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1) There has been more than one player to have played for Celtic with the same name, so please check the other namesakes if need be.
2) Some texts spell his name as "Gallacher" others as "Gallagher". We've used Gallacher below, as that is believed to be how he spelt it, with his burial headstone spelling his name as such.
3) Some people spell his surname Gallagher, but the most common version is Gallacher. The Irish spelling is Ó Gallchobhair and legend tells us that it was originally given as Gallagher when the family first arrived in Scotland. However, through time, that was changed to Gallacher, with one rumoured reason for this being that this was the spelling on their front door nameplate.


Fullname: Patrick Gallacher
aka: Patsy Gallacher, Patsy Gallagher, Patrick Gallagher
Nickname: The Mighty Atom
Born: 16 Mar 1891
Died: 17 June 1953
Birthplace: Milford, Donegal, Ireland
Signed: 25 Oct 1911
Left: 12 July 1925
Debut: Celtic 3-1 St Mirren, League, 21 Dec 1911
Position: Right Winger, Forward
Internationals: Ireland (Belfast based IFA) / Ireland (Dublin based FAI) / Scottish League
International Caps: 12 caps / 1 cap for Irish Free State / 2 caps
International Goals: [...]

BiogGallacher, Patsy - Kerrydale Street

There are few players in the history of Celtic so fondly recalled as the great Patsy Gallacher.

The Donegal-born (and Glasgow raised)forward is commonly regarded as one of the most gifted footballers to ever wear the famous green and white Hoops and some would argue that he was the most talented Bhoy of them all.

The man who would later be nicknamed 'The Mighty Atom' first caught the eye at Clydebank Juniors but some thought the player was simply not physically strong enough to perform in the senior game. At 5' 7" Patsy was a frail looking character who appeared capable of being blown away in even the mildest of breezes.

After a number of trial games he was eventually signed by Willie Maley on October 25 1911 and made his full competitive debut at Parkhead in a 3-1 league win over St Mirren. When Maley first introduced the fragile looking player to his new team-mates the legendary Jimmy Quinn remarked: "You can't put that Bhoy on the park boss. If you do it will be manslaughter!".

But peerless Patsy soon convinced Quinn and the Celtic support that despite his slim build he had the steel to go with his skill and that no opponent would be allowed to bully and kick Gallacher out of a game.

In terms of his ability with a football Gallacher was a revelation. A genius. He was the most wonderful of dribblers and his audacious talent saw him tease and terrorise defenders. He was an entertainer but his cheeky skills also had an end product as time after time Gallacher would deliver a killer pass or hit home an unstoppable shot.

The Celtic support had seen nothing like the unique brilliance of Patsy and his dazzling runs and thunderous shots would brighten up the dourest of Scottish winter afternoons. His jinking, gutsy, jousting runs had the supporters roaring their approval year after year.

Possibly his most celebrated moment was in the 1925 Scottish Cup final, a match since dubbed 'The Patsy Gallacher Final'. Getting the ball just inside the Dundee half, he rolled past challenge after challenge, sometimes appearing in danger of toppling over as he swerved and swayed dangerously close to the ground. No Dundee boot or body could stop him completely as he veered, sure foot as a young deer, towards their goalmouth. Finally a heavy, desperate tackle grounded him inside the six-yard box. Patsy hit the ground and for an instant his brave effort seemed to be at an end. But Patsy had not yet parted company with the ball, which remained between his feet. A quick somersault and both Patsy and the ball ended up entangled in the Dundee net for the most unorthodox goal in a Scottish Cup Final. It was one magical moment.

The Irishman - who came to Scotland with his desperately poor family when just a young child - was a major factor in numerous Celtic successes as the Bhoys established themselves as the dominant team in Scottish football. His Parkhead career would last 15 years in which time the Hoops won six league titles four Scottish Cups, four Glasgow cups and eleven Glasgow charity cups.

He had a good sense of humour as well. Once, Patsy Gallacher played in the blue of Rangers in a benefit match for his Rangers' pal Andy Cunningham. Not an easy thing to stomach for any proud Celt, but at the end of the game he took off his jersey to reveal that he was actually wearing a Celtic jersey underneath. Even the Rangers fans are said to have laughed.

