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The First Dáil
by Dr. Séan O Duibhir

January 2019 marked the centenary of the inaugural meeting of the first Dáil Éireann. Dr. Séan Ó Duibhir, will discuss the practical, and symbolic, features of the Irish State’s ‘foundation moment’. This lecture will also consider aspects often overlooked within popular history: such as the preparations for the Dáil’s first meeting in the Mansion House on 21 January 1919; the nature and importance of the four documents adopted by the (limited number of) delegates present; and the rationale behind the decision to largely model Ireland’s ‘revolutionary’ parliament on that of the ‘old enemy’ at Westminster.

The lecture will take place at the Harbour Hotel, New Docks, Galway on Monday 11th of March at 8pm.Read the rest

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Roscommon Castle, the Otherworld
and the True Cross
Prof. Tadgh O’Keeffe

Roscommon Castle aerial viewRoscommon Castle’s site and situation have long been a puzzle, as they seem somewhat inconsistent with the evidence that the castle was a fortress intended to keep the native Irish at bay. This lecture offers a new perspective on the context of the castle’s construction and suggests that the explanation for its location involves both the Táin Bó Cúailnge and the relic of the True Cross.

Prof. Tadhg O’Keeffe is Head of UCD School of Archaeology. One of Ireland’s best-known medievalists, he has published five books and over 150 papers on aspects of medieval archaeology and history.

Monday 11th February 2019 at 8 pm
Harbour Hotel, New Docks, Galway

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Galway and the Spanish Armada

The first GAHS lecture of 2019 will be given by Peadar O’Dowd who takes a look at the sorry events surrounding the fate of the men and boys of the Spanish Armada in Galway. Around 300 Spanish sailors were murdered by the English authorities and buried in a mass grave at Forthill Cemetery. It is now marked by a plaque unveiled by the Spanish Ambassador to Ireland in 1988 on the 400th anniversary of the atrocity. The lecture will be followed by the society’s Annual General Meeting. The event is free of charge and all are welcome. We hope to see you there.

Extract from Hardiman’s History of Galway.

Memmorial plaque to the murdered Spanish Sailors of the Armada in Forthll Cemetary GAlwayIn order the more effectually to satiate his thirst for their blood, and to seize their rumoured treasures, the lord deputy himself [Sir William Fitz-Williams] made a journey into Connaught, where this sanguinary man arrived in June, 1589, and on the 20th of that month he came to Galway. Sir Murrough O’Flaherty, William Burke, the blind Abbot, and several others of the principal inhabitants of Mayo and Iar Connaught, came in and submitted; but were put under conditions to give hostages, disperse their forces, deliver up all the Spaniards and Portuguese to whom they had given refuge, pay fines, and make amends for all spoils which they had taken. Fitz-Williams, while he remained in town, caused several of the Spaniards, delivered up on this occasion, to be beheaded near St. Augustin’s monastery on the hill, amidst the murmurs and lamentations of the people and, having thus wreaked his vengeance on these unfortunate men, he departed for Dublin.

In all, 12 ships were wrecked on the coast of Connacht and c. 1,100 survivors were put to death.

Monday 14th January 2019 at 8pm
Harbour Hotel, New Docks, Galway

GAHS Annual General Meeting

A number of vacancies have arisen on the committee if you would like to serve on the GAHS committee please send a short email saying that you’d like to put your name forward to We will get back to you with more information.

The AGM will be held directly after the lecture on Monday 14th. All are welcome to attend.… Read the rest

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The World of Constable John Hennigan, Royal Irish Constabulary 1912 - 1922

GAHS member, Hal Hennigan examines the historical role of the Irish police force through the life of one police constable.

In 1912 the average Irish Constable was a generally useful member of society, filling in numerous forms in his role of minor bureaucrat, and pursuing petty criminals. He had little to do with firearms. By 1922 he had become an outcast to many and a friend to few. Those who thought his treatment unjust were generally unwilling to take the risk of saying so. This is the story of how an average country policeman was caught up in the swirl of political movements which led to murderous violence. It looks at the social and political contexts of historical events. Caught between the hammer of IRA violence and the anvil of government obduracy, the regular constables became sacrifices to political expediency. Using the police career of John Hennigan as a framework, this book follows public events in chronological order, against a background of the details of everyday life in the last decade under the Crown. “There were well over 500 police deaths attributable to political violence. For too long the received narrative concerning the Irish police was a one-dimensional caricature. Things were much more complex than that. Hundreds of thousands of people today have connections with the Royal Irish Constabulary. For them, I hope to broaden their understanding of the police force in which their relatives served with pride.” Hal Hennigan is a former history teacher in Dublin, and publican in Sligo. He spent many years in Abu Dhabi as a English teacher, and then as teacher trainer over several continents. Hal now lives as a writer in Galway, Ireland.

