Woolies in Galway

Thu, Jan 20, 2011

In the early 1950s the chain of shops owned by Woolworths was expanding, but it did experience some difficulty establishing a branch in Galway. It appears some councillors and retailers resisted the move, but after several failed attempts, ‘Woolies’ (as it became known), acquired the former site of the old Royal Hotel on the Square. Woolies knocked the hotel and put up a purpose built retail store. As the day of the opening approached, local interest became intense.

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Fresh herrings, scibs, and red petticoats

Thu, Jan 13, 2011

This photograph of a very animated open air fish market was taken about 100 years ago, and shows lots of creels, scibs, various types of basket, a wondrous variety of patterned shawls, petticoats, and práiscíns. There seems to be more selling than buying. It must have been very colourful and competitive… just imagine them all calling out, in lovely Galway accents, “Fresh herrings”, “Johnny Dory”, etc.

The fish market used to be on Bridge Street until they opened the original Wolfe Tone Bridge in 1887. The bridge made it easy for Claddagh women to congregate in front of the Spanish Arch to sell their wares. The fishermen never did any of the selling, it was always the women. Not all the women came to this spot, many walked the streets or the roads in the suburbs with a scib full of fish on their head, knocking on doors trying to sell their product.

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Connacht Railway Cup team, 1947

Thu, Jan 06, 2011

In 1947 the Railway Cup crossed the Shannon for the first time. The team were all from Galway. They had beaten Leinster in the semi-final by a score of 2 – 6 to 2 – 5. The man of the match in that game was Paddy Gantley. He gave another memorable display on Easter Sunday when he lined out against Munster in the final. His name used to appear on match programmes as ‘P. Gardiner’ because he was a priest, and not supposed to play hurling.

Connacht beat Munster in the final by a score of 2 – 5 to 1 – 1. Those in our photograph are, back row, left to right: Rev M Walsh, chairman, Galway County Board; Jack Whelan, secretary, County Board; Paddy Forde; Donal Flynn; Paddy Gantley; Pádraic Diviney; Tommy Lyons; Paddy Barrett from Loughrea; Paddy Jordan; Seán Duggan; S Kennedy, who worked in Corbetts; Hubert Gordon; and Mick Sylver.

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Raven Terrace

Thu, Dec 16, 2010

This evocative photograph of Phil Coyne’s Claddagh Bar was originally taken about 40 years ago. The shawled lady was Biddy (or ‘Bideen’) King from the Claddagh. The bar was situated on the corner of Raven Terrace, where McGuire’s shop is today. To the left of the pub was a sweet shop, which was owned by two sisters, Hanna and Sheila Gannon, one of whom wore mini-skirts long before they became fashionable. To the left of that again was John and Annie Connolly’s bar. They also kept lodgers, and one of those who stayed there was Edward McGuire who was a mechanic in Higgins’ Garage. His wife to be, Ethel Corbett, worked around the corner in George Gay’s furniture shop, and when they decided to get married, they bought Connolly’s and changed the name to McGuire’s Bar.

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Shantallow House

Thu, Dec 09, 2010

Our photograph today shows two young girls, Marie Scanlon and her sister from Shantalla, standing in front of Shantallow house in the mid 1940s. Prior to the building of the council houses we know as Shantalla, this house was more or less surrounded by green fields. At one time the house was owned by a distinguished engineer named William Blood, who was related to the Maunsell family from across the road in Fort Eyre. Blood’s nephew was George Johnson Stoney who was professor of natural philosophy in Queen’s College, Galway, from 1853 to 1857, and who lived in this house during that time. He was a distinguished amateur scientist who worked for a time as Lord Rosse’s astronomer at his large telescope in Birr. Stoney was the person who coined the name ‘electron’. He later became the secretary to the Queen’s Colleges, so he made a significant contribution.

