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.
Teenager caught with €20,000 worth of cannabis
A teenager was stopped and searched by Gardaí in Eyre Square on Monday evening, and found in possession of an estimated €20,000 worth of cannabis.
Members of the Galway Divisional Drugs Unit stopped the man, aged in his late teens, at around 6pm and searched him under the Misuse of Drugs Act. During the search the man was found in possession of a €20,000 of suspected cannabis herb. The drugs seized will be sent for forensic analysis.
He was arrested and detained at Garda Headquarters in Renmore and was released from custody this morning. A file is now being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Level 5 ‘lockdown’ restrictions from midnight Wednesday
‘Crass stupidity’ to allow Leisureland close
The looming threat of closure for Leisureland after Christmas amounts to “crass stupidity” and requires an urgent commitment for funding from Government, according to a local TD.
Deputy Catherine Connolly told the Galway City Tribune she had raised the issue in the Dáil with the Minister of State for Local Government and he had expressed an openness to meeting with a delegation from City Hall in relation to the City Council-owned facility’s dire financial situation.
“It’s simply not acceptable that a public swimming pool would close when we have the Minister for Finance announcing a budget of €18 billion this week – that’s Monopoly money.
“We have €18 billion to dispense and the challenge is to do that in a way that ensures a basic level of services below which we cannot go, and that requires funding the local authority. The local authority is fundamental in any civilised society, as are the services it provides,” said the Independent Deputy.
Raising the issue in Leinster House, Deputy Connolly said that Leisureland was an excellent public facility that had been open since 1973 and had broke even for the last number of years, but had run into major funding shortfalls as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
“It is a fantastic swimming pool. I must declare a conflict of interest as I use it every weekend, It helps to keep me semi-sane and semi-fit.
“No public swimming pool makes money and few of them break even. This pool needed money due to Covid-19 and the difficulties experienced by every public swimming pool in the country. The management in the City Council said it was not in a position to give it money and that the swimming pool would have to close,” said Deputy Connolly, adding that the decision had been made and staff were informed.
Due to public pressure and resistance from local councillors, the decision was reversed and €207,000 in funding had been provided by the Council Executive.
“However, it pointed out that the money was coming out of next year’s budget, so it could not continue, and it would not be in a position to fund it.
“I do not expect miracles, but I expect commitment from the Minister and the Government that, regardless of what happens, we are not going to close public swimming pools or public libraries. They are essential services,” said Deputy Connolly.
She said €2.5 million in funding had been made available for “swimming pools with public access” in the private sector as part of the Government’s July Stimulus package, but nothing for publicly-owned facilities.
“It is very ironic if we are going to keep private swimming pools open once they have some limited access to the public, while we close down the public swimming pools,” she added.
Responding, Minister Peter Burke said his Department was keeping spending and cash flow at local authorities under constant review and would continue to work with Galway City Council to address issues.
“My Department is engaging with representatives of the local government sector and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the financial challenges facing local authorities as a direct consequence of the pandemic, in terms of additional costs incurred as part of the local government response and decline in local authority income streams.
“I will do my very best with regard to the Deputy’s ask. I would be willing to meet a delegation from the City Council in connection with this issue. However, there are going to be significant asks emanating from this crisis. We are doing our very best to make what we have go as far as it can. It presents a major challenge,” said Minister Burke.