Turtle Bunbury

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Above: Frank Galvin and his wife
Anna Clara Pinochet Vargas
on their wedding day in Chile.
(c. 1900).


If you are interested in Chile's links to Ireland, click this link to enjoy a story about Juan McKenna and Bernardo O'Higgins who fought for Chilean independence.


Many years later, as he lay shivering on his deathbed in the hot, dry Peruvian sun, Frank Galvin must have thought back to the demise of his own father. The death of James Galvin thirty years earlier had almost destroyed the family. The old man’s demise was attributed to tuberculosis and that same disease is probably what had caused Frank to abandon his post as a teacher in Chile and seek the healthier climes of Peru. Frank’s beloved older brother Jim had perished in Australia five years earlier, cause unknown. His younger brother Mike may also have contracted TB, or something similar, in New York. And it seems likely that Frank’s other brother Tom, his companion in South America, was also riddled with the disease. Frank Galvin passed away on 7th August 1906 in Cayma, Arequipa, southern Peru. He was 30 years old. Just under a year earlier, a violent earthquake tore through the streets of Valparaiso in Chile where Frank had probably taught for many years. It is thought that his brother Tom was among the 3,000 people killed in the earthquake. Frank was survived by a daughter, who married into a prominent Chilean political dynasty, and her children are alive today in the early 21st century. Another branch of the Galvins lives on in Australia. But, with all six Galvin brothers dead before they reached the age of 35, it was a very close call for the Galvin name to survive into the 20th century.


It is not yet known where the Galvin family came from. There are records of Galvins (Gallavans, Gallwan, Galvan etc) in Counties Cork and Waterford in the 16th century. Family lore holds that Frank’s forbears came from Kilroe, Co. Tipperary, before settling in the mountainous terrain of Ballyporeen.[i] The first identifiable member of the family is Frank’s grandfather, James Gallavan of Lisfuncheon in Ballyporeen. On Easter Monday 1797, he was appointed Church Warden at a Vestry Meeting held in Templetenny Parish, Ballyporeen, a position that was confirmed again in 1810. This was a Church of Ireland posting so clearly the family converted to Catholicism at some point in the ensuing three decades. In the early 18th century, the Roman Catholics of Ballyporeen (or Templetenny) worshipped in a thatched chapel at Carrigvisteale. In 1816, the year Frank Galvin’s father was born, a new church was completed at Burncourt.[ii] If James Gallavan was still active at this point, he would have been a contemporary of the Rev. Peter Sexton, who administered the affairs of Ballyporeen parish from 1816 until he retired in 1828, shortly before Daniel O’Connell’s Catholic Emancipation movement secured the vote for 19,000 Irish Catholics.[iii]

It seems likely that James was dead by 1828. He is not mentioned in the 1825 Tithe Applotments for Templetenny. Instead, these refer to Michael Gallavan and Catherine Gallavan, a widow, both holding land at Lisfuncheon. This implies that Catherine was James’s wife and that he was deceased. As his son James was just nine years old at this point, it makes sense that the land was in Catherine’s name. By 1834, the same land was in the name of ‘James Galvin’, then 18-years-old. Michael Gallavan (Galvin in 1834) had land in both Lisfuncheon and Balllyporeen and was perhaps James’s brother (or older son), which would explain the origin of a second branch of the Galvin family in Lisfuncheon.[iv]

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Above: The church in Templetenny where the Galvin's forbear appears
to have worshipped in the 18th and early 19th century.

JAMES GALVIN (1816-1877)

The 1846 Returns for the “Barony of Ifa and Ofa” refer to ‘James Gallwan’, merchant, of Lisfuncheon as a freehold farmer.[v] This is almost certainly Frank Galvin’s father James who was born in 1816, a year after the Duke of Wellington finally silenced Napoleon’s canons on the battlefield of Waterloo. Nothing is yet known of James’s childhood, save that his father would have had to contend with the economic recession that plagued Ireland in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, as well as several bad harvests in the early 1820s. According to the 1834 Tithe Applotment book for the diocese of Lismore, James Galvin of Lisfuncheon held 64 acres and one perch, most probably from Lord Lismore or Lord Kingston. Michael Galvin, who was likely to be his brother or uncle, held 21 acres, one rood and three perches. The lands around Lisfuncheon and Ballyporeen were considered more fertile than those in neighbouring areas.[vi]


James Galvin was 46-years-old when he found himself an 18-year-old bride.Her name was Catherine Cussen and she was born at Rossbog in the Glen of Aherlow. Born on the eve of the Great Famine in 1844, she would endure a life of great hardship, outliving her husband and six sons, before her death just weeks before the Easter Rebellion of 1916. The Cussen family has been in Ireland since at least the 13th century. Their principal seat was at Farrahy, near Kildorrery, Co. Cork, which was renamed Bowenscourt when the Welsh family of Bowen (Ap Owen), ancestors of writer Elizabeth Bowen, acquired the property during the Cromwellian regime. Family lore holds that the name derives from the Norse ‘Cu’s Son’ and that Cu was a Viking who held land near Galbally, Co. Limerick. And it was in Galbally that James Galvin and Catherine Cussen were married on 25 February 1862, with Thomas Galvin and Kate Leary standing as witness.[vii]


The 28-year age gap notwithstanding, Catherine bore her husband at least nine children, six sons and three daughters. This began with the birth of a daughter on 7 April 1863 whom they called Ellen. In later decades, the Galvin children would recall their childhood years with great fondness. Contemporary photographs of James and Catherine indicate that they were reasonably well-off at this time. However, it is assumed that two of their sons died in childhood, namely John, their firstborn son (christened in Lisfuncheon on 18th April 1866), and William (baptized in Lisfuncheon on 17 August 1871, four days before the annual fair in Ballyporeen).[viii]

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Above: This woman is believed to have been either
Catherine Galvin (nee Cussen) or Ellen Gorman (nee Galvin).


