We are delighted to share some recently acquired material from the Revolution in Galway, 1913-1923 exhibition open to visitors on the first floor gallery at Galway City Museum. Among the items which have now been added to display are Fr Griffin’s stole, a lock of his hair and the envelope it was stored in. Also featuring is the gun and holster which belonged to Brian Molloy, Captain of the Castlegar Volunteers during the Easter Rising of 1916. Read on for more on these new additions and book your FREE ticket HERE to see all the objects up close.
Above L: ‘Revolution in Galway, 1913-1923’ exhibition at Galway City Museum. Above R: Fr Michael Griffin (1892-1920)
Fr Michael Griffin
From Gurteen, Co. Galway, Fr Michael Griffin (1892–1920) disappeared from his home in Galway town on 14 November 1920. His body was found on 20 November in a shallow grave near the village of Barna. Fr Griffin was a known Republican sympathiser, and it was believed that the Auxiliaries billeted at Lenaboy Castle were responsible for his death. His funeral mass was held at St Joseph’s Church, Galway on 23 November 1920. An estimated 12,000 people followed his coffin through the streets of Galway before the cortège travelled on to Loughrea, Co. Galway. He is buried in the grounds of Loughrea Cathedral.
The new items have been added to the existing Fr Griffin collection which consists of Fr Griffin’s memorial card, biretta, pellegrina (cape) and rabat (vest). The biretta was placed on his coffin during his funeral mass. Also displayed is Fr Griffin’s ordination candle used during his ‘Ordination to Priesthood’ Mass, which was celebrated at St Nathy’s, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon on Sunday, 29 April 1917.
Envelope and lock of hair
A lock of Fr Griffin’s hair, which was kept as a memento by his close friend, Fr James ‘Jimmy’ O’Dea, with whom he had been at Maynooth College. Fr O’Dea had played cards with Fr Griffin on the evening of his disappearance, was the first to notice his absence from Mass the following day, and reported his disappearance to the bishop. Following the discovery of Fr Griffin’s body, Fr O’Dea travelled to Gurteen to deliver the news to the Griffin family.
Fr Griffin’s travel stole
A stole is a clerical sash that is worn draped over the shoulders with the ends hanging down in front. Fr Griffin’s purple travel stole was in his pocket when his body was discovered.
Above L: Envelope in which the lock of hair was stored. Above R: Showcase of Fr Griffin material in the Revolution exhibition.
Brian Molloy has been described as a ’born leader’ and joined the IRB in 1910. He served as Commandant of the 1st Battalion, Mid-Galway Brigade IRA during the War of Independence. Molloy was Captain of the Castlegar Volunteers during the Easter Rising, and led an attack at Carnmore Cross, near Galway, on 26 April 1916 during which RIC Constable Patrick Whelan was killed. Afterwards, Molloy was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted to ten years penal servitude. He was released in June 1917 under general amnesty after being interned in Dartmoor prison, Lewes Jail, and the Isle of Wight. Molloy later served as a Battalion Commandant in the IRA and took part in a number of attacks in Connacht during the War of Independence. He commanded the Merlin Park Ambush on 21 August 1920 and his family home was then looted and burned to the ground by the Black and Tans. He joined the republican side during the Civil War and fought against the National Army in Galway city in July 1922. This Revolver and holster belonged to Brian Molloy whose grandson Seán kindly donated it to Galway City Museum.
Above L: Revolvers displayed in the Revolution in Galway, 1913-1923 exhibition. Above R: Brian Molloy’s Revolver – latest addition to the exhibition.
Thanks to Seán Molloy, Pamela Lyng and the Galway Diocesan Archives, Galway for entrusting Galway City Museum with the care and display of these objects. Loans and donations such as these help bring history to life and give us a better understanding of Galway’s revolutionary story.