Padraic Ó Conaire could write ‘pretty racy stuff’

Thu, Mar 21, 2019

Week III

Although Padraic Ó Conaire often had the look of an angel, he could write pretty racy stuff. His book Deoraíocht (Exiles) ranks as one of the most colourful and audacious Irish language novels ever written. He presented a different Ireland in this and other books, an Ireland riddled with envy, alcoholism, terminal poverty and destitution, mental illnesses, emotional and physical abuse As they sank into anonymity, the ‘exiles’ experience the successes and failures of their new life. Published in 1910, it reflected real life, its sorrows and struggles. At a time when book-banning was seen as an attempt to keep Ireland pure and ‘clean,’ the book was immediately banned.

Read more ...

Galway Observer, May 27, 1922

Thu, Mar 14, 2019

“On Thursday night a crowd numbering several thousand assembled inside the Square, and two men set to work sawing at the base of life-size bronze monument of Lord Dunkellin, a brother of the notorious landlord, Lord Clanricarde of Portumna. In a scene reminiscent of the downfall of Saddam Hussain’s statue in Baghdad, shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a rope was fastened around Dunkellin’s neck, and with a mighty pull, down it fell amidst great applause.”

Read more ...

Advertisement

Michael Collins remembered a debt for ‘measly £10’

Thu, Feb 21, 2019

An Taibhdhearc, Ireland’s only Irish language theatre, situated in Middle Street, the very heart of Galway, grew out of a conversation between two remarkable men, Professor Liam Ó Briain and Dr Séamus Ó Beirn.* Both men, passionate Irish speakers, believed that a lively Irish language theatre would promote Irish in an imaginative way.

Helping to run the theatre, acting in many of its plays (many of which he translated from French and Spanish into Irish), as well as his duties as professor of romance languages at UCG, absorbed Ó Briain’s immense energies once Ireland achieved its independence, and he got war and politics out of his system.

Read more ...

Friends in strange places.

Thu, Feb 14, 2019

Our friend ‘Captain H’ who had ingeniously planted a dictaphone in the confessional under the stairs in the Town Hall prison, was up to his old tricks again. Somehow he had managed to plant a ‘friendly’ Sergeant Gates who chatted and smiled, and was a friend to all, and dangerously caught numerous snatches of conversation from the hundreds of prisoners within. These were reported to Captain H.

Read more ...

A prison drama in the Town hall

Wed, Feb 06, 2019

November 1920 was the most vicious month in the War of Independence. Murder and mayhem were commonplace. The authorities reacted with vigorous severity. There were shootings and public beatings, buildings and homes burnt, and printing works wrecked. There was a sweeping roundup of the usual suspects, numbering in their thousands. The old gaol in Galway, and gaols throughout Ireland, were full to bursting point.

Read more ...

‘Muishe, is it yourself that’s in it, Mr O’Brien?’

Thu, Jan 31, 2019

Liam Ó Briain, professor of romance languages UCG, was arrested by the Black and Tans on November 21 1920. He was taken to the RIC barracks, at that time in Dominick Street, and then up to the army barracks at Earls island, where he was identified. Other men arrested stood in line. They were watched by ‘pompous young officers’ who, with ‘a hand on their guns’ ‘sniggered’ at the standing prisoners. They went up and down pulling hands out of their pockets. Ó Briain, in his recently published essays on his experiences,* did not sound too concerned. He was well known to the police authorities. Because of the murder and mayhem during the week of his arrest, he must have been expecting to be picked up.

Read more ...

Grief and despair on Galway streets November 1920

Thu, Jan 24, 2019

Sunday November 21 1920, known as ‘Bloody Sunday’, marked one of the most significant events in the Irish War of Independence. The day began with an IRA operation, organised by Michael Collins, to assassinate the so called ‘Cairo Gang’ - a team of undercover British agents, working and living in Dublin. IRA members went to a number of addresses, and shot dead 14 people including nine army officers.

Read more ...

The call of St James was heard once more...

Thu, Jan 17, 2019

Seventy years after Margaret Athy’s generous patronage of the Augustine abbey and buildings on Fort Hill (originally St Augustine’s Hill), with its commanding view of the port and the town, the place was turned into a butcher’s block. Approximately 300 survivors of the ill-fated Armada were beheaded there.

Read more ...

A ‘cheerful, and amiable saint’.

Thu, Jan 10, 2019

In the early years of the 16th century, Stephen Lynch fitz Dominick was returning from an extended trading voyage in Spain. He set out with a full cargo, probably of hides, wool, and fish, which he hoped to trade for wine and iron with Spanish merchants. As he approached Galway port he was surprised to see a church and buildings almost completed on Fort Hill (originally called St Augustine’s Hill), a prominent site visible from both the town and the sea. They were not there when he left.

Read more ...

‘I always return to the old home on Christmas Day’

Thu, Dec 20, 2018

Hunting rabbits was a favourite pasttime of boys and dogs on Omey, that sand-duned, tidal island, that ploughs into the sea at Claddaghduff, near Cleggan. It is possible to say that the over-used cliche ‘magical’ can apply to Omey.* It can hardly be seen from the mainland. But if the tide is out, a series of arrowed posts guide the driver across the strand to the only road on the island. And that too runs out.