His most audacious stunt, however, came when the Celtic manager Willie Maley took his side to a luxury hotel in Dunbar for a thoroughly modern spa-style period of training, rest and relaxation. The team were, for health purposes, put under curfew. Gallacher, however, decided he would quite fancy a nippy sweetie or two, and so persuaded a hotel chambermaid to lend him her uniform. Small and svelte enough to exude femininity, a glammed-up Gallacher sashayed past Maley, on sentry duty in the hotel foyer, bade his boss a very good night in a comedic high-pitched squeal, and disappeared through the door Maley was holding open for “her”. Prepared to go out on the town in drag, in the old austere environment in Scotland in the 1920s, he must have really wanted that dram.

In the summer of 1926 Maley announced that Gallacher would be retiring but a furious Patsy denied all knowledge of this and subsequently joined Falkirk for £1,500 where he played on for another six years. Speculation among his fans was that the board wanted to save on Patsy's wages, which were considerably higher than those of any other Celtic player of the time. He was sadly missed by the Celtic support but his performances in the Green and White meant he would never be forgotten. Many believed that if he'd stayed we could and should have won even more.

In total, Patsy Gallacher played 464 times in the league and Scottish Cup for Celtic and scored 192 goals. He also won international caps for both Eire and Northern Ireland. He became the highest paid international player at the time, and over 50,000 turned up at Windsor Park (N Ireland) to see him in his debut. Even after over 50 years after his death his name is revered like few others by Celtic fans, most of whom were not even born when he was still alive.

A brilliant and evocative encomium to Gallacher is found in James E. Handley's The Celtic Story: A History of Celtic Football Club (1960):

'From the days of Johnny Campbell, Willie Groves and Sandy McMahon, the 'prince of dribblers', to the era of Willie Fernie and Charlie Tully, the Celtic club has recruited a host of players whose cantrips with the ball have given ecstatic delight to the followers of soccer, but in that brilliant galaxy no star has shone with the effulgence of Patsy Gallagher.
'Commentators exhausted their repertory of metaphors in trying to place him. To them he was 'the mighty atom', 'the vital spark', 'the will-o-the-wisp', 'the Cinquevalli of the football field' and a dozen other extravagances. It is hard to refrain from claiming that he was the greatest forward the Scottish game has ever seen.
'From the beginning, fresh from Clydebank Juniors, a stripling of seventeen, he caught the popular fancy with his unorthodox style, his inexhaustible treasury of tricks, his magical elusiveness expressed in uncatchable wriggles, slips, swerves, hops and famous 'hesitation' stops. To see Patsy halt in mid-career, place a foot on the top of the ball an calmly wait for opponents, reluctant to approach and be fooled, to make up their minds, made many a supporter's afternoon. Physically speaking, he should have been wafted off the field like thistledown. His small, fragile form seemed altogether out of place in First Division football.
'Only his supreme cleverness saved him from annihilation, for he had incredible pluck an tenacity and took alarming risks. For such a puny frame his stamina was phenomenal, and at the close of play he was worrying the opposition with the same degree of doggedness that had marked the opening minute.' (p. 89)

His achievements are made all the more remarkable when you consider the obstacles he had to overcome in life and the courage he showed in matches did not begin to compare to the strength of character he showed off it. Patsy’s wife died aged 35 while giving birth to their sixth child. Patsy became the sole figurehead of the house and combined games and training with Celtic, with his work as a shipwright in the Clydebank yards. This was dangerous work in itself and Patsy once missed a match for Celtic after being hurt when a box of tools dropped on his foot. In his later years he ran the International Bar in Clydebank, where he was a welcoming host and publican. His generosity and kindness was legendary and when he passed away his family discovered a stacked pile of IOUs from regular customers, dating back years, which Patsy had never called in.

Patsy died on the 17th June 1953 aged 62. His funeral mass was held at St.Paul's Whiteinch, and Patsy is buried in Arkleston Cemetery on the outskirts of Paisley.

You can never underestimate the impact "The Mighty Atom" had on Celtic and the Celtic support. A Celtic great.

Gallacher, Patsy - The Celtic Wiki
The Times, Wednesday, Nov 22, 1916;

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Entry

Gallacher, Patrick [Patsy] (1891–1953),footballer, was born at Ramelton, co. Donegal, on 16 March 1891, the son of poor Irish parents named Gallagher, who emigrated to Clydebank in Scotland when he was three years old. The Scottish spelling of his surname was adopted when misspelt on the nameplate on the door of the family home. His father, William Gallacher, became a shipyard foreman; his mother was Margaret (néeGallacher). On leaving Our Holy Redeemer School in Clydebank in 1906 Gallacher was apprenticed as a carpenter in John Brown's shipyard, where he worked until 1918. He married, on 28 June 1915, Mary Josephine Donegan (d. 1929), who was in domestic service as a housekeeper, the daughter of Thomas Donegan, a shopkeeper. They had five sons and a daughter.

