The fire at Menlo Castle

Thu, Jul 09, 2009

Menlo Castle was the ancestral home of the Blakes. The family lived there from around 1600 to 1910. The castle was strategically positioned and was occupied for some time by the Cromwellians. The villagers of Menlo were tenants of the Blakes. ‘Maying in Menlo’ was a great Galway tradition where the Blake family opened their grounds to the public as a venue for all kinds of sports and athletics, yachting, tennis, rowing, music, and dancing. Boats from Woodquay and Long Walk brought patrons up the river; sweet vendors were working day and night preparing sugar sticks and sweet-pipes which were sold in colours of red and white at a halfpenny each; the cries of different vendors of eatables and drinks rent the air, “Cider a penny a glass, Guinness 3d a pint.” Puritans and temperance fanatics were unknown, hawkers and showmen were a plenty. The various tents extended from the river to the schoolhouse in the village. The women in the enclosure with their sunshades and mid-Victorian costumes looked beautiful, while villagers and colleens with shoulder shawls and neat pinafores were the picture of comeliness.

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The mighty men of Menlo

Thu, Jul 02, 2009

July 4 1929 was an important day in the history of rowing in this country, and particularly in this part of the country, because that was the day that Emmetts Rowing Club from Menlo brought the first senior eights championship trophy to Galway. Almost all the members of the crew were native Irish speakers and all lived locally and worked by the river. During a very wet spring when they could do very little farmwork, someone suggested to them that as boatmen, if they were all put into a racing eight, they would be able to take on any crew.

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Buttermilk Lane, 1838

Thu, Jun 25, 2009

William Evans (1798 – 1877) was an accomplished English painter who was the drawing master at Eton College. He exhibited widely including with the RHA and in Paris and, judging by the prices on his work, was held in high esteem. A number of his paintings were used as illustrations in books. During 1836 and 1837 he showed 14 Irish subjects at the Old Watercolour Society, all of counties Galway and Mayo. These consisted of a mixture of landscapes, street and quayside scenes, indigenous peasant structures, and peasant portraits. For an English artist, his choice of terrain was highly adventurous, and it could be said that his paintings brought a new area of inspiration to the attention of artists in the UK.

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Our Lady’s Boys’ Club sixty ninth camp

Thu, Jun 18, 2009

The year 1940 was a time of great social change in Ireland, a time when the State gave no assistance to the out of school education of young people, a time of war, a time of poverty. Prospects were not great. Recreational activity for the young of working class areas such as Shantalla, Bohermore, Claddagh, and ‘The West’ was virtually non-existent. The need for a club to provide social and recreational facilities for these people was paramount.

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The Poor Clares

Thu, Jun 11, 2009

In the early 17th century there were no convents of nuns in Ireland or Britain... you had to go to the Continent to become a nun.

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The sea, the lifeblood of the town

Thu, May 07, 2009

In the 13th century the Anglo-Normans settled here and built their castle and town and called it Baile na Srutháin because of its many streams. They later changed the name to Galway after the river on which it stood, and from then on water was a major asset to the town’s development. These streams were to supply many fish, turn many mill wheels, and give access and egress in ages before roads were built, canals dug, or railways laid.

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Nano Nagle’s Galway legacy

Thu, Apr 23, 2009

Nano (Honoria) Nagle was born in County Cork in 1728. She was educated there and in France, where she eventually entered a convent as a postulant. She felt her mission lay in Ireland so she returned to Cork where she taught lessons in Christian doctrine. She sought out needy cases and established an asylum for aged and infirm women. In order to perpetuate this work, she formed, with ecclesiastical sanction, a religious community known as the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Later this title was changed to The Presentation Sisters. They received a set of rules, were approved by the Pope and finally, in 1800, raised to the dignity of a religious order.

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Sean Broderick and the Black and Tans

Thu, Apr 16, 2009

During the Black and Tan era, it was difficult for the IRA to be overtly active in Galway City because it was so heavily garrisoned. Renmore Barracks which was the headquarters of the Connaught Rangers, was occupied by the Sherwood Foresters, more of whom were based in Oranmore: There was a large detachment of the 17th lancers at Earl’s Island: The Auxiliaries had a Company in Lenaboy Castle: And, between the barracks in Eglinton St., two more barracks in Dominick St and many private houses which had been commandeered, there were some 500 men. In addition there were, at varying times, a number of troops camped near Galway.

