Our photograph today, which is courtesy of Pat McPhilbin from Emmett Avenue in Mervue, shows a large factory building which was constructed by Sisk’s (with Jack Lillis in charge ) on a site on Sandy Road in the early fifties. It was to house an industry called Galway Textile Printers which was known locally as ‘The Cotton Factory’, and even more colloquially as ‘The Cotton’. There already was a hat factory and a china factory here, but GTP was the first major industry to come to Galway and quickly became one of the biggest employers in the west of Ireland. Some of those who worked there were specialists who were brought in to help set the factory up, but most employees were local.
The factory specialised in roller printing cotton fabrics which were exclusively for export and were mostly used to make ladies’ dresses, curtains, etc. Some of those who worked in this department were a Mr Taylor and Joe Swallow from the UK, as well as Jackie Burke, Brod Conneely, and Martin Murphy. GTP also handprinted silks on special screenprinting tables which were 100 yards long. This was done by Dickie O’Connor, ‘Kruger’ Griffin, Mick Courtney, John Shaughnessy, ‘Mossy’ Power, Eamonn Naughton, and John O’Gorman. All of the dyes and colours were mixed in ‘The Colour Kitchen’ by Joe Lally, Mick Kelly and Paddy Concannon under the watchful eye of Pat Connolly from Castlegar.
Patricia Murray was the chief designer, helped by Hilary Martin, Paddy McDonagh, and a man named Nepker. Jimmy O’Connell was in the colour department; Jimmy Barry and Paddy McDonagh were in dyeing; Eamonn Fay was in charge of the stores; Johnny Harrison was at the sanforiser; Dennis Lally and Paddy O’Brien were in bleaching; The overseer in finishing was an American named Cooney, and you would also find Eugene O’Sullivan, Joe Canavan, Paddy Lenihan, Gay Walsh, Michael Naughton, Peter Griffin, and Robert Garvey there; Theresa Darcy, Pauline Nolan, Kevin Crowley, Mattie Costelloe, Josephine Carrick, and Mick Quaine were in dispatch.
Among those in the office were Una Walsh, Anne Watson, Mary Farrell, Theresa Rabbitt, Bernie and Marie Phillips, Kay Kilgarriff, Carmel Casey, Jennifer Molloy, Michael Fox, Louis O’Grady, Brendan O’Beirne, Rose and Dermot Bray, Laura Browne, Mickey Walsh, Noel Gilmore, Bobby Molloy, Peter Burke, and Peter Molloy. Dennis O’Brien was in charge of the wages. A Polish man named Frank Kulicki worked as a carpenter, as did Johnny Cox, Peter Keady, and Joe Coffey, and ‘Staff’ Higgins, Mickey Colbert, ‘Ginger’ Noone, and Martin Welby were in maintenance. Anne Lally and Brendan Hayes worked in the laboratory; Des Kenny was in personnel and later became export manager.
There were many others employed there, too numerous to mention. They had a good soccer team known as Silva United and a Gaelic team who won their division of the Inter-Firms in 1975. They played regular home and away hurling games against Sunbeam in Cork. After one of those games and a few pints, Eddie Abberton was seen crying. When asked why, he replied that he had passed the ball to Mogan Duggan (who also played for Liam Mellows ) and he buried it in the net. “I’ll never be able to show my face in Castlegar again.”
The company did a lot of business with Jannink & Zonen in Enschede in Holland. In 1963, an American Company called Cranston took over the plant. It eventually closed down and the factory building lay empty for some time. Today it houses a number of small industries.