Previous Lectures

November 2012

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Connemara – Early Monastic Heritage
by Rev. Anthony Previté

The Talk to Galway Archaeological & Historical Society was an illustrated and abridged survey and background of some of the 56 Early Christian Sites that are to be found on our offshore islands, Connemara and the Corrib Country.

Following a varied career in the commercial world Anthony Previté was ordained in 1988 in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, Galway, where he served as curate until his appointment as rector of Clifden, Dean of Tuam and Archdeacon of Tuam. He has his origins across Co Galway from Oughterard to Merlin Park to Ballinsaloe. He has also lived and worked in England, the West Indies and West Germany, but is now retired and lives in Oughterard.

Previous Lectures

October 2012

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The History of St. Mary’s College, Galway
by Peadar O’Dowd

As a contribution to the centenary celebrations of St. Mary’s College, Galway, former past pupil, Peadar O’Dowd, who is editing a history of the college, delivered a lecture entitled, “The History of St. Mary’s College” to the Galway Archaeological & Historical Society on Monday, 8th October. The lecture will covered aspects of St. Mary’s vast contribution to West of Ireland life since its specific foundation as the diocesan college for Galway in 1912.  The lecture will also include a short history of the initial St. Mary’s College, which operated in West House off St. Helen’s Street, Galway, between 1844 and 1849.

Mr. O’Dowd, contributes the heritage column to ‘The Connacht Sentinel’ and is the author of several books on the history of Galway, including his latest volume, ‘The Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora – An Illustrated History”.

Previous Lectures

April 2012

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The History of Galway Docks
by Captain Brian Sheridan

The talk by Captain Brian Sheridan, Harbour Master, described the history of the development of the harbour over time.  It  concentrated on the earlier designs of the various proposals for Galway docks and discuss why these designs were chosen. The same arguments for the provision of proper dockside facilities stand today as they did 100 years ago.  The presentation, in the Harbour Hotel on Monday April 16th also offered an insight into the importance of the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway in raising our awareness of the wealth that lies in our seas and in refocusing our efforts to make maritime Galway a revenue leader for Ireland’s western seaboard.

Previous Lectures

March 2012

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John O’Donovan of Slieverue
by Professor Michael Herity

Professor Herity’s lecture dealt with O’Donovan’s life and achievements, with some reference to Galway.

John O’Donovan (1806-61)
JOHN O’DONOVAN was born in July 1806. A man of rare ability, he travelled in the years 1834 to 1841 as place-names officer of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland in every one of the 32 counties except Antrim, Tyrone and Cork, deciding the standard spelling of the names that would appear on the new six-inch map.  His resultant informal letters are marked by rare insight and brilliant wit and have been described as “a rich source of hints about Irish social and economic problems, cultural and religious preoccupations, departmental and scholarly relationships, the texture of life in town and countryside, and the hazards of travel in the 1830s.”  Plagued by disabling attacks of rheumatic fever all his adult life, he suffered a last attack in December 1861 and quietly breathed his last on December 10th. (more…)

Previous Lectures

January 2012

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Recent Excavations at Claregalway
by Mr. Brian Mac Domhnaill

The talk presented the preliminary results of an archaeological excavation undertaken at Claregalway, Co. Galway, on behalf of the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Galway County Council. The works were undertaken in advance of flood relief works on the River Clare. Finds included worked bone, glass, ceramic roof and floor tile, pottery, and range of metal and stone artefacts. Brian will outline the excavation process and how ongoing specialist input and scientific dating have contributed to post-excavation analysis and reporting. (more…)

Previous Lectures

November 2011

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History of the Diocese of Galway
by Peadar O’Dowd

