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Historian launches campaign for maritime museum

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A local historian has proposed the establishment of a Maritime Museum on Claddagh Quay.

The proposal by local man and old-Claddagh expert Thomas Holohan comes as Galway City Council is bidding to achieve the City of Culture 2020 award.

Mr Holohan maintains the former Piscatorial School at Claddagh should be developed into a museum of local heritage to recognise Galway’s rich maritime culture.

The Claddagh native is urging Galway City Council to exhaust every effort to purchase the old school, an historic Victorian edifice which educated generations in the maritime village.

He says the development of a museum to give recognition to the seafaring ways of the historic Claddagh Village would provide a major boost to Galway’s City of Culture ambitions.

The Piscatorial School was founded by the Dominican Fathers in 1846, and is now a protected structure listed under The National Inventory Architectural Heritage.

Rev. Dr. Rushe, Prior of St. Mary’s Church, founded the school to educate the children of the Claddagh in the arts of lace making and net mending. These skills would help them as adults to find employment during the Famine years. Within four years 521 Claddagh children were attending the Piscatorial School.

The School cost £1,200 to build. Boys were taught how to fish and make nets as well as reading and writing, while the girls learned to sew, spin, read and write. However, this novel venture foundered in the course of time. By 1887 it was functioning as an ordinary primary school and in 1892 was being run by the parish.

Mr Holohan, an electoral candidate for Galway West and member of Galway Anti Austerity Alliance, describes the museum proposition as “forward thinking” adding that the move would bring many benefits to the city as well as bringing an historic building back to life.

The three-bay, three-storey building is a landmark on Claddagh Quay. The installation of a Maritime Museum there, he believes, would lend itself to an upsurge in maritime interests, promoting fisheries and local industries.

“A wealth of tradition, historical knowledge and local connections will die with my generation, unless it is protected,” Mr Holohan said. “A museum would serve to enshrine local heritage and culture.”

Mr Holohan pointed out that the earliest historic race of Ireland, ‘The Firbolgs’, settled in Claddagh . Their name derived from a leather bag worn around their waist. The bag contained weapons and gave the appearance of a large belly or ‘bolg’. The availability of freshwater fish, saltwater fish and opportunities for hunting attracted them to the area.

He pointed out that the Claddagh has had an historic role ever since. “The Claddagh was unique – if you went into Claddagh and spoke English, they would not speak a word of English back. In 1905 if you wanted to enter the village, you would have to stand on Wolf Tone Bridge and wait for someone to ask you your business,” he says.

He says his museum proposal would also serve to protect traditional ‘foclóir’ and ‘piseogs’. Superstition at sea is almost obligatory. Sailors traditionally abide by rituals, rules and old ‘piseogs’ in hopes of keeping safe at sea.

During WWI (1914-1918) Claddagh contributed significantly, deploying more soldiers per capita “than any other village domicile in Europe,” according to the Claddagh native.

He recounts a story told by his late grandmother. Before being deployed for services during WWI, two naval soldiers arrived at her door, seeking the ‘cradle caps’ (scab-like scales on a baby’s head) of her new born twins. Superstitions believed it to be good luck. The woman obliged and handed over the ‘cradle caps’. Later her twins died, and she never forgave herself for handing their caps over to the soldiers. Piseogs were taken very seriously.

His grandmother, Annie O’Toole, features in an Albert Kahn project on display in Galway Museum – one of the first colour photographs ever taken in Ireland. The photograph was developed by renowned French photographers The Lumière Brothers using a solution of potato starch.

Various maritime antiquities remain in attics all over the Claddagh, including porcelain china, rare books and military paraphernalia, according to Mr. Holohan. “The dresser full of delft was the most precious thing to a Claddagh woman – they had plates from all over the world,” he says.

Mr Holohan says the Piscatorial School would be ideally suited to a maritime museum. He describes the view from the roof of as “just spectacular, offering a panoramic perspective of Galway Bay as well as The Aran Islands”.

Maritime activities are a deep rooted part of the city’s culture, he says, and should be recognised as such.

Connacht Tribune

US basketball champion boasts impeccable Galway roots

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Galway roots...Pat Connaughton.

An Irish American basketball player with impeccable Galway roots helped end a 50-year NBA famine for the Milwaukee Bucks last week.

Boston-born Pat Connaughton, whose grandparents hail from Clostoken, Loughrea, played a pivotal part in his side clinching the NBA championship final series over the Phoenix Suns.