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Forty years of Highfield Park

Thu, Dec 02, 2010

The area we know today as Highfield Park was originally a place of green fields and rocky granite outcrops and it was ‘out in the country’. There were very few people living there. Mostly situated in the townland of Rahoon (Rath Ún or Ún’s Fort), it was bordered by two of the main roads into Galway, the Taylor’s Hill road and the Rahoon road. There was a small granite quarry there, (near the grounds of St Helen’s) and a couple of stone turrets which probably served as watchtowers.

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From Galway to New York in 1952

Thu, Nov 25, 2010

The Aisling was a rig kedge which was built in McDonagh’s Boatyard in 1946 by John McNally to a design by AA Pemberthy, who was a district engineer with the ESB. It was intended for Mediterranean cruises. Most of the vessel was of timber cut in County Galway and it also included part of the recently demolished stand at Ballybrit. John McNally unfortunately died before the boat was built, and a man called Tony Jacob from Rosslare bought the half finished vessel. He had gone to school with Fionn and Christopher Darby from Killiney, with Anthony Blyth from Athenry, and with David Webb from Nenagh.

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That strange English passion for Ireland

Thu, Nov 25, 2010

In the early years of the 20th century the Irish language increasingly was associated with poverty and backwardness. In the national school system, which was established in 1831, children had been beaten with what became known as a ‘tally stick’ if they were caught speaking Irish. Apparently every time a child was heard speaking Irish, a notch was cut on the stick, and the poor child received the same number of blows.

Far from being upset by this, many parents enthusiastically endorsed it. They felt that the future of their children depended on their ability to speak English. Understandably, Ireland experienced a steady decline in native Irish speakers*.

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Father Michael Griffin

Thu, Nov 18, 2010

Ninety years ago this week, Galway was abuzz with the news that Fr Griffin, a junior curate for the parishes of Bushy Park and Barna, apparently responding to a sick call, went out into the howling gale in the company of three men who were said to have trench coats and rubber boots, and disappeared. The suspicion was that he had been decoyed from his house. It was significant that he did not take the Blessed Sacrament with him. His housekeeper heard very loud knocking as if with the butt ends of revolvers on the front door near midnight, as did one of the neighbours. Apparently Fr Griffin opened his window, spoke briefly to the men, and then left with them shortly afterwards.

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President Kennedy in Galway

Thu, Nov 11, 2010

Saturday, June 29, 1963 may have been dull and overcast, but the city of Galway presented a colourful spectacle amid scenes of unprecedented enthusiasm. It was covered in Tricolours and the Stars and Stripes, in bunting and banners, in windowboxes of flowers and newly painted buildings. There was a carnival atmosphere. Some 600 gardaí were up early, lining the streets ahead of the crowds that began to arrive from 7am. There were journalists here from all over the world to cover the event.

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Watery Woodquay

Thu, Oct 28, 2010

Most of the area seen in this photograph was once part of a grant of land to Edward Eyre in 1670. It was all originally outside the city walls and was mostly made up of three islands which included St Stephen’s Island and Horse Island.

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Lord Dunkellin’s statue

Thu, Oct 21, 2010

In 1873 this imposing statue was unveiled in Eyre Square in honour of Lord Dunkellin, son of Lord Clanricarde and heir to the family estates. He had a distinguished military career before being elected MP for Galway City in Parliament. He held the seat for eight years before being elected for the county in 1865. He died in 1867. There was a very large gathering in the Square on the day of the unveiling with lots of toasts and speeches. The sculpture was a very fine one by the distinguished artist John Henry Foley.

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The Order of Malta in Galway

Thu, Oct 14, 2010

The Order of Malta was founded in the 12th century in Jerusalem to care for Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land and along pilgrimage routes through Christian Europe. Subsequently they were known as the Knights Hospitallers and when they came to Ireland they maintained hospitals for the sick, the poor, and the needy, and hostels for the use of travellers. The order is involved in many charitable activities, the most important being the administration of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps.

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College House, a brief history

Thu, Oct 07, 2010

This photograph was originally taken in 1983 as the corporation was preparing to knock down the high wall that ran around St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church and replace it with the railings that had surrounded Eyre Square… one of the better Quincentennial projects that helped improve the face of Galway.

