Paddy “The Cope” Gallagher

Paddy The Cope

“Good friends, if you kill somebody, won’t call the police. A true friend will help you bury the body.” The Gallaghers and the MacAteers (my family name, before Eliis Island) were good and true friends for a very long time.

Paddy “The Cope” Gallagher, born Pádraig Ó Gallchóir, was an illustrious friend of the family, and a great man. I think of him often, when conversing with student socialist wannabes, complaining on their iPhones about the terrible oppression which they endure.

You see, Paddy wrote the book about oppression and triumph. He lived in one of the poorest parts of Christendom, under the real oppression of the British and their allies, the landlords of Cleendra, Templecrone, part of The Rosses in the west of County Donegal, Ireland – as close as one could get to the End of the World in those days – tiny, remote, poor. The landlords and their gombeen men, their enforcers, controlled all commerce, all rents, all employment, and extracted every last farthing possible from the people of County Cork.

Paddy was one of the founders of the Irish Cooperative Movement. With help from some backers, he started the Templecrone Agricultural Co-operative Society, which became known as “The Cope.” It was a co-op store, akin to those which sprang up in the United States in the 1960s or so – but it was established in 1906. It began small, but grew to a large chain. The early days were hard; Paddy had to beat off gombeen men (enforcers) who tried to burn down his first store. He sold goods at better prices, and he paid higher prices for the labor and goods of the people around; he found new markets; he and the other members of the Co-op did much to provide the people of Templecrone with better-paying jobs and cheaper goods; he even has his own stamp nowadays.

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