On this day, or thereabouts, Patrick Conroy was born.
‘ Much folklore surrounds his life and his biographers have encountered difficulty in establishing certain facts about him ‘; this is a quote from the Dictionary of Irish Biography.
There appears to be an incorrect date for his date of birth on at least one plaque, and a different plaque appears to have a different year for his passing.
Having said that; it is generally accepted that on this date, 28 Feb, 1882, Padraic O Conaire was born near the docks in Galway. He was born in a public house, ‘ The Lobster Pot ‘, now trading as ‘Ruibin’ near the docks in Galway city.
He was reared with English as his first language. However, he was orphaned in his early teens, and went to live with an uncle and his grandparents in Rosmuc.
He spent some time In both Rockwell and Blackrock colleges, but left school without an Inter Cert.
About 1900, he moved to London, where he got a job with the Board of Education. He became involved with the work of the Gaelic League. He started to write stories ‘as Gaeilge’, and won some prizes for his work.
While in London, he married and had a family. He returned to Ireland around 1915, leaving his wife and family in England. He tried to eke out a living, with his writings and teaching and work as a journalist.
His writings deal with societal issues; poverty, loneliness, emigration, and mental health. He travelled around Connemara; going to fairs and places where he got the inspiration for a lot of his stories. M’Asal Beag Dubh is one of his better known stories. My Little Black Donkey tells the story from a fair.
Whilst he was a man for stories, I’m sure he would love the story of Masal Bugduv; a fictitious up-and-coming Moldovan soccer star, who was reported in the media, and caught the attention of several top-flight English soccer clubs. A certain publican/restaurateur out in Connemara has a jersey with his name on it.
On a visit to the Conradh na Gaeilge headquarters in Dublin in 1928, he became unwell, and was taken to Richmond Hospital where he passed away on October 6, 1928. He was just 46 years of age. Struggling with addiction, he died penniless. He is buried in his native Galway, in Bohermore Cemetery.
He is regarded as one of the most important Irish language writers of the 20th century. Mairtin O Cadhain, the foremost Irish-language writer of his generation, judged him the ‘most successful exponent in the Irish language’, adding that ‘this is no mean praise in a country which is world famous for its short story writers’.
A statue was erected in his honour in Eyre Square. Like Padraic in life, his statue travelled alot. It stood in 4 different sites in Eyre Square, until 1999, when some vandals decapitated the monument. His head was later recovered, re-attached; and Padraic was finally moved to the secure Galway City Museum. A bronze replica now sits in Eyre Square.
Regarded as ‘one of our own’, he is a welcome sight in Eyre Square, where he sits with his notebook and butt of a pencil, with the rabbit and robin at his feet, sitting on a wall from Connemara.
On this day, 28 February, 1882, one of our foremost writers, Padraic O Conaire, was born.
P.S. Should you find inaccuracies in this article, please let me know. I have tried to source material from reliable sources. Many thanks, Ian.

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