Persse’s Distillery, Nuns Island

Thu, Dec 01, 2016

In 1840, the Joyce family offered their distillery at Galway for sale. It was described as follows: “That large and valuable distillery establishment at Nun’s Island, at presently occupied and worked by Messrs. James and Patrick Joyce. Within the walls that surround the distillery there is a mill to which there is a store capable of containing several thousand barrels of grain and two kilns, Queen’s warehouse spirit and barm store with various other offices and conveniences. The distillery contains a wash still of 5,000 gallons; a Low Wine still of 3,000 gallons; 3 brewing coppers fit to contain about 200 barrels each, 7 fermenting backs of 14,000 gallons each; One mash Kieve with machinery capable of mashing 200 barrels of grain, and a mill capable of grinding over that quantity daily.

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St Patrick’s NS, a bird’s eye view, 1959

Thu, Nov 24, 2016

This photograph was published on March 13 1959 by Alexander ‘Monkey’ Morgan (1919-1958), a wartime pilot for the Royal Artillery Air Corps, who launched a peacetime career in aerial photography before his tragic death in a plane crash. It is a detail from one of the images he took for the Irish Independent between 1951 and 1958. Some 200 of these have now been published in book form under the title Ireland from the Air. The book is a crystal ball into the past. The images are of such high quality that the detail just leaps out. Our image today is just a section of one of the photographs which we have enlarged.

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Mary Anne Kelehan’s of Bushypark

Thu, Nov 17, 2016

The first time we see a pub in Bushypark recorded is in the 1902 Census which tells us that it was occupied by Mary Kelehan, a 45-year-old widow who is described as a publican. Also living there were her son Peter aged 26, as well as daughters Delia, 20, and Cissie, 18. All were described as publicans. There may well have been a pub there before that. It was a focal point for a large number of the local community and was the only place on the road where people could pull in for refreshments. On a Friday or Saturday evening it was common to see a line of horses and carts outside as people stopped on their way home after selling their turf or their produce at the market. The road was jammed early every Saturday morning with country folk driving their horses and carts to market.

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St Michael’s GAA Club, sixty years

Thu, Nov 10, 2016

St Michael’s Club was formed in 1956 after Galway won the All-Ireland football final. The first AGM was held in Tom Connolly’s house in Lower Shantalla Road, and they played their first game in 1957. Among those who founded the club were Pa Boyle (whose brainchild it was), Mick O’Toole, John Duignan, Mick Higgins, Liam Cunningham, and Sergeant O’Toole. They started as a dual club, but after a few years they concentrated solely on football.

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A prospect of Galway, 1685

Thu, Nov 03, 2016

This hand coloured prospect of Galway, looking northeast, was drawn in 1685 by Captain Thomas Phillips, surveyor-general of the fortifications in Ireland. It is especially important as it is the only quasi-objective pictorial record of Galway to survive from this period.

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Galway, historic towns atlas

Thu, Oct 27, 2016

On Monday next, November 1st, President Michael D. Higgins will launch the latest title in a series of Historic Towns Atlases of Ireland. This one is on Galway and is compiled by Jacinta Prunty and Paul Walsh. It is essentially an illustrated history of the development of the built up area of the city as seen through 57 illustrations starting with the earliest printed maps of Galway, antiquarian prints, 19th century paintings and photographs. Many of these are in colour, and many are A3 in size.

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Market Street, 1880, a bird’s eye view

Thu, Oct 20, 2016

This photograph is part of the Clonbrock Collection in the National Library, and was taken from the tower of St Nicholas’ Church in 1880, looking over Market Street. This panoramic view extends as far as the river. The chimney you see on the horizon was that of Persse’s Distillery. In the distance (you probably will not be able to see it in this reproduction) is the Clifden railway embankment running along the river bank. The building that is now the County Club is near the top left of the picture, the tower of the Mercy Convent near the top right.

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Mícheál Walsh, patriot

Thu, Oct 13, 2016

Mícheál Walsh was a native of Headford who bought the Old Malt pub and grocery in High Street c1906. He was a Republican and a member of the Urban Council. He once proposed at a meeting that the idea of toll booths, of collecting tolls from people bringing goods into the city, should be extended to include the docks in order that they might levy any ships coming in to the docks, including Navy vessels. This was too much for his fellow (Unionist) councillor Joe Young, who protested, “Sure if that was the way, no British naval vessel would ever come in to the docks.” “I rest my case,” said Mr Walsh.

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The Saturday market

Thu, Oct 06, 2016

The following observations of a Galway Saturday 100 years ago were made in a book entitled The Charm of Ireland by Burton E Stevenson which was published in 1915.

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The Galway Observer

Thu, Sep 29, 2016

Fifty years ago this weekend, on October 1 1966 to be precise, the last issue of the Galway Observer newspaper was published. It was founded in 1881, published on a Thursday (which was a half day in Galway) and circulated extensively in the city and county. In 1905 it declared itself as the “official advertising medium for the following public bodies – The Galway County Council, The Galway Town Council, Galway Rural District Council and Board of Guardians, Loughrea Rural District Council and Board of Guardians, Gort Rural District Council and Board of Guardians, Clifden Rural District Council and Board of Guardians, Galway Harbour Board, etc, etc.

