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Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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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

Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

Stephen Corrigan

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Demolition work gets underway at 15 Market Street, the home of the Connacht Tribune. In August 1969, work began to overhaul the newspaper's offices and printworks, some 60 years after the Tribune was first published in 1909.

1920

Waking up at last

British Liberalism is at last beginning to wake up to the ghastly failure of English Government in Ireland. Some of its newspapers, notably “The Manchester Guardian”, “The Daily News”, and “The Westminster Gazette” are expressing horror at the deeds that are being done in Ireland in the name of the English People.

We fear that the awakening has come six years late. During the intervening period these organs of opinion have been free to tell the story of a little nation’s travail, to indicate the inevitable tragedy towards which we were drifting, to sound without ceasing the voice of warning.

Mr. George Bernard Shaw has said that you must scream into the ears of an Englishman before he will listen even to the things that concern himself.

In the British Parliament or out of it there were no outstanding figures to reveal the naked truth, and where the truth was told in part, there were few hearts prepared to listen. Moderate Irishmen who wished to secure peace found themselves driven from despair to despair.

Their voice, and the voice of Irish journalists who sought to assist them to find a way to peace, was ignored by a degenerate Ministry, and lost amidst the rumbling militarism in Ireland.

War rumbles on

“Every day brings news of fresh outbreaks, with incendiarism, shootings, and all manner of violence, by the troops in Ireland,” says the “Manchester Guardian” news bulletin.

“It is flat mutiny, whatever the provocation, and so far it has nether been restrained, nor, as far as is known, punished. It is a complete defiance alike of civil and military authority, and amounts in effect to the waging of war on the Irish people. If neither the army chief nor the civil administration can restrain it they proclaim themselves impotent in the face of their own forces, and have virtually abnegated the authority entrusted to them.

“To talk of ‘restoring law and order’ in the presence of facts like these is to trifle with words. There is no effective law and there can be no pretence of order if British troops are permitted to run amok in this way among the inhabitants of a whole town as happened on Wednesday in Galway, or of a village, as happened lately in Tullow.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Stephen Corrigan

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on

St Nicholas' Collegiate Church taken in the early 1900s. While the building remains unchanged today, the area that surrounds it has changed dramatically. The absense of the large tree that now fills the foreground of the church is also notable.

1920

A shoneen town

Strong comments on the apathy of Galway to the Gaelic revival movement were made by the Rev. M. Griffin, C.C., St. Joseph’s, at a meeting of the Galway branch of the Gaelic League in the Town Hall on Friday night.

The principal business at the meeting was in connection with the securing of sufficient funds to repair the premises in Market-st., recently acquired by the branch at a cost of £175, for the purpose of turning them into a suitable hall.

Father Griffin, who presided, said it would cost £600 to repair the place thoroughly. They had got the house at a cheap price, and they had been offered £300 for it, but they were not going to sell it.

They wanted to make a decent Gaelic League hall of it, and they were now going to put it up to the people of Galway and ask them would they subscribe for that purpose.

They expected that everyone interested in the Gaelic movement would help them to get that £600. Those who had money should subscribe, and those who had not money should work towards getting some for them.

When they had the hall fixed up, they would hold classes for teaching the language, and ceilidhthe. The big thing was to get the money.

“If we were getting up some Shoneen hall,” continued Father Griffin, “we would get the money easily for it, and our won people would support it, but when you go around collecting for the Gaelic League, if you do not get a slap in the face, you will get something as bad. It is common for some people who talk a lot to do nothing. There is none of that kind with us to-night, thank God, but the likes of them are in it, rather big men who at present are supposed to be favourable to the Irish movement but who do nothing for it and who give it no support. We will put it up those people now.”

Strive for peace

Galway lies this week under the shadow of an appalling and unparalleled tragedy. We are surfeited with stories of horror from all parts of Ireland. They come daily, and sometimes they come in clusters.

But none of them has touched us so nearly as the tragedy at our own doors. Twenty-four hours ago Galway was one of the most peaceable cities in the world. All classes lived in amity and friendship. From Midnight to dawn on Thursday morning all was changed.

The incident at the railway station which resulted in the death of a young citizen and an English policeman was the prelude to a night of horrors before which all decent men must stand appalled.

We have no wish to pile on the agony. We do not think anything can be gained by this. A naked recital of the facts is bad enough in all conscience. In the face of them, every calming influence must come into play, every person who can appeal to men’s hearts and consciences must exercise his or her influence in the direction of peace.

Peace! What a hollow mockery there is in the sound? Yet surely the night of Ireland’s sorrow must lift ere long; and it is the duty of all men with human hearts who claim to guide their actions by justice to hasten the dawn.

At the moment extremists on both sides strive desperately for the mastery over the torn and bleeding body of a distracted land. A powerful Empire looks on cynically, whilst it stifles every effort at statesmanship, bars every road to peace, and relies more and more on naked militarism.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Stephen Corrigan

Published

on

Lining the beach to watch the Currach Races in an Spidéal on June 17, 1973.

1920

War extends to finance

The battle between Ireland and England has extended to finance. We have seen this week the results that are bound to follow the stoppage of grants to the Local Taxation Account in the case of Dublin Corporation.

Local boards throughout over three-fourths of Ireland have replied by refusing to pay further interest or principal on loans. Indeed, the power to control local bodies has altogether passed out of the hands of British Boards in Ireland, as intelligent observers believe forever.

The three hundred and odd officials of the Local Government Board at the Custom House no longer serve any useful purpose in Ireland. Their auditors are not now recognised.

Rates are no longer lodged in the banks, where they would be liable to seizure in certain circumstances; they are held in trust for the various boards. Of the five millions advanced under the Labourers’ (Ireland) Acts for the building of cottages, only three millions have been repaid.

As two millions remain due under this head alone, it is obvious that local boards hold a strong trump card. People are already speculating what is to happen in connection with the annuities under the Land Purchase Acts. The keenest intellects of Sinn Féin have anticipated and provided for every stage in the revolution through which we are passing.

As long as the British Government remains unable to substitute statesmanship for force, Sinn Féin can win over three-fourths of Ireland by passive resistance alone.

Raid on rail stores

Early on Tuesday morning about five tons of hay in bales, which was lying at Galway Railway Station store, awaiting delivery to the Dragoon Guards at Earl’s Island, was taken outside y a number of men and burned.

A railway official named Graham was locked in an adjoining building whilst the raid was in progress. The fire was discovered shortly before 3 a.m. by an urban council watchman, who notified the town steward, but nothing could be done to save any of the hay.

Hay in the railway wagons near the store apparently escaped unnoticed by the raiders, and was carted away by the military on Tuesday. A quantity of barbed wire belonging to the military has also been removed from the station and no trace of it has been found.

The railway station is within sight of the Renmore military barracks which is situated about a quarter of a mile way. Each bale contained one cwt. the precaution of removing the hay from the store was evidently to prevent the risk of any part of the building taking fire.

The hay was evidently sprinkled with paraffin or petrol before being set fire to. Some of the barbed wire was found in a field at the back of the railway station.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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