Did Liverpool scuttle Galway’s Atlantic dream?

Thu, Aug 18, 2016

If Eamon Bradshaw and his crew think their courageous plan to extend Galway harbour into deep water to accommodate cruise liners is a step into modernity that will bring commercial success to the city on a grand scale, it pales almost into insignificance compared to the stunning ambitions the Galway merchants schemed in the mid 19th century.

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‘The old lady was a holy terror’

Wed, Aug 03, 2016

Ireland’s greatest short story writer is probably the late Frank O’Connor (1903-1966). Born in Cork city, his autobiography An Only Child (1961) is ironically a celebration of his vivacious but fastidious mother, and their survival from his alcoholic, and at times brutal, father.

O’Connor was blessed to have had a brilliant teacher, Daniel Corkery, at Cork’s renowned North Mon school, who encouraged his learning Irish and to write.

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GBC - A Galway tradition for eighty years.

Thu, Jul 28, 2016

One autumn morning in Eyre Street in 1972, school going children had a special treat. There, spread on the road, were trays of breads, cream cakes, scones and chocolate éclairs. Hardly able to believe their eyes they fell on them. With shouts of joy and laughter they stuffed their mouths and filled their pockets before running off to tell their friends to come and help themselves.

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Dying for Home Rule

Thu, Jun 30, 2016

Here are two pictures from my father’s head

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A day talked about in sadness and horror

Thu, Jun 23, 2016

“ I feel that every step of my plan has been taken with the Divine help. The wire has never been so well cut; nor the artillery preparation so thorough….”

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‘Deep humiliation and bitterness’

Thu, Jun 16, 2016

Despite the crucial role many women played in the 1916 Rising, very few were given the credit they deserved. In fact some women were refused a pension for many years because they were not men.

On Easter Monday 1916, Brigid Lyons, a young medical student at Galway University, was at home in Longford when news came that the Volunteers had staged a rebellion in Dublin.

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Thirty years of mayhem and magic

Thu, Jun 16, 2016

MACNAS, noun: the frolic-like behaviour of a young calf let out to grass for the first time after being kept inside all winter; joyful abandonment; dalliance; wantonness.

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The woman who threw a hatchet at the prime minister

Thu, Jun 02, 2016

There was hardly a marriage of two minds greater than that between Hanna Sheehy and Francis Skeffington, who were married in Dublin in 1903, and who committed their lives to many causes, particularly feminism, pacifism, socialism, and nationalism. Hanna was one of the founders of the Irish Women’s Franchise League, determined to win votes for women. As part of its disobedience campaign, women were urged not to fill in the 1911 Census form correctly. Her husband Francis, totally supportive in all her endeavours, and as head of the household, submitted the following:

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‘Lord, thou art hard on mothers’

Thu, May 26, 2016

Where is more beautiful, Connemara or Kerry?

This question, still argued over today, occupied the Pearse children in happier days before the 1916 Rising. Padraig, who had been coming to the west since 1903, and had built a cottage at Ross Muc, said the only way to finally solve the question, was for his mother Margaret, and his two sisters, the elder, also called Margaret, and the younger girl Mary Brigid, to come to Connemara for a holiday. The two men, Padraig and his inseparable brother Willie, set out in advance to get things ready while the three women followed later.

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Pearse did not want its beauty to be wasted

Thu, May 19, 2016

Reading Geraldine Plunkett’s description of a holiday she and her sister Fiona, and their brother Jack, enjoyed at Padraig Pearse’s cottage at Ros Muc in the summer of 1915, I get a glimpse of the relaxing life-style that welcomed Pearse there since he first came in 1903. In fact after Pearse wrote his famous oration, which he delivered with power and menace at O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral on June 29 1915, events swept him along to such an extent that he was never again able to visit the cottage.

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The professor in his wife’s overcoat

Thu, May 12, 2016

Tom Dillon, originally from Co Sligo, married Geraldine Plunkett, on Easter Sunday 1916. The Plunkett family were practically all committed to the Rising, and the subsequent War of Independence. Tom qualified from UCD as a chemist, worked with the Volunteers, and supplied them with a steady stream of hand grenades and bombs. In May 17 1918 he was arrested and interned with other Irish Rebels, in Gloucester prison, England.

They had two small children at the time, so visits were not easy to organise. However, alarm bells rang when Geraldine read in the Evening Herald that the deadly ‘flu pandemic, which had swept Europe at the time, had hit her husband’s prison. Twenty-eight men had been removed to a nursing home. Tom and Desmond FitzGerald’s names were included. Geraldine took the night boat over, arrived at the nursing home the following day only to find complete chaos there. Not only were the prisoners seriously ill, so were the staff.*

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Families and weddings Easter 1916

Thu, May 05, 2016

Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford were to have a joint wedding with his sister Geraldine Plunkett and her fiancé Tom Dillon, at the Rathmines church, Easter Sunday, April 24 1916. The confusion about the on/off Rising, the rumours about the possibility of Roger Casement being taken prisoner in Kerry, kept the couples guessing as to what would happen. But Joseph, one of the principle organisers of the Rising, probably knew more that what he said to his sister, that Grace ‘did not know the smallest thing about the political situation, and had no idea whatever of such things’.*

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