Andy Gaw

Via this Old Photos of Cork post where there are many comments about this well known character of Cork City who died in the 1970s.

I can tell you exactly who Andy Gaw was. Someone else on the thread said, correctly, that he often gave out coins, the old pennies, to children, as he wandered through town. He was very popular and people greeted him with a certain kind of awe. He was not some notorious criminal or anything like that. That connotation probably arose because of the song lyrics, but they do not refer to him as being lawless, rather they mean that Cork is so rebellious that even Andy Gaw could be elected Mayor. I knew him and saw him daily. He died sometime in the 1970s. He lived on Fair Hill itself, up near Knockpogue Avenue, and was a short little man who had difficulty with his speech. I never heard him speak and it appeared that he was unable to. He would wear one of those grey long coats, often worn by older men in Cork at that time. He was a lovely man and lived, I think, into his late 80s. It is a pity that there seem to be no photograpjs of him about, but he must have been photographed many times as he was a well-known character and always in town. He generally tended to be seen around Princes St and the Market, but could be seen anywhere.

Fair Hill is right, his name was Andrew Egan, lived on the north side. As well as a speech impediment, he also had “the shakes”.Used to collect pennies from adults in pubs, etc. and hand them out to children.

And this story will make you laugh regardless of whether it’s true or not.

I remember Andy. He would have brand new shiny pennies he would give us and then our parents would give him a shilling.

There was a great story about him clashing with a Priest who wanted Andy to mind his horse while he went into a meeting with the Bishop. Andy was willing to do it for “a few bob” but the Priest didn’t want to pay. Andy, he said, “if you don’t stay there and mind my horse I’ll get God to stick you to the ground.”

To which Andy replied, “Why don’t you get God to stick the horse to the ground?”

6 Replies to “Andy Gaw”

  1. I love the real Cork wit and the storys about the characters those good people who lived in our city well done to all concerned who contributed to this site

  2. i lived in cork when i was about 5 years old in the 50s i remember being a bit scared of him at first but yes he did give money to the kids i think hoping to get a bit more from their parents ,,we saw him all the time in the city as my grandfathers house is still standing ,mabey the last one in anderson street .happy days

  3. I met Andy Gaw once when I was about seven years old. I was standing with my Grandmother outside the English Market on The Grand Parade. He shuffled up and reached put to me with a penny in his hand. I froze, and didn’t know what to do. Through fear I went to take the penny, but he grabbed my hand and squeezed. I pulled my hand away with a struggle, and ran from there back home to Waterfall.

  4. My mother used to talk about Andy Gaw and all the nicknames people had in Cork. “Poor Andy Gaw” she would say and I still hear her soft Cork accent.

  5. I remember when I was a child in Cork on holiday with my father, and Andy offering me a coin, I didn’t want to take it but my father told me too, my father was a Cork man and new him well, that was a bout 50 years ago, I saw a post on facebook recently with his photo and remembered him straight away, he was a very popular man I recall my father saying.

  6. I remember Andy Gaw very well indeed. He also gave me and my brothers coins on a Sunday morning after mass at St Mary’s and years later as a young man I gave them back and no doubt he passed them on to the younger generation. One day after work at home my dad was reading the Echo after his dinner, when he called me and asked me if I had any plans for the evening. To which I said no. It was then he told me that Andy Gaw had passed away. We later went to pay our respects that evening. A great character of Cork.

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