Irwin’s Funeral Directors is a 5th generational business, established by Cornelious Irwin in 1834. The business started in Abbeygate Street Lower, where White Hall Medical Centre can be found today. The Irwin family witnessed the worst sights of the Great Famine of 1845 – 1850, when unthinkable hardship ravaged the West of Ireland and death became an unwelcomed familiarity in Galway. Despite the hardships of the time, Cornelious committed to serving the people of Galway in as dignified a fashion as circumstance would allow, and he continued to do so until he died in 1874. He was seventy years of age at the time of his death and was buried in Forthill Cemetery. Pictured below is one of the first-ever horse-drawn hearses, used by Irwin’s in 1834.
After his death, his son, Patrick Irwin took over the running of the business. The family and business moved to Eyre Street in 1902. The Irwin’s bought Mack’s Royal Livery Yard and Posting Establishment, where they then built their family home and ran their business from. It was the time of the horse drawn hearse so stables were also maintained at the premises.
In 1961, Paddy’s son Joseph (Joe) Irwin began working in the family business. Joseph always had a love and passion for the funeral business and said it was all he ever wanted to do. For years, the two worked alongside each other serving the people of Galway City and County. In December 1981, Paddy and Joe looked after the funeral arrangements for Councillor Claud Toft, the only modern Mayor of Galway to die while in office.
Pictured below is the blessing of one of Irwin’s Hearses in 1964.
Joe could foresee the changes and advancements which would be soon coming within the funeral industry and knew that if the family business was to survive and continue to grow, they would need to build a funeral home. Planning permission was obtained for a funeral home to be built behind the home house where their horses were stabled, in 1988. Paddy and Joe opened up their new funeral home in 1990.