Padraig MacGamhna - (Paddy Gaffney)
1895 - 1943.
- Memory Card for Padraig MacGamhna.
- The card was produced by Stephen Carroll, secretary of the
Irish Transport and General Workers Union ( Carlow branch), at the
time Stephen was promoting the idea to change the name of the
Market Cross to Connolly Cross in memory of the executed 1916
leader James Connolly. Thanks to Kathleen McKenna for sending me
- On Easter Sunday 31st March 2013 a
commemoration will be held at the Padraig McGamhna memorial
opposite Killeshin Church. The event is being organised by
branches of Carlow / Laois Sinn Fein. A member of the MacGamhna (
Gaffney) family will lay a wreath at the memorial. Trade unionists
will carry the banner of the Irish Transport and General Workers
- Padraig Mac Gamhna 1895 - 1943 was
born in Killeshin. He was a major player in organising the
Transport Union in Carlow in 1917 and for the remainder of his
life he was a supporter of small farmers, coal-mining, all types
of industry and promoted the establishment of the sugar factory in
Carlow. He was elected by a massive majority to the second Dail
representing the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency. In 1922 he followed
President Eamon de Valera and refused to take the oath of
allegiance to the king and he resigned his seat.
- During his short life he promoted republican ideals, the Irish
language and at the time of his death was serving a term of
imprisonment for land agitation in the Killeshin area.
The above was added in 2013 by Michael Purcell.
[Note added in 2010.]
Paddy Gaffney, better known as Padraig
MacGamhna, was born in 1895, in Killeshin, Queen's County.
His father was John Gaffney from
Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow; his mother was Anne Byrne from Killeshin.
During a land dispute at Crossleigh in
April 1943 Padraig was arrested along with Bill Bolton, Killeshin, John
Bolton, Ballyhide, Joe O'Toole, Rossmore, Richard Dooley, Rossmore, John
Brennan, Rossmore, Michael Whelan, Coolane, Thomas O'Rourke, Killeshin,
Denis Doran, Cappalug, Edward Gaskin, Cappalug, John Kehoe, Springhill,
and Patrick Whitney, Ballickmoyler Road.
They were convicted of unlawful assembly
and were sentenced to six months' imprisonment in Mountjoy Jail, not to
be imposed if they entered into a bond to keep the peace for two years.
All twelve men refused to enter a bond.
Three months later, during his
imprisonment, Padraig MacGamhna died, he was 48 years old.
The MacGamhna Memorial, a large Celtic
Cross with the figure of a Sinn Fein Volunteer engraved, is erected in
his memory opposite Killeshin Church. It was unveiled in 1953.
Another memorial to Padraig's memory, in
the form of a granite Plaque, is erected on the shop building of the
late Charlie Byrne in Tullow Street.
MacGamhna Road, Carlow, is named after
Along with his old school friend, Pat
Purcell, he is recorded as attending the first meeting of Sinn Fein in
Ballickmoyler in 1914.
In the years that followed both men were
active in the Republican movement and in the establishment of The
Transport Workers' Union in Carlow.
Pat Purcell penned the following obituary
/ appreciation which was published in the Nationalist and Leinster
Times, July 1943.
Obituary / Appreciation
Those of us who have been closely in
touch with the public life of Carlow during the past quarter of a
century, can fully realise the sense of loss which the death of Padraig
MacGamhna has caused.
As a public representative he was unique
in more than one respect.
He had a scrupulous sense of
responsibility towards those whom he represented.
He was uncompromising where a question of
principle was involved. He could never be cajoled or influenced to do
anything against his convictions or what he thought was just and fair.
He never considered for a moment whether
his expression of strong and advanced views on any public matter would
affect his popularity.
He certainly had very strong convictions
on most questions and he never shrank from giving voice to them on the
public platform, or at meetings of the public boards.
He possessed a rare dual personality of
great strength of character and a winning amiability which is very rare
to be met with.
By the materialistic and so-called
practical people he was regarded as an idealist and a visionary.
But it is by such rare spirits that the
world is enriched, and moral forces are set in motion for the
amelioration of the conditions of mankind in general.
There would be no social progress if the
materialists and cynics were to hold sway. So that is why it is
fortunate from time to time that one appears in the public arena such as
Padraig MacGamhna to proclaim the faith that is in him.
The subject of this short, inadequate
obituary was a rare soul, and the country is all the poorer by his
passing. It is inexplicable to the worldly how a man like him in
comparatively poor circumstances could devote all his leisure without
fee or reward towards the betterment of the people amongst whom he moved
His feverishly active career was a truly
As a boy he was a pupil of the National
School in his native Killeshin, he subsequently attended the Christian
Brothers' Secondary School at Carlow.
He was apprenticed to the Milling
business of Shackleton at Graiguecullen while still in his teens, but
such a prosaic career did not appeal to his mind, and at an immature age
he entered into public life, and was soon regarded as a champion of the
He hated injustice, and by voice and pen
denounced the cruel inequalities in our social system.
He was a young man when Sinn Fein
replaced the old Irish Parliamentary Party system, and he entered into
the struggle for National Independence with a zeal and energy which was
characteristic of him.
In 1918 he was arrested by the Royal
Irish Constabulary and sentenced to imprisonment in Belfast Jail for
reading the Sinn Fein 1916 Proclamation in Carlow.
On his release he continued his
activities and in 1921, with some other members of the Irish Volunteers,
he was arrested by Crown forces at Ballymurphy, and interned.
But like other great Irishmen, the
hardships he endured only sharpened his spirit of resistance, and urged
him on to greater endeavour for his native land which he loved, as
became a true patriot.
Padraig was elected to the Second Dail as
Deputy (T.D.) for Carlow -Kilkenny Constituency, with the largest
majority ever given to any parliamentary candidate before or since in
His Parliamentary career was brief as he
refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to the King and resigned his
It happened that at that time a French
journalist visited Dublin, and he wrote some very interesting articles
on the personal of the new Dail. He gave a life-like description of
Padraig MacGamhna referring to his mannerisms and his obvious sincerity
The article was a great tribute to the
character of Padraig from a foreigner who could be relied upon to write
an unbiased sketch.
Padraig was instrumental in founding a
branch of the Transport Union in Carlow, and was President of the branch
for 24 years.
He was an ardent supporter all his life
of Irish Industrial Development.
For over thirty years he tried to get the
Government and industrialists interested in the Laois and other coal
He received little support or
encouragement in this project from other sources, but he continued
doggedly, in the face of opposition and disappointment, and he
fortunately lived to see his views bearing fruit when companies were
formed to develop these coal areas.
In the social sphere Padraig was
deservedly popular. His serene and kindly nature disarmed critics and he
came to be regarded by all classes with esteem and respect.
May the soil of his beloved Killeshin
rest lightly on his remains.
A guard of honour of Irish National
Foresters met the remains outside Carlow, accompanied by his eleven
fellow prisoners and the Governor of Mountjoy Jail, Sean Kavanagh, who
had himself once served as a fellow-prisoner of Padraig's during the
Troubles, also present was Joe Cummins from the Pollerton Road, he had
acted as Guard to Padraig when he was removed to hospital.
His remains was received at Killeshin
Church by Fr, P. Swayne and Fr, E. Campion.
Source: M. Purcell
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