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Paul’s passion for postcards results in a fascinating insight into Galway’s history

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Lifestyle – Judy Murphy meets retired engineer Paul  Duffy who collects postcards from the past

For 35 years, Paul Duffy travelled every highway and byway in Galway as an engineer with the County Council and it was a job he loved.

Now that he’s retired, he is enjoying his other passions of old postcards and history – and has combined those with his engineering knowledge to create a virtual tour of County Galway from times past in a new book entitled Galway: History on a Postcard.

It is a fascinating collection, covering all areas of the county, presented area by area in a highly accessible fashion. Postcards, dating from the late 19th century up to the middle of the 20th century illustrate every page.

Alongside them is a brief, but comprehensive description offering a brilliant insight into life during that time. It was often a dirty, smelly life, but it was one where people used their resources to survive on very little, as Paul points out in his text.

The cards capture towns all over the county – Gort, Loughrea, Ballinasloe, Clifden, Tuam, Athenry and Oughterard, for instance – as well as rural scenes and images from the Aran Islands. It’s no surprise, given his engineering background, that there’s a strong focus on architecture.

 “You can’t take the engineer out of me,” he says with a laugh.

Roscommon-born Paul first developed his passion for postcard collecting while he was a youngster at secondary school in Athlone.

A school friend brought in an old postcard of the midlands town and Paul was intrigued. The friend, whose family had a shop, had about 100 more at home, depicting scenes from all over the West of Ireland and gave them to Paul. His love affair with cards was well on its way.

After graduating in engineering from the then UCG, he worked in Clare and Kerry before eventually moving to Galway where and his Clare-born wife, Mary settled.

As an engineer with Galway County Council he was involved with the rural water supply for years, and later worked in water quality management for the entire Corrib Navigation System, finally moving to roads, so his knowledge of the county is second to none.

Paul has long had a keen interest in architectural history and regularly gave talks to the Old Galway Society on buildings in the city and county. When people attending his talks realised he collected postcards, they gifted him their old images until he eventually had 3,5000 photos of Galway County. He has a separate collection relating to the City, which will be the subject of a second book, he explains.

Postcards were first produced in the late 19th century and quickly became collectors’ items, so Paul is following in a well-established tradition. Collecting and analysing these old cards can yield a great deal of information about a town, he says, especially if have some that are taken several years apart, and put them down side by side.

“Sometimes you suddenly see a real change, and where you really see it is in the streetscape of Clifden between postcards from the 1890s and ones taken just after the railways arrived in 1910.”

As Paul points out in the book’s introduction, several local companies produced postcards of Galway, but many were also produced abroad. He points to two photos of Gort from the early 1900s – in one card, printed in Germany the street is pristine, while the other, produced in Galway, shows a more realistic depiction of life, with cow dung visible on the street.

When you examine the pictures closely, there is plenty of evidence to show some were doctored, he says. One of the hotel in Leenane, dating from the turn of the 20th century depicts the sea and mountains as they really were. The same photo has been enhanced for another card, with extra mountain peaks being added, while the tide is in and there are boats on the water that were not in the original.

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

Connacht Tribune

Tragic killing of Irish hero

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The wedding of Paddy O’Donohue and Violet Gore, in June 1919. Michael Collins was best man and Mary Healy was bridesmaid. Jack Buckley, a relation of the Whelan family in Shanaglish, is on the ground second from left. A relative of his gave a copy of this photo to Fr Patrick Whelan of St Patrick’s Parish in the city. Mary Healy was also related to the Whelans. The photograph is unusual as Collins is looking directly at the camera; something he avoided during the War of Independence.

Lifestyle – An unusual photo of Michael Collins, taken at a wedding during the War of Independence has strong Galway links. He’s looking straight at the camera, something he rarely did at a time when the British had a price on his head. However, it was his own people who killed Collins, 100 years    ago this month, as historian WILLIAM HENRY recalls.

A photo of Michael Collins, found 90 years after he was killed in an ambush at Béal na Bláth during the Irish Civil War, has family links with Galway.

It’s the wedding photograph of Paddy O’Donohue and Violet Gore who were married in June 1919, with the reception held in the Shelbourne Hotel. Collins was the best man and Mary Healy was bridesmaid.

