1953 trip to Ireland by my father Martin J. Walsh Jr.
1953 Ireland Kodachrome slide: The featured photograph above was taken in 1953 by the late Martin J. Walsh Jr. of Murdock, Minnesota. Details of the original Kodachrome slide include: Tour bus from Galway to Cong and return, at a small town stop, May 14, 1953. A photo gallery is included at the bottom of this post, along with notes from slides. See additional details also at bottom of story to the 1953 tour bus, along with Google maps.
Update: This story is featured at IrishCentral, June 27, 2022. View Seeing Ireland through my father’s vintage Kodachrome images at IrishCentral.
By Jannet L. Walsh
June 19, 2022
Murdock, Minnesota USA
Greetings and happy Father’s Day!
Father’s Day is a time to honor our fathers, living and those no longer with us.
I wanted to share a little about my late father Martin J. Walsh Jr., (1924-2008), from Murdock, Minnesota, to honor him today on Father’s Day. My father spent his entire career working as a telegrapher and station manager for the Great Northern and Burlington Northern Railroad, 1943 to December 31, 1984. It was actually the same railroad, but the name was changed.
When I was a little girl growing up in my hometown of Litchfield, Minnesota, my mother would drop me off at the train station when my father was working to make it easier for her to go grocery shopping and run other errands around town. I’d have a seat near the large window used by the station’s staff to watch the trains and other activity at the passenger station. In this late 1960s setting railroad and babysitting venue, I was drawing and making doodles on discarded train forms to keep me busy while my father was managing the railroad station, and me.
Glacier Park 1948 – My father posed for a photo in front of Glacier Park Lodge, East Glacier Park Village, Montana, as a young man in 1948. In 2016, tried to recreate a portrait similar to my father’s photos taken on Kodachrome slide film, mine with an iPhone. There is sunlight streaming down from the sky in my photo, but it’s nothing in comparison to my father’s photo in his dapper 1948 traveling clothing. Patricia McWilliams, a fellow Glacier Park Lodge guest from Texas, was very kind to take the photo of me with my iPhone. View photo posted at Instagram.
First in family back to Ireland, 1953
Our family was part of a mainly Irish immigrant settlement in De Graff, located in rural Swift County, Minnesota, late 1800s. This was the first in a series of ten villages in five counties in western Minnesota established by the late Saint Paul Archbishop John Ireland, helping Irish Catholic families like mine escape from urban slums, and resettling in farmlands in rural Minnesota.
First home to Ireland – My father, Martin, nicknamed Marty to avoid confusion with his father, Martin J. Walsh Sr., made our family’s first known return trip home to Ireland in 1953, recording his adventures with Kodachrome color slides and his Clarus 35mm camera, leaving behind traces for me to follow in Ireland, England, and France.
My father would say when I was a child, and was telling stories of our family’s history and connection to the island of Ireland, “We are Archbishop John Ireland’s people.” It just happened to be the Archbishop’s last name was the same as the country my people left behind in the mid 1800s.
My family is one of the four thousand Catholic families Archbishop Ireland help resettle in west central and southwest Minnesota during the years of 1875-1885. Archbishop Ireland’s goals were to alleviate the perceived problems of nativist prejudice (anti immigrant), poverty, and loss of religion faced by urban Catholics (particularly Irish) on the east coast and poor Catholics still in Ireland by relocating them to low cost farmland in western Minnesota. Today I live just three miles from De Graff, in Murdock, Minnesota, in the same house my father was born in 1924. Learn more about the De Graff and the historic Church of St. Bridget at the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service website. The Library of Congress in Washington, DC has a detailed presentation on Irish-Catholic Immigration to America to explore more details on immigration.
I imagine my father as a very proud young man with the incredible opportunity to see the homeland of his family in Ireland in 1953. He didn’t have a chance to locate the dirt farm roads I discovered in Townland Dromkerry, looking out at the Gap of Dunloe, the Lakes of Killarney, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain ranges, some of the most beautiful views in all of Ireland.
Photos by Martin J. Walsh Jr., trip to Ireland, 1953
View more photos of Martin J. Walsh Jr., 1953, online gallery, Flickr.
It has been an honor to have had the opportunity to walk where my family walked and lived in Ireland, to catch any whispers of their voices from the difficult time in Ireland’s history, when people just survived day-by-day.
My father was one of the first to inspire me to learn of my family’s origins in Ireland, and our resettlement as immigrants to in rural Minnesota, first spending time in Canada. My curiosity eventually became a quest — to put together the pieces of my family’s history in Minnesota and Ireland. The result is my nonfiction book, Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota. It is scheduled for publication in 2022 by Shanti Arts Publishing.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Father’s Day in 2022!
Best wishes, Jannet L. Walsh
Bohermore, Galway, Ireland
Update, June 28, 2022 – Since this story appeared on my blog and Irish Central, I received messages from Luke Gerard Lanigan of Galway City, Ireland, Qualified Irish National Tour Guide with Destination Ireland Tours, specializing in tours related movie “The Quiet Man.” Lanigan, originally from Dublin, wrote me noting he thought he knew the location of my father’s 1953 photo of the tour bus, main feature photo of story Seeing Ireland through my fathers vintage Kodachrome images.
Today I have an exact, if not very good address where my late father Martin J. Walsh Jr. stood in 1953 to take the Kodachrome images with his 35mm camera. Lanigan suggests the nearby location is approximately 144 Bohermore, Galway, in County Galway, Ireland, the present-day location of Tonery’s Bar. Bohermore is an area of Galway, and it was the main road into the city from the east in medieval times. View map below, or view at Google Maps in 360 degree views.
As a side note, US President John F. Kennedy visited Galway, Ireland, June 29, 1963, ten years after my father. Learn more about Kennedy’s visit to Galway at Ireland Reaching Out website.
About the writer – Jannet L. Walsh, of Murdock, Minnesota, is a photographer, writer, and educator. She is the author of forthcoming creative nonfiction quest narrative Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota, scheduled publication is 2023 by Shanti Arts Publishing. Follow Walsh on Facebook and Twitter.