Salthill’s Lazy Wall - a summer institution

Thu, Aug 09, 2018

Physically, of course, Salthill has changed dramatically since the early years of the last century when the beaches were rocky, and the scattered houses and lodges offered sea baths and confined bathing geared for the protection of women’s modesty. Men, no doubt, could show off their swimming and diving skills with abandonment, but could risk becoming the subject of comment (adverse or otherwise) of a unique Salthill ‘People’s Parliament’ known to all as the Lazy Wall.

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‘A thrifle more to the wesht, I’ll trouble ye, me lady’

Thu, Aug 02, 2018

I n the late 19th century women and girls rarely swam in the sea. It was considered unseemly. Yet in the belief that sea water was good for the skin, hotels and guest houses along the seafront at Salthill proudly offered sea baths, and 'showers' which could be enjoyed in any weather.

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‘Rather than die, the people submitted’

Thu, Jul 26, 2018

The Great Famine of 1845 - 49 hit Achill Island particularly hard. Given the poor quality of its soil there was little or no alternative to the potato crop which failed throughout those years. Once the severity of the calamity became apparent, and that help from the government was begrudging and insufficient, there was a sensible coming together of Protestant and Catholic clergy to try to calm and feed the people.

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Six boys and the Achill Mission

Wed, Jul 18, 2018

In the summer of 1840 two of London’s most prolific writers and journalists, Mr and Mrs S C Hall, set out from London for an ambitious tour of Ireland. They would later publish their journey and observations in Ireland - its Scenery and Character, a best selling three volume snap-shot of Ireland, sumptuously illustrated by engravings created by the best artists of its time*. It is a treasured collector’s item today.

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Victims of a sectarian war

Thu, Jul 12, 2018

Even though it was in the furthermost parish of Archbishop MacHale’s large Tuam archdiocese, once he realised the permanency and the extent of the Protestant settlement on Achill Island (built and directed by the fervent Rev Edward Nangle in the 1830s),* the archbishop was consumed with fury. He waged a belated but rather terrifying campaign to have it scorned and ignored by the island’s 6,000 residents.

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‘There is no place outside Hell, that enrages the Almighty more…’

Thu, Jul 05, 2018

A sort of panic obsessed the Archbishop of Tuam, John MacHale, when he realised the extent of the foothold gained by the uncompromising Church of Ireland evangelist Edward Nangle. Achill Island after all, was the very backyard of his immense diocese.

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‘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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