The summer of 1877 was one of the worst in living memory. Relentless rain throughout August destroyed the oat crops and left potatoes rotting in the ground all across Ireland. At some point during the summer, James Galvin contracted tuberculosis. He died at Lisfuncheon aged 60, possibly 61, on 3rd September.[ix] Ellen, his oldest child, was just fourteen years old. Life for his 33-year-old widow and his children was not about to get any easier. The harvest of 1878 was also poor while that of 1879 was the worst since the Great Famine. Indeed, 1879 was the coldest and wettest year since records began. It rained for 125 days in the six months between March and September, or two out of every three days. By the close of 1879, the Irish peasantry had been stirred into action, aghast at reports of widespread evictions of small tenant farmers who owed perhaps two or three years of rent. The Irish National Land League was formed in October 1879 ‘to put an end to Rack-renting, Eviction and Landlord Oppression’. As small farmers, the Galvins would have been amongst those dealt the hardest blow by the dire weather and the severe economic crisis that accompanied it. The potato crop was ravaged by blight and whatever turf Catherine’s small children were able to gather from the bogs had no chance to dry. One wonders if her two sons died during this period.

Certainly the family fortune vanished. It is unlikely that it was squandered. Given the excellence of her children’s English grammar and writing ability, not to mention their globe-trotting ambitions, it seems more likely that the money was spent on their education. At least two of her sons trained as priests and two daughters became nuns. Ireland remained a complicated and economically uncertain country for much of the 1880s, an era which began with the Land Wars raging across the island and which was characterised by events such as the assassination of the Irish Chief Secretary in Phoenix Park, the collapse of Gladstone’s efforts to secure Home Rule for Ireland and the rise and fall of Charles Stewart Parnell.

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Above: 'Sister Francis' of the Sisters of Mercy
in Portlaw, Co. Waterford, was christened
Catherine Galvin. She died in 1940.


By the mid-1880s, Catherine still had six children under the age of 18. Jim, her oldest son and the natural heir to the farm, was not yet 16 years old. On 4th August 1883, three weeks before the annual Ballyporeen August Fair, her 19-year-old second daughter Mary entered the Ursuline Convent in Thurles where she became known as ‘Sister Brigid’.[x] The following year, on 10th May 1884, Catherine’s youngest daughter Katie Galvin (1867-1940) entered the Sisters of Mercy Covent in Portlaw, Suir View, Co. Waterford, becoming ‘Sister Francis’.[xi] She was just three weeks shy of her 17th birthday and would remain in Portlaw until her death over half a century later, despite the fact that a branch Convent of Sisters of Mercy was established in Ballyporeen in 1887 to run the Girls’ National School there.[xii] That autumn the community at large was plunged into a wider crisis when Land League leader John Mandeville organized a rent strike on the estate of Lady Kingston near Mitchesltown. On 3rd September, police opened fire on a Land League meeting in Mitchelstown, leaving three men dead.


In about 1886, Catherine Galvin took a gamble and arranged a marriage between her eldest daughter Ellen Galvin (1863-1938), known as Ellie, and Michael Gorman (1844-1921), a farmer some twenty years her senior, who was based at Ballywilliam House in Ballyporeen.[xiii] Some mystery surrounds Mike Gorman’s ancestry. His father, Morgan Gorman had seemingly started his working life as a labourer on a farm belonging to the Hon. James King, while living in a small shack in the neighbourhood.[xiv] However, by the time of Griffith’s Valuations in August 1852, he had taken a lease on 54 acres at Ballywilliam and, before long, he had moved into Ballywilliam House itself.[xv] His relatively quick rise from humble shack to Georgian house inclines one to think Morgan may have been more closely related to the Hon. James King than was officially stated. When Ellen Galvin married Mike Gorman, it appears that the Galvin family farm at Lisfuncheon was her dowry.


The marriage brought an end to the Galvin ownership of the farm, a situation which propelled Ellie’s oldest brother James to leave for Australia. It seems the family were utterly bankrupt at this time for, as Ellie’s brother Tom Galvin (then studying with the Jesuits at Mungret College in Limerick) later wrote to Jim (then in Sydney), ‘you know very well how affairs were the time Ellie got married’. In 1892, Tom advised Jim that ‘Ellie has now three children. Mike is getting in very well, but they don’t agree very well yet’. In another letter, Tom assured his brother that Mike was ‘very kind to us and he does his very best to make our vocation as pleasant as possible’. When Jim dared to suggest that Ellie had betrayed the family, Tom defended her heatedly, saying she had done all she could to provide money for her siblings, and to help Tom and their brother Frank go to College with the result that ‘God knows she looks over fifty years of age so worn is she with care and trouble. She has to look for something for Frank and myself, she has to stand between Mike and mother with their stores and has to take care of her children. Mother as usual talks much, blusters much, and Mike also talks. Whatever each of them have to say about the other it is Ellie that comes in for the whole of it’. Tom later described Ellie as ‘a very cute business woman who cares little about the gossip of talkers; she quickly settles her business and drives home straight’. Likewise, Mike is ‘a steady businessman’ who, by then, had ’17 cows, 1 mare and a 4 year old and a 2 year old, 12 calves and some sheep ... He is not tight but still he is no fool with his money. Indeed, he is always kind to myself and Frank. Of course he takes some little drink and not having much bearing of it he then lets the money fly’.

