The Corpus Christi procession

Thu, Apr 27, 2017

“Upwards of seven thousand people took part in the annual Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Galway on Sunday, when one of the greatest demonstrations of faith in recent years was seen. Practically all of that part of the city’s population which did not take part, thronged the footpaths, and when the procession arrived at Eyre Square at six o’clock, upwards of ten thousand people knelt on the green sward in front of the specially constructed high altar for the final Benediction, which was imparted by his Lordship, Most Rev Dr Browne.

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Gentian Hill

Thu, Apr 20, 2017

The correct name for this promontory is Blake’s Hill which comprises approximately 30 acres. Gentian Hill was a much smaller area further north, but nowadays the whole area is referred to as Gentian Hill. An extract from O’Donovan’s Letters described it as follows: “Here in Blake’s Hill over the sea, whither the young men of Galway were wont to come on horseback on the third day of their May game, and there dine between the hill and the castle of Barna. Sir Moragh O’Flaherty of Aughamore defeated an army out of Clanricard on the 22nd of June 1564 on the strand at Traybane, Cnoc an Blacaigh.”

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Lord Haw-Haw, the early years

Thu, Apr 13, 2017

In 1915, a short, fair-haired, blue-eyed, boy was sent to the Jes. He later recalled the staff and the pupils as being tough. Latin was supreme and an excitable Latin teacher banged boys’ heads on the radiator. The Jesuits instilled in him a sense of discipline and an acceptance of punishment, and they left him with a love of language — his classmates would note how he used big and strange words — as well as a passion for debate. His uncle Gilbert once remarked, “The boy had a strong tendency to argue with his teachers.”

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Poorhouse from Galway

Thu, Apr 06, 2017

“With giant strides destitution and misery progress — the wants of the people daily and hourly progress — the cries for succour and assistance go forth, and ere long, even now, the distress of the poor has attained a degree fearful to contemplate. Turn to what quarter we may, the same dismal tale is told to us — in every direction we see countenance wan with care and hunger. In a like condition are the inhabitants of the rural districts, and we find that parishes — Annadown for instance, which used to supply the markets of Galway so abundantly, after supporting its own people in comfort, are now reduced to a most pitiable condition. There indeed, some of the landlords, at least those who reside at home, have stepped forward seasonably to the relief of their fellow creatures, and headed by the Cregg family, ever remarkable for their benevolence, seem resolved to do their duty.”

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Michael Newell, The ‘Bicycle Man’

Thu, Mar 30, 2017

Michael Newell was born near Headford, and went to school in Roscrea where he played rugby for the school. He emigrated to New Zealand for a while before returning to Galway to take over a premises on Sea Road that had been occupied by Dan Whyte the barber, and his daughter Rita, who taught Irish dancing there. He set up an ice cream parlour that became a great haunt for local teenagers. He made his own ice cream and ice pops but the biggest attraction was the novel (for the time) milk shakes that he made, and then topped them off with strawberries or raspberries or some other fruit. “It was almost impossible to look in the window without feeling a huge need for an ice cream.” He would roll up a piece of paper into the shape of a cone, put a twist on the end of it and pop a measured number of bulls eyes into it, a process which always fascinated the children. He was ahead of his time but he was not really a businessman.

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Old Devon Park

Thu, Mar 23, 2017

The area we know today as Devon Park was originally part of the O’Hara Estate which was the land around Lenaboy Castle (now St Anne’s on Taylor’s Hill). The main gates to this estate were, and are, next door to the Warwick Hotel. Part of the estate wall ran along the main Salthill road.

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The D&I Dramatic Society

Thu, Mar 16, 2017

The Dominican and Ignatian Dramatic Society (known as the D&I) was set up by Fr Peadar Feeney SJ in the late 1950s. Most of the members were past pupils of St Ignatius’ College or The Dominican Convent, Taylor’s Hill. They staged a play every year for several years with any profits accruing going to the two school funds.

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Claregalway heroes

Thu, Mar 09, 2017

In the years following the establishment of the Defence Forces, various classes of Army Reserves were experimented with between 1927 and 1939. In May 1927, a Class A Reserve was formed consisting of NCOs and men transferred to the Reserve. In January 1928, a Class B Reserve was set up with the object of building up the infantry arm of the Defence Forces. One joined voluntarily, but in doing so, committed to three months initial training and one month’s annual training thereafter. This group had practically ceased to exist by 1934.

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The Church of St James, Barna

Thu, Mar 02, 2017

The first church in the Barna area that we know of was a small stone building with a thatched roof on the right of the road down to Silver Strand, just opposite the entrance to Tobar Éanna. You can still see some of the remains there. It was in use until December 1839. On June 4, 200 adults were confirmed by Bishop Browne there.

The church in our photograph was named after St James and was built in 1830s on the main Barna Road. The first Mass there was celebrated on January 5, 1840. It was a T-shaped structure, rather than cruciform, with a small sacristy attached to the top of the T. It was easier to construct and the sacristy was placed behind the sanctuary. It was typical of churches built after Catholic Emancipation and it was paid for and built by the local landlords, the Lynch family from Barna House. There was a gallery level in the east end of the nave which was reached by a timber stairs. This and the entrance porch and floor were additions to the original basic church. In a number of similar churches there was a room either over or under the sacristy where the priest actually lived.