A Lecture entitled, ‘History of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora’ was delivered by Mr. Peadar O’Dowd to the Galway Archaeological & Historical Society in the Harbour Hotel, Galway on Monday, 14th November, 2011.  The lecture contained some details of the Early Christian Period from Patrician Times with its subsequent emphasis on monastic rather than diocesan authority prior to the Synod of Kells (1152).  The story of subsequent episcopal succession amid the vicissitudes of change from the advent of new religious orders in the aftermath of the Norman invasion, through to the English Reformation and subsequent Penal Times will be discussed. The erection of the wardenship of Galway leading eventually to the initial singular diocese of Galway and its subsequent amalgamation with those of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora will also be covered, as will the formation of the present four deaneries and forty-one parishes (sixteen at present within Galway City) in the modern diocese.  The lecture is based on O’Dowd’s current publication entitled, ‘The Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora – An Illustrated History’ at present being distributed to churches in the diocese.

Mr. O’Dowd is an author of several publications on Galway and the West; is heritage columnist with the Connacht Sentinel; has written many articles on heritage, and has lectured widely in Ireland and overseas.  He has served as president, vice-president, and secretary of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society and is a current committee member.

Previous Lectures

October 2011

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October 2011 West Connacht in the eyes of the Bogs engineers 1809-1813 by Dr. Arnold Horner

In 1809 the British government appointed commissioners to establish information about the bogs of Ireland and to explore the potential of draining and improving them for cultivation. During the next four years the commissioners divided much of Ireland into districts for each of which an engineer produced a report. Although the bogs were the main focus, many of these reports contain much other interesting information about local conditions. Most of the reports are also accompanied by a series of maps, some of which are of great significance because they show areas thirty years before the first Ordnance Survey maps.

This presentation revealed how the western parts of Counties Mayo and Galway were portrayed in the maps and reports of the engineers working for Bogs Commissioners of 1809-13. Four engineers, Richard Griffith, William Bald, J.A. Jones and Alexander Nimmo respectively reported on districts in north-west Mayo, south and east Mayo, the area east of Lough Corrib and in Connemara. Their commentaries, together with the maps provided for each of the districts except Connemara, offer many incidental insights to local life in west Connacht in the early nineteenth century.

The presentation is given by Dr Arnold Horner who teaches geography at University College Dublin. Dr Horner is the author of several articles and book chapters on the bogs commissioners. He has written extensively on many aspects of the geography of Ireland. He has a particular interest in maps and in the history of cartography (map-making) in Ireland. He has written three books on the mapping of Irish counties, the most recent being Mapping Sligo in the early nineteenth century, an introduction to William Larkin’s 1819 map of the county. This book has just been published by Wordwell. 

Previous Lectures

September 2011

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The Rescue of the Passengers
and Crew of the Connaught, Oct 7, 1860”
by Dr. James Mitchell

Dr. Mitchell, a retired lecturer of NUIG, is a patron of the Society and a contributor to its Journal.

The steamship Connaught, flagship of The Galway Line, left its home-port of Galway on Tuesday, September 25, 1860, bound for Boston, with 600 persons on board. Early on Sunday, October 7, with a gale blowing and the sea pouring in through a leak, the ship was found to be on fire. When all hope of survival seemed lost, a brig, the Minnie Schiffer, hove in sight and, having rescued all on board, landed them safely at Boston on Tuesday October 9.

Previous Lectures

March 2011

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The Census of 1911: the Western Dimension
by Dr. Catriona Crowe

The lecture looked at Galway city and county in 1911, with reference to selected census returns and contemporary photographs, dealing with political, social and economic life, sport and culture.

Catriona Crowe is Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland. She is Manager of the Irish Census Online Project, which has placed the 1901 and 1911 censuses online free of charge over the last 4 years. She is an Editor of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, which published its seventh volume, covering the period 1941-45, in November 2010.

She is Vice-President of the Irish Labour History Society, and a former President of the Women’s History Association.  She is Chairperson of the Irish Theatre Institute, which promotes and supports Irish theatre and has created an award-winning website of Irish theatre productions.

