Extraordinary victory for the people of east Galway

Thu, Jan 26, 2012

Between 1869 and 1909 a revolution took place in land ownership in Ireland. A succession of Land Acts gradually reduced the powers of the landlord, and gave their former tenants the means and the opportunity to buy out their tenancy, and to own their own farms. Generous terms were given to tenants by the Wyndham Act of 1903. £100 million was advanced for land purchase, which was immediately availed of by the great majority of tenants. Tenants were advanced the whole purchase price of their holding, at a little over three per cent to be repaid over 68 years. Most landlords were pleased to accept the ready cash, and a whole new social structure emerged throughout the island. However, initially landlords were not compelled to sell, and the independently wealthy marquis of Clanricarde of east Galway refused to cooperate. But his days of evictions, disparaging remarks about his tenants, his bully boy land agent Edward Shaw Tener and his henchmen, were numbered.

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Frost and Fire, Fathers and Sons

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

Most people who care about poetry, hearing the name Samuel Taylor Coleridge, will think immediately of that wonderfully strange masterpiece, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, a ‘Gothic’ tale of a vampire-like woman, or, perhaps, Kubla Khan, that “vision in a dream”, possibly induced by the poet’s growing addiction to opium, but which is, nonetheless, a perfectly finished work of art.

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The Legend of the Christmas Robin

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

A chara,- The robin has excellent credentials for inclusion in religiously-themed Christmas stamps. In Irish tradition, the robin (spideog) was beannaithe, that is, blessed or holy, and had a sacred character. Various religious legends illustrated why.

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My daughter

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

Not often one gets a chance

To produce a beautiful piece of art

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A blind poet’s love for Mary Hynes

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

South Galway still echoes with stories of Antoine O Raifteiri , and 18th century blind poet and fiddle player in the ancient bardic tradition. His best known poems are probably Cill Aodain, and Anach Cuan. He never wrote his poems down, but they were collected by Douglas Hyde, and Lady Gregory, from those whom he taught them to, after his death.

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Raftery's Praise of Mary Hynes

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

GOING to Mass by the will of God, the day came wet and the wind rose; I met Mary Hynes at the cross of Kiltartan, and I fell in love with her there and then.

I spoke to her kind and mannerly, as by report was her own way; and she said "Raftery my mind is easy; you may come to-day to Ballylee."

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Christmas in the White House, December, 1941 - a meeting that saved Europe

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

On December 7 1941 Japan launched a devastating surprise attack on the US naval base of Pearl Harbour. America declared war on Japan, and Germany declared war on the United States four days later. This was no longer just a war in Europe. It had leapt onto the worldwide stage

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Dick Martin’s reputation as a duellist struck terror into his creditor

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

Last February some readers enjoyed the tales of George Robert Fitzgerald, of Turlough, Co Mayo, known as Fighting Fitzgerald. He was an appalling man who provoked duels by his insulting behaviour, with his cronies conducted a reign of terror through Mayo, and at one time chained his father in a cave to get him to change his will. He ended on the gallows at Castlebar.

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Galway enjoyed an unusual breach of promise marriage case

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

It is not often that one reads of a man taking an action for breach of promise of marriage. Such an action was heard in the County Court-house, Galway, at the Lent Assizes of 1817. (I think it was one of the first cases heard after the opening of the building).

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Brave little Otto humbly meets his Maker

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

I was very impressed at the dignity and solemnity at the funeral of Otto von Hapsburg who died aged 94 years on July 4. Twelve days later he was entombed in the Imperial crypt of St Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, with some pomp and ceremony; but his actual ‘ Three Knock’ burial was simplicity itself.

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The knocking ceremony

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

AFTER A requiem Mass at Vienna’s St Stephen’s Cathedral, the funeral party entered Vienna’s Capuchin Friary (Kapuzinerkirche) after the following “knocking” ceremony.

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The strange story of the virgin birth and Kinvara’s great huntswoman

Thu, Dec 29, 2011

Geoffrey Russell, fourth Lord Ampthill, died at the age of 89 last April 23. His mother Christabel, Lady Ampthill, bought Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, Co Galway, an old tower house with a bawn and smaller tower on a creek of Galway Bay, and restored it most sympathetically. It is now owned by Shannon Development and used for mediaeval banquets.

