William Street West c1978

Thu, Jan 29, 2015

William of Orange had a major impact on the history of this city, so I presume it was after him that three streets in Galway were named, Williamsgate Street, William Street, and the one in our photograph, William Street West.

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The Patrician Brothers in Galway

Thu, Jan 15, 2015

On this day, January 15 in the year 1827, the Patrician Brothers arrived in Galway for the first time. Brothers Paul O’Connor and James Walsh took up residence in the Charity Free School in Lombard Street. Three hundred boys attended that day. This school for the poor was originally founded in 1790 in Back Street (now St Augustine Street). In 1824 it transferred to the Lombard Street barracks which had been built in 1749, and purchased from the government by Warden French in 1823. It had been a struggle to keep the school going so the Patricians were invited to take it over and manage it. The barracks formed three sides of a square, the Brothers lived in one wing and the school occupied another. It had one large room on the ground floor and one large room overhead.

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Calling all ‘Pres’ past pupils

Thu, Jan 08, 2015

Two hundred years ago (on October 27 1815) the first Presentation Sisters came to Galway and founded the first Catholic schools for girls in the city. They moved in to Kirwan’s Lane, then to Eyre Square for three years, before settling into a vacant house in the suburbs, which has been known as the Presentation Convent ever since.

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Memories of Sonny Molloy

Tue, Dec 23, 2014

Sonny (whose real name was Joseph) was born 89 years ago, one of six children to Patrick and Mary Molloy of St Brendan’s Road in Woodquay. He went to the ‘Mon’ where he learned to play football among other things. A match report in a local paper once carried the headline “Five Goal Molloy”, a fact which he managed to drop into conversation many times over the years. Chatting with him could be unnerving as he laced his chat with colourful sayings like “Long drawers”, “Bring up the bucket”, “Th’oul suit turned well”, ’44 short’, “I hate small men”, and of course his famous draper’s mantra, “We have your size”.

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High Street facades

Thu, Dec 18, 2014

Galway Grammar School was founded by Erasmus Smith about 1667 in a temporary premises and it moved to High Street about 1684. An entry in the records for January 22 1684 reads: “That Dr. John Coghill be desired to write unto Mr. Patrick Mains in Gallaway that he will more particularly inspect the house there belonging unto Sir Robert Ward concerning the necessary repairs to make it convenient for a school and a commodious dwelling for the schoolmaster and usher and for boarders lodgings that it will amount to.”

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A postcard of Toft’s Amusements

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The Toft family were associated with Eyre Square for many years since 1883 when they first brought a carnival there.

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Galway three-in-a row teams

Thu, Dec 04, 2014

The Galway senior football team played in four All-Ireland finals in a row from 1963 to 1966. They lost the first one to Dublin but achieved a magnificent three in a row in 1964, 1965, and 1966. They were not the only Galway team to do so as the New York Galway senior hurling team managed a similar treble, winning the New York Championship in 1964, ‘65, and ’66.

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Calling all Jes past pupils

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

Like most national schools in the 1950s, the bunscoil in Coláiste Iognáid (the Jes) used to have a little break, known as a ‘sos’, mid morning. The lowest class in the Jes was Bun Rang II and they had a charismatic teacher named Power, who was known only as ‘An Paorach’. This man was a Gaeilgeóir who taught everything through Irish, but made it fun. You had to learn songs like ‘Beidh Aonach Amárach i gContae an Chláir’ or ‘Trasna na dTonnta dul siar, dul siar’. Weather permitting he would use the period of the ‘sos’ to take his pupils out drilling around the pitch, always carrying a whistle and issuing his commands in Irish.

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Hartmann’s of Galway

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

The first member of the Hartmann family to arrive in Galway was Alphons. His older brother Joseph was already established in business in Limerick. Joseph went back to Triburg in the Black Forest in Germany in 1895 to get married, and when he and his bride were about to return to Ireland, his father asked him if he would take Alphons with him.

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The Auxiliaries in Galway

Thu, Nov 13, 2014

As the guerrilla war attacks by the Irish Volunteers on the RIC began to escalate in 1919, the British government recruited World War I veterans as a complementary force to the RIC. It advertised for men willing “to face a tough and dangerous task”. These were the Black and Tans. A further campaign was launched to recruit former army officers who were specifically formed into counter insurgency units known as the Auxiliaries or ‘The Auxies’. They wore distinctive ‘Tam O’Shanter’ caps. One of these units, D Company, was stationed in Lenaboy Castle and in ‘The Retreat’ in Salthill.