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Mutton Island, Inis Caorach

Thu, Sep 22, 2016

In the year 1132, the King of Munster besieged Dún Bun na Gaillimhe (the fortification at the mouth of Galway) on Mutton Island and and destroyed the castle. There is a reference in the year 1190 to Lismacuan, ‘The Fort on the Mouth of the Harbour’. In 1641 an order was made that the lands of Mutton Island were to be made use of as commonage for the inhabitants of Galway.

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Galway minor footballers, 1960

Thu, Sep 15, 2016

The All-Ireland Minor Gaelic Football Championship for under-18 boys was introduced in the late 1920s by the GAA, the first champions were Clare in 1929.

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Galway fires

Thu, Sep 08, 2016

The Connaught Buildings on Mainguard Street originally housed Connolly’s, one of the largest hardware and fancy goods shops in Galway. It had an impressive four storey facade on the front and five storeys on the Church Street side. In 1934 the ground floor was leased by four tenants. A fire started on the first floor, the flames spread rapidly, and smoke could be seen rolling from the building. Half clad figures fought their way bravely down the stairs which threatened to give away any minute. The damage was extensive and estimated at £1,000, but much of the sum was made up of the stock of the ground floor tenants which included a lock-up fruit and vegetable shop rented by Mr P Hennigan. A Mr McDonnell and his brother had a tailoring business on the first floor.

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Lindbergh

Thu, Sep 01, 2016

Out of the mists of the Monday afternoon of October 23 1933, there came to Galway a seaplane with a blue black fuselage, orange wings, and silver floats. She circled low over The Claddagh, swooped across the old Spanish Arch, and taking a wide sweep over Lough Corrib, swung around and landed near the lighthouse at 65 miles an hour with scarcely a ripple on the water. Claddagh boats put out in welcome, for it was Colonel Charles A Lindbergh who had flown alone from New York to Paris in May 1927, in 33.5 hours. He had come to Galway as a technical adviser of Pan-American Airways to see what facilities Galway Harbour had to offer as a seaplane base. The Claddagh boatmen towed his plane into New Docks where he was met by several local dignitaries.

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The Fishmarket, 1908

Thu, Aug 25, 2016

“The Younger Women with their cloaks draped around their heads looked piquant enough, their faces had not unfrequently the sweetest expression of passion, and their lips pouted charmingly. The old fisher-wives, on the other hand, who sat near the casks and smoked damp tobacco in short clay pipes, had something witchlike and menacing about them.” So wrote Julius Rodenberg in 1860. He obviously had a thing for beautiful young Galway women as he also wrote about them elsewhere. As for the older women, I would say they just glared at him because he did not buy any fish. Otherwise, what he wrote could be true of our 1908 photograph.

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Galway club hurling, 1884 to 1934

Thu, Aug 18, 2016

An intriguing report appeared in the Galway Express of March 21 1903 which stated: “At Prospect Hill on St Patrick’s Day, two hurling matches were played between the Gaelic League v Queen’s College, and Castlegar v Bohermore. The National Independence Band, The Forster Street Fife and Drum Band and the Industrial School Band, with several thousand people, attended. In the match between the Gaelic League and Queen’s College, the League won by 3 – 3 to 2 – 0. Castlegar beat Bohermore.”

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The evils of mixed bathing

Mon, Aug 15, 2016

In 1925 there was a major debate in the Urban Council about a Garda report that two men from County Offaly who had been swimming in the sea in Salthill without any bathing costumes had been apprehended, and how the gardaí should deal with them. The debate was about the evils or otherwise of mixed bathing in Salthill.

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The turf market at the Claddagh

Wed, Aug 03, 2016

This photograph of the turf market at the Claddagh, near Wolfe Tone Bridge, was taken by the journalist Lillian Bland in 1908. This market used to take place regularly as farmers, mostly from the Barna/Furbo area, sometimes even Spiddal, would bring their cartloads of beautifully stacked turf to town. They were hoping to barter or sell their produce and then do their shopping in town. They often carried loads of hay, sometimes loose, sometimes tied, and large cans of milk, also for sale. There was a weighbridge on the other side of the cottages in our photograph which was often used in these transactions.

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A brief history of Galway trams and buses

Thu, Jul 28, 2016

An entrepreneur named Mr Berry was probably one of the first people to organise buses in Galway. He had over a dozen horse drawn vehicles that plied regularly between Eyre Square and the Eglinton Hotel. The fare was one penny. Each vehicle was marked to carry a certain number of people and the police were vigilant to see that there was no overloading. In 1868 he bought a new bus that was allowed to carry inside and outside passengers. This could travel on longer excursions, to Barna and Oughterard, etc, but an accident on Knockbane Hill seriously affected his business.

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Long Walk, after the rain, 1908

Thu, Jul 21, 2016

The Spanish Arch was originally an extension of the city walls from Martin’s Tower to the banks of the river. It was built in 1584 as a measure to protect the city’s quays. It was known as Ceann an Bhalla or ‘The Head of the Wall’. In the 18th century, Long Walk was built by the Eyre family as an extension to the quays, and a breakwater to construct a mud berth. A number of arches were constructed to allow access from the town to the new quay but some of these were wrecked by a tsunami which occurred after the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon.

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