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Nuns who helped to shape face of Galway

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President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina visited the Presentation Order to mark the 200th anniversary of the orders arrival in Galway city. They are pictured with some of the sisters at the Presentation Convent. Front row: Sisters Angela Murphy, Gertrude Shortall, Columbiere Scully, President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, and Sr. Helen Hyland. Back Row: Sisters Esther Halvey, Bernadette Breathnach, Regina Walsh, Brid Leonard, Kathleen McDonagh, Imelda Walsh, Pauline Morris, Clare Hogan, Anne Fox, Maire McNiallias, Kathleen Fahy and Margarita Ryan. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – Judy Murphy meets members of the Presentation Order which is celebrating 200 years in Galway

Rambling through Galway’s bustling Latin Quarter these days, with its high-end bars and restaurants, where happy tourists rub shoulders with relaxed locals, it’s difficult to imagine the poverty that existed in this area 200 years ago when the Presentation order of nuns established their first Galway convent in Kirwan’s Lane.

Three Presentation Sisters had come from Kilkenny in 1815 at the invitation of the then Warden of Galway, Dr Edmund Ffrench, who pledged a sum of £4,000 towards their maintenance for a six-year term.

The Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary had been set up in Cork 1775 by Nano Nagle to help and educate the poor – forty years later, there was no shortage of poverty in Galway.

The nuns’ first base here was in a private house in Kirwan’s Lane where they began providing education to Galway’s poorest girls. They also set up a Breakfast Institute to help tackle the immediate problem of hunger.

When their Kirwan’s Lane house became too small, they moved to Eyre Square for a couple of years before another house – where they still live – was purchased. The Sisters settled there in 1819. Its address is now Presentation Road, a tribute to nuns and their work, but back then, this was part of the countryside and there was a farm attached to the building.

The house had been built in the mid 1700s and was used first as a Protestant Charter School, then as an infirmary for a military barracks. It had fallen into disrepair and needed restoration but it suited the Sisters’ needs and had room in its grounds for a school.  In 1820 the nuns set up the West of Ireland’s first Presentation Elementary School, to accommodate 500 children. The curriculum included needle work such as Limerick lace, Irish point and crochet, as well as reading, writing and arithmetic.

In the early 1820s a space was built to cater for 30 boarders; these girls attended an industrial school also run by the nuns where they learned to sew and make lace, enhancing their employment prospects.

The tradition of the ‘Breakfast Room’ continued, and thousands of children received their morning meal at the Presentation Convent until 1891. This was a huge safety net in a time of extreme poverty when Social Welfare did not exist and famine was common.

Unlike many of the other religious orders which were tainted by scandals of orphanages and mother-and-baby homes, the Presentation Order has emerged with its reputation untarnished.

“The Presentation Order hasn’t been involved. We were lucky not to have had an orphanage,” says Sr Helen Hyland, who is Community Leader at the City’s Presentation Convent.

Since 189 when it opened, 146 Sisters have passed through that building. And as with every religious order, numbers are declining, something Sr Helen is well aware of. The Laois-born nun taught in Galway during the 1980s before moving to Portlaoise and then Belfast where she was involved in social work. She was then based in Athlone for 10 years, where she worked in the Order’s Provincial Leadership team.

When Sr Helen moved back to Galway six years ago, there were 21 Sisters in the convent. Since then, four have died and two have moved to a nursing home. The average age of those remaining is the mid-70s.

But all have been involved in the celebrations, which have been taking place in their three schools – The Secondary, which is located on the convent grounds; Scoil Chroí Íosa, around the corner, and Scoil Bhríde in Shantalla.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Celebrations to forge new links

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Ester Kiely, Eilís Ní Dhonncha and Gráinne Ní Bhroin from Headford Lace Project at the launch of Corrib Beo’s programme of Heritage Week events, ‘Connecting Corrib Communities’ at Claregalway Castle. Photo: Brian Harding.

Lifestyle – An initiative involving community groups from around the Corrib has been launched for Heritage Week, with events taking place to showcase the area’s many riches, while also creating new connections among organisations. JUDY MURPHY hears from some of the groups involved.

”Ní neart go cur le chéile,” says Eilís Nic Dhonncha of the Headford Lace Project as she quotes the old Irish proverb about strength in togetherness to describe a new initiative which involves 13 communities around the Corrib, lake and river.

