Our fortified city

Thu, Apr 18, 2024

The town of Galway was virtually an independent city state, self-contained politically and ecclesiastically, relying on its own resources as it was cut off from the central English authority until the 16th century. Then, the Tudors began to extend their influence westwards so that the city gradually came totally under their dominion. The real symbol of that growing influence was the fortifications, four in number, raised to defend this all-important location against all enemies, notably France and Spain.

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Cyril Mahony, a superb comic actor

Thu, Apr 11, 2024

Cyril Mahony was born in February 1913 in the family home on Prospect Hill. His mother was Mary Teresa Cunniffe from Loughrea and his father Gerry was a member of the RIC who at one time was stationed in Belfast. He eventually left the force and came back to his mother’s house on Prospect Hill. She was Anne Flaherty from Conamara, a native speaker and a well-known maternity nurse.

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The Dominican nuns in Galway

Thu, Apr 04, 2024

The first Dominican Nunnery in Galway was founded 380 years ago, in 1644 in New Tower Street, now known as St Augustine Street. They were honoured with a visit from Papal Nuncio Rinucinni three years later. When the Cromwellians took over the city, the sisters were faced with two alternatives, to renounce their religious life and return to their families, or exile. They choose the latter and left for Spanish monasteries.

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Galway Dominicans, a brief history

Thu, Mar 28, 2024

The Dominican Order was formally approved by Pope Honorius III in 1216, “to witness to the truth of the Christian Faith and to proclaim it at home and abroad”. St Dominic died in 1216, and in 1224 the Dominicans first came to Ireland. They came to Connacht, to Athenry, in 1241, and they finally arrived in Galway in 1488.

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Cunningham’s butcher shop

Thu, Mar 21, 2024

This superb image of Martin Cunningham’s butcher shop at Number 10, Shop Street was taken c.1900. In the 1901 census, the occupants of this building are listed as Martin Cunningham, aged 50; his wife Delia aged 30 and their children Michael aged 12, Mary Margaret 7, James 3, Delia 2 and Martin J. who had just been born. The family lived over the shop.

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The Atlanta Hotel

Thu, Mar 14, 2024

Joseph Owens lived in Glenamaddy with his wife, who was born Annie M Tuohy. They had three children, Dick, Mary, and her twin Joseph (born February 4, 1912), who was known to one and all as Josie. The father died very young. Annie remarried, this time to a man named Doorly, and in 1922, the family bought a four-bay four-storey early 19th century house in Lower Dominick Street from Nora O’Donnell and moved to Galway. Annie was a busy woman, she opened a drapery shop where she designed clothes, made them and sold them in her shop, and she kept lodgers upstairs, all as she was rearing her children.

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Galway Railway Station

Thu, Mar 07, 2024

The station opened on August 1, 1851. The buildings and the Great Southern Hotel were designed by John Skipton Mulvany. It was originally planned to have the station at Renmore, but the well-known Father Peter Daly convinced the railway authorities to construct Lough Atalia Bridge and bring the trains into the centre of town. The fact that he owned tenement buildings on the site where the Great Southern was built may well have had something to do with it. These tenements were levelled to make way for the hotel and station.

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The Patrician Musical Society

Thu, Feb 29, 2024

On this day, February 29, 1952, a meeting was held in the Bish the purpose of which was, “That a choral society titled the Patrician Choral Society under the auspices of the Patrician Brothers Past-Pupils’ Union be here and now formed.” The motion was proposed, seconded and passed unanimously. Jack Browne was elected President, Thomas Lydon as Vice-President, Jack Doherty and Brother Cuthbert as directors and Jack Begley as Treasurer.

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The Galway and Salthill Tramway Company

Thu, Feb 22, 2024

The mid-19th century was an era of little movement of people for social or pleasure purposes. In the post-Famine era, it was only business people of necessity, those who were emigrating or those whose financial circumstances allowed who travelled. Railway travel had come Galway in 1851 and there were a few horse drawn omnibuses operating between the city and the village of Salthill, which was really a rural backwater. But, it was becoming a fashionable place to live and was developing as a tourist destination. It was therefore no surprise when a tramway system between the city and the village was proposed.

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The Church of Christ the King

Wed, Feb 14, 2024

Around the year 1930, there were about 400 residents in Salthill and it was attracting large number of visitors and tourists who came in the summer. There was provision at the time for the building of some 100 homes. The population was growing but there was no church in the area. Any resident or tourist who wished to go to Mass had to travel into the Jesuit Church or St Joseph’s, or out west to the chapel in Barna.

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The King of the Claddagh

Thu, Feb 08, 2024

James Hardiman, the Galway historian, wrote the following in 1820, “This colony has from time immemorial been ruled by one of their own body, periodically elected. This individual, who is dignified with the title of Mayor, in imitation of the head municipal officer of the town, regulates the community according to their own peculiar laws and customs, and settles all their fishery disputes. His decisions are so decisive, and much respected that the parties are seldom known to carry their differences before a legal tribunal, or to trouble the legal magistrates”.