Tom Galvin enjoyed playing with his red-headed Gorman nephews and nieces whom he knew as Annie, Kathy, Mary Ann, Ellie and Morgan. ‘They are fine sturdy things and are very funny’. Undoubtedly the Galvins needed cheering up.[xvi] In 1892, Catherine, the matriarch, was stricken with influenza so badly that her son Tom described her as ‘now very thin, her eyes are sunk in her head … she has a fearful cough which almost smothers her and her hair is quite white … she has no clothes but rags, no boots but old castaways ... the very beggars on the road are far better clad than her’. The Galvin’s sister Mary, now known as Sister Brigid, was at the Ursulines in Thurles at the time. In February 1893, her younger brother Thomas described her as ‘very thin, but strong in a normal spirit. Indeed, she is quite lively and interesting’.


Undoubtedly one of the greatest blows to the family was the emigration of James, known as Jamesie or Jim, the eldest surviving son. Born in Ballyporeen in the summer of 1868, he was just nine years old when his father died.[xvii] He comes across as a charming and amusing boy and his younger brothers would later recall much gallivanting about, ‘tricks and fun … pleasant trips and exciting adventures’. In early 1889, the 21-year-old took a ship to Australia, almost certainly in protest that the farm had effectively been sold out from under him to Mike Gorman.

He initially worked as a miner in the deep reef gold fields of Gympie in southeast Queensland. One wonders was he the James Galvin fined £2 and 12 shillings on a charge of drunkenness and obscene language in Brisbane in December 1892.[xviii] By 1892 he had found work on ‘the bustling streets of Sydney’, over 10,000 miles away from ‘the sunny meads of Lisfuncheon’, as his younger brother Tom recalled them.[xix] Ostensibly Jim was a carpenter but Tom described his employment circa early 1892 as ‘a wretched job and I would advise you to try some other’.[xx]

Whatever reasons brought him to Australia, Jim was not able to escape from his family responsibilities. His younger brother Tom was particularly hot under the collar that some of Jim’s new found wealth from ‘Down Under’ be sent home to help those on the sunny meads. ‘It is now drawing near summer and I will badly want clothes for my examinations’, wrote Tom in late 1892. ‘I must rely on your bounty for them and hope you will send me something before the end of April. You just know how badly I want them and how hard it is to get them. Share then for the sake of your poor brothers your purse. Try and induce some of our rich friends there to send us a helping hand’.

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Above: Francis 'Frank' Galvin.


Thomas F. Galvin, or Tom, was James and Catherine’s fourth son, born in November 1872.[xxi] Shortly after Jim’s departure for Australia, Tom entered Mungret College, a Jesuit apostolic school just outside Limerick City which was established in 1882 by Father William Ronan. As Lord Emly put it in the autumn of 1888, Mungret was ‘the only Catholic college outside Dublin which confines itself altogether to university education. It has magnificent buildings, ample lecture halls, and one of the most beautiful chapels in Ireland.’ At the end of 1890, Tom was one of just three students at Mungret (from 25 examined) to obtain his Bachelor of Arts degree. The following year, he was joined at the college by his freckle-faced red-headed younger brother Francis, known as Frank.[xxii] It’s likely the two brothers were amongst the college’s seminarians who were housed in Limerick City.[xxiii] In 1891, Frank gained a distinction in First Arts (French) and Second Arts (Latin) and matriculated in Latin. The following year, he came second in a class of 40 boys. In 1894, he was one of four students (from 35 examined) who earned a BA. Frank was a contemporary of a young apostolic called Michael Joseph Curley who would go on to become Archbishop of both Baltimore and Washington.

The brothers were clearly progressing well but education cost and it was money they did not have. On top of this, Tom had developed considerable problems with his eyes which, by February 1893, brought him ‘no peace or rest night or day’.[xxiv] He had planned to go to Australia for his mission, probably to the great river boat port of Wilcania on the River Darling in New South Wales. But to get there he would need money. As such, he sent Jim a rather intimidating letter urging him to lend him some money so that he could afford his passage out of Ireland. ‘To whom can I turn if not to you’, asked Tom. ‘Do not think that your money is wanted to be squandered. If you don’t send me some money I can’t possibly get on. It will happen then that I must give up all ideas of becoming a priest. But dear brother will you allow it to be said that you were the cause of this? Will you allow people to say that I am destroyed in my future business because an elder brother failed to give him a few pounds in his hour of need? You have ever held for me the place of a father – on you I call in my need. Our dear father when he closed his eyes on the miserable world bade you to watch over and care for us. What account will you give him when you die?’

Jim had become estranged from his family by this time, undoubtedly still bitter at the loss of the farm and the ‘dear home of our forefathers’ which had been due him. ‘Fully four years have passed since you departed from Ireland to find a home in the far off land of Australia’, wrote Tom. ‘You set off from the home you loved so well to a strange clime with no better help than your own individual energy and shrewd good sense’. However, while Tom praises ‘our happy home where we grew up beneath the ever-watchful care of a loving mother’, he also wonders why the bonds of love between siblings, ‘cherished by a dear mother, fostered and ripened by out mutual attachment, [must] now cease’. Tom expressed particular concern at Jim’s failure to write to their brother Frank. He warned that the young man had grown ‘very wild’ and was ‘fearfully vexed’ that Jim, whom he had hero-worshipped and played with a lot as a child, never wrote. Tom complained that he had repeatedly written to Jim, seeking assistance, but had not received even a line of reply, despite the fact their aunt Johanna had assured him the letters arrived safely. ‘Surely the warm sun of Australia does not affect you so much as to make you forget your poor dear mother and your loving brothers and sisters’.