The 6ft 5in shoot guard was involved in all six games of the final series, including the last, which the Bucks won 105-98.

Afterwards, the 28-year-old said: “It’s incredible. The fans supported us through thick and thin. They’ve had our backs. To be able to do it and to win it and to be able to call ourselves World champions in front of our own fans . . . it’s incredible. The city of Milwaukee deserves it and I’m just proud that I could be a part of a team, with my teammates, that gave it to them.”

One of his cousins in Loughrea, Madeleine Connaughton, told the Connacht Tribune that his relations in Galway were incredibly proud of his achievement.

“It’s absolutely brilliant; he’s a celebrity in our eyes because he has done so well,” said Madeleine.

“It’s brilliant that Pat is flying the flag for us over there. He was the only person to play both professionally, baseball and basketball with Notre Dame. He was as good a baseball player as basketball and had to choose.”

Madeleine joked that there ‘is a clatter of us’ in Loughrea related to Pat Connaughton, including the Connaughtons, Tierneys, Keanes and Burkes.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway duo make sporting history as out first Olympic medallists

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Ireland rowers (from left) Aifric Keogh from Furbo, Eimear Lambe from Dublin, Fiona Murtagh from Moycullen and Emily Hegarty from Cork celebrate on the podium with their Olympic bronze medals after the Women's Four final at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The motto of the Ireland Women’s Coxless Four team, which includes Galway’s first ever Olympic medallists, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh, has been drilled into them by coach Giuseppe De Vita: ‘Winter miles makes Summer smiles.’

At twenty-three minutes past two on Wednesday morning Irish time, during the Tokyo Olympic medal presentation ceremony at a windswept Sea Forest Waterway, the rowing quartet’s smiles beamed from ear-to-ear.

It was a testament to the hard graft they’ve put into the sport over many years, especially the past 18 months, and the last eight weeks in particular in the build-up to the biggest six minutes of their careers to date.

Keogh (29) from Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, Fiona Murtagh (26) from Gortachalla in Moycullen, and Eimear Lambe and Emily Hegarty were well entitled to smile after a remarkable rowing performance that earned them bronze medals in the Women’s Fours Final.

As they presented each other with their medals, in keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, and waved their bouquets into the air, back home, their smiles lit up the television and computer screens in living rooms of their family, friends and new legion of fans throughout the land.

It was a history-making feat – Galway’s first Olympic medallists, Ireland’s first women rowers to win Olympic medals, and the nation’s first at Tokyo 2020.

Both women were ecstatic afterwards as they spoke with the Connacht Tribune via Zoom from the media centre in the Olympic Village.

Read the full interview with Galway’s Olympic heroes in today’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie   

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Connacht Tribune

Olympic dream comes true for Galway sprinting star

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Cillín Greene's parents Sinead and Cole and sisters Iarlaith (left) and Miriam above the Olympic flag on the Nine Arches in Claregalway. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It was March, 2019 when the Olympic dream of Cillín Greene went up in smoke – or so everyone thought.

On day one of the European Indoor championships in Glasgow, the Claregalway sprinter was progressing nicely in a 400m heat.

He was in lane two, minding his own business, when, all of a sudden, he was ‘bounced’ by a Polish competitor on his inside.

Cillín steadied himself after the collision but was unable to react quick enough to hop over a Czech runner who tumbled in front of him. Both hit the deck. Bad enough that his race was run; worse again, afterwards it emerged he’d sustained a serious injury.

“He was knocked on the track and broke his elbow,” recalled his father, Colman.

“I think it put his whole make-up out of line for a long time. He started pulling hamstrings after that, and things like that. It took a long time to get it right. It’s like a fine-tuned sports car, everything has to be right. Last year, he had a lot of injuries and he wasn’t really going anywhere,” he said.

Glasgow was just over a year out from the Tokyo Olympic Games, and almost certainly wiped his chances of qualification.

But then Covid-19 delayed the Games, giving time to rehab; and the Galway City Harriers clubman worked relentlessly in Lockdown to get back on track.

The result? This Friday, along with another Galway man, Robert McDonnell (19) from Knocknacarra, 23-year-old Cillín Greene will become an Olympian when he competes in the mixed 4x400m relay heat at the Olympic Stadium at 12 noon Irish time.

See the full story – and comprehensive Olympic coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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