The young man sitting on the ground second from the right is Jack Buckley. He and Mary Healy were cousins of the  Whelan family from Shanaglish, who have had  pub in south Galway for generations. Well-known city chemist Michael Whelan and PP of St Patrick’s Church in Galway City, Fr Pat Whelan, are members of that family and Fr Whelan was given a copy of the photo by a descendent of Jack Buckley.

The original photo was discovered by writer and broadcaster Dave Kenny in the attic of his Dublin home; it had been gifted to his grandparents by the newly-married couple, who were friends and fellow nationalists.

Violet Gore, a singer, had helped raise funds for the Irish cause through concerts in Ireland and England while Paddy O’Donohue, had been a leading IRA activist in Manchester and was a key figure in Collins’ network. The photograph is unusual because Collins is looking directly at the camera. That’s something  he avoided doing during the War of Independence, as he was a marked man with a bounty on his head.

According to Fr Whelan, the photograph was hung on a wall in the family home after the wedding and although house was raided, the Black and Tans didn’t realise that Ireland’s most wanted man was watching them.

Just a couple of years later, on August 22, 1922, during the Irish Civil War, Michael Collins was killed by his own countrymen in an ambush at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, the county in which he had been born on October 16,1890. He was 31 years old when he died.

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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Connacht Tribune

Greening up the office can aid productivity

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Certain plants are better than others to pick for the office.

Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

I recall when a closely located colleague left our office, she took with her a lovely plant that had been a gift from her late father.  As well as lamenting the loss of a dear workmate, I missed that plant in my sightline for ages.  It was the only bit of greenery on our side of the office that looked out over high grey buildings.

I attempted to grow a plant or two on my desk over the years but nothing lasted. I don’t know was it the aircon in the summer and heat in the winter, but I managed to kill everything green with life.

While working at my kitchen table, I look out over the ivy-clad back shed and a few plants on the patio. From the kitchen window my eyes are drawn to several cherry blossom estates growing sideways in the green as I search for inspiration.

So it was with interest that I read about a new study into biophilic office design, or the act of bringing the outdoors into the work environment to the non-initiated.

Cacti, air plants, succulents and spider plants may be popular ways to brighten up desks and create a greener office space, but there are even more benefits to having plants in the office.

A survey on the topic revealed that plants in the office increase productivity by 15%. When considering air quality, workplace satisfaction and productivity in ‘lean’ offices versus ‘green’ ones, quality of life and productivity increased across the board.

Some 70% of people surveyed said plants helped improve the atmosphere at home and in the office, while 31% said greenery and plants helped them concentrate while working.

We know many people take to gardening to combat stress, so a green workspace can have a similar impact. The study concluded that plants in your home or office can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

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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Attendees at the Blessing of Galway Bay on August 15, 1982.

1922

A leader lost

“I have the greatest hope in the Irish people. But what we have got to learn in our public life is the merit of following the unpopular path. We have plenty of physical courage. Moral courage is what we need – and above all, we must develop.”

These words were spoken by President Griffith a few weeks before his death. They were words of inspiration, hope, instruction. They revealed the optimism that carried the man through the gloom of dark years, the discouragements of dangerous days and nights, until at last his bold spirit cleft the clouds, and showed the Irish people light.

They displace as in a flash that optimism that bore him through to triumph, that spirit that inspired all his acts, that courage that held him in the fairway when others wandered into by-paths, and the constructive genius that, had he lived, would have seen an Ireland even in his own day that could stand four-square every wind that blew.

O’Connell has been described as the Irish Liberator, the great tribune of his people. Griffith laid well and truly the foundations of a movement which won a greater triumph than O’Connell.

Local enterprise

Through the commendable enterprise of Mrs. Payne, Cross-street, the people of Athenry are at last provided with an amusement hall in which they can pass away many a pleasant evening.

The hall, the building of which has been recently completed, is a commodious one and can accommodate quite a considerable number. Already a well-known theatrical company has had an engagement at the new hall when there was a magnificent attendance each night – the entertainment being the right thing in the right place.

In a few weeks’ time this company will return with a greatly enlarged array of artistes, when the townspeople will be treated to something they will not forget.

Practice dances will be held on Sunday evenings, and there is a suggestion to secure the services of a qualified teacher of Irish dances to bring up the rising generation with a knowledge of Irish step-dancing.

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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