There was great sadness in Killybegs as the community came together to bid farewell to Michael Gallagher who died suddenly at the of 65.
Hundreds of mourners gathered for Requiem Mass in St Mary’s Church, Killybegs last Wednesday morning. As well as Mr Gallagher’s extended family, mourners included members of the fishing community from around Ireland and some of the many people who worked for him in Killybegs over the years.
Addressing Mr Gallagher’s family, Very Rev Colm Ó’Gallaghóir said: “Your loss is great, all the more so as death came unexpectedly and unannounced.”
Quoting a Mass reading, Fr Ó'Gallachóir said: “Life is judged not by its length but by its moral quality.”
Mr Gallagher was a native of Main Street, Killybegs. He was born on January 8, 1953, the third youngest of nine children born to Jack and Maude Gallagher.
He attended a number of primary schools in the wider area.
Fr Ó’Gallachóir said: “In those days children were more inclined to be moved from school to school, helping to keep the numbers up in a particular school or in pursuit of good teachers.
Mr Gallagher attended the old Niall Mór school, Commons NS, Fintra NS, Roshine NS as well as schools in Bunbeg and Glencolmcille where his brother Patrick taught.
The priest recalled a story about Mr Gallagher’s time at Commons NS. Tommy Blaine spotted him out and about during school hours and asked him wasn’t he supposed to be in school.
Young Michael replied: “Ah, I went in there earlier but there wasn’t much happening.”
Like most boys in the area, Mr Gallagher worked at the pier in Killybegs from a young age. H also looked after cows at home.
“He had a happy, colourful childhood,” said Fr Ó’Gallachóir.
It was while buying and selling fish in Killybegs that Mr Gallagher met Easter (née McDonagh) who was a member of a Galway fishing family. The couple married, settled in Killybegs and had three children.
In 1994 they built the hotel Spanish arch in Quay St, Galway.
Since returning to Killybegs, Mr Gallagher had been running a very successful fishing family business, Gallagher Brothers Fish Merchants Ltd while also looking after a salmon farm. Former employees remember his as always being willing to give them a start in the industry. Indeed, he gave many local people got their first job.
Fair and Honest
Fr Ó’Gallachóir described him as hard-working, fair and honest.
The priest added: “Michael earned huge respect in the fishing industry and will be sorely missed.
“He had a good way with him, a good word for everyone, a good sense of fun and a great sense of humour. He was a real people’s person and a great family man.
“Michael was good news. He gave of his time and counsel generously. He kept the faith, he lived the faith, he fought the good fight to the end, he ran the race to the finish. This morning we pray that he has now dropped anchor securely in the safe waters of heaven where he finds a kindly welcome.”
Mr Gallagher is survived by his wife Easter; children Roislinn, Phelim and Cormac; brothers Patrick, Frank, Tadhg and Eamon; sisters Mai and Anne; and a wide circle of family and friends.
He was laid to rest in Killybegs cemetery following last Wednesday’s Requiem Mass.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.
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