19 Mrs Nora Farragher

Mrs Nora Farragher
Bernadette Feerick
Mrs Nora Farragher
Bernadette Feerick, Nora's daughter
Glebe Street
Averil Staunton
Glebe Street in the old days
Mayo County Library, postcard collection

Nora Farragher (nee Gibbons) was born 18th December 1918 in Derrew, Partry. She was the 12th child of 14 born to her parents Martin & Catherine Gibbons. She arrived during the flu epidemic and it was important that she made no contact with her father who was ill at the time. When her mother passed away when she was 16, and as her older siblings had by now emigrated to England and America, she had to remain at home and do all the farm and household duties with her father.

Leaving Home

When she decided to leave home, she moved to Ballinrobe and worked in the Railway Hotel on the Kilmaine Rd owned by Katie Moran. Nora cooked, baked, dressed beds along with serving in the Dining Room. That was where she met the love of her life, James (Jim) Farragher, in the 1940s from Cahercroobeen, Ballinrobe, who was working in the saw-mills next door to the Hotel, which was also owned by the Moran Family.


On 18th March, 1943, Nora and Jim, along with her friend and brother got permits to go and work in Northern Ireland and while there they decided to get married. At that time, you could not get married during Lent so shortly before, on 16th February 1944, in St Malachy’s Church, Coleraine, Nora and Jim tied the knot. Not long after, a police officer came knocking on their door, informing them that they would have to leave Northern Ireland as they had only a permit to work as single people. Nora was working for an English family at the time and when she informed them that she had to move home, they gave her a good monetary bonus before she left.

First Child

They returned to Mayo, initially to Ballintubber, where their first child Christy was born in a house owned by her sister who lived in America. They then moved to Derrew, Partry, where Martin her second child was born. After some time, they rented a house on Glebe St, Ballinrobe where the twins, James and John and later Patricia were born.

Move to Glebe Street

There they set up a little shop, selling the usual commodities, tea, sugar, bread, cigarettes and sweets, including homemade ice-cream, which Nora learned to make. Food was scarce in the 1940’s and early 1950’s. By this time, Nora had five young children, which meant that she could sell some of the extra ‘food rations’ in the shop. At night Nora held card games in the shop for tea and sugar, which brought in a few extra shillings for her family.

Built Home

In 1951, there was now two sites across the road from the shop for sale. One was Bobby Sheridan’s and the other was Lydon’s. They bought the two for £90 and built what was to be their home, until they retired to Chapel Road in 1983. Their family grew to eleven children, five boys and six girls. The Sisters of Mercy and many others often commented on how well Nora’s children were dressed and well cared for.

Maple Ballroom

In 1961 Nora and Jim bought the Maple Ballroom on Bowgate St, now the Tacu Youth Centre, where they held bingo, féis and dances. Nora looked after the ticket box and Jim took care of the bands. They would always have a Race Dance and a Show Dance, and one year they got Charles Mitchell, the news reader on RTÉ, to judge the best dancer on the night.  The dancehall was sold it again in 1971, as it wasn’t as profitable as they had hoped.

Nora Opens Shop

In 1966 while Jim was working in England, Nora decided to open a shop in her home in Glebe St. It started out very small with nothing but a few loaves of bread, butter, tea, sweets and ice-cream to draw in the children. As Nora was a super baker, she had her own brown bread and apple tarts for sale, which people came from near and far to buy. Nora also used to supply Moran’s Cafe, on Cornmarket and many other businesses with her baking.

Sold her Home-grown Products

She also sold lettuce, scallions, cabbage and rhubarb which she grew in the garden at the rear of the shop. Ashford Castle was also supplied with her rhubarb which President Nixon’s wife said was lovely when she stayed at the castle. There was a big back yard at the rear of the shop, where her children and their friends played for hours on end, making house, playing shop, etc. From time to time the children would organise a play in the shed, where the whole street would come and pay a penny to see the performance. Nora expanded the shop over the years with the help of her son John, who was a carpenter that made the counter and all the shelves.

A Hub for Young People

Nora’s shop in the 1970’s and 80’s was, as they call it these days, a hub, for young people to catch up in the evenings, talk about the upcoming movies in the cinema on Bridge St, what band was playing in Cummins’ Lounge on New St or the upcoming dance in the Town Hall.

Both young and old confided in Nora with their problems for which she gave her honest advice. As mentioned, Nora was a great cook, and if she had some unexpected guests for the dinner, she would always make sure there was enough for everyone.  Her motto was “divide small and serve all”.


Nora enjoyed knitting and often made jumpers for her children. She played the button accordion and her favourite song was ‘Pal of my Cradle Days’.  She also enjoyed playing the card game ‘whist’ with her friends and family in the kitchen at night.


Nora loved to spend time in Lisdoonvarna and Enniscrone. She never drove a car and it was one of the things she had regretted as it would have given her independence in later years. She travelled to Rome with her son Martin, to Lourdes with Marion and London on a number of occasions to see her family there and Chicago with Marion and Teresa where most of her siblings had settled, some of whom she had not seen since they left Ireland in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

A Simple but very Productive Life

Life was simple with Nora. She didn’t look for much, but enjoyed seeing everyone else get on well. Nora was a great provider and worked hard for her family. She was an honest, generous, patient and forgiving person. She taught her family to nurture each other and if you want something in life, you must work for it. Nora’s husband Jim was involved and very successful in lots of different projects over his lifetime. They say behind every good man is a good woman, however, in this case we would surely say a super woman. She discussed and supported him in many of his projects through life. Nora’s husband Jim, predeceased her on 3rd June 1992 and Nora passed away on 17th July 2005.

With 13 siblings and a large family herself, her motto was ‘divide small and serve all’ of which she did in all aspects of life.

 Ar dheis de go raibh a anam dilis.

Comments about this page

  • Yes, Thomas Molloy married Margaret Farragher from Cahercroobern, Ballinrobe and they lived in Cornmarket opposite the Forge where Thomas worked and their son Joe worked there later. Their son Tommy or Snook as he was called was a great Snooker player and worked in Healys garage until he moved in his retirement to Milford, Connecticut where his sister Mary lived with her husband John and family!

    By Bernadette Feerick (04/04/2024)
  • Hi! I couldn’t read your full comment, Michelle but yes, Margaret Farragher married Thomas Molloy and they had a forge in Cornmarket.

    Margaret Farragher was my Grandaunt. Were you connected to the Farraghers or Molloys, Margaret had two sons, Tommy and Joe and one daughter Mary. Mary emigrated to the USA. Sadly both Tommy and Joe have passed away but thankfully Mary is still alive in Milford, Connecticut. 

    Editor: Michelle’s full comment was uploaded as she wrote it… 

    By Bernadette Feerick (04/04/2023)
  • Very interesting story, as I believe a Farragher married a Molloy, who had the garage on corn exchange, I wonder if this the same family, my family….

    By Michelle Fox (04/02/2023)

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