Seoda...Seoda...Seoda

Thu, Nov 20, 2008

In 1951 Comhaltas Ceoltóiri Éireann was set up to promote traditional Irish music. The first Galway branch was formed about 1965 and initially they held a committee meeting every week. Then somebody suggested they have a session every week instead, and this they did, in Martin Forde’s Eagle Bar in William Street West. Mind you, the session could not start until Mrs Forde had finished watching The Fugitive on television. These sessions became hugely popular at a time when very few pubs in Galway allowed live traditional music.

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From crossroads dances to the internet

Thu, Nov 13, 2008

Gerry Cahill was born in Caherlistrane and started playing music from the age of eight..... first the melodeon, then the double row accordion, and later the piano accordion. He was a great admirer of musicians like Will Starr and Jimmy Shand. He soon developed a distinctive style of his own and he was very much in demand at house dances and roadside dances, which were very common at the time.

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A street scene in Galway, 1835

Thu, Nov 06, 2008

Some weeks ago we reproduced a painting by William Evans of Eton College in this column. It was a colourful scene painted at the back of the Spanish Arch in 1835. Today’s image was painted in watercolour over pencil and heightened with body colour in that same year and was entitled “A Street Scene in Galway”.

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The American Hotel, Eyre Square, c1940

Thu, Oct 23, 2008

The O’Sullivan family first came to Eyre Square in 1765. They took over a thatched house which had been rented by a family named Glynn from their landlord, who was one of the Eyres. The premises has been in the O’Sullivan family since. They set up a bar and grocery business, and it seems they always had rooms to let. By the time this photograph was taken c1940, they also had a travel agency which represented the Holland America Line, the Cunard White Star Line and the Greek Line (there were not too many commercial flights then). It was obviously the reason why they called the premises ‘The American Hotel’. It turned out to be an astute choice of name as they always had a lot of American guests.

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Galway hurling legends

Thu, Oct 16, 2008

One could almost say that the Duggan family of College Road were born to play the game of hurling. A number of their predecessors had played for a famous College Road team in the 1890s, and their uncle Paddy played for Galway. They were given their first hurleys by Eddie Moore O’Flaherty from the Claddagh when they were very young children, so it was no wonder that Sean and Paddy and Jimmy would play for Galway and that Monica would become a very famous camogie player. Paddy and Monica have gone to their reward, but happily Sean and Jimmy are still with us.

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Those who sing pray twice

Thu, Oct 09, 2008

A friend once told me that the quality of choral singing in her local church was such that even the most familiar hymns sounded unfamiliar. For those who frequent the Augustinian church on Sunday mornings, the reverse is true as each Sunday is made special by the wonderful four-part harmonies and beautiful singing of the choir there. A century ago they were referred to in the local press as ‘magnificent’ and even then were singing works by Haydn, Mendelsshon, and Weber.

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A May procession in the Claddagh, c1935

Thu, Oct 02, 2008

This photograph was originally taken from the top of the high wall which fronted the town dump in the area of the Claddagh still known as ‘The Swamp’ in 1931. In the early years of the 20th century Galway’s Parliamentary Representative Stephen Gwynn prompted the Government to award a grant of £450 for the reclamation of this marshy ground between the Claddagh and the seashore, which was prone to flooding, and as a result a half-mile racing track in the shape of a rectangle with rounded corners was built around the perimeter of the area. It cannot have been very successful, because some time afterwards the area became the site for the city dump. In 1931 the Carnegie Trust presented the city with a grant of £500 to help develop part of the site into a number of playing pitches. This development was a gradual process and eventually, in the early fifties, the whole area was converted into a municipal park devoted entirely to sporting activities. The high wall was largely knocked and reduced to its present height. It took a while to completely clear the ground... many who played matches there at the time remember taking lumps of glass or tin out of the surface of the playing pitch and leaving them on the side wall.

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The Spanish Arch, one hundred and seventy years ago

Thu, Sep 25, 2008

Antique paintings can be very important documents of social history, giving us an insight into what life must have been like when the picture was painted. They can recreate for us the streets and scenes and buildings where our ancestors may have lived or worked, show us how they dressed, the games they played, etc, before the Famine or before photography was invented. Such images of Galway are rare, so it is a pleasure to come across this descriptive watercolour of the back of the Spanish Arch, which is in a private collection.

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The egg and butter market

Thu, Sep 18, 2008

Hely Dutton in his “Statistical and Agricultural Survey of the County of Galway” which was published in 1824, wrote, “The vegetable market near the Main Guard is generally well supplied and at reasonable rates ; all kinds come to market washed, by which means any imperfection is easily detected. The cabbage raised near the sea on seaweed is particularly delicious ---- those who have been used to those cultivated on highly manured ground cannot form any idea of the difference. There are also in the season peaches, strawberries, gooseberries, apples, pears etc.

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Galway’s first taxi rank?

Thu, Sep 11, 2008

This photograph was taken about a hundred years ago and shows a number of side-cars lined up in the Square while waiting for custom. I am not sure when hackneys became taxis, but a century later they are still lined up in the Square. They had less traffic to compete with then.

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Galway in mourning for air crash victims

Thu, Aug 14, 2008

Fifty years ago today, a Dutch KLM Super-Constellation airliner named Hugo De Groot crashed into the Atlantic, about 100 miles off the Conamara coast, with the loss of 99 lives. The plane was en route from Amsterdam via Shannon with eight crewmen and 91 passengers. Nobody survived. It was the worst disaster involving a single plane in the history of commercial aviation up to that point.

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Peter Greene’s pub

Thu, Aug 07, 2008

Towards the end of the 19th century Colman Greene came from Carna to Galway to work, mostly as a fisherman. He married Julia McGrath from Newcastle and they opened a pub near the Spanish Arch. They also sold tea and sugar and candles, etc, often as provisions to boatmen going out to fish. They had trawlers and fishing boats of their own at the Claddagh, and were fish merchants also.

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Developments in Ballybrit

Thu, Jul 31, 2008

Racing in County Galway took place on a number of courses at the beginning of the 19th century... Kilconnell, Eyrecourt, Brook Lodge (near Tuam), Rahassan, Ballinasloe, Ballymoe, Dunmore, Athenry, Bermingham Hunt (run by John Dennis, Bermingham House, Tuam), and Carraroe Hunt. Only seven of these courses were extant at the dawn of the 20th century.

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Ray McBride — a profile

Thu, Jul 24, 2008

Ray McBride was born in Bohermore, the son of Bobby and Kathleen. He was educated in the Claddagh National School and in Saint Mary’s College. He was always very athletic and tried his hand at a number of sports. He was no good at rugby and his Gaelic football career was cut short by a broken wrist, but he was a nifty soccer player.

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