Books on my table

Despite Liam Mellows and his men answering the call to arms, and for five days to have caused mayhem in the Oranmore and Athenry areas, Galway was slow to realise that the Easter Rising 1916 was to be a permanent affair. The town was known as a ‘showneen town’, that is a town with a close allegiance to the British way of doing things. This was mainly because of the status of having a major army barracks on its doorstep. The army was an important purchaser of supplies from the town merchants; and many local people were soldiers, or had husbands or boyfriends who were in the army.

One of the turning points in public opinion was the hunger strike by five IRA prisoners in Galway jail in April 1920. Two of the men were from Galway - Thomas Redington (from the town ), and Thomas Duggan (Oranmore ).

The timing was significant as an 11-day strike by 68 prisoners in Mountjoy Jail, Dublin, had just ended with the prisoners being released. A major factor in that successful outcome had been the support of a national strike.

To avoid a similar situation arising in Galway, the authorities quickly stepped in and granted the prisoners political statue, which they refused. Their demand was for complete release.

The hunger strike began on April 12. The following day the labour movement planned a general strike in the town. That night the town was plunged into darkness. The gasworks followed suit. The following morning pickets were placed on all shops and factories. By Wednesday the streets were deserted. People kept their curtains drawn and blinds down so there was an eerie atmosphere about the place.

But gradually people emerged looking for news. The flourmills, butchers and bakeries were allowed to open for a limited time to meet the minimum requirements. But otherwise the strike held.

It continued for 10 days, and ended when the prisoners were released. The first sign that the strike was over was when the electricity was suddenly switched on. People came out into the streets and cheered. This is just one of many fascinating stories from William Henry’s Blood for Blood - The Black and Tan war in Galway (published by Mercier History ). This is a book I will come back to in the new year.

Eyre Square 300 Aspects of its History

Written and published by Brendan McGowan (€12 )

‘ This book is not intended as a comprehensive study of Eyre Square, but rather to provide an insight into aspects of its history’. This short book is filled with wonderful pictures of the square, both recent and historical.

‘ A red-haired tourist was sitting on ‘the long car’ in Eyre-square, Galway awaiting its departure for Connemara. ‘Throw me a penny, yer honnor,’ said the beggar man. ‘I will not,’ replied the tourist, emphatically. ‘Ah, thin,’ retorted the vagrant, remembering how touchy red-haired people are to any allusion to their hair, ‘maybe you’d leave me a lock to light my pipe with’.

The developments of Eyre Square are shown as it was gradually transformed from an extramural fairgreen to a landscaped town square.

‘ Galway Green, also called Eyre Square, is a very extensive area, surrounded by wide and handsome streets which contain some of the finest houses in the town. The centre or green is planted with trees and ornamental shrubs, and intersected with commodious and finely-gravelled walks, with convenient seats placed at different intervals, and surrounded with light and elegant railing. It is open from ten in the morning till an advanced hour in the evening, and is accessible to strangers, and to the inhabitants and their families who pay am annual sum of six shillings. In size and appearance it is equal to many, amd superior to some, of the public squares in the principal cities’.

This is a beautifully presented book and the story of our square is very well told by Brendan McGowan.

The Divine Spark

Written by Claire Gormley and published by The Divine Spark Project, Galway Ireland.

Claire Gormley’s life was transformed from one of misery and hopelessness to one of meaning, joy and light. In this, one hundred per cent non-fiction book, she shares with us her story of how she fled Ireland in the 1980s in the hope of escaping a troubled past.

‘The life of any one of us is influenced by our childhood, so I share a brief account of my family history to explain the dysfunction and pain that seeped down through the generations’. This is an inspirational story of how a phenomenal divine presence changed her life for the better.‘ A grand epiphany finally helped my life make sense’.

This book could be of great help amd comfort to those who may have lost hope and are searching for a way out of the darkness.

Achill’s Eva O’Flaherty, Forgotten Island Heroine

Written by Mary J Murphy and published by Knockma publishing 2012

In this meticulously researched biobraphy, Mary J Murphy has made sure that Achill’s heroine will never be forgotten. Eva O’Flaherty emerges as a very modern woman and an inspiring one. She helped to turn a local knitting community in Doonagh, Achill, into St Colman’s Knitting industry, a fully fleged business. A remarkable achievement for a woman at that time.

