Caitlin and life with the Johns

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

Augustus John about the time he painted Caitlin.

The four Macnamara children, John, Nicolette, Brigit and Caitlin, when abandoned by their father, must have sought some stability from their mother Yvonne. But she was distracted by her passion for Nora Summers, and was just not available. Instead they were scooped up by the artist Augustus John, and his mistress Dorelia McNeil, and, saying good-bye to Doolin, were brought to live in his rambling red-brick home in Dorset. At the end of a sweep of gravel, lost in rhododendrons and trees, Alderney Manor was surrounded by miles of moorland. It was an ideal and happy playground for young children.

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Stormy summers on the Clare coast

Thu, Nov 13, 2014

One of the most interesting hotels in Ireland is the Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, Co Clare. Apart from its spectacular setting overlooking the River Inagh as it cascades over wide ledges almost immediately outside its door, this distinctive building conceals within its walls an 18th century mansion, and a late medieval castle. It was the home of the one-time wealthy Macnamaras, landlords of vast Clare territories. The last of the clan to hold any real status was Henry Valentine Macnamara (known as Henry Vee), the High Sheriff of Co Clare, and a character to be reckoned with. One December morning in 1919, Henry Vee and friends (who included a British army officer and a Lady Beatrice O’Brien), set out in a convoy of cars for a woodcock shoot in the Burren.

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O’Beirn’s Pharmacy, Henry Street

Thu, Nov 06, 2014

Our photograph today is of the Galway Committee of the Pharmaceutical Union who organised a national conference of their peers here in the early 1960’s. They are, back row; Paul Hayes, Lydon’s Pharmacy; Gussie Hayes, Portumna; Tommy Farmer a medical rep and also a qualified pharmacist who lived and worked out of Devon Park. In front are Eibhlín Ó Beirn, Ó Beirn’s Pharmacy, Henry Street; Mary Breen; Mary Barry who worked in Merlin Park; Judy Walsh, Spiddal; Síle Ó Beirn, Henry Street; Laura Cunniffe, William Street and Salthill.

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James Hack Tuke and his plan to assist emigration from west of Ireland

Thu, Oct 30, 2014

Week II

The agricultural crisis of 1879, and growing civic unrest, prompted the Society of Friends in England to send James Hack Tuke to the west to inquire into conditions and to distribute relief. Tuke, the son of a well-to-do tea and coffee merchant family in York, England, published his observations in Irish Distress and its Remedies: A visit to Donegal and Connaught in the spring of 1880. In clear-cut language he highlighted the widespread distress and destitution at a time when the British government questioned the extent of the crisis.

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The gathering storm

Thu, Oct 23, 2014

Irish Land League poster from the 1880s

The threat of another famine in 1879, within living memory of the horror and catastrophe of the Great Famine some 29 years earlier, brought renewed terror to the vulnerable tenant farmers in the west of Ireland. This time it was not just the humble potato, but severe weather conditions which devastated crops and feed stuffs over a three year period. Farm incomes dropped dramatically, landlords fussed that rents would not be paid. Whereas some landlords were patient, others warned that evictions would follow if rents were not paid on time.

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The Dohertys of Carrigan were not ‘land-grabbers’

Thu, Oct 16, 2014

Long time residents, Sally O’Shaughnessy, Mary Murphy, Barbara Bailey, Christy Hession, Mike Geary, and Michael O’Connor, with some of the memories (including the Hession’s first rent book), which were displayed to mark the 100 years since their homes were first occupied.

Galway Diary received the following statement from Adrian Martyn (great-great-great grandnephew of Peter Doherty, senior), who was shot dead at Carrigan, near Craughwell village on the night of November 2 1881. I am pleased to carry Adrian’s clarification:

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Scotland: A history not unlike our own

Thu, Sep 04, 2014

The battle of Culloden April 16 1746, painted for Lord Cumberland by David Morier in the same year as the battle.  Note the use of the bayonet by the royal army.

On the morning of April 27 1746 the Duke of Cumberland calmly moved his army of 8,000 men into position before a colourful Scottish array of 7,000 highlanders, including about 150 Irishmen then serving in the Irish Brigade in France. The place was Culloden, south east of Inverness.

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‘The people who made us what we are today’

Thu, Aug 28, 2014

John Connell, remembering the
stories of his youth.

Imust admit that I have driven through Kiloughter village probably only half a dozen times in my life. It is located just off the Headford Road, at the start of the Curraghline, about four old miles from Eyre Square. Bordering the Ballydooley village, there cannot be more than a dozen houses there, but it is not an insignificant place.

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‘The people who made us what we are today’

Thu, Aug 28, 2014

I must admit that I have driven through Kiloughter village probably only half a dozen times in my life. It is located just off the Headford Road, at the start of the Curraghline, about four old miles from Eyre Square. Bordering the Ballydooley village, there cannot be more than a dozen houses there, but it is not an insignificant place. Thanks to a charming and beautifully written book by John Connell, Kiloughter has been brought forward as a mirror of old rural Ireland, which in the space of a few decades, has slipped away from us.*

Born August 8 1927, John does not begrudge the fact that today’s farmers have to have up-to-the-minute labour saving machinery; or that every household has machines for the day-to-day chores, and that village silences have been changed with cars and tractors passing through every hour of the day and night. He recalls, however, the village of his youth out of respect and admiration for the people whose ‘strength of character through all kinds of hardship, who walked the byways and cosáns, or pathways that we now walk in their footsteps, the people who made us what we are today.’