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Best Christmas gift guide ever

Thu, Dec 08, 2011

Having had an enjoyable stroll through Galway city and county, it is abundantly clear that Galway literally has everything that anyone could possible want for Christmas, and at a price that despite the budget, we can afford. Also shopping in Galway is fun! And the shops are making every effort to meet our limited pockets by having bargains and beautifully decorated shops. Then after a hectic few hours shopping, and everyone sorted, a hot mulled cider, or a cool German beer in the Bier Keller, at the Eyre Square Christmas market tent, is a blast! Her are some of my suggestions:

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Europe never tasted so good

Thu, Dec 01, 2011

I am glad Galway does not have Michelin starred restaurants. I have eaten in two Dublin restaurants when the family occasion, so I was told, warranted a Michelin starred meal. The first occasion was very good. The owner/chef visited all the tables and chatted pleasantly, hoping that we had enjoyed our meal. We all had. On the following two occasions, including another restaurant, which to my disbelief, retained its Michelin star this year, both meals were a disgrace. Incredibly over priced, snobby and condescending waiters, tiny portions, and pretentious food. Apart from the obligatory ‘is everything all right?’ no sincere effort was made to connect with the customer.

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Firing squads bring Civil War to a close

Thu, Nov 24, 2011

The Civil War in Galway came to an end because there was little appetite for further bloodshed in the face of ruthless determination by the Free State, or the pro-treatyites, to stamp out the anti-treaty forces. The Free State government warned that anyone carrying weapons other than the National Army, would be shot. Eleven Galway anti-treatyites were shot by firing squad. On January 20 1923 Martin Bourke, Stephen Joyce, Herbert Collins, Michael Walsh, and Thomas Hughes, all attached to the North Galway IRA Brigade, were arrested and executed in Athlone. On February 19 eighteen volunteers were arrested in Annaghdown, and brought to Galway gaol. It was given out that all were ‘well armed’. Even though it was expected that all, or a number of them, would be shot, nothing happened.

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Civil War - British gunboat sent to Clifden

Thu, Nov 17, 2011

June 22 1922 Galwegians looked on with alarm as anti-Treaty forces, who had taken up positions in a number of buildings in the city, including the former RIC station at Eglinton Street, were preparing for a fight. That morning Michael Brennan, IRA commander of the only major pro-Treaty unit in the west, under orders from Richard Mulcahy Free State Army commander, entered the city with a large well armed force. They immediately secured the county-jail, the courthouse, and the railway hotel. Having seen the end of the War of Independence, and having voted by a substantial majority just weeks before for parties supporting the Treaty with Britain, this was a tragic state of affairs. Galwegians feared an all out pitched battle, followed by the horrors of the previous years of struggle. This time, however, the enemy was not Britain, but former friends and comrades.

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Galway 1910 - 1923, the changing years

Thu, Nov 10, 2011

Early in 1916, Pádraic Pearse visited Athenry to discuss plans for the Rising. He wanted the Volunteers to hold the county at the River Suck at Ballinasloe, to capture Galway city, and then, if possible, to march on Dublin. There were several variations of this strategy, but whichever plan was finally agreed, its success depended on the Volunteers receiving modern weaponry. Up to then the men had been rehearsing with shotguns, and sticks. Pearse assured them that small arms, including assault rifles and machine guns, were on their way. They would arrive in Gort, and be distributed from there.

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‘A degree of darkness in the mind’

Thu, Nov 03, 2011

Remarkably, and that is a word already used in this drama, the court accepted Michael Cleary’s plea of manslaughter. He was charged with the murder of his wife Bridget by burning her to death, but the jury accepted that Cleary had really believed that his wife had been transformed into a ‘changeling’ by the fairies; and it was only a concoction of herbs and fire that would release her from its spell.

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The ‘savage’ Irish peasant unfit for Home Rule

Thu, Oct 27, 2011

During the 1880s and ‘90s a series of Land Acts gradually diffused the sometimes bitter animosity that had grown between landlord and tenant. Over the years new and imaginative legislation dramatically improved the status of the tenant. Improvements for the tenant, however, were gained at the disadvantage of the landlord class. In many cases the Unionist landlord vigorously resisted change. During this bitter time landlords and their agents were murdered, animals were maimed and let loose to wander; there was ‘boycotting’, and heartless evictions. Practically every town and village had its RIC station. These were the eyes and ears of Dublin Castle. Any suspect person, or any unusual activity, was reported. On April 6 1895 RIC district inspector in Kilkenny, Pierris B Pattison, sent a report to Dublin Castle, with photographs, on a case ‘that is remarkable’ and which has caused ‘much public interest and local excitement.’

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