‘An unbroken history of more than one hundred years’

 The famous map of Galway, probably engraved 1661, showing the potential of the city for trade and commerce (can be seen in the City museum).

The famous map of Galway, probably engraved 1661, showing the potential of the city for trade and commerce (can be seen in the City museum).

In 1831 Patrick Broderick, from Loughrea, was charged with insurrectionary crimes at the Galway Assizes, and cruelly sentenced to spend the rest of his life in a criminal colony ‘beyond the seas’ in New South Wales, Australia. He was barred from ever returning to his native land. His wife Mary, son John and daughters Ann and Catherine, were left destitute on the infamous Clanricarde estate, one with more than 2,000 tenants.

Following the death of their mother, December 16 1838, John was left in charge of his sisters, when by an extraordinary stroke of fortune, he was successful in a lottery-like Bounty Scheme, to avail of free passage to NSW to join his father. Introduced by the NSW government families could be eligible to join ‘deserving convicts’ and to live out their lives together.*

In November 1841, after a voyage of 100 days, Broderick and his sisters landed at the fledging settlement of Melbourne, and set out immediately to find their father who was serving out his sentence under Sir Charles Cowper on his Chatsbury Estate, near Goulburn, more that 400 miles away. It was 10 years since they had last seen their father; we can imagine the joy of that reunion.

And good fortune followed them. Clearly the Chatsbury estate needed additional paid-hands, and the Brodericks, who were accepted as paid employees, were to retain a friendship with the Cowper family into the next generation. A fellow convict, Edward Naughton, from Tynagh, married Broderick’s sister Ann.

In a matter of years John had sufficient money to buy a small 20 acre-farm for £40. But soon he was eligible to claim 824 acres of unoccupied crown land, near Crookwell, under a generous NSW scheme, the brainchild of premier John Robertson. John Broderick worked hard, clearing the land of scrub, until he had a thriving farm, which he named ‘Loughrea’, and an impressive stone-built farmhouse, burgeoning orchards and award winning live stock.

He would rise to become a respected citizen of the area, a magistrate, and a government appointee to the local school board. He was a major promotor in bringing the railway to Crookwell. He married Catherine Naughton, a former inmate of the Loughrea Workhouse,** and they had eight children. Despite his very difficult beginnings, John Broderick passed away on April 10 1912 leaving an enduring legacy to his family, friends and community.***

Beautifully engraved

I am taking this rewarding story by Margaret Bougie from the 73rd edition of the current Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, which is generally published in late December. It is a remarkable publication not only for its unbroken history of more than100 years, but its articles and essays are at the sharp end of research, and are written for both the general reader as well as fellow academics. Importantly, it has for generations, given academics a voice for their labours; and at times, has used its weighty influence, to stop woeful destruction of important fragments of old Galway, or indeed to highlight its hidden treasures.

Founded at the old Railway Hotel, on March 21 1900, one of its first tasks was to bring out from the cobwebs the extraordinary 17th century pictorial map of Galway, dedicated to Charles II, probably in the year 1661. Rarely has a king received such a beautifully engraved, elegant plea, from the elite families of the town (whose coat of arms surround the map ), who had been barbarously treated, and their properties confiscated, by the previous Cromwellian government. The families sought full restoration of their historic rights and properties.

The map is a bird’s eye view of the old town, and is instantly recognisable as Galway. It is easy to follow the road from what would become Eyre Square, through Williamsgate Street, William street, Shop Street, and see it branch into Mainguard Street, and past St Nicholas’ all the way to the west bridge, now the William O’Brien Bridge. The Spanish Arch is still here but with two arches compared to the map’s six. The wet lands at Woodquay have been reclaimed, and built over; but the city largely remains as it was seen 360 years ago.

Of course the width of the streets has been exaggerated, to show the grandeur of the town, and the large busy harbour promises wealth and trade from which the king would benefit through his taxes and duties.

The GHAS proudly displayed this rare historic document in the Town Hall where it was greeted with excitement and interest, to such an extent that, through a magnificent printing achievement, it was reproduced size for size and sold for £1.

