The behaviour of the girls was causing problems

Thu, Jun 15, 2017

Apart from overcrowding and disease, the biggest problem in many of the workhouses was the behaviour of young women. The women, who perhaps had been brought there as children, were now adolescent, many of them unruly and wild. They tended to be the most troublesome, involved in fighting and, on occasions, rioting. Their behaviour resulted from boredom. While males could be employed breaking stones, or farm work, there were not enough jobs for females, and no effort made to educate them or train them in any skill. By June 1850 in the Mountbellew workhouse, Co Galway, females made up 60 per cent of the inmate population. Three hundred and eighty two were adult; while 199 were aged between nine and 15 years.

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A stranger among the poor

Thu, May 25, 2017

During her first visit to Ireland while walking the road from Oranmore to Loughrea, Aesnath Nicholson, a lone witness to the growing desperation of the poor as successive years of the Great Famine took its frightening toll, stopped to rest her blistered feet. She leant against a wall and thought about the advice her friends had given her in America. They told her the trip was reckless and she would damage her health. Yet even at that moment she asked herself: Would she rather be back in her parlour in New York?

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The priest who celebrated his own funeral Mass

Thu, May 18, 2017

Week III

When the well liked Fr Thomas Campbell, parish priest of Tynagh, Co Galway, died in 1983, there was a big turn out for his funeral. Michel Déon and his wife Chantal, being French, arrived at the church on time. As no one else was there they sat in the front row.

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A portrait of a lady

Thu, May 11, 2017

Week II

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Riding side-saddle, and other French tales

Thu, May 04, 2017

I do not know the statistics, but I feel sure that the greatest number of our continental visitors come from France. During the summer you hear and see a lot of French people clutching maps of our small city, wandering about in groups; or lines of young students talking and gesturing happily among themselves, not paying the least attention to their guide. The French are not operatic like the Italians. They share beautiful sounding words; but the face is serious. I feel there is something of Old Europe in the French language.

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The Bishop’s blanket

Thu, Apr 27, 2017

Week IV

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The day Bishop Casey challenged America’s power

Thu, Apr 20, 2017

Week III

‘It was a scandal the way people waited in vain to see President Reagan and all they saw was a hand at the window,” lamented the late Cllr John F King at the first city council meeting following the visit of President and Mrs Reagan to Galway on June 2 1984.

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Galway watched its new bishop with some amazement

Thu, Apr 06, 2017

On Sunday September 19 1976 the former bishop of Kerry, Eamonn Casey, succeeded to the See of Galway. He had been appointed some months beforehand, but was delayed by his long goodbye tour of Kerry. The people of Kerry were heartbroken to lose him.

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Irish - is it time to declare a language emergency?

Thu, Mar 16, 2017

‘Most of us don’t want to speak Irish, but we like to have Irish in our lives’, writes the provocative Desmond Fennell, in one of his concluding essays in his just published autobiography.* ‘We cherish Irish, the surveys show, as a precious part of our national heritage. We are glad there are Gaelscoileanna, a Ráidió na Gaeltachta and a TG4; that the destinations of buses are shown in Irish as well as English, and to hear that there is a magazine of news and comment in Irish on the internet. We would not like everything in Ireland to be in English only’.

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Passage of time....

Thu, Mar 09, 2017

An interesting story has emerged linking a badly burnt survivor from the SS Athenia, a Galway pharmacy, and Glasgow’s Riverside Museum.

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Merlin Park - An epilogue

Thu, Mar 02, 2017

Merlin Park House was a large late Georgian pile surrounded by trees, but built on a sufficient height that it enjoyed views of Galway Bay. It was originally built in the early 19th century by the influential Blake family, who were renowned for throwing wild parties and hunting with the hounds.

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International outcry at Athenia sinking

Thu, Feb 23, 2017

Week III

The sinking of the passenger liner SS Athenia on the evening of September 3 1939, off the Rockall Bank, prompted immediate outrage among the Allied and neutral nations. The ship, belonging to the Donaldson line, left Glasgow for Montreal, Canada, via Liverpool and Belfast on September 1. On board were more than 1,100 passengers, including women and children and 311 Americans, fleeing the inevitable war coming in Europe. One hundred and twenty eight passengers and crew were killed, 28 of whom were US citizens. Due to relatively calm seas, the survivors were picked up by passing ships, and brought to various ports including Galway, which I have mentioned recently.

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Galway was ready to receive SS Athenia survivors

Thu, Feb 09, 2017

In the early afternoon of Monday September 4 1939, Galway’s harbour master, Captain Tom Tierney, was amazed to be contacted by radio from a Norwegian freighter Knute Nelson. It was steaming south towards Galway with 430 survivors from the passenger liner SS Athenia, which had been torpedoed 250 miles north-west of Inishtrahull Island, off the Donegal coast. Many of the survivors needed medical attention. Was Galway in a position to offer aid and safety?

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