In fairness, Tom does say that the money he requires is not just for himself, but also for Frank, who was at Mungret with him. In February 1893, Tom wrote that Frank would most likely be Philadelphia bound that summer. At any event, neither the Philadelphia trip nor the Wilcania mission happened, probably due to this shortage of money. Tom claimed a Bishop had told him to remain in Ireland and study four years theology. And so, in September 1893, the 21-year-old Mungret graduate entered First Divinity at All Hallows College in Drumcondra, Dublin. Money continued to be tight for, while his brother-in-law Mike Gorman helped pay his passage home from All Hallows, Tom still had to ‘almost kill myself at the hay in order to get the fare back to college’.


Emigration was by no means unusual for Ireland in the 1890s. In 1894, Ballyporeen recorded a population of just 3,157, a fall of over 1,600 from the figure recorded in 1841. On 28th April 1894, Tom left All Hallows. He seems to have abandoned his clerical ambitions soon afterwards, presumably because he did not have enough money. His constant requests for Jim to send money from Australia finally paid off and sometime between 1895 and 1897, Tom and Frank sailed for South America. The brothers were in their early 20s at this time. They would appear to have been of a similar build. Writing in 1893, Tom estimated his height as 5 foot 10 inches and his weight at 13 stone, while he described Frank as ‘very tall and strong’; ‘his height is now over five feet ten inches, although he is not very stout, he is hardy’.


1895 is said to have been the year in which Tom and Frank’s brother Michael emigrated from Ireland to the USA. Little is know about Mike Galvin save that Tom wrote how he had joined the Christian Brothers circa 1892. He may have been older than Tom and Frank. Once in the USA, Mike found work in an asylum, a job which ‘Father Maurice got for him’ and which paid over £70 a year.[xxv] There is no obvious reference to him in the Ellis Island passenger records for 1895. The closest match they have is a 20-year-old Michael Galvin who arrived in 1893 which would make him older than both Tom and Frank. Another Michael Galvin arrived aged 25 in 1897 but he gave his address as Kilrushe, presumably meaning Co. Clare. Mike is said to have left New York for San Francisco ‘in delicate health’ sometime after this, resting in Chicago en route. He may have been involved in a train crash in San Francisco on his way to California. He was certainly dead by 1901. There is no record of him in the archives of The New York Times.


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Above: The 'International Football Team of 1900", also called "The World", with Frank Galvin seated 2nd from left-right in the second row. T .

Below: In the photo below, with the two cups and the ball painted V.F.C. 1900., meaning Valparaiso
Football Club, of which the Galvin brothers were both members. Frank is standing third from left to right in the second row. Tom Galvin is not in those photographs.


By June 1897, Tom and Frank Galvin were settled in Santiago, Chile, and were teachers. However, Frank – and quite possibly Tom too – was teaching at Mackay School, probably the best of the English schools established in the port city of Valparaiso. One of his pupils would have been Pablo Ramirez Rodrigues, later Minister of Justice and Education.[xxvi] Family lore holds that the Galvin brothers introduced the sport of rugby to Chile, a fine claim for any Munsterman.[xxvii] However, this could be erroneous and based on a photograph of Frank taken with the Valparaíso Football Club (soccer) in the year 1900.


Developing Chile’s educational infrastructure was one of the key aims of Federico Errázuriz Echaurren who became President of Chile at about the time the Galvins arrived. The country was still recovering from the traumas of the 1891 civil war (which ended with President Balmaceda’s suicide) and was permanently on the brink of war with Argentina, despite Echaurren’s pacifist intentions. He was badly hampered by an unstable coalition, which was very much answerable to Congress, and virtually empty government coffers. Much of the economy centred on the mining of saltpeter, or sodium nitrate, in the Atacama desert. The value of saltpeter had increased greatly since the 1880s when it was identified as a vital component for fertilizers, as well as explosives and food preservatives. Valparaíso became the epicenter for the international trade and by the time the Galvins arrived, the port had more than 32,000 British residents, most of whom were involved in the saltpeter industry. Foreign investors dominated the trade, securing a third of the profits for themselves and reinvesting another third in the mines. The State claimed the final third as a tax which they used to develop Chile’s roads, railroads, ports, trams systems, sewerage works and, perhaps most importantly, schools. Both the Escuela Profesional de Niñas of Valparaíso (Professional Institute for Girls) and the Instituto Comercial of Santiago were founded during Echaurren’s Presidency.

After his death on 12 July 1901, Echaurren was succeeded by his brother-in-law, Germán Riesco Errázuriz who retained power until 1906 despite the fact he had to form seventeen different governments during those five years or, on average, a new one every 3 ½ months.[xxviii] While Errázuriz focused on the judiciary, he was also interested in education and greatly expanded the country’s secondary education, especially for women. Errázuriz also doubled the number of training colleges for new teachers, which would have been of relevance to the Galvin brothers.


