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Historic Galway mass rock believed to 350 years old



A national monument that is around 350 years old has been re-discovered in Coolough.

The mass rock, which possibly dates back to 1650, has been located at the end of the cul de sac in Crestwood.

A survey was carried out in 1992, and the information gathered was used by the National Monuments Service to draw maps of where national monuments are located.

The original map placed the mass rock of Coolough in the back garden of a home in Crestwood.

Locals knew that that location was incorrect, however, and the true location of the mass rock was only confirmed this week.

“We are delighted that that the National Monuments Service has confirmed that we have found the mass rock of Coolough. It’s of huge importance,” said historian Damien Quinn.

Mr Quinn is chairperson of Coolough 365: People and Place, a committee established last September to document and protect historical sites in the area.

He said the mass rock was located on the estate of landlord Clan Rickard.

It was in use in Coolough probably between 1650 and 1750 after the Cromwellian campaign and during the Penal Laws in Ireland.

Though they were forbidden by the English, up to 1,300 people would attend ‘secret’ masses at the mass rock, oftentimes at night.

“In 1670, some 190 priests were deported from County Galway alone. They feared a Catholic invasion of Protestant Ireland backed by Rome and Spain. At the same time as they were being deported, more priests were being sent here from Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. The priests back then were what you might call ‘on the runs’,” said Mr Quinn.

He has established that Fr Walter Burke, a Dominican Friar from the Claddagh, celebrated masses at the mass rock for about 20 years during the 1700s.

The rock was the priest’s altar, and he would say mass with his back facing the crowd, explained Mr Quinn.

But it was much more than a place to say mass. “They had hedge schools there as well, marriages and it was a multi-purpose Catholic cultural centre,” he said.

Mr Quinn added: “We’re delighted with the find. This is the second national monument in Crestwood – we also have the Kiln – and that’s quite significant for a place of this size.”

The committee is planning to have the mass rock blessed at a ceremony this August and signs will be erected to note the significance of the mass rock, in English and as Gaeilge.

As well as the mass rock and kiln, the National Monuments Service lists three other historic sites in the area including a ringfort, enclosure and lime and architectural fragments located in Coolough Church

The committee is committed to upgrading the historical pathway that runs through Coolough village, skirts Carraig Bán and Ballinfoile/Crestwood playing pitches, to full national monument status.

As well as Mr Quinn, the committee includes Trudy Fallon (secretary), Irene Hynes (treasurer), Michelle Utley (project manager), Jarlath Kemple (archivist), city councillor Frank Fahy (Irish officer) and Laura Thomas (graphic design).


Drinks set to flow again in two landmark Galway premises



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two popular Galway pubs that had been closed are to be given a new lease of life by an extended family.

The refurbishment of the former Central Bar in Woodquay has been almost completed and new owner Michael Gilmore will open the doors this weekend – just in time for the busy Christmas season.

The pub, in recent years known as The Lough Inn, had closed during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Mr Gilmore is a well-known publican in the city, running the Cellar Bar on Eglinton Street and Seven on Bridge Street. He also has a pub in the heart of Westport called An File.

Earlier this year his two nephews, Mark and Vinny Gilmore, bought Kelehan’s in Bushypark. They are overseeing a major overhaul on the large premises after many years behind closed doors.

Due to setbacks with building supplies, a planned opening by Christmas has now been pushed back until the spring.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune.  You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Warning to parents after Galway homes raided in child sexual abuse material investigation



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A senior Garda, who heads up Galway’s Protective Services unit, has advised parents to ‘tune into’ the daily dangers lurking on the internet in relation to child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Detective Inspector Peter Conlon – who confirmed that four search warrants had been issued to search residences in the city over recent weeks for CSAM – urged all parents and guardians closely monitor their children’s access to the internet.

He told the Galway City Tribune it was critical that parents did not allow their children ‘unfettered access’ to the internet given the prevalence of sexual predators – often from other jurisdictions – who were trawling the net to make contact with children.

“Children may believe that they are making contact with other children but instead it may be adults seeking to establish a relationship with them and to get pictures of them.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

“I would ask all parents to seriously and carefully consider the age at which they should give mobile phones to their children – any such decision needs to be age appropriate and where this happens it needs to be monitored closely by the parents,” said Det Insp Conlon.

He also said that parents and guardians should acquaint themselves, where practical, with the latest technologies which make it possible for them to be linked into their children’s phone or devices to monitor content and contacts at all times.

The searches in the city over the past two weeks resulted in the seizure of laptops and other electronic devices from three residences – they are currently being examined in detail by Garda technical experts at their regional HQ in Renmore. Det Insp Conlon said that while there had been no arrests in the city following the latest searches, the course of their investigations would be determined by the content and material found in the devices seized.

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Just 85 affordable homes to be built in Galway City by 2025



From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  A total of just 85 affordable homes will be built in Galway City during the remainder of the Government’s lifetime, it was revealed during a debate in the Seanad this week.

An animated Senator Ollie Crowe (FF) told Seanad Éireann that there would be “riots on the streets of Galway” at the disappointing news that was imparted to him by a junior minister.

In the Dáil, Junior Housing Minister, Malcolm Noonan, confirmed that it was planned to provide 85 affordable homes as part of a Merlin Woods development between now and 2025.

He understood that there were sites identified for affordable housing schemes in other parts of the city, but no applications had been received for funding.

“Housing delivery in Galway City Council is a matter for Galway City Council and it is down to the local authority to strike the balance in respect of social and affordable housing delivery.

“If the Senator feels that the local authority is not delivering enough in that regard, it is really a matter for them to drive a more ambitious agenda. The Department will not be found wanting in funding schemes,” Minister Noonan added.

But Senator Crowe yesterday told the Galway City Tribune that it was an incredibly disappointing and unacceptable answer that there would only be 85 new builds when it came to affordable homes.

(Image: Minister Malcolm Noonan said the new Merlin Woods development will include 85 affordable homes).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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