Pádraic Flannelly

Pádraic Flannelly was born in Attymass, County Mayo, on 18th June 1899; the son of Tony and Bridget (née Fergusson) Flannelly. He attended the National School at Bofield in neighbouring Bonniconlon. He then received preparatory teacher training from Bofield tutor Tadg O'Leary, followed by studies at Dungarvan teacher training college, and won a scholarship to Galway University where he completed his B.A. (Hons).

His first teaching position was in Attymachue in County Sligo, and he used to cycle there on Sunday evening and home again on Friday evening.

In 1930, he was appointed Principal of Attymass National School on the retirement of Miss Kate Flynn of Ballycong.

In 1932, he married Linda O'Dwyer (sister of Bill O'Dwyer, later to become the first Catholic Mayor of New York). His wife Linda was then appointed to Attymass as Vice Principal. The couple had five children: Enda, Betty, Irene, Adrian and Fintan.

Pádraic played a very active part in gathering folklore of the three neighbouring parishes: Attymass, Bonniconlon and Foxford; and particularly Attymass. These findings are preserved in the Department of Folklore in University College Dublin, and the information has been used by many subsequent writers of folklore and local history. In contrast to most of the other schoolmasters who simply collated stories gleaned by their pupils from their parents and grandparents, Pádraic's research was a scholarly work of exceptional quality that went far beyond the norm.

During his 36 years as a teacher in Attymass, Pádraic played a very active part in helping elderly locals qualify for the old age pension. Many locals were unable to trace their baptismal certificates since the records were often mislaid or illegible, and his research proved invaluable.

He was a founder member of Attymass Muintir na Tíre, and acted as Secretary until his retirement. He was also a founder member of Bonnifinglas Sports Club in the 1950s.

Pádraic presented historical lectures to the Ballina Historical Society, and was widely sought for his local historical and archaeological information. His lecture entitled "When Two Thousand North Men perished in the Moy", presented on 26th February 1938, is still often quoted and typifies his extraordinary talent for scholarly research and storytelling.

He was very active all his life as Secretary of the local branch of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, and was also Secretary for many years of the Knights of Columbanus. In later years, he played an active part in the formation and promotion of the Pensioned Teachers Association.

In 1966, he retired and moved to Bray, County Wicklow. He died on 19th October 1974, and is buried in St. Peter's Cemetery, Little Bray, with his wife Linda and sister Margaret.

[his portrait is illustrated above; courtesy of his son, Enda Flannelly]