Gallacher began his playing career in 1907 with Renfrew St James, and he moved to Clydebank Juniors in June 1910 before joining Glasgow Celtic on 25 October 1911. Although extremely slight of build, barely 5 feet 4 inches and 7 stones when he played his first senior game in 1911, and never gaining more than a couple of inches in height or 2 stones in weight, the Mighty Atom proved that he could hold his own in the toughest company.

It was with the Catholic-Irish Glasgow Celtic club that Patsy Gallacher made his reputation as a complete footballer, renowned above all for his tactical vision and dribbling skills, though he also had a powerful shot that belied his slight stature. The goal which he scored in the 1925 Scottish cup final for Celtic against Dundee entered the folk legends of the club: a mazy dribble in which a variety of tricks took him through a thick wall of opponents until, when it looked as though he would lose possession, he fell backwards with the ball held between his feet and somersaulted into the net. But in one of the decisions for which the club became notorious, the Celtic manager, Willie Maley, believing that Gallacher was nearing the end of his career, sold him to Falkirk in October 1926. He went on to play another six seasons before retiring on 30 April 1932. In his professional career Gallacher played more than 600 league and cup games in Scotland, and made twelve international appearances for Ireland.

Always his own man Gallacher had a shrewd assessment of his own worth, whether he was dictating orders on the field of play or making deals beneficial to himself off it. In the lunchtime kick-around games at the shipyard he preferred to practise by himself rather than to join in with the others. During the First World War his combination of professional football with employment in the shipyard led to his being brought before a sheriff, in November 1916, and fined for absenting himself from work without leave, contrary to wartime regulations intended to maximize the output of munitions and other fighting materials. After the war his club allowed him to own a public house when this was forbidden to the other Celtic players. His involvement in the drink trade enabled him to give up work in the shipyard. He did not train with his Celtic team-mates when this clashed with his business interests, and he was paid substantially more than others in the team, although by how much was never revealed. There was a probably apocryphal story that when selected to play for Ireland against England in 1920, and a crowd of 50,000 had turned up at Windsor Park, Belfast, he refused to get changed until his personal terms for the game had been met. When the management threatened to drop him, he challenged them to go out and tell the expectant crowd, swollen by the promise of his making an appearance, that Patsy Gallacher would not be playing that day.

When he stopped playing Gallacher retired from the game altogether to concentrate on his business interests which included a wine and spirit shop and The International bar in Clydebank. He was too demanding to be a coach for, like most gifted players, he was unable to comprehend why others could not perform the tricks that came so naturally to him. After the death of his wife in 1929 he brought up their children with the aid of a housekeeper; two of his sons went on to play professional football, Willie for Celtic and Tommy for Dundee. His grandson Kevin Gallacher played in the English premier league and became a Scottish international. Gallacher died of cancer at his home, Celfal, 50 Lennox Avenue, Scotstoun, Glasgow, on 17 June 1953 and was buried at Arkleston cemetery, Paisley. After his death another side of his character was revealed: a heap of IOU's amounting to hundreds of pounds, which he had never pursued.

Bill Murray


R. Kelly,Celtic(1971) · T. Campbell and P. Woods,The glory and the dream: the history of Celtic F.C., 1887–1986(1986) · T. Campbell and P. Woods,A Celtic A–Z(1992) · W. Maley,The story of Celtic(1939) · D. W. Potter,The mighty atom: the life and times of Patsy Gallacher(2000) · d. cert. · G. R. Rubin, ‘When Patsy Gallagher was prosecuted for playing for Celtic’, 1984 [unpublished typescript]


photographs, repro. in D. W. Potter,The mighty atom(2000)

Wealth at death

£17,802 5s. 11d.: confirmation, 2 Oct 1953,CCI

Gallacher or Gallagher?

With regards to Patsy he was born 'Gallagher'. This is the Donegal spelling of the name and the birthname given to Patsy. It is a very popular surname in Donegal - so much so that Patsy's mother's maiden name was also Gallagher, although obviously no relation to her husband. The Irish spelling is Ó Gallchobhair.

It was only on arrival in Scotland that they adopted the Gallacher spelling - the traditional Scots spelling of the name. This according to David Potter's book came about as a consequence of a nameplate being put onto the door of the family home in Clydebank by a local tradesman who had assumed the name would be spelt the same as the Scots version.

Being illiterate Mr and Mrs Gallagher didn't notice the difference and that was how there name was recorded from that point on.

