‘A Shaking of the Dry Bones’ - Achill Island in the 1830s

Thu, Jun 28, 2018

On the eve of the Great Famine there was a terrible scandal in Kinvara, Co Galway. William Burke, who had served as a Catholic priest for 13 years, announced to his congregation that he was leaving the church and becoming Protestant. The people were so angry that about 2,000 pursued his carriage and hurled abuse at him. Two other clergymen and police protection were required to keep him safe.

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Dealing with whatever the ocean sends

Thu, Jun 21, 2018

It is not surprising that any child with imagination, and an interest in the sea, would spend time at the city’s harbour watching the ships come and go, and the men who worked there as they talked and unloaded fish or cargo. As a child Kathleen Curran, once the home chores were done, would run down the back paths from her home on College Road and along Lough Atalia to the docks. ‘There she would stand and gaze in wonder at the ships, boats and trawlers, hookers and gleoteóigs tied up or coming and going about their business.’

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The poet and his legend returns home

Thu, Jun 14, 2018

Kathleen B Curran, who began working for the Galway Harbour Board after she left school, would rise spectacularly through the ranks to become the combined Harbour Master and secretary to the Port Authority (an unheard of position for a woman in Ireland). She was intimately involved in all of the major events which the harbour witnessed during the latter part of the last century. But I am sure she took particular pleasure, as an Irish language enthusiast and a great admirer of the poet WB Yeats, when Galway was picked out to play a role in the great poet’s funeral.

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The woman at the end of the table

Thu, Jun 07, 2018

Shortly before midnight on February 18 1946, the cargo ship The Moyalla steamed into Galway Bay. It was a foggy night. The Galway pilot, Coleman Flaherty was watching the approach of the ship from the bothareen at Barna waiting for the ship to signal for a pilot. Unusually she steamed along without requesting any.

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What the so called ‘empty frame’ may have looked like...

Thu, May 31, 2018

Last month Galway Diary explored the sham legend that grew around the so-called ‘Empty frame’ on the wall of the Lynch’s Chapel, or Lady’s chapel, in the historic St Nicholas’ Collegiate church. The late Canon George Quinn pronounced that this was the very frame in which the Bishop of Clonfert, Walter Lynch’s sacred icon of the Madonna and Child once hung, before he was forced to flee just before the arrival of Cromwell’s soldiers in April 1652.

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History is not kind to Liam Mellows

Thu, May 24, 2018

Week V

Liam Mellows at 24 years of age, led about 200 volunteers out on Easter week in answer to Padraic Pearse’s call to arms. Despite his young age Mellows had won the trust and confidence of his band of men and women. The Galway Rebellion, however, was doomed once the Aud failed to land her cargo of rifles and ammunition off the Kerry coast.* Yet with what weapons they had they attacked RIC stations at Oranmore and Clarinbrdge, and for a time occupied Athenry. One RIC constable, Patrick Whelan, was shot dead at Carnmore.

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‘Much that I would like to say must go unsaid.’

Thu, Apr 26, 2018

On December 7 1922, Pádraic Ó Máille TD and his friend Sean Hales TD of Cork, walked out of a hotel on Ormonde Quay, by Dublin’s river Liffy. They just had lunch, and were on their way back to the Dáil in Leinster House, a short drive away. Ó Máille, Galway city and Connemara’s first TD, had been appointed Leas Ceann Comhairle (deputy speaker ).

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The ‘tradition’ of the Empty Frame

Thu, Apr 12, 2018

Week IV

There is no historical evidence that the Irish Madonna, or The Weeping Madonna of Gyor, was ever in Galway or in the Clonfert diocese prior to its final resting place in Hungary. Many people have tried to locate the picture in Galway’s St Nicholas’ Collegiate church, but there is simply no evidence that it ever saw the inside of that ancient building.

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A ‘strange, wonderful bond’ between Ireland and Hungary

Tue, Apr 10, 2018

It is perhaps an indication of how Ireland was cut off from the rest of the world that no one here knew about the painting of the Virgin and Child, and its miraculous ’tears of blood’, that Bishop Walter Lynch brought with him to Gyor* in Hungary, in the middle of the 17th century.

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The enduring legend of the Irish Madonna of Hungary

Thu, Mar 22, 2018

An extraordinary thing happened in the Hungarian city of Gyor on St Patrick’s Day, March 17 1697. A painting of the Virgin and Child, brought to the city 42 years previously by Bishop Walter Lynch, a member of the esteemed Lynch family of Galway, began to ‘weep copiously’ during Mass. Despite having been wiped clean with linen cloths (one of those cloths is still preserved), it continued to exude ‘a bloody sweat’ for three hours.

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How could ‘hysterical’ women be allowed to vote?

Thu, Feb 22, 2018

Home Rule, the campaign for self-government for Ireland within the United Kingdom, was the dominant political movement of Irish nationalism from 1870 to the end of World War I. It dominated all local and national papers in Ireland. Men fiercely argued its pros and cons while Ulster protested that if Home Rule was introduced it ‘would fight, and Ulster would be right.’

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An Irish Airman

Thu, Feb 15, 2018

Week VI

On February 4 1918 Lady Gregory’ sent a telegram to WB Yeats to tell him about Robert’s death. She told him that she found it ‘very hard to bear’. She added a postscript: ‘If you feel like it sometime write something down that we may keep - you understood him better than many.’

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