On 10th August 1897, Jim Galvin was married in the former gold-mining town of Young, New South Wales, to an Irish emigrant called Bridget O’Donnell. By then he seems to have found work with a John Bourke. Bridget bore Jim a son on 19th July 1899 whom he christened Francis, or Frank, after his beloved younger brother. However, within a year of his son’s birth, Jim Galvin was dead. The cause of his death is unknown but he was only 32. For his family, the news must have come as a dreadful blow, especially as the death in the USA of young Mike Galvin must also have been known by then. Frank Galvin wrote to the widowed Bridget Galvin in Sydney from the Chilean town of Limache on 19 July 1901, offering to help her however which way he could.[xxix] He doubted he would return to Ireland for at least three years at that stage. President Echaurren had died a week earlier but Frank had decided to stick around. ‘I like this country very well. The climate is excellent and luckily I have got a very good and lucrative situation’.

Jim Galvin's son Francis (Frank) had a son Brian who passed away on 1st August 2010, leaving three sons I am the youngest, 41 and have no children as yet. I have 2 brothers John (b. 1960), Matthew (b. 1969) and Daniel (b. 1970) and a daughter Catherine (b. 1962). John, Matthew and Catherine all have daughters and Catherine also has a son. John and Matthew have both visited Ballyporeen. This informatio was kindly provided by Daniel Galvin in November 2011.

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Above: Ana Galvin,
daughter of Frank Galvin.


Early in the 20th century, Frank Galvin married Ana Clara Pinochet Vargas and he moved to Cauquenes, a city 400 km south of Santiago, where her family lived. Cauqenes was badly damaged during the 2010 earthquake. Ana Clara was a daughter of Jose Ignacio Pinochet Gaete and Elvira Vargas Silva. She was a distant kinswoman of President Augusto Pinochet; all Pinochet's in Chile descend from a French merchant marine officer, Guillaume Pinochet, who arrived to the port city of Concepcion around the year 1700.

Frank and Ana had two daughters, one who died as a child, and secondly Anita, born in Santiago in 1905. Tragically, just like his brother Jim, Frank would not live to see his baby daughter’s first birthday. It seems he took ill about the time of her birth, most probably from some form of tuberculosis. In the hope of a cure, he travelled to Jauja, a colonial town nestled between fertile fields of corn, artichokes, carrots and potatoes in central Peru. He died, aged 30, in in Cayma, Arequipa, at the start of the dry season on 7th August 1906. M. Eusebio Malaga, the priest of the church of San Miguel Arcángel stated that he conducted Frank's burial service but it is not known where his grave lies. It may be in the southern Peruvian seaport of Mollendo.


Even as Frank breathed his last, the plate tectonics were grinding along the continental shelf of South America. Tom Galvin had apparently left Chile in the early 1900s and his story has faded from the archives. One unconfirmed story holds that, like his brother Frank, he became afflicted with TB and moved to Peru for the good of his health. However, in a grand finale to the Galvin story worthy of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, Tom – the last of the Galvin boys - may also have been one of 3,000 people killed in an earthquake which devastated central Valparaiso on 17th August 1906. The shockwaves prompted a tidal wave off Hawaii and the tremors were recorded in Washington.[xxx]


Catherine Galvin survived her husband by nearly forty years, passing away at Lisfuncheon in her 72nd year on 19 February 1916. She was buried in Ballyporeen. Her daughter Mary (Sister Brigid) died at the Convent in Thurles just under two years later on 5 November 1917 aged 53. Michael Gorman died of ‘senile disability’ on 28 December 1921. His sons Thomas and John fought on De Valera’s side in the Civil War. When Ellie Gorman died on 5th December 1938, she was buried with her mother in Ballyporeen.

The youngest daughter, Sister Francis, died at the Sisters of Mercy convent in Portlaw aged 73 on 13 April 1940. In 1939, Sister Francis wrote to her sister-in-law, Ana Clara Galvin (nee Pinochet ) referring to, among other things, the birth of the twins Rafael and Sotero on September 20, 1937. This appears to have been the last letter between the two families. As Rafael explains, they lost touch because of language barriers and geography. However, when Rafael found the 1939 letter in 1982, he wrote to the convent in Portlaw and received a reply from his cousin Mary Fogarty (nee Gorman) who lived near the convent. He then flew to Ireland and went on a tour of the family places, meeting Mary and her mother Annie who was about 85 years old and who told him how ‘she remembered the day when her mother, Ellen Gorman was saying goodbye to her brother Francis leaving Ireland.’ Ellen was weeping and holding young Annie’s hand, probably knowing the little girl ‘would never see again her beloved brother’. Rafael was ‘deeply moved’ by the occasion and continues to recall ‘that moment that linked me to my grandfather.’ On a subsequent visit to Ireland, his cousin John O’Gorman took him to see the Galvin’s farm, the church at Lisfuncheon and a cemetery ‘where we scrubbed tombstones to find the link between the Galvin’s and the Gallavan’s.’

Jim Galvin’s son Frank Galvin married Miss. Irene Vogt, with whom he had three sons – John Francis[xxxi] (b. 11 May 1927 at Nurse Broadhead’s Private Hospital in Newtown), Brian James (b. 1930) and Barry Joseph (b. 1933). In 1938, Frank had an address at 28 Duncan Street, Arncliff Sydney. He died aged 68 in Australia in December 1967.[xxxii]

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Above: Dr. Sotero del Rio Gundian,
brother-in-law of Anita Galvin who was Chilean
Minister of Health and Social Welfare and
Minister of Interior for Chile.

