Gallahers Home Town and Irish Roots
Donegal to the Bay of Plenty - A long way from home
The decision of the Gallagher family – accompanied by their young five-year-old son David – to leave Ramelton, County Donegal for a new life in New Zealand was one which would ultimately change the face of world rugby.
On arriving in their new home, the family altered the spelling of their name from Gallagher to Gallaher and Dave Gallaher would go on to become a legend in his adopted country. But though he captained the first New Zealand national team to tour Europe and assert a sporting supremacy that remains to this day, his sporting achievements and legacy remains unknown in his native Ireland.
Dave was born to shopkeeper James Gallagher and his wife, Maria McCloskie, a teacher on October 30th 1873.
His birth is recorded on a baptism certificate in the parish of Tullaughnish as 30th October, 1873 and he was baptized in the First Ramelton Meeting House on 8th January 1874. In all, the Gallahers had eight sons and two daughters.
In 1878, the family joined hundreds of other Irish emigrants and embarked the Lady Jocelyn general screw steamship for a new life on the other side of the world under a scheme organised by George Stewart Vesey.
The family settled at Katikati in the Bay of Plenty with many other Ulster families. It had initially been hoped that the family would set up a woollen business in New Zealand but their patron died unexpectedly and his successor did not support the initiative. The woman of the house had to subsequently become the chief breadwinner, teaching at the local school, but she developed cancer and died, leaving behind a young family.
It is believed that one of the
elder Gallaher sisters assumed the matriarchal role and it is unsurprising
that young Dave Gallaher left Katikati at a relatively young age to find
work in Auckland. However, he had already made a sporting mark on the
district. In a book about the Irish emigration to New Zealand called
Ulster Plantation, Arthur J Gray wrote: