‘The peasantry are the foundation of the world - the upper classes get worn out’

Thu, Jul 07, 2022

In the decades preceding the 1916 Rising, an extraordinary revolution had already taken place in rural Ireland. The British government had lost its patience with Irish landlords who owned 95 per cent of the land of Ireland (100 percent of county Galway was landlord owned), and had largely squandered their wealth leaving themselves vulnerable to poor harvests, successive seasons of bad weather, and an increasingly impoverished tenantry.

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‘The landowners stood a step above us all, but people do not attach that notion to modern times’

Thu, Jun 30, 2022

When Michael Henry Burke died in 1935 his eldest son William St George Burke inherited Ballydugan House and its estate. William had tried to live with his father some years previously when Burke, in his 70s, was struggling to run the farm and to deal with agitators. The two men found it impossible to live in peace, but now having the place to himself, William, his wife Claire and their two daughters, Claire and Honora, endeavoured to embrace country life in the style of his ancestors.

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Land hungry tenants exert maximum pressure on Ballydugan estate

Thu, Jun 16, 2022

An unintended consequence of the revolutionary Wyndham Land Act 1903 was that tenants were eager and willing to buy the land they had farmed all their life, and, if their landlord was slow or reluctant to sell, they were quite prepared to bring pressure to bear. Having been deprived of land ownership for so long, understandably, tenants were land hungry.

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Land hungry tenants exert maximum pressure on Ballydugan estate - Week II

Wed, Jun 15, 2022

An unintended consequence of the revolutionary Wyndham Land Act 1903 was that tenants were eager and willing to buy the land they had farmed all their life, and, if their landlord was slow or reluctant to sell, they were quite prepared to bring pressure to bear. Having been deprived of land ownership for so long, understandably, tenants were land hungry.

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Michael Henry Burke - A man not for turning

Thu, Jun 09, 2022

About one o’clock in the morning, on Friday June 15 1922, a party of men, some of whom were armed, smashed down the hall door, and entered the large country house of Michael Henry Burke, at Ballydugan, near Loughrea. His family had farmed its 1,574 acres for almost 400 years. Burke himself was absent that night, on business in Dublin. The intruders brought the lady of the house, Ethel Maud Burke, still in her night attire, and two maid servants into an outhouse a short distance away, and began to set fire to the house.

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‘The two luckiest Girls in Galway’

Thu, Jun 02, 2022

Week II
Knowledge of how to read the sea is a rare gift. Patrick Oliver, one the last of the Claddagh fishermen, who once had a fleet of 200 boats in the bay, carries on the family tradition successfully catching lobster and crab. Patrick knows the local coastal waters like few others. When on Thursday morning August 13 2020, he heard that the two young women, Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17), who had set out from Furbo beach on their inflatable paddle boards the evening before, were still missing, he phoned his brother Dave who had been out all night on the Galway lifeboat searching.

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All for the tip of a finger….

Thu, May 26, 2022

On a wet and windy night off the coast of Mayo, the big Search and Rescue 116, Sikorsky S92 helicopter, was preparing to land at Blacksod lighthouse to refuel. It was Monday evening March 13 2017.

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One hundred years ago this week…

Thu, May 19, 2022

John Henry Foley was one of the greatest artists this country produced in the 19th century. He was a world famous sculptor who was commissioned to produce many public works in different parts of the world including Galway. The statue he produced here was of Lord Dunkellin, a 2.5 metre high bronze on a polished Peterhead red granite base which stood on two steps of Aberdeen granite about 20 yards inside the main gate into the Square. ‘In none of the great works which have given him world-wide celebrity has he shown more genius and skill than in the present instance where, with only the slender assistance of a photograph, has he been able to produce the faithful likeness.’

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The legend of the last battle in Connemara

Wed, May 18, 2022

During the war of Independence the West Connemara IRA brigade, under the command of Petie McDonnell, was an effective and disciplined force. It had moved its headquarters to the Muintir Eoin residence of Pádraic Mór Ó Máille, a two-storey farmhouse, backed by rock and heather covered hills, which stood on a small rise, along the Maam to Leenane road. It offered commanding views of the Maam Valley.

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Wild nights of burning and murder

Wed, May 11, 2022

Clifden was not the only town to experience the terror of British forces running wild, shooting, and setting fire to buildings. The previous year, July 19 1920, Tuam suffered a similar experience as Clifden, only mercifully no resident was killed on that occasion.

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The attack on Clifden, ‘something of this sort…’

Thu, May 05, 2022

Under the heading ‘Panic in the town last night’ The Connacht Tribune told the story of the attack on Clifden on March 19 1921: ‘Following the shooting of RIC Constable Reynolds, and the wounding of Constable Sweeney (who was to die from his wounds some hours later), at Clifden last night, panic reigned in the town and nine of the principal houses were burned.

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Murder and mayhem in Clifden

Thu, Apr 28, 2022

Just before 6am on St Patrick's Day 1921, Monsignor McAlpine, the Catholic parish priest of Clifden, Co Galway, was woken by loud banging on his door. “For God's sake, Canon, come down - the town is ablaze.”

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The Shawl of Galway Grey

Thu, Apr 21, 2022

The murderous and vengeful events that followed 'Bloody Sunday' 1920 impacted on the town of Clifden in an unexpected way. There was shooting and murder on its streets; and, following a rampage by the Black and Tans, practically half the town was burnt down.

It began in Dublin early on the Sunday morning November 21. Michael Collins' deadly plan to wipe out the so-called Cairo Gang, stooges and spies of Dublin Castle, was ruthlessly put into effect. IRA teams shot dead 13 people and wounded six. One IRA member, Frank Teeling, was captured, but he escaped.

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‘My dear little runaway Nora..’

Thu, Apr 14, 2022

Like all widows Nora had barely time to grieve. There was so much to be done. Both she and Giorgio and her grandson Stephen, were in a state of shock at Joyce’s sudden death. Joyce suffered indifferent health all his adult life, and endured a series of painful eye operations which had little effect on his looming blindness.

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A story of two fathers and two children

Thu, Apr 07, 2022

The final chapter in the history of Shakespeare and Company, the famous Paris bookshop, began with the publication of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, in May 1939. The shop closed in December 1941 when a Nazi officer saw a copy of Joyce’s book in its window and asked to buy it. Sylvia Beach refused saying it was her only copy, and was not for sale. The officer threatened to return and confiscate her entire stock, and left. He returned the next day and demanded she sold him the book. Again Sylvia refused, and the officer, ‘trembling with rage’ warned that he would be back that afternoon and seize all her books.

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Two weddings and a broken young girl

Thu, Mar 31, 2022

There has never been a concentration of outstanding literary and artistic talent such as that in the Paris of the 1920s. The city heaved with outrage and ecstasy at the paintings of Piccaso, and Henri Matisse, the music of Igor Stravinsky, and the wild dancing of Joséphine Baker at the Folies Bergere, and the most extraordinary avant-garde literature, where new boundaries were created by a wave of modernist writers, the most celebrated being James Joyce.

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‘That Mr James Joyce is a man of genius’

Thu, Mar 24, 2022

Returning to Paris after an unsuccessful and troublesome visit to Galway in April 1922, Nora and her two children, Georgio (17) and Lucia (15) became aware that fame had come to the Joyces. Three months after its publication, Ulysses was recognised as a work of genius.

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The story of the watch at Kiltartan

Wed, Mar 16, 2022

Gregory stayed at the Algonquin Hotel, on 44th Street, a few blocks from the Maxine Elliott Theatre where JM Synge’s play The Playboy of the Western World, opened on Monday November 27 1911. This was the Abbey Theatre’s first tour of America, and it was much anticipated. But its opening night was brought to a standstill by riotous and disruptive behaviour by a yahoo Irish element, who objected to its depiction of Irish womanhood. The play continued only after the police dragged off the worst offenders to jail.

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A former president learns a lesson about theatre craft

Thu, Mar 10, 2022

Nothing shut the mouths of the Irish yahoos faster than to see Augusta Lady Gregory enter the Maxine Elliot Theatre, New York, arm in arm with Teddy Roosevelt, probably America’s greatest president. Their jaws must have hit the floor in amazement as they were well prepared for a total assault on the Abbey Theatre’s presentation of the Playboy of the Western World, and on its ‘pensioner’ spokesperson Lady Gregory.

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How Athenry recovered from its smallpox epidemic

Thu, Mar 03, 2022

The public sanitary conditions in Athenry, were regarded as a disgrace, and not conducive to a healthy environment when an epidemic of smallpox erupted there in the spring of 1875.

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