The potato market at the Small Crane

Thu, Nov 03, 2011

This remarkable photograph of the Small Crane (Where was the Big Crane?) was taken about 1890 with the potato market in full swing. This market was held here regularly, and was an occasion where town met country. Farmers from as far west as Inverin would bring their potatoes into town to sell to shopkeepers and individuals. The scale, which was kept steady by large rocks, was used to weigh the sacks. You can see potatoes stacked loosely on the ground beside the creels.

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The Crimean cannon

Thu, Oct 27, 2011

August 3 1857 was a day of celebration in Galway as the British War Department handed over two Russian cannons to the town commissioners. These cannon were described as “64 pounders of a heavy and clumsy description, each weighing two tons”, and were part of a large amount of Russian ordnance which fell into the hands of the 88th regiment during the Crimean War. Many of these artillery pieces were presented by the War Department as trophies to cities and town across the British Isles.

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Up go those hands again for Galway

Thu, Oct 20, 2011

“Full back is Noel Tierney of sturdy proportions,

Have you ever beheld him in orbital flight

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Blake’s Castle

Thu, Oct 13, 2011

An old Galwegian gave us this interesting study of the bottom of Quay Street, and of Blake’s Castle in particular. Blake’s Cattle was one of a number featured on the 1651 map of Galway. It had at one time belonged to the O’Halloran sept, but then the Anglo-Norman Blake family took it over. It was forfeited by them in 1641 and was granted to a family named Morgan from Monksfield.

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Charles Lamb in Galway

Thu, Sep 22, 2011

Historic paintings of Galway are scarce enough so it is always good to come across them. Our image today is one of the Claddagh painted by Charles Lamb in the 1930s. It is hardly surprising that visitors, painters, poets, and novelists were attracted to this fishing village that was in Galway, but not of it. They were all fascinated by the odd assortment of thatched cottages, built at haphazard angles, with intersecting streets and lanes in which one could lose one’s way within a couple of acres. Sometimes they were built in irregular squares or circles around little greens where the young children played. The houses were very small, and while some showed signs of poverty, most were very clean and neat. The back doors of many of the houses looked into the front door of their neighbours, and though the buildings were quaint, picturesque, and romantic, modern sanitation was unknown there.

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Charles Lamb in Galway

Thu, Sep 22, 2011

Historic paintings of Galway are scarce enough so it is always good to come across them. Our image today is one of the Claddagh painted by Charles Lamb in the 1930s. It is hardly surprising that visitors, painters, poets, and novelists were attracted to this fishing village that was in Galway, but not of it. They were all fascinated by the odd assortment of thatched cottages, built at haphazard angles, with intersecting streets and lanes in which one could lose one’s way within a couple of acres. Sometimes they were built in irregular squares or circles around little greens where the young children played. The houses were very small, and while some showed signs of poverty, most were very clean and neat. The back doors of many of the houses looked into the front door of their neighbours, and though the buildings were quaint, picturesque, and romantic, modern sanitation was unknown there.

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‘Lady Betty’ and the ‘ enemy of romance’

Thu, Sep 22, 2011

In the 1820s the hangman for the Connacht circuit was a woman known as ‘Lady Betty’. She had actually been sentenced to death for killing her own son, and stealing his savings. But she escaped the hangman’s noose by pleading that she could fill the vacancy that existed for a hangman. Her first hanging was watched to see if she could handle the rough business of a public execution with some sort of expediency. Apparently she could. She was officially appointed to hang and flog those convicted in the Connacht courts.

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The Ivy Hotel

Thu, Sep 15, 2011

The Ivy Hotel in Eyre Street was known as Baker’s Hotel during the Black and Tan era. Captain Baker, who had served in the war, lived there with his daughters. A number of Black and Tans, including the infamous Krumm, lived there, and others frequented the hotel. The girls were friendly with the Tans and the local IRA took a poor view of this.

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The man who sank the SS Athenia

Thu, Sep 15, 2011

While Galway was caring for some of the survivors of the SS Athenia, torpedoed off the Donegal coast on September 3 1939, America, Britain and Canada unleashed a vitriolic attack on Germany for sinking a passenger ship. Included among her 1,418 passengers and crew were more than 300 Americans. A total of 117 people were killed, some unfortunately as they were being lifted from the sea by the rescue boats including the Knute Nelson (which had brought 430 survivors into Galway), and three British warships, the HMS Electra, HMS Fame and the HMS Escort, which had rushed to the scene. Among the dead were 28 American citizens.

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Galway camogie

Thu, Sep 08, 2011

Experimental rules for a female stick-and-ball game were drawn up in 1903, and the first public game took place in July of that year, and so the game of camogie was officially launched. Men used to play with a ‘camán’, but the women would use a shorter stick described in the diminutive form ‘camóg’. So the game was called ‘camógaíocht’ and this was anglicised to camogie. The pitches used were shorter than standard, the game lasted 50 minutes and teams were 12-a-side, using an elliptical formation of 1-3-3-3-1. In 1999 camogie moved to the normal GAA field size, teams were 15-a-side and they adopted the standard GAA butterfly formation of 3-3-2-3-3.

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Galway minor hurlers, 1965

Thu, Sep 01, 2011

Hurling is more than just a game, it is the most Irish thing we have apart from our language, a national passion which is woven deeply into the social fabric of Irish society, an icon of Irish culture, a game that is played for pride, not money.