Linking Corrib Communities is running as part of Heritage Week and involves people from different communities showcasing their local heritage while also working to develop closer ties with each other.

The initiative, organised by the voluntary umbrella group Corrib Beo, was launched in Claregalway Castle on Tuesday at an event attended by people from all around Lough Corrib, including Fine Gael Senator, Seán Kyne (Moycullen), and Cllr Frank Fahy (Menlo).

But most of all, this was an occasion for people involved in the historic, cultural and leisure life of their local communities, and among the highlights was a demonstration of bobbin lacemaking from members of the Headford Lace Project, in the castle.

The Headford group came into being in 2016 to revive a craft that had been synonymous with the area from the mid-1700s to the early 1900s – census returns from 1911 show it was still alive in that year – but which died out as machines took over the highly-skilled work, practised for so long by local women.

It had almost been forgotten by 2016 when the Headford Lace Project was created as part of the Small Town Big Ideas for Galway 2020. Since then, the group has done extraordinary work to research and revive this unique heritage. So much so that Headford Lace was last year granted UNESCO status, being placed on Ireland’s National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, up there alongside hurling.

Eilís and fellow project member, Ger Henry Hassett explain that people don’t need to be skilled at bobbin-work to get involved in the Headford Lace Project. While it’s a particularly intricate style of lacemaking, many other initiatives have taken place in the town, including one that involved local blacksmiths,  Pat Monaghan and Simon Harte, working with artist Róisín de Butléar to create a sculpture representing the tradition, located in the town’s square. There’s also ongoing research – a huge part of the project.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Vitamin D and good postural balance may help as we age

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Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Having just turned 50 aging is particularly on my mind this month. So two recent studies about aging peaked my interest which are worth sharing. The first is a study from the University of South Australia and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It is based on data from 294,514 participants from the UK Biobank, a biomedical database with half a million British participants.

Scientists found that in some populations, up to 17 per cent of dementia cases could be prevented simply by raising people’s vitamin D in the blood to 50 nmol/L, which is considered to be the normal level.

Dementia affects over 55 million people worldwide and every year 10 million new cases are diagnosed so the implications could be huge.

It is the first time the impact of very low levels of vitamin D are examined on the risks of dementia and stroke by using genetic analyses among a large study population.

There is widespread vitamin D deficiency among people worldwide, even in sunny regions where sun awareness campaigns, indoor living and other factors contribute to the low vitamin D levels,

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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Rev Fr Raymond Watters O.P recites a decade of the rosary as the rain begins to pour down during the Blessing of Galway Bay on August 15, 1882.

1922

Dawn surrender

National troops operating from Galway and Athenry at dawn on Wednesday morning surrounded an area about four miles between Liscananaun village and Aucloggeen, on the eastern side of the Corrib, and after a smart movement captured nineteen irregulars, with their officers, twenty-two service and Mauser rifles, a number of service revolvers and automatics, and considerable quantities of ammunition for bombs.

The National troops were under command of Co-Commandant Austin Brennan, O.C., Galway area, and the various battalion and company officers, and the plan to surround these villages, which lie in a marshy waste between the Curragh Line, or Galway-Headford road, and the main road from Galway to Tuam, was evolved after information had been received that a number of irregulars were quartered there, and were commandeering sheep and foodstuffs from people in surrounding districts.

Slowly and silently, accompanied by a Lancia armoured car on which machine guns were mounted, the National troops moved out from Galway shortly before two a.m. on Wednesday. One column took the Galway to Headford road, the other taking the Tuam road.

The column operating on the Headford road swung to the right beyond the Cregg river, taking the road to Drumgriffin. By dawn they had taken up extended formation in the woods around Cregg Castle, and this formed a trap into which the irregulars were subsequently driven.

Trade unions position

Mr. Cathal O’Shannon, T.D., in his presidential address at the Trade Union Congress on Monday, declare that organised Labour was separate from and independent of any political party, and would take no dictation from any quarter outside its own ranks.

He strongly protested against militarism, from whatever quarter it came, and condemned the political censorship of thought and opinion, the ignoring of laws relating to the custody of prisoners, the existence of a semi-military police force, and the propaganda on both sides.

The present conflict or strife, he declared, was unnecessary and counselled the Irish workers to keep aloof from it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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