Dan Kelly - Tailor

One of last tailors to ply his trade in our community.

Gerry Costello

Dan Kelly's Cottage Garbally
© Gerry Costello
Elbow Patches
© Alpha Imaging
Dan Kelly, Garbally
Mary Duggan

Dan Kelly was the local tailor in the 1950s and 1960s in this area. He lived in what was always described as “a labourer’s cottage” in Carrowmore on the right-hand side past Garbally Castle on your way towards Monivea. As a child I well remember being brought into Dan’s house by my grandfather who used to have Dan make suits for him from ‘suit lengths’ which he would buy when occasionally when visiting my aunt in Dublin.

Garda Uniforms:

I am reliably told that Dan also had the contract to make uniforms for the Gardai of the area of Athenry. It seems that they were made to a specification and local tailors in every area were given the contract to make and supply as required. My grandfather, and many more also, used to acquire old Garda uniforms from some friend they had in the force and they would be taken to Dan to be re-worked to take the Garda uniform look out of the jacket and large overcoat.

Repairs and Recycling:

Dan would also take an old overcoat and maybe recycle it into something else like a pair of pants for a child. If someone had a jacket or coat and the elbows wore down then Dan would put leather patches on to get extra wear from the garment. Sometimes they would be put on a new garment to ensure that the elbows did not get damaged. Today leather elbow patches are somewhat of a fashion statement.

Dan’s House:

On entering Dan’s house you kept left and came into what was the kitchen and also his work room. Just inside the window on the left side of the door was his work table that was piled high with cloth and and materials. He was heavily built  in stature for the times and wore a cap and glasses and usually sat on the edge of the work table while you were in the house with him as it seemed if this was his natural seat. It was the first house that I encountered a carpet on the floor.

Dilly Kelly:

I really don’t remember his wife but his daughter always lived in the house with him. She was called Dilly Kelly and I presume this was some shortened version for Delia. She was slight in build and very thin always with a quiet shy personality. She passed away at a young age in the early 1960s. Dan’s mode of transport was a bicycle. It was a ladies bicycle with a basket in front and slightly smaller in overall size than the average bike. They always looked like an odd combination as Dan was on the large side for such a small bike.

Moved to UK:

After his daughters death, Dan was alone and eventually moved to England where the rest of his children lived and remained there for the rest of his life.

This page was added on 14/01/2015.

Comments about this page

  • Hi Gerry,

    Dan the tailor is my great-grandfather also. We’re trying to track down the details of my grandfather James. Could I contact you directly via email please? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you in advance,

    By Alenka Vaughan (03/07/2022)
  • Not sure if I know anything about him but I will ask about the place and
    try to get some info. I knew Christy Kelly very well. He was also a son
    of Dan, the tailor.

    My email is gerry@gerrycostello.com

    By Gerry Costello (03/07/2022)
  • This is great grandfather now I know where my big build comes from thankyou leo knight

    By Leo knight (29/01/2022)
  • Hi Leo, knew your great grandfather, his daughter Dilly and son Christy who used to come home here up to the 1970’s.
    It was the first house that I ever saw carpet in. My grandfather and Dan were best friends and Dan made all his clothes
    for him.


    By Gerry Costello (29/01/2022)
  • Interesting to see his home still survives. It would make a beautiful rural centre of culture if it was made available. Considering it’s heritage and history, it’s close proximity to the castle and its quaint location, it would be a beautiful project.

    By Gene Clarke (03/10/2016)
  • I so regret that it is only recently I became interested in times gone by and social history.
    Great website, continue the good work!

    By Pauline Power (25/02/2016)

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