At a time when many accolades are mentioned in relation to a person at the time of death, every accolade that I can think of is not adequate for Frank Gallagher. Of a humble nature at all times he never wanted to be acknowledged, praised or be out in front. He was very much the Bestman in our Town. Every man, woman and child was influenced in some way by Frank Gallagher. Many people worked for him and if not that then they certainly eat his bread at some stage in their lives. Brought up in the Front Street in the 1940’s and 50’s he was very much one of the boys. He was funny witty and showed no ambition to achieve any of the greatness that he later achieved. Bread was always associated with Frank and one of his earlier jobs was selling bread for Duncans Bakery of Donegal Town. Then emigrating going first to Bermingham for a short while and later going off with good friends Josie Melly, James McGinley and Jimmy O Donnell for a second time but this stay was even shorter returning home after three weeks and anyway he figured he could make more money running dances in the Parish Hall.
Shortly afterwards he got an Agency selling bread for McCalgans of Monaghan and it was around this time along with Uncle Harry and Andy Sweeney he started making pastries in the Tin Shed behind Peter Magees and later at the back of the home house which is owned by Emer and Adrian Brennan. Quickly Franks pastries became very popular and as he moved into bread and indeed moved to a bigger premises where the Donegal Creamery is now the story moves into a wonderful success story for Frank and Ardara. With this move Frank employed his lifelong friend Brendan Whelan, Leonard, John and Jim amongst others. A number of years ago the business got so big that Gallaghers Bakery had to move into a bigger premises hence the move to Cashel.
Today Gallaghers Bakery is nationwide with Agents throughout Ireland and sales abroad. Without doubt the contribution to the local economy is incalculable. People from many European Countries have come to work in the Bakery and countless houses are rented by locals to these workers. Many local people have never worked anywhere else in their life than in Gallaghers Bakery. With the demise of the tweed industry Gallaghers Bakery was a shining beacon for workers in our Community. It is appropriate at this time to say Ardara and its Community could never ever truly be thankful enough to Frank and the Gallagher family for their wonderful contribution in keeping this small Community vibrant with the huge employment they give and their massive contribution to the economic welfare of our people in a sincerely modest and quiet way.
Frank was one of the first recipients of the Rehab Donegal People of the Year winners which he accepted in his modest way. Frank loved the little town dearly and was always to the fore in contributing towards all events in the Parish. For many years he was the main Sponsor of the Ardara GAA Club and of course he was fiercely committed to the development of Narin and Portnoo Golf Club and contributed much to that development. He was a devout Catholic always visiting the Church at quietest times.
Sadly in his latter days Frank was not in good health. His health was probably worst than anyone knew except Frank himself and by his nature he was not for making a fuss about himself. He booked his chats with Tomas in the Greenhouse and indeed enjoyed the “Cup of Tae” festival though obviously not in good health.
I’ll finish the story of our Bestman with a story about another of his great friends Connie Molloy from the Hotel. Connie and Frank often like old good friends had disagreements about things like politics and the like and sometimes Frank would not come in for a week or two and after a couple of days Connie would be sadly missing him so in an era where Pam Ayres poetry was to the fore Connie developed this verse:
“How I wish I looked after Frank……………………..
he now stops in Tommies up the Street ……………..
How I wished I looked after Frank …………………..”
And how we all wish we could look after Frank but the time has passed and all we can do is good bye and thank you so much for being the man you were and your wonderful contribution to our Community and we never got to honour you because you never wanted to be the main attraction – you were our Bestman.
Frank died and is buried in the family plot behind the Church of the Holy Family in Ardara. To the great benifet of Ardara, Franks son declan has taken on the business and has built the business to one of the Counties best selling exporting business in the Country.