Category Archives: Clontarf Club

It’s 1884 at the McDermott General Store

Judging from the records I have, business was anything but brisk in January 1884 at the McDermott General Store in Clontarf.  It stands to reason…January on the prairie could be (and is) brutal.  Most people came in to pick up the essentials: coffee, tea, oil, and tobacco.  There were a few purchases that stood out to me…

January 8th

  • James Flynn bought a buffalo robe ($4.50) and a cap ($3.30)
  • One pair overshoes ($1.75) was charged to Frank McMahon’s account by Tim. Cain

January 29th

  • Rev. Anatole Oster purchased 4# F.G. tobacco ($1.00)
  • William Purcell picked up 1 candy pail (.20)

January 31st

  • Frank McMahon parted with .60 for 1# wax candles
  • Charles Maguire purchased 1 bottle peppernuts (.25) and 1/2# tobacco (.15)

There were a couple of interesting transactions that could relate to some type of building or works project in Tara Township.  Patrick Foley, who was Tara Township clerk, was given $40.00 by a Swift County order.  On the same day, James Conaty was given $40.00 cash.  I know that Simon Conaty was responsible for building the current  St. Malachy’s in the 1890s, but I don’t know anything about James.  Any ideas?


On January 24th Tom and Jackie Doherty left the following comment.  I wanted to post it here to make sure everyone saw it, even if you don’t read the comments.  Enjoy!

In the 50′s and 60′s, everyone in attendance eagerly awaited the big event. It usually happened about midnight. Earl Gilbertson and Otto Sluter (sp?) would dance cheek to cheek on the dance floor. Any newcomer’s would really “gawk” at the scene. Afterwards, the two men would get lots of grins, laughs and applause. Earl’s wife was Jeannie Christopherson (Ma Pete’s daughter).
Also regarding the Clontarf Club – Before George Gilbertson sold to Lyle Kesting, there was a card room in the back part of the club. They had poker games that would last for days non stop. Some players would go for a day or two and then take a break and then come back. George was said to have played 4 straight days before he bit the dust one time.
Also – George used to tell me about the time my uncle Andy Doherty, went broke playing poker there. George then gave Andy some money to go and get him and the rest of the players something to eat. Andy took the $20.00 and drank most of the money up. He returned to the game with the food that he had enough money to buy – a box of animal crackers. George used to laugh so hard telling the story, he would be crying.

Thanks for a great story, Tom and Jackie!


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A paved road, the Clontarf Club, and roller skates

I was chatting with my “Clontarf Insider” yesterday about the Clontarf Club.  She told me a bit about the origins of the Club…

About 1920 a gentleman from Benson started an oil company and thought that Clontarf was a good spot for a filling station, since the main road from Benson went straight through the town.  This was a great idea, until they decided to pave the main road, shift its course, and bypass Clontarf altogether.

Without the traffic from the main road, the station was not profitable, so it was sold to a local man named Patrick Regan.  Pat Regan started a garage, and throughout the 1920s it was known as much for the poker games played there as for the cars repaired.

Patrick Regan is seated on the left with Jim Duggan standing behind him. The two men on the right are unidentified.

George Gilbertson joined Pat Regan in a venture to remodel the garage, doubling its size, and turning it into the Clontarf Club.  Does anyone have a date for when the Club opened its doors?

I have heard that the lobster tail served at the Club was quite good…any other favorite items on the menu?

The paved road may not have been good for filling station business, but it did wonders for the recreational opportunities of Clontarf youth.  Donald and Gerald Regan (who happen to be sons of Pat Regan mentioned above), told me about how they would strap on their roller skates and skate the six miles to Benson on the smooth, newly paved road.  Then they would skate all night at the Armory, returning home on the midnight train to Clontarf.  Care to guess how much this one-way train fare cost in the 1920s?

Pssst…any ideas on the identities of the two gentlemen seated and standing on the right in the photo above?  Share your thoughts; leave a comment!


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New! Good times at the Clontarf Club!

I just added a page devoted to the Clontarf Club!  Just click on Clontarf Club, up near the top of the page, between the title and the photograph of the depot.

Anne had the fantastic idea of having a celebration to honor the legendary spot in Clontarf.  We want to hear your memories, so please reply on the Clontarf Club page or here or anywhere on the blog…we will get it in the right place!

Not much input on the school photo I posted last time.  JoAnn from Phoenix and her mother Tressa Burns (granddaughter of Charles and Phoebe Chevalier) had a few ideas.  I will share them over the weekend.

Speaking of Tressa Burns…JoAnn and her sister are putting together an album for their mom with photographs of her own personal history.  Let me know if you have any photos or memories to share.  Tressa spent a lot of time in Clontarf, since her grandparents Charles and Phoebe ran the hotel in town.

You can always email me: if you have any questions or suggestions for the blog.  If you have photos or anecdotes you want to share, send them my way.  I will add them to the blog for all the world to see!


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