In 1914, Ana Clara Galvin, Frank’s widow, was the recipient of a letter written in Spanish by (her nephew?) John K Gorman on 16th October 1914 when he had an address at Florida 783 BAT, Buenos Aries. John had been planning to visit Chile but had since decided that ‘at the beginning of next month, I am going to England to volunteer to take part in the war. All the English from 20 to 35 years have left here to go and defend their country against those barbaric Germans’. His letter shows that he had been greatly affected by the reports of German atrocities in Belgium and was determined to bring down ‘their mad emperor’. He cited his address in Ireland as Gurtishall, Ballyporeen, Caher, Tipperary.

Frank Galvin’s daughter Anita Galvin Pinochet was married after the First World War to an aspiring politician and farmer called Humberto del Rio Gundián (1905-1997). Born in Santiago on 3rd August 1905, Humberto was the third son of Don Rafael del Rio del Pozo and his wife, Dona Avelina Gundián del Rio. (Avelina was a daughter of a lawyer called Sótero Gundián Donoso). Humberto’s grandfather, Doroteo del Rio Benitez, had landed in Chile’s Maule region in about 1854 and settled near Chanco in the province of Cauquenes, some 370km southwest of Santiago.

Humberto’s older brother Rafael was born in May 1897, and was an engineer who ran the Santa Dolores farm in Cauquenes. His next brother Dr. Sotero del Río Gundián (1900-1969) was an outstanding surgeon and Tisiology specialist who was appointed Chile’s Minister of Hea lth and Social Welfare, during which time he oversaw the creation of Chile’s National Health Service. He later served as Interior Minister in the government of Jorge Alessandri (1959-1964), which effectively placed him at the head of the cabinet of ministers, and was Acting Minister of External Relations of the Republic of Chile in 1962. [xxxiii]

Humberto studied at Liceo de Talca. He later ran the "Old Corral" farm in Cauquenes, as well as that of his uncle Marcial del Rio at Purapel near Constitución. (Constitución is a seaside resort and minor port in Chile’s Maule region which enjoyed a prominent paper and pulp industry). Humberto was a politically active member of the Liberal party, serving as congressman for the province of Maule from 1949 to 1965. (xxxiv) He was President of the Wine Cooperative of Cauquenes and a permanent member of the
National Society of Agriculture. He died at Cauquenes on 7th May 1999. By his wife Ana, he had five children who all carry the surname Del Rio Galvin today and live in Santiago. (See Appendix 1).

Appendix One: The Del Rio Galvins

Humberto and Ana del Río Galvin´s children are [xxxv]:

1. Humberto ( a lawyer, b.4 october 1929, m.1st 1957 Sofía Maturana Toro, daughter of Diego Maturana Maturana and Filomena Toro Olivos; daughter is María Francisca b.1957 and son Luis Humberto b 1960. m.2nd 1961 Eliana Jahn Barrera, daughter of Ernesto Jahn West and Olga Barrera Palma; sons are Rodrigo b.1962, Gonzalo b.1963, Juan Esteban b.1965 and daughter Fernanda b.1968 ).

2. Alfonso ( a civil engineer, b.10 march 1932, m. 1957 María Alicia Rodríguez Cañas, daughter of David Rodríguez Dueñas and María del Rosario Cañas de la Cerda; sons are Alfonso b.1958, José Antonio b.1960, Felipe b.1964, Francisco b.1970 and daughter María Alicia b.1961).

3. Malvina ( b.10 november 1935, m. 1955 Arturo Vergara Arriagada, son of Gustavo Vergara Baeza and Sara Arriagada Fernandez; sons are Arturo b.1956, Manuel José b.1957, Francisco b.1959 + 2005, Pablo b.1961 and daughters are Ana María b.1962 and María Paz b.1975 ).

4. Rafael ( a agricultural engineer, M.Sc., b.20 september 1937, m. 1962 Patricia Lihn Concha, daughter of Oscar Lihn Doll and Marta Concha Parot; daughters are Patricia b.1963 and María Carolina b.1970 and son is Andrés b.1965 ).

5. Sótero, Rafael´s twin, who died in 1939 aged one.

Appendix B.

Purely for the record: ‘Mr Galvin of Cork’ was among those killed in Innishannon shooting - On February 16th 1921, some 50 IRA rebels standing either side of the line opened fire on a passenger train as it pulled into Innishannon Station, 4 miles north west of Bandon. Although there were forty British troops on board, the attack was an unmitigated disaster, leaving five men and one woman dead, all civilians. Three of the attackers also died.[xxxvii]

With thanks to Colete O’Gorman, Rafael del Rio Galvin, Daniel Galvin, Humberto del Rio Galvin, Vicky O Mearain, Greg Harkin, Karl Roche, Victor Ryan, Jerome Curtin, Ed Galvin, Pete Galvin and Michael Purcell.


[i] There are no Galvins left in Kilroe today, although there are some Galvin relatives living in Kilfinnan, Co Limerick. Nearby Clogheen in south Tipperary was also something of a Galvin stronghold and these Galvins were surely cousins. Clogheen was the birthplace of Fr Nicholas Sheehy, P.P., Clogheen, executed in Clonmel March 15th, 1766, and buried in a quiet country graveyard at nearby Seanrahan. Edward Sackville-West, Fifth Baron Sackville, of Knole in Kent, is also buried in Seanrahan. A friend of Derek Hill and Graham Sutherland, the author and music critic had wanted to buy the exquisite Nash mansion of Shanbally in Clogheen, built circa 1812 for the First Viscount Lismore, which had been sold by the Pole-Carew family to the Irish Land Commission in 1954.