Read more ...

The changing face of our country shops

Thu, Dec 13, 2018

Even on Christmas morning, if Santa had forgotten that one important item, batteries for the impotent toy lying motionless on the floor at home, or a packet of cigarettes to tide mum and dad over the holiday, you could knock on the front door of Gillanes, after Mass, and Kitty or Liam would gladly sort you out.

Read more ...

The Quaker warmth of Bewley’s warm fires

Thu, Dec 06, 2018

(Written in December 2 2004, when Bewley’s cafe, Grafton Street, Dublin, closed for an indefinite period for refurbishment. Its future was uncertain. But I am glad to report that it is up and flourishing for some time, warm and glorious, its sticky buns as good as ever.)

I will miss the Quaker warmth of Bewley’s coal fires. I will always be grateful, not only for the comforting Irish breakfasts and sticky cherry buns but for the warm coal fires in Bewley’s noisy restaurants in Dublin, now sadly a thing of the past. The 1950s were, as far as I was concerned, an unofficial ice age. As children we were always cold. And the relief of standing before those generous glowing fires in short pants, jumper and zip jacket was one of the highlights of my boyhood memories.

Read more ...

A nod to McMaster in the crowd

Thu, Nov 29, 2018

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that one day, while Tom Kilroy was in Leaving Cert, an Adonis walked through St Kieran’s College. He inquired, in a very magisterial manner, where was one to find the headmaster.

Read more ...

A School for surprises…

Thu, Nov 22, 2018

Although St Kieran’s College was only 10 miles from the Kilroy’s home at Callan, Tom Kilroy and his four brothers were educated there as boarders. In those days, early 1950s, any journey beyond that of a pony and trap was an adventure.You had to take Tom Nolan’s bus to get from Callan to Kilkenny. The school buildings were a mixture of carved balconies, and entrance steps in neo-Gothic riot. Behind its extravagant exterior, lay a new Catholic church, proudly testifying the various Emancipation Bills in the previous century, which gave Catholics the freedoms to practice. St Kiernans’ was a typical diocesan college of the Diocese of Ossory. An important function was the education of young men to be priests.

Read more ...

Remembering Elizabeth Ellam

Thu, Nov 08, 2018

My great grandmother, Elizabeth Ellam, was killed on the RMS Leinster when on October 10 1918, exploded and sank following a ruthless German submarine attack shortly after the ship had departed Dun Laoghaire, on her way to Holyhead in Wales. It was practically one month to the day before World War I was declared officially over.

Read more ...

Do women change after marriage?

Thu, Nov 01, 2018

The belief of the abduction of humans into the fairy world is a common theme in our Irish folklore tradition, as it is in most fairy beliefs throughout Europe. Pre baptised children and young brides are often common targets. Parents may be shocked when they first see that their infant child has been replaced by ‘a wizened fairy’, and quickly realise that the child is a changeling. Although these events are shrouded in mystery, there was often a satisfactory explanation, allowing us to understand the occurrence in human terms.

The fairies seek new born children, generally boys, because it was believed fairies were decedent from angels expelled from Heaven. New blood would allow them back. Parents often dressed their baby boys as girls to confuse the fairies; but once baptised the children were usually safe enough.

Read more ...

The awaking of Augusta …A creative life

Thu, Oct 25, 2018

Augusta Lady Gregory, and her husband Sir William, were away in Italy in May 1888, when her former lover Wilfrid Scawen Blunt was imprisoned in Galway for participating in an anti-eviction rally at Woodford the previous October. I described last week, that within two days of her return to Galway she visited his empty cell, and remained sometime.*

At this period Augusta was still very much a Unionist, and the chatelaine of a large estate. Later that summer when Sir William was involved in a dispute with the tenant, Patrick Spelman, who occupied the Ballylee Castle holding (which would later become a holiday home for WB Yeats and his family), she acted as his secretary, and was closely involved in all aspects of the process.

Read more ...

The Awaking of Augusta - The affair

Wed, Oct 17, 2018

The affair between Augusta Lady Gregory and Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, the romantic traveller, poet and a somewhat eccentric man addicted to political causes, lasted one year. It carried on almost under the eyes of her husband Sir William. He did not notice it, or if he did, he chose not to notice it.

Read more ...

The awaking of Augusta - Marriage

Thu, Oct 11, 2018

My dear Miss Persse, I have read over many times the letter which you wrote to me a fortnight since when returning Roderick Hudson. Am I too presumptuous in thinking that there is something more in it than a mere critique on that book? I have thought over and over again on the subject and have at length determined to ask if I may write freely to you - on the most momentous question affecting a man and woman’s life…..’

Read more ...

The awaking of Augusta

Thu, Oct 04, 2018

Isabella Augusta Persse (later Lady Gregory), grew up in Roxborough House, Co Galway, a large rambling estate house, with magnificent gardens, commanding some 18,000 acres over which her father Dudley Persse presided with almost feudal authority. His 13 children knew their wheel-chaired bound father as The Master.*

Read more ...

E-paper

Read this weeks E-paper. Past editions also available from within this weeks digital copy.

 

Page generated in 0.0732 seconds.