, on Christmas Eve

1932 also had a serious impact on trading in cattle and sheep as Michael was the public face of this part of the business, spending most of his time in Dublin prior to this event. Here,

Michael made connections in the trade and export business and was well known in these circles and held a reputation as a fair, honest and likeable dealer. After the death of his wife, much of his former activity began to decline as he spent more time at home with his young daughter. Describing his late brother and business partner during the 1960s, Edward Brady commented to his daughter Mary that, “There has to be a gentleman in every family and


Mickey was the gentleman in ours”.


Michael’s influence on those he met while employed in the dealing of cattle and sheep and fairs nationwide is also quite evident in the accounts of his pub at North Gate Street in Athenry. On various fair days in the town many other dealers came and spent time on the premises after their work had been completed. Many of these customers, although not from the locality also used the “running account” system available.

Entries such as “Mr. Roscommon, Dealer”, “Frank Rock, Roscommon”, “Mr. Jack Kelly,

Dealer”, “Mr. M. Corley, Dealer” and “Mr. Russell, Dealer” were just some of those acquainted with Michael and who were extended friendship, hospitality and the imperative credit system that many needed in order to have any commercial impact. However, further constraints were to become evident less than a year after the untimely passing of Michael’s wife, Eileen. On November 13 th

1933 Michael passed away unexpectedly leaving the business without its public face. The death of Michael Brady which coincided with the onset of the Economic War signalled the end of an important and profitable chapter in the fortunes of the Brady family. This part of the business and in particular cattle exports never recovered as it was not pursued with the same vigour due to government constraints until 1938. By then business had been taken in other directions and the desire to replace Michael in his important role was not there. The credit system offered in the pub proved to be another constraint. It appears that adequate accounts were not kept and receiving payment on running accounts was not always possible after the death of the proprietor. As a result, many of these accounts were never collected or settled which resulted in the estate of Michael Brady being deemed insolvent by the courts after his death. The list of creditors was enough to deter other family members from continuing with the trade. The final list of twenty two creditors shows a total outstanding balance of more than £546. The North Gate Street premises, and lands at

Ballydavid and Caheroyan were later sold by the Ulster Bank for the sum of £860, of which

£851 9s 6d was owed to the Ulster Bank, while the furniture and remaining stock was valued

£75 11s 7d. More than £500 in Cables and Wireless stock was also sold having decreased in value to £170 5s. As the days of the graziers were now coming to an end the land at Moyode containing 151 acres was “sold in the Circuit Court of Justice and proceeds lodged in Court, less cost of sale” which amounted to £321.

Other endeavours were also pursued at this stage but in terms of economic constraints, the quick succession of devastating blows, from the Wall Street Crash, the Economic War, the death of Eileen Lynch and finally the death of Michael Brady all in the space of only four


Interview with Mary Mullins, 18 th

April 2011


years proved to be a heavy burden on the Brady family’s fortunes which had been steadily built up over the previous thirty years. In terms of lands, markets, capital and personnel, huge losses were suffered and throughout the remaining years of the 1930s business development progressed at a much slower pace and on a much smaller scale than before and an air of caution was observed particularly when dealing with the stock market thereafter. All of these events ensured that the Brady family by 1932 did not have the same impact on commercial activity, locally, nationally or internationally as was previously demonstrated. Trade and business interests appear to have continued on a smaller and more individual scale from this point forward.