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Joe Togher, a Galway volunteer

Thu, Apr 09, 2009

Joe Togher was born in Headford on September 8, 1898. His father was a shopkeeper and his mother was from Carlow, and they had three more sons and a daughter. His father died when he was very young, so in 1910 his mother moved the family into Francis Street in Galway where she opened a small hotel (see photograph) to support them. She was very busy with the business so it was Joe’s sister Nell who looked after him. He went to ‘The Mon’ where a nationalistic Brother Leo was a major influence. Joe was a good oarsman, a champion sculler.

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Saint Joseph’s Church, a brief history

Thu, Apr 02, 2009

In the 1870s the parish of Rahoon extended from Corcullen to Furbo. It had two chapels, one in Barna and one in Bushypark. Those people who lived in the town side of the parish attended Sunday Mass in the chapel attached to the Presentation Convent, but it was quite small and worshippers often had to kneel on the ground outside, no matter what the weather was like. As a result many of the major parish ceremonies were moved to the Pro-Cathedral. In 1881 no fewer than 300 children from the parish were confirmed in Middle Street, which gives us an idea of the population of the area.

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Unexpected visitors during World War II

Thu, Apr 02, 2009

Shortly after dawn on Saturday, September 16 1944, Michael Conneely, a bachelor of 55 years was asleep in his cottage at Ailleabreach, Ballyconneely, when loud banging on his door woke him. He shouted ‘who’s there?’ The storm of the previous two days had abated but he couldn’t make out what the voice said. Grabbing a pitchfork, he slowly opened to door. Outside were two men, wet to the skin, in deep distress. Michael put the pitchfork to the throat of the first man: ‘Who are you?

“We’re Americans. United States Navy. We need your help.”*

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O’Toole’s house in the Claddagh

Thu, Mar 26, 2009

The house with the chairs outside was O’Toole’s near the top of Rope Walk in the Claddagh. The photograph was taken c1925. It was obviously a fine day because of the chairs being left out for people to sit in the sun. Beside them you can see a washing tub, and on the front of the house to the right, there is some washing hanging out to dry. Occasional geese can be seen sunning themselves. These were typical Claddagh homes before the village was knocked down and rebuilt.

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Anthony Ryan’s, a one-hundred-year-old family business

Thu, Mar 19, 2009

Anthony Ryan came to Galway from Craughwell to work as an accountant in Donnellan’s hardware shop at number 16, Shop Street. While he was there a new apprentice named Katherine Morrisson from Drumfin in County Sligo came to work there. They started going out together and later married. They decided to set up their own business and they managed to lease number 18 Shop Street.

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The Glynn Cup, 50 years on

Thu, Mar 12, 2009

Johnny Glynn was only 46 when he died on January 10 1959, midway through his term as president of the Irish Rugby Football Union. He was a director of Glynn’s famous fancy goods and toy shop on William Street (where you could buy tickets for rugby internationals). He was educated at the Bish, played rugby for Galwegians and Connacht (12 caps), became a well known referee, served in various offices including president of his club, and dedicated himself to the advancement of the game of rugby in Connacht. He was a modest man who preferred to work away in the background and demanded only that there be no departure from the spirit of the game, no lapse from the fundamental decency of rugby football.

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Of bishops and Claddagh rings

Thu, Mar 05, 2009

This photograph was taken exactly 100 years ago during the installation of the sixth Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora since the foundation of the diocese. This was Bishop O’Dea, who was in the palace until 1923. There are elaborate and decorative floral arches across Williamsgate Street for the occasion and a banner that says “Long Live our Bishop”. There are a large number of RIC men in evidence, though they are not keeping much of a shape on the large crowd who are following the bishop. He is simply walking under the canopy and is not carrying the Blessed Sacrament. It is hard to know where the procession was going (The Pro-Cathedral ?) and where it was coming from. The flower girls were probably following a group of priests. Notice the tram tracks and the fact that all of the shops seem to be closed.

