The Claddagh market

Thu, Jan 14, 2010

Grace Henry was born in Aberdeen in 1868. She studied art in Paris where she worked with Andre Lhote. It was there she met the Irish artist Paul Henry, and they married in 1903. They returned to Ireland to paint. In 1912 they went on holiday to Achill Island, and ended up staying there for eight years. They both painted a lot on the island, but also in other areas in the west. Her work was very influenced by Paul in those years. Eventually they moved back to Dublin and, in the late 1920s, they separated. They continued to paint and each developed a major artistic reputation. Grace died in 1953.

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A corner of William Street, c1920

Thu, Jan 07, 2010

This photograph was originally published in Burrows Guide Book which was printed c1920. The main feature is The Medical Hall and Pharmacy which was owned by AP Wallace. To the right of that you can see the entrance to Higgins’ Garage (he was an agent for Ford cars), and to the right of that again, down a little alleyway, was the entrance to the Empire Theatre.

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Galway Gaol, April 1958

Thu, Dec 17, 2009

This photograph of the gaol was taken from the Salmon Weir Bridge in April 1958. It looks very bare with no traffic, and that high wall looks very imposing. The road sign we see was pointing to Clifden. The registration number on the Volkswagen car is ZM 3204. Note the bicycles parked at the entrance. The corporation worker with the barrow is ‘Janie’ Carr. As you can see from the crane and the pile of rubble inside the wall, the construction company Sisks had just begun to clear out the space for the building of the cathedral, which of course is on this site today.

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Some memories of a Galwegian

Thu, Dec 10, 2009

Michael Gillen was born in a house on a corner at Galway Docks in 1933. His family soon moved to Cooke’s Terrace in Bohermore, which he describes as “the best place I have ever lived in... you could not find a bad neighbour”. He had a “massive childhood”, much of it revolving around sport. Two of his great mentors were Tom Fleming and Martin King, both from Bohermore and both All-Ireland winners with the Galway hurling team in 1923. Michael’s dad grew vegetables and potatoes in ‘The Plots’ on the Headford Road, and his mother kept chickens in the back garden. Michael was always chasing them around, which is probably the reason why everyone called him Chick. This nickname stuck to him to the extent that one day, when a gang of his pals called to the door and said, “Is Michael in?” his mother had to think before she finally replied, “Do you mean Chick?”

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The village of Salthill in the 1920s

Thu, Dec 03, 2009

Griffith’s Valuation was done in the mid 1850s in order to survey all land and buildings in the country with a view to putting rates on them. It was a comprehensive project and is a very valuable resource for researchers today. In that survey there are 38 houses listed in the village of Salthill, including those we see in our photograph, the six that were in Beach Avenue (which was known then as Ryan’s Terrace), those that went down to Cremin’s Sea Baths (where Seapoint is today), and a number across the road, roughly where Baily Point is today. There were also some irregular buildings on what is now called Lenaboy Avenue.

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Joseph Phillips, Connaught Ranger

Thu, Nov 26, 2009

Bernard Phillips, who was born c1835, was a widower who worked with Thomas McDonogh and Co in Merchants Road. He had been married to Mary Bowen from Galway, and they had five children. She unfortunately died, and some time afterwards Bernard was loaned by McDonogh’s to Craig and Gardiner, 41 Dame Street, Dublin, where he worked as a mercantile clerk. While he was there he met and married Teresa Hayes from Dublin. They came back to Galway and Bernard continued working for McDonogh’s.

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Fitzgibbon Cup winners, 1970

Thu, Nov 19, 2009

Shortly after the GAA was founded 125 years ago, the universities started putting out hurling and Gaelic football teams and competing against each other. These intervarsity competitions were put on a formal basis with the presentation of the Sigerson Cup for football in 1911, the Fitzgibbon Cup for hurling in 1912, and the Ashbourne Cup for camogie in 1915. Involvement in the GAA in third level institutions was a help to many students in adapting to a new life away from their homes and local clubs. It gave them a common interest with fellow students and helped the process of integration into a more diverse community.

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The Shambles Barracks, 1910

Thu, Nov 12, 2009

This photograph was taken from the first floor of The Galway Arms at 2.25pm on a summer day in 1910 when these people were processing over O’Brien’s Bridge to the site of Saint Mary’s College for the laying of the foundation stone for that school. The large crowd is being led by a group of priests all wearing birettas, followed by several RIC men. There is an interesting mix of styles on view with some women wearing patterned Galway shawls while others are sporting large fashionable hats. Virtually all of the men are wearing headgear, be they hard hats or soft caps. Notice the tramtracks.

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Galway supporters at the 1966 final

Thu, Nov 05, 2009

In 1966 Galway were fortunate to get out of Connacht by beating Mayo. To an extent they were also lucky in a hard fought semi-final against Cork. They eventually won what was regarded as the best game of football seen in years, by a score of 1-11 to 1-9. And so they were into their fourth All-Ireland final in a row and going for three wins in a row and the question was, would this team reverse the three losses in a row that Galway suffered at the hands of Kerry 1940, Kerry 1941, and Dublin in 1942? Meath still stood between them and Sam.

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Scholars from St Brendan's, 1956

Thu, Oct 29, 2009

St Brendan's National School opened on St Brendan's Road, Woodquay, in 1916. It was an all-male school which initially catered for boys from Woodquay, Sickeen, and Bohermore. After World War II it began to attract pupils from Shantalla and Newcastle. The school closed down in the 1960s with most of the boys transferring to St Patrick's. The school building was hidden behind a high wall, and it was later demolished. Part of the boundary wall is still visible at the back of the rather dull office block that replaced it.