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Walkin’, talkin’ and touchin’

Thu, Feb 01, 2024

‘Mate’ Lydon was a Galway original, a character, a champion salmon snatcher and a great judge of porter. He was born in Rope Walk in the Claddagh in 1908. His name was Martin Lydon, but because he spent much of his childhood in his grandmother’s house, he was known locally as Máirtín Harte. He attended the Claddagh National School. He loved hurling, became a very good soccer player and was a regular on the famous Claddonians team which won the first ever Schweppes Cup in 1937. Our first image shows that team: seated Joe Flaherty, Jack O’Donnell, Martin Lydon, Bob Cantwell, Gus Flaherty, Thomas Lydon. Standing are Jimmy Connell, Martin Connell, Paddy Cubbard, Dick Ebbs, Jack Connor, Frank Fitzgerald and Eddie Cloherty. Mate usually played full back, and opposing forwards often found they had to take ‘the long way round’ to the Claddonians goal.

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O’Flaherty’s Garage

Thu, Jan 25, 2024

Patrick O’Flaherty bought an old thatch cottage in 1901 and converted it into a two-storey house which would become Numbers 15 and 16 Upper Dominick Street, part of which became a small shop operated by his wife Aggie (née Staunton) and part became O’Flaherty’s Garage. They operated a hackney service and advertised “Galway’s leading hire service in luxurious charabancs and motors (touring and saloon). All tours through beautiful Conemara radiate regularly from O’Flaherty’s”.

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Bianconi in Galway

Thu, Jan 18, 2024

Charles Bianconi is generally regarded as the man who put Ireland on wheels. He developed a network of horse-drawn carriages that became Ireland’s first integrated transport system, building on the existing mail roads and coach roads that were already there. There was a general tax on coaches at the time, which precluded the middle classes from using theirs, and a relatively peaceful period after the Battle of Waterloo meant that a great many horses, bred for the army, became cheap on the market. His system offered connections with various termini, his prices were cheap and so he was well patronised, in spite of the discomfort felt by passengers. Often, when going up a hill, some passengers would alight to make the carriage lighter for the horses.

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Peadar O’Dowd, the passing of an old Galwegian

Thu, Jan 11, 2024

Peadar O’Dowd’s credentials for writing about Galway were impeccable. One of four children, Nono, Willie, Martin and Peadar, born to their parents John and Bridget, he grew up in Bohermore and was always grateful for the fact. He lived his life there and throughout that life would celebrate the area and its people in hundreds of articles and interviews he published in various newspapers and journals.

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The Merryweather

Thu, Jan 04, 2024

Moses Merryweather and his son Richard lived in Clapham, London and they worked with the engineer Edward Field on putting his design of a vertical boiler onto a horse-drawn platform.

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The little shops of Bohermore

Thu, Dec 28, 2023

There were a few little shops at the top of Prospect Hill leading up to Bohermore — Kelly’s shop was where you got the thickest penny ice cream between two wafers. There was McInerey’s, Mary Kate Mahon’s and Lohan’s chemist. Almost next door was Tom Duffy, the tailor. On the other corner of Biddy’s Lane was Molloy’s little shop — neat as a pin.

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The homes of Woodquay

Thu, Dec 21, 2023

As we pointed out last week, much of what we now know as Woodquay was under water until the funnelling of the various streams that came down from the Corrib into the river that we know today began in the mid-19th century. As part of the project, the lands of Woodquay were gradually reclaimed. The people living in the area in those early years were mostly small farmers and fishermen. Their houses were very basic, single story, and for the most part, thatched and built of crude stone. There were of course some landmark houses but things began to change generally around the turn of that century with the construction of terraces of new slated houses around the broad space of Woodquay as we know it today, mostly built by the Urban District Council.

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Market day in Woodquay

Wed, Dec 13, 2023

There were a number of aspects to the market in Woodquay in the 19th and early 20th centuries – there was a crane for weighing potatoes at the end of the park (near the toll booth) and it was there many of the farmers who carried their wares downriver used to gather to sell. Other groups would congregate here to sell scollops for thatching houses, ‘flexible sticks’ cut from hazel trees. These were very much in demand in the city area as so many houses were thatched in those days including in Woodquay. Also in that area you would find basket makers who would weave creels, ciseáins, skibs and baskets of many shapes and sizes for sale to the public.

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An American barber shop in Eyre Square

Thu, Dec 07, 2023

John Joseph Grant emigrated to Brooklyn in New York where he learnt the haircutting trade and obviously made enough money which enabled him to come home in 1912 and set up his own business here. He also picked up quite a few tips on advertising as well, as you can see from our illustration which was published c1913. In addition to being a skilled barber, he certainly was not shy about promoting his wares – his advert is full of superlatives. “I guarantee to cure dandruff – the most modern and up-to-date barber’s shop in the Provinces – shaving soap solely manufactured by J.J. Grant – you will never get bald if you use Grant’s Imperial Hair Tonic (He must have sold this product out as he himself went bald in later life).

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