The Connacht Mineral Water Company

The Connacht Mineral Water Company was incorporated 80 years ago tomorrow, on July 6 1938. The first board meeting was held on July 18 and the following were appointed as directors: John Keane, chairman; John E Cotter, vice-chairman; and Paul O’Dea, secretary and managing director.

The company manufactured mineral waters, was a beer and ale wholesaler, and in the early days sold groceries as well. The head office was at the top of High Street, where overhead a Mrs Madden had a dressmaking business. Behind the office was an area where staff member Michael Joe Walsh bottled whiskey and rum, and behind that again was a space which extended to Middle Street where they bottled the mineral waters. They used the water from a well in Oranmore which was ideal for blending the whiskey.

On the other side of Middle Street the company occupied a building known as Corbett’s Yard where Darby Kelleher stored and repaired cases, etc, and where they stored the ciders, Babychams, and Carlsberg.

The main premises was in Lombard Street where there was a pasteuriser and workers bottled the ales and beers which they then distributed to pubs throughout the region. Each delivery truck has a salesman and a driver. They were obviously very good at looking for work – Harry O’Connor regularly drove a truck to Dublin Docks and collected two tanks of Monk’s Lager. They would bottle and label this in Lombard Street and then deliver the lot to Walsh’s in Westport, which in turn would distribute the beer to the pubs in Achill. This was the favourite beer of the Achill men who went to work in the UK so there was plenty of custom for it on the island.

When John Keane (who owned Tigh Catháin in Carraroe ) died, John Cotter bought his shares. He eventually sold these on to Guinness which, in November 1969, had a controlling interest and appointed three of its nominees as directors with Paul O’Dea remaining as managing director.

The company was based in several locations in town but when it moved to the vacant Hat Factory premises in Bohermore c1971, it was able to put the entire business under one roof, and make it a lot more efficient. The plant was moved out to Oranmore c2000 and in 2004, it was taken over by Gleesons.

Our photograph of the staff was taken on a trip to the Guinness Brewery in 1969.

They are, front row, from left: Seamus McEvoy, Newcastle; Owen Lysaght, Guinness; Jack Colreavy, Fr Burke Road; Martin Moran, Woodquay/Renmore; Valerie Broderick, University Road; Darby Kelleher, Newcastle; Mary Forde, Annaghdown; Paul O’Dea, St Mary’s Road; Maureen Keady; a Guinness employee; Eamonn Cotter, Salthill; Johnny Hynes, Claddagh; Michael Lally, Hidden Valley/Mervue; Martin Glynn, Shantalla; Frank Sheehan, Guinness.

Second row: Ned Coughlan, Woodquay; Paddy O’Donnell, Newcastle; Tony McPhilbin, Bowling Green; Jimmy Gannon, Barna; Pat Maloney, Rahoon; Tommy Keane, Colmcille Road; PJ Duffy, Frenchville; Martin Tierney, Sickeen; Pádraic O’Connor, Knocknacarra; Johnny Maloney, Ballindooley; Michael McNamara, Claddagh; Bartley Lenihan, Woodquay/Mervue; Ned Doyle, Cross Street; Mike Lardner, Castlegar; Mike Casserley, Hidden Valley.

Third row: Joe Flaherty, Annaghdown/Eyre Street; Joe Coady from the Loughrea office; Joe McNamara, Claddagh; Tom ‘Bomber’ McDonagh, St John’s Terrace; Michael Joe Walsh, High Street; Padraic Maloney, Coill Uachtar; Martin Griffin, Claddagh/Shantalla; Willie Corcoran, Bohermore; Padraic Casserley, Water Lane; Frank McDermott, Salthill; Michael Joyce, McDara Road; Noel Glynn, Claddagh; Pat Hanley, Hidden Valley.

Fourth row: John Burke, Bowling Green; Patsy Hardiman, Hidden Valley/Shantalla; Dennis Connolly, Barna/Shantalla; Jack Ward, St Mary’s Road/Shantalla.; Paddy Oliver, Claddagh; Harry O’Connor, Bowling Green; Tommy Gannon, Barna; Michael O’Neill, Claddagh; Pat McNamara, Claddagh; Martin Hynes, Claddagh; Jackie Kenny, Carnmore; Paddy Glynn, Cooke’s Terrace; and Mike Connell, Claddagh.

Our thanks to the Old Galwegian who gave us this photograph and to Harry O’Connor for all his help.

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