Charlie seems to be a 'Gallagher' in most Celtic reference books, although Patsy is believed to have spelt it as "Gallacher". Guess there is no right answer here.

Playing Career

1911-26 432 32 n/a n/a 464
Goals: 187 9 - - 192

Major Honours With Celtic

Scottish League Champions
Scottish Cup
Glasgow Cup
Glasgow Charity Cups
  • 11 times





Memorial PlaqueGallacher, Patsy - Pic

A memorial plaque was unveiled at the childhood home of Patsy Gallacher on 4th June 2007 by the Celtic Chairman Brian Quinn and Patsy's son Bernard Gallagher.

Although born in Milford, Patsy was actually raised at nearby Ramelton, a plantation town in north Donegal. It was a great way to mark the life of the man who warmed the hearts of many a football follower and worth a visit for anyone.

Lisbon Lions honour their Celtic Bhoy Patsy
(source: link)
FOR a small town to produce one international sporting legend is noteworthy, but to produce two is remarkable.

Ramelton, Co Donegal, population circa 1,900, is exactly such a town, being the celebrated birthplace of the first All-Blacks captain Dave Gallaher and legendary Glasgow Celtic forward Patsy Gallagher.

Born in the late 19th century the length of a football pitch from each other, just 20 years apart, both left, as children, the north Donegal town for better lives in New Zealand and Scotland.

In November 2005, Dave Gallaher (1873-1917) was honoured in his birthplace when the All-Blacks team travelled to Ramelton to unveil a plaque at Crammond House in the town's Market Cross, the house where he was born.

Yesterday, Ramelton, home of Swilly Rovers, re-affirmed its soccer roots when another plaque was unveiled at a house just off the Cross on Main Street, next to where once stood the humble cottage in which Patsy Gallagher was born.

Unlike his Presbyterian neighbour, Patsy Gallagher (1891-1953) was born into desperate poverty, emigrating to Clydebank, Glasgow, with his family at the age of eight.

Despite his thin, frail appearance, he quickly gained a reputation as a skilled footballer, making his debut for Celtic at Parkhead in 1911.

Earning the nickname "The Mighty Atom", he scored 192 goals in 569 appearances with the club, to earn sixth place in Celtic's all-time scoring records.

Thousands of miles away in New Zealand, Dave Gallaher had also sealed his place in sporting history, captaining the first All-Blacks tour of Britain and France in 1905 and 1906.

In brilliant sunshine yesterday, eight former members of the famous 'Lisbon Lions' Celtic team, the first British team to win the European Cup in 1967, led by captain Billy McNeill, joined members of the Gallagher family and hundreds of local people to remember the Celtic forward.

Celtic chairman Brian Quinn said that Patsy Gallagher had captured the essence of the Celtic team.

"He had excellence and style and the ability to do something unexpected and unusual.

"He was a beacon for Celtic players to come and I want to thank the town of Ramelton for giving him to us," he said.

Fianna Fail TD and lifelong Celtic supporter, Pat the Cope Gallagher, said it was important that sportsmen like Patsy Gallagher and Dave Gallaher were remembered in their native place.



"If you put that wee thing out on the park, you'll be done for manslaughter!"
Jimmy Quinn to manager Willy Maley after first seeing Patsy Gallacher

'The Mighty Atom!'
Celtic supporter's nickname for Patsy Gallacher

"To play alongside Patsy Gallacher in national cup final was a dream. Patsy was the fastest man over 10 yards. He moved at great speed and he could stop immediately sending opponents in all directions. He could win a game when the rest of us were just thinking about it."
Jimmy McGrory

"Within 20 yards of goal Patsy Gallacher was the most dangerous forward I have ever seen. You never knew what he would do. Often he would wriggle through, past man after man, with defenders reluctant to tackle in case they gave away a penalty kick."
Alan Morton of Rangers and Scotland

"Many people have asked me how Patsy would have stood up to the rigours of the modern game. He would have strolled through it. There is no present day player in this country that I would put anywhere near his class. Even Jimmy Johnstone, with all his talents, never reached the Gallacher heights. Gallacher was always advancing; there was no doubling back and playing across the field. Everything he did was positive."
Jimmy McGrory

"There never was a player like him, and I often wonder if we shall see his like again. I wish we could, just to show the present day players that we of Patsy Gallacher's time had something to boast about."
Alan Morton

"He was the greatest wee ***** that ever kicked a ba'!'"
Tommy Cairns of Rangers at Patsy's funeral

"Patsy was the complete footballer. He had wonderful ball control, he had tricks of manipulation all his own. His body swerve and ability to change pace, which never came from practice but obviously were natural gifts, were a sore problem to opponents."
Sir Robert Kelly

"So long as there is a Celtic the name of Patsy Gallacher will be revered, and his sons and their families can rightly be proud of that."
Sir Robert Kelly

No doubt among those who saw him: Mighty Atom was the greatestGallacher, Patsy - Kerrydale Street

Herald and the Sunday Herald, The (Glasgow, Scotland)
November 11, 2000

HOW do we measure greatness in a player? And how can that greatness be converted into a currency that is accepted through the passing of years?

