Galway In Days Gone By

Workers demolish an old mill wheel as they clear the site for the construction of the new St Joseph's College (Bish), Nun's Island, Galway in June 1967. The new school was built on the site of its predecessor.
Workers demolish an old mill wheel as they clear the site for the construction of the new St Joseph's College (Bish), Nun's Island, Galway in June 1967. The new school was built on the site of its predecessor.

1917

Very dangerous man

At Galway Petty Sessions, Michael O’Connor, Carton, was described as being a very dangerous man on the occasion, summoned on a third offence for being drunk and disorderly in Galway. He had, said Constable Durcan, a large knife open in his hand in a public house in Cross-st, and he was wild.

Acting Sergeant Casey said the man was creating an awful scene when he found him, intoxicated, and he had a large sum of money in his pocket. There were previous convictions. Defendant made profuse promises to take the pledge and turn over a new leaf. The Bench fined him 5s. and bound him to the peace on £10 and two sureties of £5 each, at the same time, issuing a serious warning to him.

The toll of war

The sorrows of war bear heavily upon parents of only sons. This week the sympathy of everyone goes out to Mr. O’Connor Beirne, Taylor’s Hill, upon the news that his only surviving son, Sergt. Patrick William Beirne, of the Canadians, was killed in the attack upon Vimy Ridge. On Easter Monday morning, the Battle of Arras began with an attack on the celebrated vantage point that had resisted the furious French onslaughts in the previous year, and to the Canadians fell the honour of achieving what the German Generals had regarded as the impossible. Amongst the fallen on the evening of the battle lay young Beirne. It is a pathetic fact that on the day following the battle, his father received from him two cheery letters. It was some time after before the Canadian Office was notified of the death, and in turn notified his parents.

At the time of his death, he was only 29 years of age. Mr Beirne’s other son died in America some years ago.

1942

Yank journalist

Ian Ross MacFarlane, of the American Mutual Broadcasting System, has a great grá for Galway. One day many years ago, he was studying the tourist posters on the walls of Euston Station, London, with a hazy idea at the back of his head that a holiday wouldn’t be such a bad plan, when he saw a poster advertising this city.

“Just what the doc ordered,” said Ian, “I’ll get as far West as I can.” And forthwith he booked for the City of the Tribes.

He liked the place so much that he has been here several times since, but his last visit prior to this month was thirteen years ago. Nevertheless, he has an amazing memory for people and actually remembered to bring across a certain pack of cards and some other things that he promise his Galway friends thirteen years ago he would bring with him on the next trip”

He considers Galway to be the most characteristically Irish town he has ever been in. “You couldn’t mistake it for anything but Irish,” he said. And he insisted on being photographed in front of one of the few surviving thatched cottages of the Claddagh, despite efforts to dissuade him.

“Say, if you want to bring back a photograph to show that you have been in New York you want a picture of the skyline or something like that, don’t you. So I want something that is typically Irish.”

In vain, it was pointed out to him that the thatched cottages of the Claddagh were not typical of modern Galway. So we gave him his thatched cottage and it will appear in due course in one or more transatlantic journals. But, otherwise, he was quite rational about this country and very much annoyed by the “dope” that some American journalists have written after a couple of days on the island. He hopes to visit Galway after the war to watch the city grow.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.