When Richard Brady was married to Margaret Ruane of Garbally in 1929, the aforementioned smaller farm at Moanbaun containing a dwelling house and about 45 acres was transferred by owners Edward and Michael Brady to Richard Brady on September 12 th

at a transfer cost of £15 11s 7d, paid to Hogan & Shields Solicitors. Here Richard lived out the rest of his life although he still participated in the business of egg exports, and sugar beet production at a later stage but on a much smaller scale than he did before his marriage to

Margaret Ruane. On September 25 th

1940 Edward Brady was married to Teresa Coffey where he remained building his butchering business that had opened fourteen years previously. By now however, Edward Brady had also become an agent for the Castles family of Co. Meath for whom he purchased sheep all over the west of Ireland, initially transporting the sheep by rail and later by lorry to the Athboy, Co. Meath location. Roger Brady continued trading in his drapery shop until his death on October 6 th

1945 and although trading continued after his death, the shop being run by his employees, attention to detail was not the same and the shop ceased trading shortly afterwards. On May 17 th

1946 the estate of Roger Brady, valued by the courts at £341 8s 6d was granted to John Brady. The High Court of Justice stated that “it appears by a Receipt signed by an Inland Revenue Officer on the said Affidavit that £29 12s for Estate Duty and interest thereon has been paid”. John Brady continued purchasing stocks and shares, helping locals with their legal affairs, drafting wills and managing accounts for local business’ including the bookmaking empire of the Lynch family.

However, as a whole, business would not recover to pre - 1930 levels of production and profit. Family deaths, the Wall Street Crash, the Economic War and various other constraints are visible in the archive including increased taxation, rates, excise duties, estate duties and other expenses that appeared with a modernizing society. By the 1940s Edward and Richard

Brady began to start their own families. The first child born to Edward Brady and Teresa


Coffey was obviously warmly received. Edward Martin Brady was born on January 21 st

1944. On April 29 th

various goods were purchased from Roger Brady’s drapery shop including “1 bed spread”, “3 cushions”, “1 Babies frock”, “1 Babies Pinnerette”, “1 Cotton suit”, “1 glass cloth”, and other items for a total cost of £7 13s. The third generation to carry the Brady name had arrived on Chapel Lane and with it an air of anticipation. With the events of the Economic War and the Wall Street Crash in the past and World War II coming to an end the future looked bright for the Brady family who had survived the turbulence of the previous two decades and the economic constraints which accompanied that uncertain time.

Now the question remained, would the next generation of the Brady family exert a similar impact on commercial activity in the locality as the family had in the past?







The period between 1900 and the outbreak of World War II witnessed momentous changes in

Ireland. The country continued to haemorrhage large numbers of its citizens, particularly those in the 18-35 age group with many of them coming from the western counties. In political terms Land Acts and the re-distribution of land was once again to the fore particularly as the Home Rule question gained momentum. The outbreak of World War I in

1914 signalled only the beginning of the bloodshed as the Easter Rising of 1916, the War of

Independence and the Civil War followed in quick succession. In the midst of the turmoil the

Brady family in Athenry, Co. Galway were embarking on an entirely different adventure.

Avoiding the turmoil of their surroundings, the Brady brothers at this time began to expand operations particularly those in the agricultural export sector which in turn earned profits that were reinvested when other opportunities were presented. By the late 1920s the Brady brothers had risen from the sons of a railway signalman to business and land owners in the town of Athenry and its surroundings. As butchers, drapers and publicans they exerted quite an impact on local commercial activity, extending the hand of friendship and credit to those in need. A further and arguably deeper impact was made on the local hinterland as the Brady brothers exported cattle, sheep and eggs purchased from farmers and homesteads all over

County Galway and beyond.

However, the effects of the Wall Street Crash were immediate and devastating on the fortunes of the Brady family. Heavy monetary losses were incurred almost immediately although in time markets would recover and family members would once again speculate.

The Economic War would prove to have much further reaching consequences for the family who had heavily invested in land and stock in the preceding decades. The economic consequences of these years were crippling not only for the export sector of the family business but also for the many local farmers who depended on the cash purchases made by the Brady family when stock or produce was purchased. In terms of egg purchases, Joanna



has pointed out that, “Women disliked sending their eggs to the creameries, even if they were paid more for them. When they sold eggs to the creameries, the money was added to the milk account and was paid to the husband, father, or brother when he collected the family’s monthly account; if the woman sold the eggs at a market or to the higgler, she was


Bourke, Joanna.