She was also a key influence on the cultural and artistic aspect of that day. In return having a very significant impact on the economic and social landscape of Co Mayo.

As hostess nonpareil in her lampit Doonagh home her circle included Countess Markievicz, Douglas Hyde, Padraig and Willie Pearse, Dr Mark Ryan, Ella Young, J M Synge, George and Louise Gavan Duffy, Maud Gonne, Ernie O’Malley, Cesca, Linda Kearns, George Russell, Dr Kathleen Lynn, Maire Comerford, Mary and Padraig Colum, Cardinal Dalton, and the Freyers of Corrymore House.

Eva O’Flaherty was a woman of considerable substance whose story deserves to be heard.

St. Mary’s College Galway Centenary 1912-2012

Written by Peadar O’Dowd and published by Booklink

As St Mary’s greeted its first students at the end of August 1912, a nervous world was gradually gearing itself towards the start of a world war, which commenced two years later. At home, Ireland was experiencing the first pangs of industrial unrest with the Dublin ‘Lockout’ in 1913, while the foundation of the Irish Volunteers in the same year led eventually to the 1916 Rising and subsequent fight for independence. Such stirring events at the international and national level seemed far from the minds of staff and students of the new St Mary’s, as both entered rather tentatively through the broad doors of the new Galway College on the hill.

For 100 years, St Mary’s College has been a valued part of the Diocese of Galway. Its founders hoped that it would provide the best education possible. That is the hope of those who strive for perfection in the college.

In this beautifully laid out book, you’ll see how St Mary’s has evolved quarter by quarter over the past 100 years. Pictures and history of culture and sport fill the pages as well as new achievements and additions to the school. This college has certainly accomplshed a lot in 100 years, and no doubt has much more to give.

A homily entitled ‘A living Educational Entity’ was given by Fr Barry Hogg, President of St Mary’s College, at its centenary Mass, which took place in the ‘Cathedral of our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas’ on Saturday August 25, 2012. It sums up the essence and the purpose of St Mary’s as the college enters its second century.

Galway GAA Annual 2012(€10 )

The past year was an exciting one even though we failed to win an All Ireland Title in either code, at Inter County Level. Our senior hurling team have done us all proud, by winning the Leinster Senior Hurling final for the very first time. They brought us great enjoyment in all of their Championship games and it took a great Kilkenny team three games before they beat us in a replayed All Ireland final in a packed Croke Park on September 30.

Once again, the GAA annual is full of action, success, challenges and highlights of the past year. This annual is very well laid out and presented. There is a strong scence of pride throughout this excellent publication. You will enjoy reading through the various articles and perusing the many photographs.

Ard Bia Cook Book

by Aoibheann Mac Namara with Aoife Carrigy and Published by Atrium

‘Ard Bia’ translated means ‘high food’, and that is exactly the kind of recipes the Ard Bia Cook Book is filled with. The food is locally sourced and healthy, simple but with a twist. ‘Ard Bia is more than a restaurant, it is a space- and within a space of openness anything is possible.’

In this little, old, stone, two-storey house, beside the Spanish Arch, they laugh, they work, they welcome and they learn. It is clear that a lot of love went into this book just like the restaurant.

One of my favourite recipes is the Chocolate Pudding. This is a great alternative to the usual plum pudding for Christmas time.It is a simple, easy to follow recipe. A great chance for the kids to show their cullinary skills while the parents sit back and enjoy!

300g/12oz chocolate, 70% cocoa solids (Green and Black’s recommended )

150g/6oz butter

150g/6oz sugar

4 eggs

150g/6oz plain flour

Makes 4-6

Preheat oven to 180’C/350’F/gas mark 4

Bring a pot of water to the boil, reduce to a simmer and place a shallow heat-proof bowl on top to act as a bain marie and provide an indirect source of heat to gently melt the chocolate. Break the chocolate into pieces and set in the bowl together with the butter, stirring to combine as they melt. Once well integrated, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a seperate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together.

Gently fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and sugar and then sieve over the flour. Fold gently, ensuring it is well integrated.

Transfer into greased dariole moulds (or you could use a muffin tray ) and bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. They should look cooked on top but still with a little wobble- you’re aiming for a centre so moist it may even be a little liquid.

To serve, turn out each warm pudding onto a plate and pop a scoop or two of your favourite ice-cream on the side.

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