A letter sent to GA Hayes-McCoy

Thu, Jul 06, 2017

One hundred years ago there were a series of truly terrible battles on the Western Front which were watched anxiously in Ireland as elsewhere. On June 7, near the Belgian village of Messines, the Allied army won a substantial victory. It gave hope, which turned out to be tragically false, that perhaps this was the beginning of the end of the war. With the capture of the Messines ridge, the Allies were confident they could clear a path all the way down to Passchendaele, and capture the Belgian coast up the Dutch border.

Read more ...


The behaviour of the girls was causing problems

Thu, Jun 15, 2017

Apart from overcrowding and disease, the biggest problem in many of the workhouses was the behaviour of young women. The women, who perhaps had been brought there as children, were now adolescent, many of them unruly and wild. They tended to be the most troublesome, involved in fighting and, on occasions, rioting. Their behaviour resulted from boredom. While males could be employed breaking stones, or farm work, there were not enough jobs for females, and no effort made to educate them or train them in any skill. By June 1850 in the Mountbellew workhouse, Co Galway, females made up 60 per cent of the inmate population. Three hundred and eighty two were adult; while 199 were aged between nine and 15 years.

Read more ...

A stranger among the poor

Thu, May 25, 2017

During her first visit to Ireland while walking the road from Oranmore to Loughrea, Aesnath Nicholson, a lone witness to the growing desperation of the poor as successive years of the Great Famine took its frightening toll, stopped to rest her blistered feet. She leant against a wall and thought about the advice her friends had given her in America. They told her the trip was reckless and she would damage her health. Yet even at that moment she asked herself: Would she rather be back in her parlour in New York?

Read more ...

The priest who celebrated his own funeral Mass

Thu, May 18, 2017

Week III

When the well liked Fr Thomas Campbell, parish priest of Tynagh, Co Galway, died in 1983, there was a big turn out for his funeral. Michel Déon and his wife Chantal, being French, arrived at the church on time. As no one else was there they sat in the front row.

Read more ...

A portrait of a lady

Thu, May 11, 2017

Some months after Lady Christobel Ampthill’s spectacular accident (her horse who refused to jump a flooding stream, and she was thrown into the river, and nearly drowned), Michel Déon and his wife Chantal, came across her sitting in her car near Kinvara.* She clearly looked distressed. There was a rumour that she had not fully recovered from her accident. She was getting forgetful.

Read more ...

Riding side-saddle, and other French tales

Thu, May 04, 2017

I do not know the statistics, but I feel sure that the greatest number of our continental visitors come from France. During the summer you hear and see a lot of French people clutching maps of our small city, wandering about in groups; or lines of young students talking and gesturing happily among themselves, not paying the least attention to their guide. The French are not operatic like the Italians. They share beautiful sounding words; but the face is serious. I feel there is something of Old Europe in the French language.

Read more ...

The Bishop’s blanket

Thu, Apr 27, 2017

Fr Pat Connaughton, Bishop Casey’s secretary for a while, recalled a time when he and the bishop were going to a meeting in the archbishop’s house in Thurles. “Our car broke down. No matter. We were near Thurles. We left it on the side of the road, and walked the rest of the way, the bishop’s arms swinging by his side. We were passed by Bishop Kevin McNamara, in many ways the very antithesis of Casey. McNamara looked out the window, and remarked to his driver: ‘There goes Eamonn in drama again.’

Read more ...

The day Bishop Casey challenged America’s power

Thu, Apr 20, 2017

‘It was a scandal the way people waited in vain to see President Reagan and all they saw was a hand at the window,” lamented the late Cllr John F King at the first city council meeting following the visit of President and Mrs Reagan to Galway on June 2 1984.

There was a chorus of agreement around the table. Cllr Bridie O’Flaherty said that she had two daughters living in America. They had phoned her to say how ashamed they were to see the American flag burned in the streets of Dublin. “It was very unjust, very unfair, and very wrong to burn that flag,” she added irately.

Read more ...

Events that must have haunted Bishop Casey

Thu, Apr 13, 2017

In May 1989 Galway watched with some bemusement, as Michael Dee entertained Daniel Ortega and members of his junta. They had successfully overthrown the dictator Anastasio Somoza, and seized control of Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America. Both men are presidents of their respective countries today. But 28 years ago while Ortega’s hand had already reached out for the il presidente crown, Michael Dee had still some way to go.

Read more ...

Galway watched its new bishop with some amazement

Thu, Apr 06, 2017

On Sunday September 19 1976 the former bishop of Kerry, Eamonn Casey, succeeded to the See of Galway. He had been appointed some months beforehand, but was delayed by his long goodbye tour of Kerry. The people of Kerry were heartbroken to lose him.

Read more ...

‘A New Israel for Iarchonnacht?’

Thu, Mar 30, 2017

Although many of us swallowed hard at Desmond Fennell’s cry for a ‘new Israel for Iarchonnacht’ we knew what he meant. In the 1970s the Irish language was fast slipping away, even in the Connemara Gaeltacht. Of course there were many who cherished Irish. There were Gaeilgeoirí in Dublin and elsewhere who delighted in Irish conversation. I often heard Irish spoken with ease and fluency among shoppers in Galway city.

Read more ...

Irish - is it time to declare a language emergency?

Thu, Mar 16, 2017

‘Most of us don’t want to speak Irish, but we like to have Irish in our lives’, writes the provocative Desmond Fennell, in one of his concluding essays in his just published autobiography.* ‘We cherish Irish, the surveys show, as a precious part of our national heritage. We are glad there are Gaelscoileanna, a Ráidió na Gaeltachta and a TG4; that the destinations of buses are shown in Irish as well as English, and to hear that there is a magazine of news and comment in Irish on the internet. We would not like everything in Ireland to be in English only’.

Read more ...

Passage of time....

Thu, Mar 09, 2017

An interesting story has emerged linking a badly burnt survivor from the SS Athenia, a Galway pharmacy, and Glasgow’s Riverside Museum.

Read more ...

Merlin Park - An epilogue

Thu, Mar 02, 2017

Merlin Park House was a large late Georgian pile surrounded by trees, but built on a sufficient height that it enjoyed views of Galway Bay. It was originally built in the early 19th century by the influential Blake family, who were renowned for throwing wild parties and hunting with the hounds.

Read more ...

International outcry at Athenia sinking

Thu, Feb 23, 2017

Week III

The sinking of the passenger liner SS Athenia on the evening of September 3 1939, off the Rockall Bank, prompted immediate outrage among the Allied and neutral nations. The ship, belonging to the Donaldson line, left Glasgow for Montreal, Canada, via Liverpool and Belfast on September 1. On board were more than 1,100 passengers, including women and children and 311 Americans, fleeing the inevitable war coming in Europe. One hundred and twenty eight passengers and crew were killed, 28 of whom were US citizens. Due to relatively calm seas, the survivors were picked up by passing ships, and brought to various ports including Galway, which I have mentioned recently.

Read more ...


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


Page generated in 0.0944 seconds.