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City of Stars is the theme for this year’s Galway Astronomy Festival, which will take place in the Westwood Hotel on Saturday. The festival — now the biggest annual gathering of amateur astronomers in the country — will feature talks by some of top names in astronomy from the US, UK, and Ireland, as well as exhibitions, workshops, trade stands, and a trip to the NUI Galway observatory timed to coincide with the new moon.
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.