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Dave Gallaher 1873-1917

We are grateful to Lindel who compiled this page for us. It also forms part of the Donegal Genealogy Resources Website


You may link to this page but not copy it.

If you have anything you'd like to add please Contact Her


Foreword by Lindel: Please note that I am no expert on Dave Gallaher.

There are some excellent websites dedicated to him (links below) but here, I have tried to present  some information on his family and the major events of his life,

which I hope will interest some people and perhaps supplement what they have, in a small way


David 'Dave' Gallaher (30 October 1873 – 4 October 1917) was a New Zealand rugby union footballer, best known as the captain of "The Originals", the first New Zealand national rugby union team to be known as the All Blacks.

Born in Ramelton, Co Donegal, Dave's family emigrated to New Zealand in 1878. Originally settling in Katikati in the Bay of Plenty, they moved to Auckland in the 1890s and it was there that Gallaher played his provincial rugby.

Dave Gallaher played 26 representative matches for Auckland, including the first ever Ranfurly Shield defence, and 36 for the All Blacks, including 6 tests. His All Black career spanned from 1903 to 1906, the highlight being the captaincy of the "Originals" tour in which he played 26 matches including 4 tests. Gallaher proved to be an outstanding leader and one of the deepest thinkers of the game in his era.

Dave Gallaher fought in the Boer War serving as a corporal in the 6th and 10th New Zealand Contingents of Mounted Rifles. Although exempt from conscription due to his age, he also volunteered to fight in World War I, and apparently altered his date of birth to 31 October 1876. He saw action at Ypres, and was killed during the Passchendaele offensive on 4 October 1917. He is buried at Nine Elms Cemetery, Poperinge, where his gravestone bears the silver fern. Two of his brothers were also killed in France.


Parents -

James Henry Gallaher (1812-1894) & Maria Hardy McCloskie (1844-1887)

James Gallagher, aged over 21, widower, merchant in Ramelton and son of Joseph, a farmer, married Maria McCloskie, aged over 21, spinster, teacher in Ramelton and daughter of William, a merchant, on 19 Jul 1866 at the Ramelton First Presbyterian Church. Witnesses Joseph S Scott and Isabella Pinkerton


Their children born Ramelton -


Joseph b 1 Jun 1867
Isabella b 23 Jun 1868 (died bef 1878?)

James b 7 Jun 1869 (died bef 1878)

Maria b 25 May 1870
Thomas b 19 Jul 1872

David b 30 Oct 1873

William b 8 Mar 1875

Oswald b 23 Feb 1876
James Patrick b 17 Mar 1878




The family emigrated to New Zealand in 1878 on the Lady Jocelyn. This ship brought out a second group of immigrants who formed the planned Irish/Ulster settlement in New Zealand. Some of these, 4000 settlers in all, were said to be men and women in prosperous circumstances and their arrival was regarded as a distinct forward step in the settlement of the colony. Mr Vesey Stewart, brother of Captain Hugh Stewart is credited with organising the passage of some 4000 immigrants who settled in KatiKati and Te Puke.


Passenger list -


Lady Jocelyn : Departed London - Arrived Auckland 17 August 1878
Intermediate cabin










Settlement in NZ


The family settled in Sunny Hills, Katikati and the children attended the Katikati No 2 School, which was opened in 1879 - Dave's mother Maria was the first teacher at the school.





Another four children were born to James and Maria in Katikati -


George Hall b 2 Nov 1879

Charles  b 2 Jan 1881

Henry Fletcher b 2 Jan 1881

Douglas Wallace b 7 August 1883


Maria died in 1887 and the following obituary for her appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on 16 Sept 1887