Husbandry to Housewifery

, (Oxford University Press) 1993, p.188


able to control the money herself”. Here, the Brady brothers played an important role and continued to do so for many years. Cattle exports were the area of trade that suffered greatest due to the onset of the Economic War. J. J. Lee


has pointed out that the British Government

“imposed in retaliation 20 per cent ad valorem duties on Irish exports of livestock and livestock products from July”. The onset of such duties would later indicate the end of an era in exporting for the Brady family.

In the Chapel Lane houses first rented from William Vessey Fitzgerald Hickman in 1857 the

Brady family continued to trade. With the passing of time many other local businesses closed or were sold. Conrad Arensberg


has written, “There is a saying in the towns of Ireland that summarizes well the movements of town life. ‘The country-people flock into the towns,’ they say, ‘and the townspeople all die out of them.” However on March 20 th

, 1992

The Connacht


reported that “Brady Meat Market is now at a stage of supplying the broadest possible range of meat products and much more!.........In addition John Joe Brady has generated the capacity to supply the hotel and catering industry and the wholesale market in general”. After 86 years of trading the business continues to grow while much of the lands purchased prior to independence are still being farmed by family members. The family has had a largely positive impact on commercial life throughout the time period in question and

155 years after settling in Chapel Lane that impact is still proving positive on the community it serves.


Lee, J. J.

Ireland 1912 – 1985: Politics and Society,

(Cambridge University Press) 1993, p.178


Arensberg, Conrad M.

The Irish Countryman: An Anthropological Study

(The Macmillan Company) 1959, p.152



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Family and Community in Ireland,

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Land and Revolution: Nationalist Politics in the West of Ireland 1891 –


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Irish Economic History: Fact and Myth

in Cullen, L. M. (ed)

The Formation of the Irish Economy,

(Cork, The Mercier Press) 1976

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Ireland from Below: Social Change and Local


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Daly, Mary E.

Social and Economic History of Ireland since 1800,

(The Educational

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Ireland Since 1870

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The Oxford History of Ireland,

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The Cleavage between Graziers and Peasants in the Land Struggle, 1890-


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Irish Peasants: Violence & Political

Unrest 1780-1914,

(Manchester University Press) 1983

Kennedy, Kieran A., Giblin, Thomas & Mc Hugh, Deirdre.

The Economic Development of

Ireland in the Twentieth Century,

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Lally, Bernadette.

Print Culture in Loughrea, 1850 – 1900: Reading, writing and printing in an Irish provincial town,

(Dublin, Four Courts Press) 2008

Lee, J. J

. Capital in the Irish Economy,

in Cullen L. M. (ed)

The Formation of the Irish


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University Press ) 1997

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? in

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1800 – 1925,

(Manchester University Press) 1988

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The Irish Economy: An Introductory Description,

(Cork University

Press), 1967

O’Tuathaigh, Gearóid.

From United Kingdom to Divided Island: Aspects of the Irish

Experience 1850-1922

in Thomas Bartlett, Chris Curtin, Riana O’Dwyer & Gearóid

O’Tuathaigh (eds)

Irish Studies: A General Introduction ,

(Dublin, Gill and Macmillan) 1988

Silverman, Marilyn & Gulliver, P. H.

Approaching the Past: Historical Anthropology through Irish Case Studies,

(New York, Columbia University Press) 1992

So, Alvin, Y.

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System Theories,

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Perspectives on Small -Scale Productions,

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in Barry, Kevin,

Dunne, Tom, Kearney, Richard and Longley, Edna (eds)

The Irish Review,

(Cork University

Press) No. 5 Autumn 1988

Other Sources

The 100 Best Investments,

(London, The British, Foreign and Colonial Corporation, Ltd.,

Investment Bankers) 1927

Brady family archive

Interview with Mary Mullins, 18 th

April 2011


The Connacht Tribune,

April 2 nd


The Connacht Tribune,

20 th

March 1992

Thoms Directory


Irish Census 1901

Irish Census 1911