The Gibbons Family in Ireland

Tommy Gibbons visited Ireland in 1920

Text from "How I Fought The Champs" by Tom Gibbons:

"Gradually now, I was working up my poundage.  Jumping around the country, I fought such middleweights and light heavies as Christiee, Chip, Bartley Madden, Len rowlands, Larry Williams, Australian Mick King and a lot of others.  I was winning steadily. Then came what later seemed like a minor setback but which at the time bothered me considerably.  Boy McCormick, the British light heavyweight champion was touring the country and our paths crossed in Portland, Oregon, early in 1920. McCormick was fast and a good boxer but didn't seem particularly tough to me.  So I was both surprised and peeved when it was called a draw at the end of ten whirlwind rounds.  Eddie Kane tried to get him for me again but we couldn't catch up with him in this country. I was determined to beat him so when he sailed for home, we followed him to England on another boat.  We popped challenges all over the place but we never got a tumble. McCormick was apparently satisfied and didn't want to fight me again.  We even trailed him to the Isle of Man to try to talk him into a match personally.  he was polite and friendly but told us quite frankly he wasn't interested in stretching his luck. I was struck by the attitude of the English sporting public on this matter.  In the United States a champion who refused to fight would be called "yellow" or worse names by the fans.  The British merely regarded it as McCormick's own business.  He was champion and if he didn't choose to box me, that was his right as holder of the crown.
Finally we gave up in disgust and went over to Ireland to visit County Mayo.  I fell in love with the country at once and the people treated us like kings.  It was like old home week, meeting relatives I'd never seen and the time passed all too quickly."
-- Thanks to Tim Gibbons for supplying this text

There he visited "Aunt Nora's" family.  This was probably the family of Nora Naughton who married in brother John Joseph Gibbons in Ireland.  John immigrated to America with the Gibbons family in 1884, but Nora did not come to America until 1897.  Tommy visited Nora's mother, sister, and brother.

Tommy with Nora's family
Nora's Family
Nora's homestead

Tommy also visited Michael "Mocky" Dolan who was an uncle to Tommy.  Mocky married Bridget Gibbons who was the sister of Tommy's father, Thomas John Gibbons.  There is a family story that says that a fight between Mocky and Tommy's dad lead to the Gibbons' coming to America. 

Mochy Dolan and Tommy Gibbons
Tommy at the Dolan's home
Tommy at the Dolan's home

Tommy's father, Thomas John Gibbons, had a brother Patrick Gibbons who stayed in Ireland.  Tommy visited with Patrick while he was in Ireland.  We know very little about Patrick Gibbons or his family.

Uncle Pat and Tommy Gibbons
Uncle Pat and his Nephew
are standing in the center
Uncle Pat and his Nephew
are standing in the center
next to Tommy.

Tommy visited his family's homestead while in Ireland.  Tommy was born in America, but his parents and a number of his siblings were born here.  The homestead is in the townland of Glenagashaleen (Glennagashleeny) near the town of Tourmakeady in county Mayo.  This is in the parish of Ballinrobe and the Gibbons family records refer to the parish church in Partry which is just to the North East of Tourmakeady .  A number of Tommy's photos refer to Ballyhean which is a town and parish between Tournmakeady and the large town of Castlebar.

"Home of my parents
Glenagashaleen,Tourmakeady, County Mayo, Ireland"
"Stream running past Dad's home in Glenagashaleen"

We also have a couple other photos from Tommy's trip to Ireland.

Philip Gibbons with two other men. 
We do not know who Philip Gibbons is.
Pat Maloy with another gentleman.
We don't know who he is also.
Map of location of townland of Glenagashaleen.

Copies of some of these same photos with better captions can be found at the Tommy & Mike Gibbons Preservation Society Page

You can also view the ship manifest showing Tommy Gibbons returning to New York after his trip.