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Was James Hack Tuke the Oskar Shindler of his day?

Thu, Nov 06, 2014

Week III

A surprising rescuer of the Tuke assisted emigration scheme from the west of Ireland came from the London government. After the first group of 1,315 people had sailed from Galway for America on April 28 1882, the Tukes’ emigration fund was practically exhausted. Yet the demand for places grew each day. Now more than 6,000 applications, mainly from the Clifden area, but also from Belmullet, Newport and Oughterard, poured into the Clifden union where James Hack Tuke had his office. While poverty and famine remained endemic in the west of Ireland, people with spirit must have felt that the day-to-day grind was never ending. The threat of another Great Famine was very real. They wanted a new life.

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The game of conkers

Thu, Oct 30, 2014

In the days before television, computers, or iPads, children often had to be inventive to amuse themselves. When it came to street games they were well able to use their imaginations as they played games like Jackstones, O’Grady Says Do This, Tops, Queenie Queenie, Rover Red Rover, One Two Three Redlight, Jack Jack Show the Light, London Bridge is Falling Down, Cad, skipping, hobbies, marbles, and slides (in winter). Another traditional seasonal game, usually played in September, October, and November, was ‘conkers’ using the seeds of horse chestnut trees. The term conker applies to the tree as well as the seed and there are several theories as to where the name came from. The nut is found in a prickly case which falls from the tree. It is drilled using a nail, sometimes a compass (be careful not to stick yourself!), and then a piece of string is run through it with a knot tied at one end to secure the conker.

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Remembering Foggy Spelman

Thu, Oct 23, 2014

Paschal Spelman may have been given that name at birth, but to the many thousands of people (especially old Galwegians) he entertained down the years, he was simply known as ‘Foggy’.

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Lowering the old wall

Thu, Oct 16, 2014

Church Lane was a dark place up until 1983 because of the very large high stone wall that ran the length of it. This was part of a wall that was built around St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church and its adjoining graveyard. The removal of most of the wall and its replacement by the railings that once surrounded Eyre Square was one of the earliest ideas for improving Galway as it prepared for the Quincentennial in 1984. This project transformed the area around the church, making it much more attractive and opening it up to the passing public. It let a lot of light into the city centre.

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Eighty years of Jes rowing

Fri, Oct 10, 2014

Maurice Semple’s book Reflections on Lough Corrib has a very good section on the history of rowing on the river and lake. The first clubs were formed in the mid 19th century, and competitive rowing has been a feature of Galway life since. A number of pupils in Coláiste Iognáid came together in October 1934 to ask the school if it would consider setting up a Jes Rowing Club. Happily, it did, and thus began a history of great achievement which continues to the present day.

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A Claddagh family, one hundred and fifty years ago

Thu, Sep 18, 2014

The title of this photograph is “A Claddagh Family” and it dates from c1865. It is from an album discovered some time ago in Chetham Library in Manchester in which all of the photographs are of locations in Galway city or county. It is interesting to note that a photograph of this exact group in a different pose, almost certainly taken on the same day, is in a different album in the National Library of Ireland. This second  image is titled “The King of the Claddagh” but we do not know his name.

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War victims come to Galway

Thu, Sep 04, 2014

At 11.15am on September 3 1939, Neville Chamberlain went on radio to announce that Britain had declared war on Germany. Hitler was still hopeful of a diplomatic resolution and to this end, he issued strict orders for U-boats to follow the Prize Regulations under which attacks on passenger liners were prohibited. Unfortunately, the first ship that was sunk by a U-boat was the SS Athenia,  which was carrying 1,418 passengers and crew. She was about 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland at the time.

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The Lough Athalia railway bridge

Thu, Aug 28, 2014

The coming of the railway line from Dublin to Galway was one of the most significant events in the history of our city in the 19th century. It opened up the city and its environs in a commercial and in a tourist sense, making Galway accessible to the rest of the world. It was a major engineering achievement, regarded as the first indication of Galway’s future greatness both as a mercantile and manufacturing city.

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The Gunna Mórs

Thu, Aug 21, 2014

This area of the Claddagh was known as ‘the Big Grass’ or ‘the Green Grass’. It was the one open space of ground in the village and faced what is known as the Swamp today. It was very marshy, though some of it was used as a playground by local children, and it was also where the Claddagh Races took place.

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Swimming in Salthill

Thu, Aug 14, 2014

Competitive swimming really began in Galway with the formation of two swimming clubs, Blackrock SC and Galway SC. Both were formed in 1930.

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