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A Yorkshire man in Galway

Thu, Oct 07, 2010

On October 22 1959 an unusual play opened at the Royal Court theatre, London; a theatre never afraid to be different. It had after all presented John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger* three years previously - a play which rocked the establishment, and transformed English drama for ever. The critics adored it, it played to full houses every night, and it made lots of money for everyone concerned.

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John Wilson Croker - the Galwegian who invented conservatism

Thu, Sep 30, 2010

The Tory Party in Britain can count among its leaders Winston Churchill, Harold MacMillan, and Margaret Thatcher, and is now led by the Eton and Oxford educated David Cameron, who hails from Berkshire, a traditional Tory heartland.

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Castlegar Athletic Club, a brief history

Thu, Sep 30, 2010

The Castlegar Hurling Club ladies’ committee decided to hold a parish sports day on National Children’s Day, Sunday June 8 1975. They enlisted the help of Seán Duffy and Patsy Durnin in the organisation of the event, which turned out to be an outstanding success. As a result, they decided to enter a team of 40 athletes in the County Community Games. Seán Duffy organised training sessions twice a week, a banner and a set of green and white singlets were purchased, and there was great excitement as the big day approached. This excitement reached fever pitch when Ann Fahy won the gold medal in the girls’ under-14 100 metres, and Patricia Grealish brought home a bronze medal in the girls’ under-12 200 metres.

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Pioneers of industry in Galway

Thu, Sep 23, 2010

There were very few industrial plants in Galway in the 1950s. Galway Textile Printers, known locally as the cotton factory, had just opened; there was the hat factory, and there were some small units around town, but that was it. Then the Lemass era arrived, and there was a change in government policy as the government began to actively encourage industries from abroad to locate here.

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Is Ms Jennifer Sleeman a bit of a crackpot?

Thu, Sep 23, 2010

I have always thought it strange why so many women feel isolated from the Catholic Church, when it has at its centre a woman, Mary - the Mother of God. It is not right that many women feel they are ‘second class citizens’ within a church that attempts to reach out to all. Surely without Mary, the New Testament would be worthless. Surely after the Nazarene Himself, the Mother of Jesus, who is venerated by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, is the first and greatest saint in heaven. Mary is revered by all Christian churches, and honoured by Islam. At the very first council of the Church, at Ephesus four hundred years after Christ, she was declared to be the Theotokos, Mother of God (the actual God bearer). But even before that her image, holding the Child, was etched into tombs in the Roman catacombs. Being the Theotokos, Mary could have become remote, unreal from the human experience. After all we are told that she was born free from Original Sin, which as a total ‘theological illiterate’ I don’t fully understand; but I accept the logic that if Mary was not the mother of God, then Jesus was not God. I believe that He was. Yet despite the supreme position of Mary many women feel isolated, uninvolved, as if they have no contribution to make.

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Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe

Thu, Sep 16, 2010

On the 1820 map of Galway, the site of the Taibhdhearc was part of the then Augustinian Church. When the present church was built in the 1850s the site became derelict. The late Ned Joyce remembered a large tree growing on the site, a tree which stretched across the street to a tenement known as ‘The Windings’. The occupants used to hang their washing on the tree on fine days.

In 1912 the Augustinians built the present building as a parish hall, which functioned as a social club where they put on dramatic productions as well as playing billiards and table tennis, etc. This club became defunct and, in 1928, a committee of 10 under the chairmanship of Dr Seamus O’Beirne took it over and equipped it as a theatre. Their idea, and that of the Government of the time, was to use An Taibhdhearc and An Céad Cath, the Irish speaking army battalion based in Renmore Barracks, as vehicles for the regeneration and promotion of the Irish language in Galway. The committee invited Mícheál Mac Liammóir and Hilton Edwards to produce the first play which was Mícheál’s own Diarmuid agus Gráinne.

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