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Keen eye for a deal lets Tommy strike gold



Date Published: 15-Nov-2012

You could say that Tommy Holohan has been a collector since he was a child when he had an impressive coin collection but it was inheriting his grandmother’s belongings that sealed that pastime.

A son of the Claddagh, an area he is immensely proud of, Tommy, a house painter by trade, has in recent years developed that hobby to operate a weekly stall at the Claregalway Indoor Market every Sunday.

He admits he gets a thrill out of buying and selling anything collectable. He enjoys selling a piece to a collector, like himself, as much as he does when he acquires a new item to add to his collection.

He particularly likes rare books, especially first editions and more especially if they have a historical significance.

“I grew up listening to stories told by my grandmother, Annie O’Toole, a strong woman who had six daughters and who delivered me,” says Tommy.

Annie was, like many women at that time in the Claddagh, a fish seller, who kept the whole family together with hard work, a strong faith and a great pride in her heritage.

“I’m only sorry I didn’t listen more, or ask more questions or find out more about our ancestors when I had the chance but you never do at the time and then it’s too late,” he says regretfully.

Annie died in her own bed at home and in early adulthood, Tommy became the guardian of that iron bed, all her furniture, her rosary beads and her cooking utensils.

In fact, Tommy has intended for a long time to put these items and others he has since collected on show at the Galway City Museum. It is certainly on the cards and is just waiting a slot in the museum’s busy schedule.

He is very sorry that the City Council didn’t save a few of the old thatched cottages in the Claddagh that could today showcase how life was in that unique part of the city.

“There was such rich history and heritage there and if it was in any other part of the world, it would have been saved and shown off to visitors.

“I know there were sanitary issues in the area and the Claddagh had to be modernised but it’s an awful shame a part of it wasn’t kept so we could remember it and our children could see how people lived.

“I still think there is an opportunity to provide a heritage museum in the area. I go to museums wherever I go – look at what Mayo has done with the Turlough Museum, where people can see how people lived at the turn of the 19th century.”

Tommy is amazed at what people throw out and he is forever trawling through charity and thrift shops anywhere he goes.

He says on one such excursion he found an original painting by a well-known Galway based artist and paid a mere €15 for it! Tommy has by now developed a keen eye for what is and what is not of value.

He says it is a shame that very few children nowadays collect stamps or coins. He himself has a penchant for English porcelain china, rare books and military paraphernalia.

Being in the business, albeit on a part-time basis and more for passion than profit, Tommy loves sourcing collectables.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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