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The GBC stands for ‘Galway Bakery Company’, as it was first established as a bakery in 1936. The bakery was located on Mary Street and the proprietor, Michael Cahill, was a successful merchant from Tuam. The shop and bakery specialised in high class confectionary and wedding cakes, as well as high quality bread. The bakery’s shop on Williamsgate Street was supplied by horse-drawn vehicles and later by a tri cart which was cycled by teenage boys and it would certainly not pass safety regulations today!
As the business grew and became more popular, the remainder of the premises was developed into a café. Over time it became one of the most popular venues in the city. Michael married Kathleen Deegan who would eventually take over the running of the business. Kathleen’s sisters, Vera and Rita both worked as managers in the café during the 1940-50s. It was around this time that the tri-cart was replaced with delivery vans to ensure a more efficient and safer delivery service to the café on Williamsgate Street.
Following a fire that destroyed the bakery on Mary Street in 1959, it was renovated completely with state of the art equipment and this helped ensure that the high quality association with the GBC continued.
Following the death of Michael in 1960 and Kathleen’s subsequent death six years later, Vera took over the business and the success continued under her management. She married Andrew McSweeney, a man from Tralee and went on to have four children, Jacinta, Rose, Jerry and Andrew. Jerry McSweeney was working part-time in the business when a fire destroyed a large section of businesses in the city, including the GBC. However, by 1972, the business opened its doors once again on Williamsgate Street. In 1976, the bakery on Mary’s street was closed for good following another fire and thus ended the bakery section of the business.
Since then, Jerry worked alongside his mother until her retirement in 1981. The ground floor was converted into a popular coffee shop and the restaurant thrived as the business continued to adapt to changing times and tastes. The GBC has seen its way through both the good times and the bad and has prevailed nonetheless. In 2016, after eighty years in business we would like to thank all of our staff and customers who have ensured that we can continue to provide Galweigens and tourists alike with great food and service. It is wonderful to see that people will continue to support the local family run businesses in the city and allow for the continued success of the GBC, eighty years on.
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