In the year 1900, Patrick Holland had a travelling shop near Athenry. He later opened a shop there and is credited with having the first car in the town. In 1914 he met Dorinda Egan and it was love at first sight. They married and had five children Brendan, Michael, Maureen, Angela and John. They eventually moved to Galway in 1930, and tried to set up a business in Dominick St. but the bank would not give them the money. They eventually managed to buy the premises of Mary Leahy’s Newsagency in Williamsgate Street.
They set up their own business called ‘The Cigar Divan’ there in 1931. They sold all classes of cigarettes and tobacco (the ‘Gailliv’ mixture a speciality ), confectionery, fruit and newspapers. The family lived over the shop and the children all helped in the business as they got older. Angela was very active in the shop but sadly died aged only nineteen from meningitis. Brendan went to UCG and graduated with a commerce degree and became an accountant in Waterford. Michael and John served their time in Naughton’s in Shop St.
Patrick Holland died in 1945 and his wife continued to run the business, but asked Brendan to join in with her. In 1946, Michael opened a newsagency and tobacco shop on Mainguard Street. He married Cáit Lydon and they had three children, Michael, Pat and David. This shop ran very successfully until it was burned down by a fire in 1967. They managed to rebuild very quickly and reopened as usual. Michael died in 1978 and his wife and son David continued the business until the mid-1990’s when they sold the building to Blacoe Jewellers.
In 1947, Brendan married Mona Ward from Lower Salthill and they had seven children Frank, Patrick, Brendan, Sean, Richard, Dorinda and Gráinne. Brendan got Jack Deacy, the fishmonger from High Street to teach his brother John how to fillet fish, and in 1950, he bought the premises of 25, William Street and set up John, with a lot of help from Tommy Flaherty, in his own fish shop. This venture flourished and eventually expanded to become the Galway Bay Seafood Factory at the Docks. John married Eva Murray and they had seven children, Michael, Maura, Sheila, Jean, Johnny, Noel and Chris, two of whom, Noel and Johnny, now run the business.
O’Donovan’s shop, known as The Connacht Fruit Stores, was next door to Hollands on Williamsgate Street and in 1954 it came on the market and Brendan managed to buy it in spite of the very high price. Now, they ran the two shops as separate business with Mona selling greeting cards in the new section. They were fortunate that there was little or no damage to their premises in the big fire of 1971. In 1991, both shops were joined together.
In 1960, Brendan went into politics and became an elected member of the Corporation and eventually Mayor of Galway. He died in 1989 and his son Brendan now runs the business with some help from his daughter Lynda, the fourth generation to be involved. In the last ninety years, the Holland family have made a major contribution to life in this city in the fields of commerce, sport, community service, politics etc. and no doubt, Lynda will carry on that tradition. Our photograph shows Dorinda Holland outside the Williamsgate Street shop in 1938.
All of the above comes from an article by William Henry in the latest edition of St. Patrick’s Parish Magazine which is a great addition to every Galway library. It is profusely illustrated and full of interesting articles and information and is a terrific bargain at only 5 euro. It is available at Hynes’ Shop in Forster Street and in the Post Office on Prospect Hill. Recommended.