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The Galway Gas Company

Thu, Feb 23, 2017

The Galway Board of the Town Commissioners was established in the early 1830s and one of its first objectives was the provision of gas lighting in the city. In December 1836, the commissioners invited a Mr Lyddle from Glasgow to do a survey of the town and he recommended the establishment of a Galway Gas Company. His advice was taken. Shares were snapped up, an agreement was reached between the company and the town commission, and the Rev D’Arcy was appointed company secretary.

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Hardiman’s description of The Claddagh

Thu, Feb 16, 2017

“The only occupation is fishing; they never trouble themselves with tillage; a milch cow and a potatoe garden are rare among them ------, then on shore they are principally employed in attending to, and repairing their boats, sails, rigging, cordage etc .., and in making, drying or repairing their nets and spillets, in which latter employment they are generally assisted by the women who spin hemp and yarn for the nets ....

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One hundred and seventy five years of Mercy education in Galway

Thu, Feb 09, 2017

The Sisters of Mercy came to Galway on May 1 1840. They started, in extremely difficult circumstances, in Lombard Street with three postulants. The need for uncloistered sisters who would be free to go about the streets and visit the poor in home, hospital, and jail was very great at the time. They were out and about the day after their arrival. An epidemic of cholera had broken out and they helped to nurse the ill and alleviate distress. They quickly prospered to become “Reputedly the best institution that ever was in Galway”.

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The Lazy Wall

Thu, Feb 02, 2017

This photograph was taken looking west from where Seapoint is today. The house in the picture was roughly across the street from the Bon Bon. It was once an RIC barracks and was latterly occupied by Monica Wallace. There was a concrete bench along the wall in front of the house, which was known as “The Lazy Wall”, a place where old and countrified people, known as “The Fámairí”, would relax and chat and gossip. They came not for the views but for the conversations. Many arrived after their crops had been harvested. They usually brought their own food in the form of home-cured bacon, fresh eggs, butter, cooked chickens, and cakes of bread. “You rented a room and you ate yourself.” They would use the family kitchen of the house in which they were staying and consider themselves part of that family for the duration. There was a small bit of beach below the wall where the patrons could bathe or paddle.

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Galvia/Calvary Hospital

Thu, Jan 26, 2017

An interesting number of medical institutions were established in Galway in the 20th century. In 1908 the Port Sanitary Intercepting Hospital was built near the docks opposite Forthill Cemetery as quarantine for any suspected cases of cholera or smallpox that might have come in on board ship. It cost £1,000, had 20 beds, and happily it was never needed for its primary purpose and only ever housed three patients. It burnt down in 1966.

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Máirtín Mór

Thu, Jan 19, 2017

This photograph of the corner of New Dock Street and Flood Street dates from the 1930s. The large three-storey house on Flood Street was formerly known as ‘The Dispensary’ and was the property of the Poor Law Guardians. It was obviously occupied by a doctor. It was in this house that the McDonogh dynasty began in Galway.

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Bailey’s Hotel, Eyre Square

Thu, Jan 12, 2017

When Bailey’s Hotel was being sold it was advertised as being “Fifty Yards from the Railway Station. One hundred and fifty yards from the docks. Frontage; Fifty Feet. Depth: one hundred feet. Eigheen bedrooms, four reception rooms. One additional large room sixty feet by twenty six feet. Bath rooms, lavatories, Kitchen, Pantry, Yard etc. Electric light throughout. Very fine bar, seven day licence. Premises held under lease of 99 years from March 1904, at yearly rent of £4.”

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Robert MacDonald, sanitary and heating engineer

Thu, Jan 05, 2017

This photograph was taken in 1900 of the staff of Robert MacDonald, the plumber from Dominick Street. The business was started by his father, Peter MacDonald (late manager for Ross and Murray), who advertised himself in 1887 as “Plumber, Brassfounder and Gasfitter”.

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The first Galway-London airmail flight

Thu, Dec 29, 2016

On August 26 1929, a North German Lloyd Liner arrived at 6.30am in the morning in Galway Bay from New York. Special bags of mail were immediately taken from the ship into Galway by launch, and together with mails that were especially made up in Galway Post Office, were rushed by car to Oranmore Airport. Notices has been placed in the Eglinton Street office saying that letters would have a special impress affixed for this flight, and that they should be posted early.

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The magic of Glynn’s

Thu, Dec 15, 2016

It was Leonard Martin’s idea to bring Santa Claus to Galway for the first time when he introduced him to his shop in Mainguard Street. It was such a novelty that the mayor, Joe Costelloe, came formally to the shop to welcome Santa and shake his hand. Leonard Martin’s shop (where St Anthony’s Credit Union is today) opened in 1941. For most of the year it was largely a hardware shop but at Christmas it became a toyshop exclusively. The man who played Santa Claus was a war veteran named Jack Kerr.

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Pádraic Ó Conaire and the Rising

Thu, Dec 08, 2016

Pádraic Ó Conaire was born on February 28 1882 in a pub by the docks, to middle-class Catholic publicans. He briefly attended the Presentation National School, but when his parents both died young he went to live with some of his extended family in Rosmuc. He later went to school in Rockwell and from there to Blackrock College in Dublin. He emigrated to London and took a lowly job in the civil service. He joined the local branch of Conradh na Gaeilge and flourished as an Irish language teacher and writer. In 1901 he published his first short story, An t-Iascaire agus an File.

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