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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Geraldine Plunkett and Tom Dillon

Thu, Jul 14, 2016

Geraldine Plunkett was a daughter of Count George Noble Plunkett and a sister of Joseph Mary Plunkett. She became Joe’s aide-de-camp and knew all the 1916 leaders. She and Joe lived in Larkfield cottage in Kimmage where they stored guns and ammunition, and a lot of drilling, etc, occurred. Joe brought in Michael Collins to help her with the family accounts.

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Dangan House

Thu, Jul 07, 2016

Dangan House, “beautifully situated on the banks of the fine river Corrib” directly opposite Menlo Castle, was built in 1684 as the seat of the Martin family. ‘Humanity Dick’ Martin was brought up there. John Redington purchased Dangan Demesne from Anthony Martin about 1830 and became the proprietor of the townland. It was, for a short time afterwards, converted into an Ursuline Convent. The nuns were there from 1839 to 1844. Dangan House was left to the Board of Guardians of the Galway Union for an auxiliary workhouse until 1854. The only trace of the original Martin building today is the tea-house folly which is on the banks of the river. A nearby property known as Dangan Cottage was leased by a number of American artists in the 1870s but was described as a ruin in the 1890s.

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‘Too late now to retrieve a fallen dream..’

Thu, Jul 07, 2016

Week III

Apart from Irish nationalists believing that Home Rule would follow the war if they fought for Britain; or the Ulsterman's belief that after their sacrifice, Britain 'would see them right,' there were other reasons too, that drove young men into the British army at this perilous time in history. Men joined for heroic reasons. There were propaganda warnings that Irish women would be raped, land and farms confiscated, churches burnt and looted if Germany invaded Ireland as it had Belgium.

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St Augustine’s Well

Thu, Jun 30, 2016

James Hardiman, in his history of Galway, lists seven holy wells in Galway, St Bride’s in the eastern suburbs; St Anne’s towards the west of the town near the strand (on Whitestrand Avenue); another further along the shore (St Enda’s Barna?); St Bridget’s at the bottom of Red Earl’s Lane on Flood Street; St John the Baptist’s on Lough Athalia; one dedicated to the Blessed Virgin on Lough Athalia; and one dedicated to St Augustine on Lough Athalia. The last three were all above the high water mark, and on his 1818 map, Logan attributes all three to St Augustine. O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey Letters refers to a stone with a cross cut out on each of these three wells.

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THE BOYS CLUB

Thu, Jun 23, 2016

“Our Lady’s Boys Club has taught me three things. First it has taught me a better knowledge of my Religion and its principles; secondly it has taught me to seek to improve myself, and thirdly it has taught me that real happiness is to be found in helping others rather than in seeking self.” These words, spoken in 1960 by a young man who had grown up in the club and was by then a member of its committee, summed up beautifully the work the club has tried to accomplish since its foundation in 1941.

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The Custom House

Thu, Jun 09, 2016

In 1232 AD, the Anglo-Norman De Burgos came to Galway where they ruled for a period of time. They built a castle and defensive fortifications including the old city walls and a medieval hall, the Great Hall of the Red Earl, Richard De Burgo. The street we now know as Flood Street was originally named Earl Street or Sráid Tobar an Iarlaigh, and the lane beside it was known as Red Earl’s Lane or Boaher an Iarlaigh.

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‘No time for fainting’

Thu, Jun 09, 2016

‘The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers. She whips a pistol from her knickers. She aims it at the creature’s head. And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.’

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He went to jail to save his father

Thu, Jun 02, 2016

Hubert Reynolds was born in St Patrick’s Avenue in 1902 and shortly afterwards his family moved to Queen Street. He followed a family tradition when entering the service of the Railway Company as a 15-year-old in 1917. He was a boy porter and earned 10 shillings for a 60 hour week. From his boyhood, he took an active part in the National Movement and joined Fianna Éireann. During the War of Independence, he was engaged on communications work.

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The ‘New’ Cemetery

Thu, May 26, 2016

In the second half of the 19th century, the overcrowded condition of the graveyards of Galway was an issue which faced the Town Commissioners. At a meeting in mid-April 1873, one person mentioned that in the previous 30 years, almost two and a half thousand burials had taken place in the little cemetery in The Claddagh, largely as a result of the Famine and its aftermath.

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