[ii] Templetenny had been an independent parish century but was united with those of Shanrahan and Ballysheehan sometime after 1704. Between 1810 and 1816 the three parishes of Templetenny, Shanrahan and Ballysheehan were separated again and Templetenny became better known as Ballyporeen.

[iii] The Rev. Peter Sexton died in retirement at Tallow some years later. His successor, Rev. Patrick Burke, oversaw the construction of the large new church at Ballyporeen and administered the affairs of the parish till his death in 1847. In 1847, Father Burke was succeeded by the Rev. Patrick De Burke, formerly headmaster of a private school in Clonmel, who held office until his death twenty years later. The Rev. De Burke “proclaimed himself an enemy to the Irish Language, the use of which he vigorously combatted.” From about 1868 until 1874, the parish was run by another scion of de Burghs, the Rev. Michael Burke. During the childhood of the Gavlins, the office was held by the Rev. Patrick Delaney, D.D., formerly president of St. John's College, Waterford, who introduced the Mercy school in 1887. In 1894, he was translated to Kilsheelan and succeeded by Rev. Thomas Walsh. Father Walsh, who died in 1903, was presumably the man in charge when Tom and Frank Galvin set off for Chile. Information from ‘A Parochial History of Waterford and Lismore during the 18th and 19th centuries’ (Waterford: N. HARVEY & CO., 1912).

[iv] Indeed, one of the complications is that by the 1870s there appears to have been two separate Galvin families living in two distinct parts of the L-shaped house at Lisnfucheon. The farm also appears to have been divided between the two. There is mention of a Thomas Galvin who stood as witness to James and Catherine’s marriage in 1862, and as sponsor to their firstborn child Ellen, so one wonders was he a brother who occupied the other wing. In the 1911 census, the Galvin family based at Lisfuncheon is headed up by 69-year-old farmer James Galvin (born 1842), his wife Hanora (nee Hennessy) and their five children, Mary, Bridget, Maurice, Annie and Henry. He was aalmosyt certainly the James Galvin who erected a Celtic Cross in Ballysheehan in memory of his father James B Galvin, Kilroe, (born 1815, died aged 64 on 12th September 1879) and mother, Catherine Galvin (nee Barrett) who died aged 66 on 3 June 1880, and his younger brother Henry (who died aged 11 on 7 October 1877).
[v] Parliamentary papers, Volume 42 (Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, HMSO, 1846)
[vi] In 1841, the population of Ballyporeen was 4,877.
[vii] We know little else of Catherine save that he sisters (Julia and ?) were both married in the area, at Burncourt and Kiltankin. As a Cussen, she could be related to the present day sculptor Cliodhna Cussen. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A1draig_%C3%93_Snodaigh)
[viii] James Galvin and Bridget Galvin stood as John Galvin’s sponsors. William English and Ellen Cremmins were sponsors to William Galvin.

[ix] What confounds me about the will below is his reference to a daughter called Margaret when there seems to be no such record of same! He does name a son called Michael and he does have a wife called Catherine but why does he not look after his other seven children? I would suggest that this is therefore a different James Galvin and that his date of death must be questioned. However, as Colette O’Gorman notes, there is a Margaret Galvin and Michael Galvin mentioned as the head of the household in the Tithe Applotment and Griffiths Valuation. For this reason, we felt there was a fit but precisely where remains unknown.


James Galvin – 7 March 1878

Effects under £450 of James Galvin late of Lisnfucheon, Co. Tipperary, farmer, deceased, who died 3 September 1877 at same place was proved at Waterford by the oath of John Galvin of Clogheen in said County, Shopkeeper, one of the Executors. [Was John a brother?]


In the name of God Amen this is the last Will and Testament of me James Galvin of Lisfuncheon. I bequeath to my son Michael Galvin one hundred pounds stg., for my daughter Margaret stg. £225. I will to my wife Catherine Galvin the house, land and chattels and all goods thereon to my wife as long as she Catherine Galvin remains unmarried and if she marries she is to leave it to the children under her care the land and goods and chattels, and also she is to pay 25 pounds to the above name so as to have the amount of £225.

I hereby appoint as my Executors John Galvin of Clogheen, Pat Quinlan of Ballygiblin.

Dated this 31 August 1877.

Rev. James Cremmins
Thomas Galvin
Michael Galvin

Affidavit of due execution
Filed James L. Hickey Reg.

[x] Mary Galvin was born in Ballyporeen on 26th March 1864 and baptized in Lisfuncehon two days later. Her sponsors were John Kearney and Margaret Galvin.

[xi] James and Catherine’s third and youngest daughter Catherine, known as Kate or Katie, was baptized on 31 May 1867, with Michael Galvin and Margaret Galvin standing as sponsors.

[xii] Mr. Thomas Fogarty donated a sum of £500 to the branch.

[xiii] Ellen, known as Ellie, was born on 7 April 1863, at a time when the USA was embroiled in Civil War and Co. Cork was also experiencing civil unrest with the emergence of the Fenians. Her sponsors were Thomas Galvin (presumably her uncle) and Julia Kearney.

[xiv] Michael Gorman’s mother was Anne Sheehan. His elder sister Mary Anne was born at Ballywiliam in may 1841 and died aged 69 at Castlegrace.

[xv] In 1837, Ballywilliam was the residence of the agent of Caesar Sutton, Esq.
[xvi] Some good news from circa 1893 was that ‘our cousin Lizzie Brett (or Britt) got married to Neddy Fox who lived alongside Den Roby’s and who is brother to Jerry Fox.’