The ‘Dublin Time’ on Dillon’s clock is twenty to one. Dillon’s have always been associated with the Claddagh ring, which was first designed by a Richard Joyce. He had been on his way to the West Indies when he was captured by Algerian corsairs and sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith who trained him. He was obviously very good because when he was given his freedom in 1689, he was offered many inducements to stay. Happily for us, he returned to Galway and set up as a goldsmith. The Claddagh ring motif of the two linked hands holding the heart which is surmounted by a crown is attributed to him. It was widely used in the Claddagh as a ‘love’ ring or an engagement ring which gave it its name. It became internationally popular towards the end of the 19th century, while being much loved by Galwegians. It is the crown on the heart which makes this ring unique. There are a number of variations of the motif which probably derives from ‘FedeRings’ which were a very popular tradition in the Mediterranean region in ancient times.

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The Connacht Tribune, one hundred years

Thu, Feb 26, 2009

The first issue of the Connacht Tribune was published on May 22, 1909. The newspaper was housed in Market Street, originally known as North Street (the Tribune side was known as North Street West). We know from the 1651 map that the site it occupied was originally part of the Athy Castle, also the castle belonging to the French family and part of the convent occupied by the Poor Clares. There was an underground passage from the convent running under Market Street and branching underground to St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. This enabled the nuns who were and are an enclosed order, to attend services in the church, and to use the tunnel as a hiding place in times of persecution.

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Thirty years of Renmore fun and entertainment

Thu, Feb 19, 2009

In the 1970s Renmore was a fast growing suburb with many young families moving in. There were very few facilities in the area at the time. The school assembly hall was the only social centre and it was there, in the tiny kitchen, that Sean O’Malley suggested to his team mates in the local badminton club they might consider having a parish pantomime. They agreed. A group was formed and they drew up a mission statement — “To foster, encourage and assist theatrical, cultural, and artistic activities in the Renmore community, but also throughout Galway and its environs, and in so doing, to assist whatever charitable causes are deemed appropriate by the committee.”

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Russia had its eye on Galway

Thu, Feb 19, 2009

If anyone thought that all a country need do to preserve its freedom when its neighbours are at war is to proclaim its neutrality, then they have only to look hard at what happened to several European countries at the beginning of World War II. Ladies and gentleman of the whinge brigade, neutrality isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Ireland declared its neutrality at the outbreak of World War II, but even so, that was no guarantee that Ireland would escape the war. But thanks to the clever manoeuvrings by the de Valera government, when all Europe was in flames, by making some realistic compromises along the way, Ireland managed to do so. One of our compromises was robust support for the Allies. Although Britain and America demanded more from Ireland (such as access to our ports to relieve British convoys from a cruel war in the Atlantic), there was significant co-operation between our two countries to calm Allied nerves, and get us safely through an immensely difficult period. Part of our co-operating included the exchange of information and views between the British and Irish secret services. By adopting ‘emergency powers’ the Irish Government had no qualms interning IRA German sympathisers, German spies and pilots, whereas Allied pilots were repatriated through Northern Ireland. Strict newspaper and radio censorship kept war information out of reach, not only from Seán Citizen, but from the number of Irish people who thought it no harm at all if Britain got a good hiding.

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A forgotten night at Galway Docks

Thu, Feb 12, 2009

When Christy Moore sings his well known song, “Viva la Quinta Brigada”, in honour of those who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War one of his sardonic verses includes the lines:

“When the Bishops blessed the Blueshirts in Dun Laoghaire As they sailed beneath the swastika to Spain”

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Fuel problems during ‘the Emergency’

Thu, Jan 29, 2009

Because merchant ships were regarded as targets during World War II, the island of Ireland was, to an extent, cut off from the rest of the world, and many products that would normally have been freely available became scarce. Rationing was introduced and each household was given a ration book. Basic foodstuffs such as bread, butter, flour, wheatmeal, sugar, and tea were sold in small amounts... tea was reduced to a half ounce per person per week, which represented hardship for many. There was a black market for this and many other ‘luxuries’, while others tried making their own substitutes like dandelion tea or carrot tea. Some would recycle the tea leaves by taking them from the teapot, drying them, and reusing them. Necessity became the mother of invention.

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