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Connacht Tribune

Auctioneer reflects on a previous role as armed security

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He’s known across the county as one of Galway’s highest profile auctioneers – but few know that before all that, Martin Tyrrell had another life Down Under, when he provided armed security for two Prime Ministers.

The Tuam auctioneer spent eight years in Australia as a member of the Federal Police – and that involved working as an armed guard to two successive Premiers.

The Annaghdown native, who is now in his early eighties, worked security for Sir Robert Menzies and Harold Holt MP – during the Vietnam War when security was stepped up for heads of state.

But Martin became particularly close to Harold Holt and it was during his return to Ireland in 1967 that he learned of the Prime Minister’s tragic death in a fishing accident which still is a source of great regret for him.

“I was devastated by the news when I arrived in Shannon,” he told The Connacht Tribune.

Martin emigrated to Australia in the late fifties and on graduating from the Federal Police College, he was posted to the Prime Minister’s Lodge – the Australian equivalent of 10 Downing Street.

This was the home of the Australian Prime Minister and there are not too many people in Tuam and North Galway in general who realise that the genial and very highly regarded auctioneer was once ‘armed to the teeth’ in order to protect those he was responsible for.

“It is around this time of year that bring back special memories for me,” admitted Martin. “But unfortunately they are tragic ones as I got to know Harold Holt’s family extremely well”.

His working life in Australia coincided with a time when conscripts were being sent to Vietnam from Australia – and thus security had to be intensified.

Tuam auctioneer Martin Tyrrell and his wife Ann.
Photo: Johnny Ryan Photography.

“It was a very stressful era and, at the time, I was fully armed as there were occasions when I was confronted by several agitators and objectors,” he recalls.

It was in December 1967 that Martin was preparing for his return home to Galway having spent eight years in Australia when he learned of the devastating news that Prime Minister Hold had lost his life.

Prior to his departure, Martin had been invited to their spacious residence at The Lodge by Prime Minister Holt and his wife Zara.

“The Prime Minister’s final words to me were ‘Give my love to Ireland’,” Martin recalls.

He said that he was in shock when he learned of the death of his good friend in the deep sea fishing accident off the Melbourne coast. “They were very courteous and friendly to me,” he said.

Martin was the only Irish person to be assigned on security duties at the Prime Minister’s Lodge. He said that on arrival at Shannon Airport the Irish Flag was at half-mast in sympathy with the Australian people.

“This was a very touching experience,” said Martin who wrote a personal letter of sympathy to widow Zara Holt and received a nice letter in reply.

Martin Tyrrell is married to Ann – a Longford-born nurse whom he met in Australia. They have a family of four who all grown up and are in various professions in Ireland, England and Scotland.

The Tyrrell family are in constant touch with friends in Australia and they have also revisited the country on a number of occasions. However, Martin’s experience at the Prime Minister’s Lodge holds special memories.

On a return visit to Canberra a number of years later, he was received at The Lodge by Prime Minister Malcolm Frazier, who served from 1975 to 1983. He presented Mrs Frazier with a Galway Crystal vase at the time.

Following his return from Australia, Martin and his brother Pat Tyrrell established an auctioneering business which will celebrate 50 years in existence during the course of this year.

However, he still has fond memories of Australia and for many years, compiled a diary about his experiences Down Under for the local newspapers.

He is one of the most highly regarded local auctioneers and one that is renowned for being one that is great at selling land. The vast majority of farmers in North Galway rarely stray away from Martin when it comes to disposing of farmland.

As for retiring? “Well, there are no plans yet,” he says.

Connacht Tribune

New chapter beckons for dilapidated old houses in Ballinasloe

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Cllr Dermot Connolly, SF leader Mary Lou Mc Donald, Galway/Roscommon TD Claire Kerrane, and Caoimhin Caulfield, Ballinasloe, at the Dunlo Hill regeneration project in Ballinasloe.

Plans to redevelop a row of empty terraced houses and an old famous bar will breathe new life into Ballinasloe.

Cathaoirleach of Ballinasloe Municipal District, Councillor Dermot Connolly (SF), said the Galway County Council has shown vision by buying seven terraced houses along Dunlo Hill, as well as the closed Dooley’s Bar on the corner of Dunlo Hill and Dunlo Street.

Local authority plans for the site will rejuvenate that street, and give an overall lift to the entire East County Galway town.

Liam Hanrahan, Director of Services for Housing, Economic, Rural and Community Development, confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that the local authority purchased seven two-storey dwellings, a three-storey over basement premises – formerly Dooley’s Pub – and another adjacent three storey building for a total of €390,000.

“The tender for the design team was run in conjunction with another infill development in Ballinasloe and that team is currently being appointed to bring forward the Part 8 planning for 12-15 units – a mix of one and two-bedroom units. We are examining what can be done with the pub unit, a protected premises, as a community hub or other town centre use,” he said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Barn Owls are bouncing back in Galway

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The Barn Owl....returning in droves to Galway.

The Barn Owl is bouncing back all over the county – that’s the key finding of a recent survey which recorded an upsurge in the fortunes of this iconic farmland bird, now returning to parts of the county where they have been absent for decades.

The survey was carried out by BirdWatch Ireland in partnership with the Heritage Office of Galway County Council, and it’s great news for a bird that had become an increasingly rare sight around the county in recent decades.

Surveys show that Barn Owls were widespread in the east of the county in the late 1960s, but 40 years later their numbers had diminished, and their range had contracted significantly in east Galway and they were incredibly rare west of Lough Corrib.

However, the survey – carried out by BirdWatch Ireland in partnership with Galway County Council with the support of the National Biodiversity Action Plan Fund – provides cause for optimism and the first evidence that the fortunes of Barn Owls may be changing in east Galway.

The Barn Owl survey enlisted the help of farmers and the general public who reported information on Barn Owls across the county, and the survey also involved systematically checking a wide range of ruined structures, which are the typical nesting sites of Barn Owl.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Spatial jobs strategy is still stuck in first gear

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Accusation...Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn.

Commuters in Athenry and Oranmore are having to spend hours travelling to congested urban areas for work while policymakers renege on commitments to deliver industry locally.

That’s according to a local councillor who said the failure of the IDA to attract inward investment to Oranmore-Athenry Strategic Economic Corridor amounted to an ‘abandonment’ of local residents.

Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn said despite having a commitment in local and national plans to attract industry into what amounts to around 500 acres in Athenry and Oranmore, nothing had come of it.

“We are now entering into the second County Development Plan where we have this ‘Strategic Economic Corridor’, and it was in the National Planning Framework.

“They appear to have abandoned the area and while we’ve seen IDA and Enterprise Ireland get investment for places like Tuam and Parkmore, they appear to be only investing in existing businesses, while doing nothing to attract new industry and indigenous firms to this area,” blasted the Fianna Fáil councillor.

At a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District, Cllr Herterich Quinn secured the backing of local area councillors to write to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Leo Varadkar, seeking assurances that steps were being taken to bring jobs to the area.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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