The championing of such as Jimmy Johnstone or Jim Baxter can be bolstered by simply inserting a video into the machine and thus converting the callow sceptic. There is a difficulty, however, when pressing the case of greatness of those such as Patsy Gallacher who have left their marks on the football record books but who have never been captured on film.

In this respect, and in so many others, Gallacher was the original will o' the wisp. There is no grainy newsreel to hint at his greatness. There are few, too, who saw the great man in action and live to tell the tale. Gallacher remains as elusive to the present day fanatic as he was to the toiling defenders who sought to contain him in the early twentieth century.

David W Potter's task, then, is a formidable one. In The Mighty Atom (Parrs Wood Press, Pounds 8.95) he seeks to capture the essence of greatness and make it a solid reality for the reader.

He brings to his work an enthusiasm in style and an assiduity in research that almost breathes life into the great Patsy. The dusty record books contain contemporaneous accounts of a remarkable career but Potter has tried to put some flesh on the bones of the waif-like Gallacher who stood just 5ft 7ins and weighed less than 10st at the start of his career.

There is much of Gallacher's illustrious playing career for Celtic and then Falkirk but Potter lifts this from the realms of prosaic fact by trying to place the Atom in a historical context.

Gallacher was born in Milford Poor House, Co. Donegal, on March 16, 1891, to illiterate parents and immigrated from Donegal to John Knox Street, Clydebank, at the turn of the twentieth century.

Patsy stood just 5ft 7in and weighed 9st 10lb when he was spotted by Celtic. Potter does not skirt the sectarian and political issues of the era but he is at his most adept when detailing the career of a man who many believe was the greatest Celt ever. Two of his strongest advocates for that title were Willie Maley, the long-serving Celtic manager, and Allan Morton, who as a Rangers player witnessed much of the mayhem that Gallacher was able to create with a slip of the shoulders or a well-crafted pass.

Gallacher joined Celtic in 1912 and immediately won a Scottish Cup medal. His career ended at Falkirk when he was approaching 40.

This span of 20 years covered triumph on the park and tragedy off it. His wife was only 35 when she died after giving Gallacher a sixth child. He accepted his responsibilities and carried on with the same quiet fortitude that enabled him to survive on the park in an era when a ball player was regarded as a legitimate target.

Potter's research covers all the public glory and some of the private heartbreak. Due tribute is paid to Gallacher's goal in the 1925 Scottish Cup when the great one scored in a crowded penalty area by the simple expedient of lodging the ball between two feet and somersaulting into the net. Recognition is made, too, of Gallacher's uncanny ability and his quiet resolution in inspiring the lesser souls that surrounded him.

The straitened conditions for footballers in that bygone era are also beautifully invoked. Gallacher once missed almost an entire season because he played in borrowed boots that were too small, thus poisoning his toes. He also missed games after dropping a tool on his foot while working in his day job as a shipwright on the Clyde.

But Gallacher's genius can not be confirmed through the record books. Other Scottish players have played more, scored more, won more.

Potter's trump card is his questioning of the witnesses. Gallacher was the founder of a footballing dynasty. His sons played professionally and his grandson is Scottish internationalist Kevin Gallacher. The Divers' family tree has also its roots in Gallacher soil. Potter's antecedents are more humble in footballing terms. His father was merely a fan but his testimony, allied with so many others of that era, has the simple power to convince.

When arguments raged about the relative merits of Johnstone, Pele, or Puskas, Mr Potter Sr delivered a summing up which brooked no contrary verdict over who was the greatest of them all: 'Look, I've seen Patsy Gallacher.'

In later years, he ran the International Bar in Clydebank.

He died on June 17, 1953.

Gallacher, Patsy - Pic

Gallacher, Patsy - Pic

Gallacher, Patsy - Pic

Gallacher, Patsy - Pic

Gallacher, Patsy - Pic

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