[xvii] James and Catherine’s second son James (Jamesie or Jim) was born in Ballyporeen on 17th July 1868 and apparently baptized in Lisfuncheon on the same day. His sponsors were John Burke and Margaret Cremmins.

[xviii] The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Tuesday 22 December 1891, p.3 - http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/3534841?searchTerm=%22James+Galvin%22
[xix] Undated letter from Thomas Galvin to James Galvin, probably 1892 , transcribed from copy by Mary Gorman, 25th July 2004. There seems to have been many ‘Ballyporeen people’ in Sydney at this time, including Patrick Williams and Hannah Kiely. Another neighbour, Katie Kearney had gone to Australia ‘as a nun’.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] Tom Galvin was baptized on 22 November 1872 with Michael Galvin and Anna Carney standing as sponsors.

[xxii] James and Catherine’s fifth son Francis, or Frank, was born in 1875 and baptized in Ballyporeen on 25th August, four days after the town’s annual fair. His sponsors were Francis Cushinn and Mary Anne Donohoe.

[xxiii] At its height the College catered to 267 fulltime and day boarders.

[xxiv] Letter from Thomas Galvin to James Galvin, 12 Feb 1893, transcribed from copy by Mary Gorman, 25th July 2004.
[xxv] One wonders was Father Maurice an uncle based in New York. On September 7th 1896, the Brooklyn daily eagle carried the following notice:
The people of the state of NY by the grace of God free and independent – To James Galvin, Lisfuncheon, County Tippperary, Ireland; William Galvin, Ballyshuham(?), Burncourt, County Tipp.; Edward Galvin, Milford, Connecticut; Richard Galvin, Irishtown, Clonmel; Catherine Delaney, Ballymackee, New Castle, Tipp.; Sister M. Celestine, superior, St. Agnes Academy, Brooklyn... The Kings County Trust company had petitioned the Surrogate Court of the County of Kings, relating to the real and personal property, proved at the last will and testament of Maurice Galvin, late of Brooklyn, deceased. Whereby you are required to appear at the Hall of Records, City of Brooklyn, on the 24th day of Oct., 1896.’.

[xxvi] Rafael del Rio Galvin contacted Mackay School but unfortunately they do not hold any historical records. Neither does Valparaíso’s oldest and most important newspaper, "El Mercurio", founded before 1850. However he found that the Severin Library in Valparaíso keeps this kind of records and, while they suffered damages in the 2010 earthquake, he hopes to visit their records office before the end of April. Any way I will do it. I hope it still helps you by thenThe only English language school in Santiago today that existed in the Galvin’s time is Santiago College, Providencia which was founded by US Methodists in 1880. However, that was a girls school in the 1890s. As a Catholic, Tom may have been at Valparaíso’s Collège des Sacrés Cœurs (Sacred Hearts School), Chile’s first private catholic school, which was founded by French immigrants in the 1850s.
[xxvii] Chile’s first rugby teams appeared in Valparaíso and Santiago de Chile, but there is no mention of the Galvins. Others claim rugby was first played in Chile by the Englishmen who worked at the nitrate mines in Iquique. The Unión de Rugby de Chile was established in the 1920s.
[xxviii] Violent times often arose. For instance, on 22nd October 1905, workers in Santiago came out in protest against the price of meat and the soaring costs of day-to-day living. The government responded by sending in the army which, after two days of rioting, left nearly 250 civilians dead, an event known as the "Meat" Massacre”.
[xxix] Limache, 40km east of Santiago, was accessible by an Italian-owned tram. Frank was one of 261,332 passengers which the tram carried in 1901. (http://www.tramz.com/cl/tto/05.html).

[xxx] The Irish Times reported that information was very slow to come out because all communication lines were down. This was only five months after the earthquake which flattened San Francisco. Earthquake images here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:1906_Valparaiso_Earthquake

[xxxi] The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 15 May 1926, p. 14. http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/16292127?searchTerm=%22Irene+Vogt%22
[xxxii] It is to be noted that an Irene Pearl Simmons (formerly Vogt) successfully sued her husband William for divorce on the grounds of desertion in April 1931. The couple were married on 27 February 1928 in the Methodist Church at Waverley. The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 10 April 1931, p. 5 (http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/16768177?searchTerm=Irene+Vogt)

[xxxiii] The del Rio family are described in a book by William de la Cuadra Gormaz Chilean families (Origin and development of Chilean families)Editorial Zamorano and Caper, Santiago, 1982, Volume I: A-W.
[xxxiv] He was Regidor Cauquenes (1938-1941) and was elected Deputy for Cauquenes (Chanco Constitution) on four consecutive occasions (1949-1953, 1953-1957, 1957-1961, 1961-1965).

[xxxv] Who is Goose River Galvin (DIAV1960) c. Church of the Reverend French, James, 04 June 1955 c. Arturo Arriagada Vergara [h. Gustavo Vergara Baeza and Sara Arriagada Fernandez?
[xxxvi] Alfonso del Rio Rodriguez married Mary Adriana Cortes-Monroy Castillo, daughter of Ricardo Alberto Cortes-Monroy Lopez and Maria Adriana Castillo Pinto (Escobar).

[xxxvii] Rebels' War On Women. Six Civilians Killed In Train Ambush. The Times, Wednesday, Feb 16, 1921; pg. 10; Issue 42646; col C