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The Augustinians and Forthill

Thu, Aug 25, 2011

The Augustinians have been associated with Galway since the year 1500. Their first convent, or priory, was built on Fort Hill between 1506 and 1508. Its patroness was Margaret Athy who was the wife of the then mayor, Stephen Lynch. He sailed for Spain in search of a cargo of rich wines, and when he returned, he was astonished to see the graceful outline of a new church, with tower and tapering spire, on the elevated promontory that was Fort Hill. Not one stone of it had been laid when he left the city.

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Galway’s military museum

Thu, Aug 18, 2011

Our photograph today was taken in Eyre Square in 1922, and shows the Connaught Rangers parading through the city on their last day in Galway. It is interesting to see them on horseback, on foot, and with bicycles. As you can see in the foreground, there is a long line of soldiers standing in front of the crowd, and there is what looks like a temporary reviewing stand on the far side of the street.

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One hundred years of cinema in Galway

Thu, Aug 04, 2011

The earliest reference to ‘moving pictures’ in Galway that I have come across dates from 1909, when The Enterprise Animated Picture Company came to the Court Theatre in Middle Street with its cinematography performances and variety entertainments. “Rarely has such an opportunity been given to the people of Galway of viewing in animated pictures the most sensational events of real life and drama. Those from real life included Boxing Champions and Logging in Sweden, while other titles included Nocturnal Thieves, A Constable Please, The Pony Express, and Fairy Presents. The pictures come in ever-changing variety and there are no exasperating delays.” The Court Theatre had 500 seats and was also known as The Racquet Court.

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The huckster’s harvest

Thu, Jul 28, 2011

“The Galway Races are unique in Irish sport. For this is a real Connaught holiday. Caravans and their picturesque owners are making their trek weeks ahead. Urgent farm work is abandoned for an hour. Business and professional men; regular race-goers, hunting folk, farmers of all ranges of acreage, holiday trippers from the eastern cities; Connemara and Aran Island men and maids who speak English only, are here in colourful buoyant groups. All the fun of the fair; huge fields of beautiful horses; thrilling finishes and good priced winners — all lend glamour and life to this great outdoor festival of the west.

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Postin’, the Races, and the famous Cannon Ball

Thu, Jul 28, 2011

I have often heard my grandmother say that the fun of Galway races began when you were hauled up onto a sidecar, behind a lively pony, and driven at a smart pace to Ballybrit. Passengers held on tightly to each other, or to the wooden seat, as the smell of horse, and the jolting ride over rough roads gave it a carnival atmosphere. The races were a two-day meeting then yet the jarvies, or ponymen, would hang about the town for the week hoping to get a fare. As well as bringing racegoers to Ballybrit in the mornings, and home in the evenings, they also brought them to Salthill. Sometimes they carried them to the dogtrack at College Road. Either way it was a long and busy week for the ponymen who came mainly from the Moycullen area, renowned for its Connemara ponies, and passionate owners.

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Bowling Green of yesteryear

Thu, Jul 14, 2011

In 1883, a sub-committee of the town commissioners reported on the sanitary conditions of the houses in this area. Some were occupied in tenements, others were held by single families. “In none of these houses is there any provision as to water closets, privies or drains which in itself is deplorable; but your committee feel it would be but ill discharging their duty if they stopped short at such an exposition and remain silent as to the absence of every feature which would recommend them as habitations for human beings. The poor can only hope for impoverished dwellings, but when a gentleman enters into commercial relations with them, and on a well intended profitable scale to himself .... he should not be exempted from the obligation of providing them with accommodation somewhat better than Indian wigwams.”

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Changing fashions, Eyre Square

Thu, Jul 07, 2011

There is a wonderful mix of the modern and the traditional in this photograph which was taken at the corner of Eyre Square and Rosemary Avenue in the mid 1930s. The woman in the foreground is wearing a plain black shawl, a petticoat and a ‘práiscín’ which was a heavy canvas apron worn to protect the skirt. Two others are wearing beautifully patterned shawls which must have looked very elegant and colourful. They had probably come into town to sell their wares, and then went shopping with the proceeds, and their baskets are now full. The other women in the picture are all dressed in more ‘up to date’ coats and berets. It looks as if all of these people are waiting for a bus.

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Attempts made in 1847 to establish fishing industry in the west

Thu, Jul 07, 2011

The tragedy of the Great Famine was compounded by the fact that our seas were full of fish, yet the lack of a sustainable fishing industry, and a general dislike of fish among the peasantry, left untouched this abundant food source. As the appalling statistics of hunger, riots, death, fever and evictions began to penetrate the British government, some action was at last taken*. Unsuitable as it was for Irish palates, vast quantities of American maize was imported, and distributed. Public relief schemes, such as canal-building and new roads were introduced to provide some employment, and efforts were made to establish a fishing industry.

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Pádraic Ó Conaire, prince of storytellers

Thu, Jun 30, 2011

“A short walk on the gravelled path and I was before the man I had come to see. There was a great peace about him as he sat there, leg crossed upon leg, hat rakish on his head, mute in the sculptured dignity of stone. Ever since I had learned the Gaelic, I had loved him, this strange man of dreams whose friends were the birds and the furry people of the wood, the wind and the small white stars.

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