The Carlow branch of the I.T.G.W.U. was established in
1918 having as its founder members Patrick Purcell, Quinagh, Carlow;
Michael Brophy, late of Dublin Road, a plasterer; Edward Walsh, a
plasterer, Graiguecullen, and Tim Brennan, a labourer. Mr. Purcell is
the only surviving member still hale and hearty.
The first Branch President was the late Patrick
Comerford, Burrin Street, a carpenter, with Carlow Urban District
Council, and he had as Vice-President the late Dick Rodgers, Castle
Hill, a carpenter in Corcoran’s Mineral Waters.
In 1919 the first office of the branch was vacated by
the union as it had been rented only for one year. It was opposite the
old Vocational School in Dublin Street, where they operated until around
1962.... when they moved to the present office in Barrack Street. This
premises was formerly the old Protestant School.
In 1919 the late Paudge MacGamhna (Patrick Gaffney) was
elected President of the branch, a position he held until 1943 having as
Vice-Presidents over the ensuing years the late Peter O’Brien, male
nurse, St. Dympna’s Hospital; the late William Jackson, storeman, Goods
Hardware; Paddy Coffey, malting; Michael Brennan, petrol and oil; John
O’Brien, retired C.S.E. Teo; the late John Nolan, Corcoran & Co.; Thomas
Kelly, Thompsons; Martin Doyle, Cold Rolling Mills; the late Thomas
Brennan, Barrow Mills, and Harry Byrne, C.S.E, Teo. All of the above
have also acted as Branch Presidents at various times.
The position of Secretary to the branch in the early
years was part-time and the first Secretary was Patrick (Nipper)
O’Toole; Tom Donnelly (baker) also held the position. The late Liam
Ellis, BA., was the first full-time Secretary until his appointment to
Carlow/Kildare Health Board, St. Dympna’s Hospital. The late Stephen
Carroll, a Laois man; Paddy Mullane of Cork, Tom McCarthy, Dublin, and
Michael O’Leary, Minister for Labour in the Inter-Party Government, also
served as Branch Secretary in Carlow, as did Jim Buckley who later
transferred to head office in Dublin. Brian Kennedy served for sixteen
years until he retired on health grounds.
Patrick Purcell c1983
Labour Organising in a County Town