The Late Mrs Gallaher
It is with deep regret we have to chronicle the death of a most esteemed member of our community. For some time past Mrs Gallaher, (the efficient and greatly respected head mistress of Katikati No 2 school) has been in delicate health, though no one anticipated the news of her dangerous illness, and it was a sad surprise to many to hear Dr Moir considered her case so serious as to advise her immediate removal to Auckland Hospital, so that she might receive the finest medical treatment in the colony. All was of no avail, and in a few days Mrs Gallaher rapidly became worse, gradually sinking till death released her from her pains and Thursday last, at the early age of 42. She was a native of Ramelton, Co. Donegal, where she was esteemed and respected by all classes and where she for many years enjoyed the friendship and patronage of the celebrated Irish philanthropists, Lord and Lady George Hill. It was with a view to carrying out a plan of Lord George's for the benefit of the Donegal peasantry, that Mr and Mrs Gallaher first came to Katikati, it being intended that a depot for the Donegal Knitting Company should have been established at Katikati, but, unfortunately, the noble founder died within six months of the arrival of Mrs Gallaher in the colony, and his kindly scheme was not carried on by his heir. Mrs Gallaher leaves a large family of children, for whom she was the breadwinner, and a bereaved and aged husband (65) to mourn her loss, - a loss which not only her own family, but to the whole district and to many warm personal friends, is irreparable. We offer our deep sympathy to the family, and would remind them that the noble example of the self-sacrificing life "lost awhile" is for them a goodly heritage, and a bright example to follow.




During the 1890s Dave played rugby for Ponsonby as a forward. He was a skilled player and stood out during many games..............he was regularly mentioned in the Observer newspaper of the day, and also featured as a caricature in 1896 :-



In 1901, Dave Gallagher joined the 6th Contigent and left to fight in the Boer War -


Observer 2 Feb 1901


The All Blacks


Dave Gallaher's career spanned 1903 - 1906 with the highlight being his winning the Captaincy for the 1905 tour of Britain. This tour was the first time a national side had played the home nations and also the first time the All Blacks name was used. The tour was a stunning victory for the All Blacks - they played 35 matches, won 34 and only lost 3-0 to Wales, and that loss was due to a controversial refereeing decision!





1906 - Retirement & Marriage


Dave retired at the peak of his fame in 1906, but only from playing - he was still involved in NZ Rugby. 1906 was also the year he married. His wife to be was a sister of Arthur Francis, with whom he had played provincial rugby in the 1890s - she was born in New Zealand in 1884 to Nora and John Patterson Emilius Francis. Their marriage took place on 4 Oct 1906 at the Church of All Saints, Ponsonby, Auckland.


The Observer newspaper, dated 20 Oct 1906, covered the marriage in their Social Sphere column : -


World War 1


Dave Gallaher enlisted in Jul 1916, following the death of his youngest brother Douglas, who had enlisted to fight in WW1 earlier. In all, 5 of the 9 Gallaher brothers fought in WW1 - Dave, William, twins Charles and Henry, and Douglas.


Dave, Henry and Douglas did not survive the War: -
































Company Sergeant Major Douglas Wallace Gallaher
654, 11th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.
Died 3 June 1916 aged 32
Remembered with honour Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix

Sergeant David Gallaher
32513, 2nd Bn., Auckland Regiment, N.Z.E.F.
Died 4 October 1917 aged 41
Remembered with honour Nine Elms British Cemetery

Private Henry Fletcher Gallaher
3867, 51st Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.
Died 24 April 1918
Remembered with honour Villers-Bretonneux Memorial


News of Henry's death was reported in the Grey River Argus on 7 Jun 1918: -



Dave Gallaher's death was carried in all the major NZ newspapers and he continued to be mentioned through 1917/18. The following articles are a small selection of them: -


Poverty Bay Herald 31 Dec 1917


Poverty Bay Herald 17 Jan 1918



Grey River Argus 17 Jan 1918



Dave Gallaher's headstone, marking his grave in the Nine Elms British Cemetery

(submitted by Sue McConnell)


Dave Gallagher left behind a daughter, Nora Tahatu, and a legacy which is remembered and celebrated to this day.


The Dave Gallaher Commemorative Bronze

Those of you with an interest in rugby and with a bit of money rolling around in your pockets might be interested in a bronze statue of Dave Gallaher being offered for sale by the Dave Gallaher Society (with whom we have no connection except as regards to having a mutual interst in the Dave Gallaher story). I attach below  a sales leaflet produced by the Society for your perusal.



9th February 2012

Unfortunately for  those Gallaghers who may have bought tickets for the above bronze, I have to tell you that it has been won...but it wasn't you!! It was won by a gentleman named Diver in Dave's hometown of Ramelton. I was hoping to win it as it would make a nice exhibit in our museum/archive.