‘Irreparable culturally’

Other interesting achievements included the rescuing the Browne doorway, from its precarious site in a crumbling ruin at Lr Abbeygate Street, and having it relocated at Eyre Square.

Early in 1913 the Society became alarmed at the proposed sale of Lynch’s Castle by its owner Mrs Kirwan. This unique building, a striking example of a medieval fortified house, and typical of the residences the 17th century map displayed, was purchased by the Munster and Leinster Bank (now AIB ). On behalf of the Society Lord Killanin addressed the bank’s directors, and was able to report back, that the antique value of the building ‘was thoroughly appreciated’ by its purchasers.

However, the Society was not successful in saving the Lion’s Tower. This was impressive section of the old city wall, located in Eglinton Street between the old Garda barracks and the Savoy cinema. Although it had a preservation order, it was deemed unsafe, a danger to the public, and in 1957 was due for demolition.

The move was fiercely opposed by a number of groups including the GHAS, whose spokesman for the occasion was the highly respected historian Professor Gerry Hayes McCoy. He argued that the wall was built by the people of Galway in 1646, a time of national crisis. He decried its demolition, saying that its historic association with the city was unique; ‘its loss would be irreparable culturally, and no excuse, and no amount of argument would alter this fact.’

Sadly his voce fell on deaf ears. The Lion’s Tower was removed.

Journal editor

From the very beginning the Society had the support from a strong Anglo-Irish bias including Edward Martyn, Augusta Lady Gregory, Sir Henry Grattan Bellew, and the Bishop of Clonfert, the Bishop of Killaloe, as well as many distinguished clergymen; indeed the tradition of the scholar priest continued to make a major contribution to the Society until very recently.

But its membership quickly became more representative of the community, particularly the role of women. From the very start, even though the gentlemen members were limited to accompany only ‘two women’ to meetings, women played an active role, the most outstanding of whom was Mary Donovan O’Sullivan, an outspoken campaigner for woman’s suffrage in Galway, who joined the Society in March 1914, the year of her appointment as first Professor of History, and remained, serving in several positions, until her resignation from office 1951.****

Matilda Reddington was appointed secretary almost from its inception; these two women supported the Society for a total of 39 years. In his talk on the history of the Society, Joe O’Halloran points out that to the credit of its founding members that from the early years of the last century, they operated a most open-minded policy to the appointment of women to important positions in the Society. *****

That practice has continued well into the second half of the last century during which which Professor Síle Ní Chinnéide served as secretary and

joint editor of publications. The present Journal editor is Dr Jackie Uí Chionna.

Surprisingly despite its 122 year history, with all its vicissitudes, including empty coffers, and an Irish language journal, Galvia, the outstanding achievement of a succession of 73 journals, all of which met the highest standards, and once praised by the Times Literary Supplement, the Society has still to find a permanent home. The minutes show that once it was suggested that accommodation could be found ‘above a well known public house in the town’.

‘This was rejected on the grounds that the location was not quite in keeping with the image the Society wished to convey to the general public.’

Next week: The Annaghdown Drowning Tragedy, and the poet Antoine Ó Raifterirí

NOTES: * Between 1832 and 1845, some 30,000 Irish took advantage of assisted immigration schemes to Australia. ** Catherine was part of a scheme devised by Earl Grey, Secretary of State for the Colonies, referred to in earlier Diaries, to relieve over crowding in Irish workhouses, and to meet the demand for domestic workers, and single young women in the colonies. ***On the death of prime minister Robertson, Broderick convened a meeting to establish a memorial to ‘show gratitude to the best friend’ an emigrant ever had. **** MD O’Sullivan is the author of Old Galway - The History of a Norman Colony in Ireland, published 1942. ***** ‘By Time Everything is revealed’ - The Galway Archaeological and Historical Journal 1900 - 1999, public lecture March 21 2000.

Membership of the GAHS can be had for a modest €20, from Dr Mark Phelan, hon treasurer, GAHS, c/o Special Collections Room, Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, H91 REW4.

Listen to Tom Kenny and Ronnie O'Gorman elaborating on topics they have covered in this week's paper and much more in this week's Old Galway Diary Podcast.


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