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Prospect Hill en fete in the 1960s

Thu, Oct 22, 2009

This photograph was taken by Helen Spellman in the early 1960s and shows Prospect Hill all decorated with banners and flags. There appears to be the beginnings of a religious procession at the very top of the hill, which presumably was the reason for all of the colour.

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Distorted views of the Claddagh in the 19th century

Thu, Oct 15, 2009

English travellers came to Ireland in great numbers during the 19th century, and Galway formed an important stop on the typical tour. The stopover invariably involved token visits to Lynch's Castle, St Nicholas' Collegiate Church, and Queen's College. A visit to the Claddagh was part of the complement of must-see places, and it eventually became one of the most written about sites in Ireland. Many of these commentators travelled the same routes, stayed in the same country houses or hotels and the resulting texts are frequently similar in both content and perspective. The sameness of description permeates many travel accounts and over the century, new information is rare.

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Galway vintners

Thu, Oct 08, 2009

During the reign of Edward VI, when the Puritans controlled Galway, it was provided that “No man should keep an Ale House without being licensed, under penalty of three days imprisonment and a fine of twenty shillings”. It was added: “But because many Ale House keepers in those days were not able to pay that Forfeiture, and it was seldom levied by reasons of poverty, which made people unwilling to prevent the offenders.” Therefore a further punishment was added by statute during the reign of Charles I which not only inflicted the forfeiture of 20 shillings to the use of the poor, to be levied by the constable or church warden, by warrant of a justice before whom the offence was proved, and which distress may be sold three days afterwards; but it provided that if no distress could be taken, the justice should deliver the offender to the constable to be whipped. For the second offence, the offender was to be committed to the House of Correction for a month. A married woman who kept an ale house without licence made her husband liable for punishment.

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Portrait of the writer as a young boy

Thu, Oct 08, 2009

Girls can be cruel. In 1921 Walter Macken was six years old, and in middle babies at the Presentation Convent school. ‘Middle Babies’ had to be a challenge for any six year old boy (who already saw himself as a pilot ‘flying’ through the lanes around St Joseph’s Avenue where he lived). Today the Pres has a thriving national school, in Walter’s time it was predominatly a renowned ‘Girls’ school. It did offer places to boys to a very junior level (you started in infants, then middle babies, and then first class), before the boys moved off to ‘The Bish’ or ‘The Jes’, Mary’s, or Endas.

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The building of the technical school

Thu, Sep 03, 2009

In January 1893 the board of guardians of Galway Poor Law Union decided to establish a technical school, but the plan ran into immediate difficulties. The Local Government Board objected because they had not been consulted, and it took a year for the matter to be sorted out. The moving spirit behind the project was Father PJ Lally, who succeeded in getting money from the Government and secured a premises in Dominick Street (where Áras na nGael is today).

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The Augustinians in Galway

Thu, Aug 27, 2009

The story of the Augustinians in Galway began in 1508 when the order opened a house outside the walls. The church and monastery were on a high position which, with the development of artillery, became an important strategic point. It dominated the city on one side and the entrance from the sea on the other. In 1602, there was a plan to fortify the city, so the friary and cemetery were levelled and a military fort built which was occupied by a garrison of English soldiers. Only the church and one other small ecclesiastical building were left standing, and the area became known as Forthill.

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The blessing of the boats

Thu, Aug 20, 2009

This classic photograph of the Claddagh was originally taken c1890 and was given to us by the National Library. It illustrates just how close the connection was between the thatched village and the sea. Most of the menfolk who lived there were fishermen who depended for their livelihood on the sea, and so a tradition developed which became a colourful expression of ancient local faith.

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Guth na n-Óg town league

Thu, Aug 13, 2009

Guth na n-Óg was originally set up as a youth club in the late 1940s. Some of those involved in its setting up were Páid McNamara, Fr Fitzgibbon SJ, Tom Walsh (who worked in O’Gorman’s), Seán Kirby, Paddy Gleeson from William Street, and Ivor Kenny. Initially they used to meet in the Arus in Dominick Street but they fell foul of the authorities there because they did not speak Irish all the time, so they moved to the British Legion building on Father Griffin Road (Where Yeats College was until recently). Each member got a membership card and a badge. They used to play indoor games and have music sessions, and eventually they formed a céilí band and held a céilí every Saturday evening. They also formed a marching pipe band which thrived for a number of years.

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Nuns’ Island whiskey

Thu, Aug 06, 2009

In the eighteenth century there were quite a number of small distilleries operating in Galway, which was remarkable when one considers how many poitín makers there probably were in the hinterland. A new Government act on distilling in 1779 brought in controls and reduced the number, so that there were only two distilleries here in 1802. Thirty years later, there were four operating in the city... Burke’s Quarter Barrel Distillery was at the end of Quay Street, where Jury’s Hotel is today; Burton Persse had two, one in Newtownsmith and one in Newcastle (Distillery Road); and the Nun’s Island Distillery was owned by a John Lynch and produced 100,000 gallons per annum. Unfortunately Mr Lynch got into financial difficulties and closed down the business.

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The sinking of the Athenia

Thu, Jul 23, 2009

The Second World War had only started for 10 hours, and the passenger liner Athenia was steaming across the Atlantic on its way to Montreal from Glasgow. It was 20.00 hours, on smooth seas, and many of the adults on board were preparing to eat dinner while some were putting their children to bed. Some others of the 1,103 passengers were relaxing on deck or in the lounge. There were 305 crew on board.

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