Costello, Thomas Bodkin (1864–1956), medical doctor and antiquary, was born 4 February 1864 in Tuam, Co. Galway, son of Michael Costello, a shopkeeper, and his wife, Sarah Bodkin. His mother was a descendent of the Kilcloony branch of the Bodkin family, one of the original fourteen tribes of Galway. His uncle Brother Dominick Bodkin was one of the four Christian Brothers who pioneered catholic education in Australia. Another uncle, John Costello, spent thirty-six years as editor of the Argus in Drogheda, Co. Louth. Thomas was educated in the CBS in Tuam and afterwards spent a short time as an apprentice at Mahon's pharmacy, Galway city. Subsequently he studied medicine at Queen's College, Galway, and graduated MD in 1888. He later received a DPH from the Royal College of Physicians and possessed a certificate for efficiency in midwifery from the Coombe Lying-in Hospital in Dublin.
His working career as a dispensary doctor spanned a record sixty-four years with his first appointment to the village of Dangan in Connemara. During a locum in Dunmore, Co. Galway, he saved a woman in Milltown during childbirth; this appears to have been a special ability of his. After spending a number of years in Carraroe and Lettermore in Connemara and surviving a typhus epidemic there, he was appointed medical officer of health for Tuam no. 2 dispensary district in 1891. Highly regarded by his patients and affectionately known as ‘Dr Tom’, he was considered an expert diagnostician among his colleagues in the medical profession.
Costello perfected his knowledge of Irish while living in Connemara, and was an ardent enthusiast for the language. He was associated with Conradh na Gaeilge from its foundation in 1893 and the organisation later awarded him a prize for compiling a list of medical terms in Irish. He was an intimate friend of Douglas Hyde (qv) and because both men were so alike, to his great amusement, one was often mistaken for the other. During the early days of the Gaelic revival he worked with W. B. Yeats (qv), Edward Martyn (qv), and Mark Ryan (qv). A number of prominent figures of the time visited him in his house in Tuam including John Redmond (qv), Joe Devlin (qv), John Dillon (qv), Patrick Pearse (qv), and Seán T. O'Kelly (qv).
There was hardly an archaeological or historical society in the country he did not join. A founding member of the Galway Archeological Society, he was elected president in 1923, remaining in the position until his death. Along with Ernest Reginald McClintock Dix (qv) and Séamas Ó Casaide (qv) he established the Bibliographical Society and the Irish Book Lover. He was also vice-president of the RSAI and president of the Old Tuam Society. He was elected to the RIA on 15 March 1933 and made a number of donations of ethnological objects including a wooden vessel and a bronze spearhead. He was an ardent collector of ancient artefacts and possessed a substantial collection of Galway rosary beads. The National Museum of Ireland now holds his collection of penal crosses. He published widely in the Galway Arch. Soc. Jn. and his contributions include: ‘The Lurgan canoe’ (vol. 2); ‘Tuam raths and souterrains’ (vol. 2, 3); Some old Galway utensils' (vol. 4); ‘Discovery of a sepulchral cist in Annaghkeen cairn’ (vol. 5); ‘A bronze cauldron’ (vol. 11); ‘Find of a bronze pin with La Tène ornament’ (vol. 11); ‘A bronze age burial in a tumulus in Annaghkeen, Headford, Co. Galway’ (vol. 12); ‘On an unedited silver coin of Edward IV’ (vol. 14); ‘Trade tokens of Co. Galway’ (vol. 15); ‘Discovery of a cist with urn burial’ (vol. 15) and ‘Discovery of a bronze age burial with cremated remains’ (vol. 16). His publications in the RSAI Jn. include: ‘Prehistoric burial in a cairn near Knockma, Co. Galway (vol. 35); ‘Some antiquities of the Tuam district’ (vol. 34); ‘Bronze spearhead exhibited at Tuam’ (vol. 52) and ‘Chalice etc., recently found at Cong’ (vol. 52).
He married Eibhlín Uí Choisdeailbh (qv) (née Drury), on 28 October 1903, and they had one daughter.
Costello died 14 July 1956 at the Regional Hospital, Galway and is interred in the New cemetery, Tuam.