Available from Charlie Byrnes Bookshop at the Corn Store, Galway

ISBN: 9781789015256 Price: £15.00… Read the rest

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World War I, its causes re-evaluated
“The Great War was entirely England’s fault”?

The next GAHS talk commemorates the centenary of the end of World War I and will look at the series of events which led to its outbreak. The origins of the war lie far previous to the now traditional explanations which are mainly confined to the 37 days of the July Crisis in 1914. The centenary of the war and related events has attracted much scholarly attention of late which has brought to the public attention that the “official” explanations of the causes of the war bear little resemblance to what actually happened. Some scholars have been particularly brave in challenging the conventional view like British historian Prof Niall Ferguson. The publisher’s summary of his book states, “The Pity of War makes a simple and provocative argument: the human atrocity known as the Great War was entirely England’s fault.” Challenging convention is an endeavour fraught with danger as English historian Dan Snow can attest due to receiving hate mail after arguing that glorifying the “awfulness and tragedy” of WWI belittles the service of every British soldier. There are also serious gaps in the popular literature as the authors of most books on the subject of the World War I, pay little heed to the actual causes of the war beyond the July Crisis and are in a great hurry to jump into a trench and get stuck into battles, tactics and gore.… Read the rest

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Year of O'Flaherty 2018 Bus tourRuaidhri O Flaithbheartaigh and his books.
Prof. Richard Sharpe

“Roderick O’Flaherty, in Irish, Ruaidhri Ó Flaithbheartaigh (1629–1716/18), was an Irish aristocrat whose father Hugh held the castle and manor of Moycullen, Co. Galway. He was an eminent historian and collector of Irish manuscripts and, as author of Ogygia seu rerum hibernicarum chronologia (London 1685), he enjoyed a high reputation for his learning in the profound antiquities of Ireland. For this reason, the great Welsh scholar Edward Lhwyd (1660–1709), when touring Ireland in 1700, visited Ó Flaithbheartaigh at his home in Cois Fhairrge, Co. Galway.… Read the rest

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The ‘auld stock’ take on the ‘strawmen’:
the 1918 General Election and political change in Galway Town

Notice of Elected candidates 1918 General electionThis lecture explores the key political personalities, rivalries and events in Galway Town during the divisive General Election campaign of 1918 which saw Sinn Fein take all four seats in County Galway. The rivalry between the Connacht Tribune’s editor, Tom Kenny, and his republican rival in the Galway Express, George Nichols; the departure of Galway’s outgoing MP, Stephen Gwynn; the Conscription crisis; and the new republican candidates will all be discussed in detail.… Read the rest

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The re-edition of Amhráin agus Dánta Raiftearaí,
Dúghlas de Híde’s celebrated collection of the poems of Anthony Raftery

Mise Raifteirí an File The year 1933 saw the publication of Abhráin agus Dánta an Reachtabhraigh, a collection of the songs and poems of the blind wandering poet Anthony Raftery, a native of Mayo who died near Craughwell, Co. Galway, in 1835.  The book was the work of a remarkable, pioneering Irish scholar and patriot, Douglas Hyde (Dúglas de Híde); five years later, An Craoibhín Aoibhinn (to use the pen-name by which he was widely known) would be chosen as first President of Ireland.  That 1933 book was an expanded and updated version of his bilingual work, Abhráin atá Leagtha ar an Reachtúire; or Songs Ascribed to Raftery, which first appeared in 1903.… Read the rest

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Votes for Women and Political Citizenship: suffrage campaigners in the West of Ireland.

Irish SuffregettesMary Clancy from NUI, Galway examined how local and visiting suffrage organisers worked to claim political power and to define citizenship for women. It drew upon suffrage life-stories– such as that of Mary Donovan O’Sullivan, long-time editor of the journal – arguing that the campaign opened up new spaces for women’s political voices and actions, in Galway and further afield. In so doing, the talk showed how the West of Ireland influenced a social and political question of international significance.

The lecture took lace at the Harbour Hotel, Dock Road, Galway on Monday 10th September 2018 at 8pm.

Note, that all GAHS talks are held on the second Monday of the month during the season.

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Conor McNamara - War and Revolution in the West of Ireland 1913-1922

War and Revolution in the West of Ireland: Galway, 1913–1922


Conor McNamara

March 2018

War and Revolution in the West of Ireland explores the history of the entire revolutionary period in Connaght, with particular focus on the ferment and violence in County Galway. It captures the bewildering strain of these years, the outbreaks of open violence, and the enduring legacies that are felt in the region today.

Ebook available here (£9.99)

Hardback and Paperback

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