Galway In Days Gone By

Fashion at the Galway Races in 1971.
Fashion at the Galway Races in 1971.

1917

Shocking drowning

A shocking drowning tragedy occurred off Salthill, resulting in the death of a young man named Joseph McDermott (aged about 28), whose parents reside at Nun’s Island, Galway. For the past three years, young McDermott has been employed as chauffeur with Mr. J. Meleady, the well-known horse owner, of Lower Mount-st., Dublin. Prior to that, he had been for years one of the most popular and courteous assistants at the garage of Mr. J. Ward, Eyre Square.

He enjoyed an extraordinary popularity amongst all classes, and his employer was stricken with grief last evening when he heard of the terrible tragedy.

“He was the best young man who ever served a master,” said Mr. Meleady, as, with tears in his eyes, he looked at the clothes on the beach; “he was strictly sober, and I have never yet heard him use an improper word. He was the most careful of chauffeurs, and I have never yet seen him leave a motorist on the road. My children were devotedly attached to him. They will be heartbroken.”

It appears that poor Joe, as he was familiarly known, had been at the second day’s racing, and, upon returning, he had his dinner. With the unwisdom that has so frequently proved fatal, he started off for a long swim immediately after a hearty meal. He was a splendid swimmer, and leaving his clothes at Blackrock, he set out with long easy strokes. He was never seen again. It is said that he was seen making towards a rock – apparently on the Marguerita shoal – but although search was made until late last night, all efforts to recover the body proved futile.

South Park bazaar

The Bazaar to be held under the auspices of the Galway Urban Council for the development and improvement on South Park, was opened at Eyre Square at 8 o’clock on Monday evening.

The object of the Bazaar is well known, and all who subscribed so generously showed that they fully appreciated the effort that is being made in this period of stagnation to bring some growth to the municipal mill.

1942

Cruelty to hackney horses

Recent complaints of cruelty to animals have led many persons to express the hope that a branch of the N.S.P.C.A. will be established in Galway in the near future. The revival of horse transport for Race Week undoubtedly gave rise to cases of cruelty to hackney horses.

Some of these animals, insufficiently fed and watered, that should have been stabled on the evening of each race day after many hours of gruelling toil in the heat and dust, were still being driven around the city at four o’clock on the following morning with heavy loads of roysterers.

Others, already overworked and overburdened, were savagely flogged up steep hills on the way to the course and given no respite whatever.

To the credit of Galway, it must be stated that the offenders were drivers from other towns – and even other counties. They did not even seek a shelter for the poor brutes at night, but just tied them up at the quays or anywhere, in many cases without food. The Galway drivers, so far as can be ascertained, looked after their horses well. They watered and fed the animals conscientiously and gave them release from harness and a rub down when possible.

The plight of horses from the country was made worse by the fact that in the majority of cases they were animals never intended for hackney work, but for slow labour. It is a pity that the many scores of people who expressed indignation at the treatment of some of the horses by some of the drivers – there were many drivers who looked assiduously after their horses’ welfare, we are glad to say – did not have the courage to take definite action in the matter. As it was, the Garda Siochana did not receive a single complaint of cruelty during the two days of the races.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.