A mould-maker who broke the mould many times

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Sligo man Martin Keaveney is this year celebrating 60 years in the toolmaking and plastics business.

Martin Keaveney a tool maker from Sligo.
Martin Keaveney a tool maker from Sligo.

But in his lifetime of mould making, the Tonaphubble native broke the mould in many respects.

He was the first apprentice toolmaker in Ireland, he set up the first toolmaking business in Sligo town, his was the first Irish toolmaking company to export to the US and Africa, he was the first businessman to receive an IDA grant in retrospect and he was the first person from the West of Ireland to win the national Jacob’s Award as Outstanding Young Man of the Year.

And apart from all that he was also elected to Sligo Corporation on his first attempt and served a term as Mayor of Sligo.

Martin spoke to the Sligo Weekender this week about his successful and eventful career in toolmaking and politics.

He was born in 1939 and grew up on a small farm in Tonaphubble, which unlike now was then sparsely populated farmland on the outskirts of a much smaller Sligo town.

His parents came from Easkey and got the land as part of the Land Commission break-up of the big estates in the 1930s.
Martin spent three years in the Tech in Sligo after primary school and at the age of 16 went looking for a job. “I never considered going into farming”, he said.

The Gallagher family were setting up the Tool and Gauge tool making factory in Tubbercurry and in 1956 he became the first apprentice toolmaker in Ireland, a decision he has never regretted.

In his early days in Tubbercurry he stayed in “digs” with the local postmistress Mrs Leonard, as in those days it took an hour to get there from Sligo.
“It was a twisty road, full of potholes”, Martin remembers.

For Martin’s full story see this week’s Sligo Weekender- in shops now.

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