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The strange exile of a disillusioned ‘Buck Mulligan’

Thu, Aug 21, 2014

Honeymoon at Renvyle: WB Yeats with his wife
George, who enjoyed a successful life together.

Following his narrow escape from Republican forces, who were intent on killing him by the banks of the Liffey that cold night in January 1923, Oliver St John Gogarty wisely took himself off to London. He immediately became the toast of polite society there who delighted in his stories and witty conversation.

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Colourful Gogarty escapes death by a whisker

Thu, Aug 14, 2014

Oliver St John Gogarty releasing two swans into the river at the Trinity College Boat Club,  at the Liffey’s Islandbridge, 1924. Also in the picture is WT Cosgrave (front left), and in the back, WB Yeats.

A precocious and cleverly witty Trinity student in a yellow waistcoat, Oliver St John Gogarty, was to become a close friend of Sinn Féin's founder Arthur Griffith. At its first historic meeting, November 28 1905, Gogarty proclaimed against the 'tyranny of the British government', in the grand manner of a Cicero addressing the Roman senate. But so moving and compelling were his words that when Griffith reported the meeting in his newspaper The United Irishman, Gogarty's speech was the only one he quoted. And he did so at length.

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Forty years a-binding, and more to come

Thu, Jul 24, 2014

Gerry and Caroline Kenny at Kenny's Bookbindery, Galway. Photograph by David Ruffles

An extraordinary row on the Late Late Show, 17 years ago, had a positive impact on a small Galway business struggling for survival. ‘A very attractive lady,’ Siubhan Maloney, called into Kenny’s Book Bindery, located in Salthill at the time, and told Gerry Kenny that she was a contestant in the Late Late’s Antique Show. She was re-upholstering an old chair, which included a small shelf. She wanted to see how to re-cover an old book in highly decorated leather, which would sit into the shelf. Jerry was happy to show her how it was done. First of all the pages are handsewn together, then clamped and trimmed ready for gold foil, which is applied with heat. This prevents the pages becoming dusty.

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The First Holy Communion dress did not fit everyone

Thu, Jul 17, 2014

Abbot Patrick Hederman: ‘	We need to create the balance necessary to provide a lifestyle that will be total.’

If there isn’t some dramatic change, and matters as they stand are allowed to drift, it is easy to see that the impact of the child abuse scandals within the Catholic church have had a very negative impact on the present and future generations in Ireland. Despite being one of the most generous generations ever when it comes to helping others, young people today are quite indifferent to the church. In fact many are openly hostile.

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Coping with the Magdalen fallout

Thu, Jul 10, 2014

John Quinn, a popular broadcaster with RTE, and author, presents an interesting insight into the beliefs and religious practices of well known politicians, writers, sportsmen and many others in his latest book.

Ilearn something of the impact that the Magdalen Laundries scandal had on the Mercy nuns themselves reading the personal testimony of Sister Phyllis Kilcoyne. Sister Kilcoyne is part of the Leadership Team of the Western Province of the Mercy Order.*

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Patricia’s vocation did not take root

Thu, Jul 03, 2014

Patricia Burke Brogan at the Magdalen Women’s memorial at Forster Street, Galway.

Patricia Burke Brogan joined the noviciate of the Mercy Sisters at the convent of St Vincent, Newtownsmith, Galway  at the end of the 1950s.  It was before the reforms of Vatican II had relaxed rule of the heavy medieval habit, the shorn hair, and a constant reminder ‘to keep custody of the eyes’. What was called ‘discipline’, which was nothing less than outrageous bullying, was meted out on the novices by some of the older nuns, in a cutting and wounding way. The nuns were hard on each other.

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Was this a glimpse of Dante’s Purgatorio?

Thu, Jun 26, 2014

Patricia Burke Brogan at an exhibition of her etchings, some years after she left the convent. Her autobiography, Memoir with Grykes and Turloughs, will be launched at the Galway Education Centre at 6pm on July 1 by Ms Sabina Higgins.

‘No one wants these women. We protect them from their passions. We give them food, shelter and clothing. We look after their spiritual needs.’ And that was all that was believed to be required for the inmates of the Magdalene Laundry, in Forster Street, Galway. It is true that no one wanted ‘these women’, because of the twisted sense of morality of the time. Girls who gave birth to a child outside marriage were ostracised by society. If the pregnancy and birth could not be kept hidden (some families kept their pregnant daughter locked away in an upstairs bedroom, or sent to a relative in England); people feared local gossip, and judgment to such an extent that parents turned against their own daughters. They brought their daughters to the nuns, and walked away. The problem was out of sight, and, they probably believed, gone away.

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An artist opened Galway’s ‘Secrets Box’

Thu, Jun 19, 2014

Most families, most adults, and most communities have secrets; past indiscretions they would rather forget about, and usually not very serious. But  some of them can be very painful, and are kept hidden, in a sort of a Secrets Box,  long after they need to be.

 It took an artist like Patricia Burke Brogan, to prise open the heavy doors of the Magdalene Laundry, which had remained a sad, and neglected, community secret for generations. The marginalisation of unmarried mothers was so embedded in our psyche that we were afraid to look inside ourselves.

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