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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

Joyce’s Tribune inspiration for Finnegan’s Wake!

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James Joyce's statue in Dublin.

James Joyce copied copiously from the Connacht Tribune when it came to creating his complex novel Finnegans Wake where he intertwined events of the real world and that of his dreams.

He had relatives of his wife Nora send him over copies of the Tribune in 1924, from which he would pour over local news, sports reports, letters to the editor and even advertisements.

An art teacher in Dublin, who has spent 14 years creating illustrations inspired by Finnegans Walk, hopes to create pieces of art specifically highlighting those Galway sections of the novel.

Carole Wade is hoping people here who have anecdotes and connections with Ireland’s most famous author will relay those to her which can then be incorporated into the artwork. It will eventually be donated to the Moore Institute in the University of Galway.

Her sister Dr Frances McCormack in the university’s School of English and Creative Arts has reached out to her fellow academics to collaborate. But her sibling is urging ordinary people to take part.

“I think it’s the most amazing book ever written. Ulysses is about a specific place and time but Finnegan’s Wake is about the history of the world. If you want to know about the Crimean War, every war and every battle in Europe – they’re all mentioned, even the Maamtrasna murders are there,” she enthuses.

Get 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. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Little Blue Hero meets Boys in Green

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Connacht’s Tom Farrell, David Hawkshaw, Niall Murray, Tom Daly, Gavin Thornbury and Jarrad Butler chase after Charlie Quinn during his visit to the Sportsground. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Connacht’s trio of Irish rugby internationals found themselves facing (not quite) the long arm of the law this week when Galway’s newest Garda recruit turned up to join in their training session at the Sportsground.

Charlie Quinn – Garda Number 322 – was in full uniform for the occasion, but that didn’t stop him joining in a Connacht session with captain Jack Carty and, fresh from Ireland’s triumphant Autumn Series, Mack Hansen and Bundee Aki.

The seven-year-old from Creggs is Galway’s latest Little Blue Hero, following his life-changing bone marrow transplant – thanks to a donation from dad Niall, who underwent a pioneering procedure to ensure his platelets were compatible with his young son’s.

Charlie was given a tour of the new Garda Regional Headquarters in Murrough before being ‘blue lighted’ by members of the force to Connacht Rugby to meet his heroes.

And a day later, he still hadn’t come down from the high.

“He’s gone off to school this morning, fully clad from head to toe in his Garda uniform; he’s delighted with himself,” said his mum Cathy.

Niall and Cathy revealed the rollercoaster they’ve been on since Charlie was first diagnosed with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome is a rare genetic immunodeficiency that keeps a child’s immune system from functioning properly.

But thanks to the incredible work carried out at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, he’s now finally back to full health – and flying.

Get 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. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

GAA couple move wedding to give clear run to club semi-final

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Shauna Healy

IN the words of Shakespeare, ‘all’s well that ends well’ . . . and that’s certainly the case for the St. Thomas’ GAA club as a clash has been avoided between their All-Ireland semi-final date with Dunloy of Antrim and the marriage of one of their star players.

Originally, their match with Cúchulainns Dunloy, had been pencilled in for Saturday, December 17 – the same day that key player Darragh Burke was due to tie the knot with Galway’s multiple camogie All-Star winner, Shauna Healy from Ardrahan.

Following St. Thomas’ replay success against Loughrea in the county final on Sunday week last, the five-in-a-row Galway champions knew that they were ‘in a pickle’ with the All-Ireland semi-final fixed for the same weekend as the wedding.

Frantic behind-the-scenes efforts were made to seek a postponement of the match but with the All-Ireland club series on a very tight deadline, there was little room for manoeuvre.

Initially, Croke Park had agreed to switch the match from Saturday week to Sunday week, December 18, but this would have made for a very low-key wedding and reception on the day before at the Meadow Court Hotel, Loughrea.

Luckily though, for Darragh Burke and Shauna Healy, the Meadow Court Hotel had an alternative date available on the following Thursday, December 22, which the couple have now settled on to tie the knot.

Get 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. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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