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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….

Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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A man lies on a bed of nails at the opening of Galway Shopping Centre, Headford Road, on October 26, 1972

1921

Silence is golden

Leaders on both sides have stated that the best assistance the country can give in the making of peace is to keep silence.

During the past week there has been a great deal of speculation, most of it harmless enough, as, for instance, the enterprising American journalist’s “exclusive” on the first meeting of the British Premier and the President of the Irish Republic; much of it positively mischievous, as the case of the efforts of a certain journal, which has grown hoary in the reputation for throwing in the apple of discord, to anticipate failure in advance.

Our American colleague was on surer and on safer ground when he told of how de Valera and Lloyd George met.

“Mr. Lloyd George,” he cabled, “was sitting at his desk when the Irish President entered. For just a minute these two gazed fixedly at one another. Then the British Premier walked across the intervening space and shook de Valera by the hand. He led him to a seat where they sat side by side. The atmosphere was tense. They faced one another. Then Lloyd George reached down for a box of cigars. But the Irish President is of Spartan mould. He neither permits himself to drink nor smoke. He politely but firmly waved the box away. Mr. Lloyd George, however, selected and lighted a Havana, and as the smoke curled upwards the atmosphere became decidedly easier!”

Good planning

The wise and practical man always lays by a store against the time when supplies will be scarce. One of the most serious effects of the prolonged drought is the scarcity of supplies of fodder for cattle-feeding during the coming winter and spring.

The hay crop is not more than half the average yield. The corn crop is far below normal. Turnips in many districts are a partial failure. We have frequently emphasised the importance of growing catch-crops to supplement other feeding stuffs raised on the farm, but it is only under circumstances such as the present that their utility is brought home to farmers. Owing to the early harvest, a larger area than is usual can and should be put down this season. This would make good, to some extent, at least, the shortage of hay and other feeding-stuffs.

The demonstration plots laid down by the County Committee of Agriculture have shown that catch-crops, such as vetches and rye as well as other mixtures, can be successfully grown in all parts of County Galway.

We would urge on farmers the desirability – nay, the necessity – of procuring seed and making early preparation for the sowing of an increased area of catch-crops this season.

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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Country Living

A weekly peep into wacky and wonderful world of country life

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In the mid-1970s, JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY was a schoolboy with a camera who had an eye for the unusual shots. He took this picture outside McDonagh’s Thatch Bar in Oranmore of a gentleman taking a break from the rigours of life, with the Connacht Tribune poster on the window and also note the weekly Woman’s Choice magazine on the other side. In those days, ‘print was king’.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s most unusual these days in the newspaper game to get anything in the post. Everything pops in on the email  . . . we’re all hopping in and out of Google every few minutes . . . and of course if the mobile is more than a metre away from our person, it’s as if we’re standing naked in a crowded church.

Anyway, last week, a handwritten envelope arrived from the current editor of the Tuam Herald, David Burke, who I soldiered with for a number of years back in the 1980s, which included a copy of an old column I had written for The Herald, back in January of 1984.

The column was called Country Scene and was written under the pen name of Pierce Ploughman, a king of play of words (I think) on a famous late 14th century poem called Piers Plowman and written by a William Langland, dealing with the quest for the true Christian life.

At the time one of the reasons for the pen name was that it would allow me to write a bit more anonymously about some of the characters I’d meet on the highways and byways of country life, but of course after the first column or two, my cover was blown.

One of the jolts we all get from looking back at things from the past is of course that realisation that time seems to have slipped so quickly – almost as in the blink of an eye.

The column David Burke sent to me, and written over 37-years ago, actually jogged a little memory tributary in my brain. I could remember writing it and I could remember the local character it was based on too, thankfully still alive, hale and hearty.

His name in the column was Malachy and like Pierce Ploughman of course it wasn’t his real one and his novelty in his trait of never being quite able to make up his mind about anything. One of Malachy’s dilemmas was summed up in this extract from the Country Scene column of January 7, 1984:

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

Novel book offers solace for persistent pain sufferers

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Dr Monty Lyman

Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

If you are one of the thousands of people who suffer from persistent pain, listen up.  A new book by a junior doctor in the UK promises to offer solace. “Everything we think we know about pain is wrong. By ‘we’, I mean us as a society; I mean most people in and outside the medical establishment. We misunderstand the nature of pain and this misunderstanding is ruining the lives of millions.”

In his second book, The Painful Truth, Dr Monty Lyman, 28, reveals that he has been cured of longstanding and occasionally severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) through hypnotherapy.

“Hypnosis was something I never heard mentioned at medical school and something I previously sneered at, but my own pain relief has been near miraculous.”

Imagining “his bowels changing from rocky rapids to the languid Oxfordshire Thames” had the most powerful effect.

Working in Acute General Medicine at Oxford University Hospitals, he declares that pain is a protector – “this truth is forming the foundation of a pain revolution”. Understanding this ultimately relieves pain.

He recalls the moment when his interest in pain first began. He was playing cricket on a beach when a hook became lodged in his foot.

“But the pain I felt fluctuated wildly, despite the issue in the tissue not changing one bit. The pain began when I saw the offending object protruding from my foot, was diminished by the presence of impressed onlookers, grew worse when I was on my own, and even more so when I visualized the angles needed for the hook’s exit strategy. The seed in my mind grew into a fundamental truth: pain is clearly not a direct measure of injury. Hurt does not equal harm.”

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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