Previous Lectures

List of Previous Lectures

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Previous Lecture Series (2017):

January 9th 2017
Family Memories of the Irish Revolution in Galway Town. Peadar O’Dowd

February 13th 2017
Monastic Ireland – A gift of the Nile? Alf Monaghan

March 13th 2017
The Drowned landscape of the Galway Coast. Michael Gibbons

April 10th 2017
Portraits, family and estate papers of the Eyres of Eyreville, Kiltormer, Co. Galway Donal Burke

Previous Lecture Series (2012-2013):

10th September, 2012
The shiring of Elizabethan County Galway.  Dr. Joseph Mannion.
8th October, 2012
History of St Mary’s College, Galway.  Mr. Peadar O’Dowd.
12th November 2012
Connemara – Early Monastic Heritage. Archdeacon Anthony Previté
10th December 2012 
The Medieval Irish Immram and the West of Ireland.  An tOllamh Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha.
14th January 2013
An aerial perspective of some heritage sites in the West of Ireland. Professor Éamon O’Donoghue
11th February 2013
T.J. O’Connell, Galway TD, Labour Party leader and INTO pioneer. Dr. John Cunningham.
11 March 2013
A lost church in East Galway – the Abbey of the Cormicans. Mr. Patrick Larkin.
8 April 2013
The bridges of County Galway. Mr. Paul Duffy.


Previous Lecture Series (2011-2012):

12 September, 2011:

The Rescue of the Passengers and Crew of The Connaught, October 7,1860.   Dr James Mitchell.
10 October, 2011:

West Connacht through the eyes of the bogs engineers, 1809 – 1814.   Dr. Arnold Horner.
14 November, 2011:

History of the Diocese of Galway.   Mr. Peadar O’Dowd.
12 December, 2011:

Medieval Clonfert:The Genesis, Development and Decline of a Gaelic Cathedral Settlement. Dr. Christy Cunniffe.
9 January, 2012:

Recent Excavations at Claregalway. Mr Brian Mac Domhnaill.
13 February, 2012:

The Finances of Grand Juries in Ireland. Dr Aidan Kane.
12 March, 2012:

John O’Donovan of Slieverua and the Galway Ordnance Letters. Prof.Michael Herity.
16 April, 2012:

The History of Galway Docks. Brian Sheridan, Harbour Master.


Previous Lecture Series (2010-2011):

13 September, 2010:

Riaghail S. Clara (Rule of St. Clare) and the early history of the Irish Poor Clares;  Dr. Bernadette Cunningham.


11th October 2010:

Patrick Lyons–Antiquarian Policeman and “Indefatigable Colleague” of Hubert Knox;  Máire Lohan.


8th November 2010:

The Castles of Lough Derg – a pictorial survey; Patrick Larkin.     


13th December 2010:

Unlikely Radicals:  Irish Post-Primary Teachers and the A.S.T.I., 1909-2009; Dr. John Cunningham.


10th January 2011:

Piers and Harbours of County Galway; Prof. Noel Wilkins.


14th February 2011:

Protestant Missions in Connemara, 1846-1937;  Dr. Miriam Moffitt.


14th March 2011:

The Census of 1911: the Western Dimension; Dr. Caitríona Crowe.


11th April 2011:

Prehistoric Astronomy in the West of Ireland;  Mr. Malachy Thompson.


Earlier Lecture Series (2009-2010):

14th September 2009  

Soviet Eyes on Galway, Col. Desmond Travers.


12th October 2009

The Dominican Friary of Athenry in the High-Medieval Period, Dr Jim McKeon.


9th November 2009

The Archaeology of the N6 Ballinasloe to Athlone Road Scheme, Mr. Martin Jones.


14th December 2009

The Shannon Scheme: The Galway Connection, Mr. Paul Duffy.


11th January 2010

Anthony Raftery: His life, Legend and Legacy,Dr. Nollaig Ó Muraíle,


8th February 2010

Whitley Stokes: Rediscovered Leipzig Notebooks,Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín.


8th March 2010

A University in Living Memory, Ms Jackie Uí Chionna.


12th April 2010

The Irish Beekeeping Tradition, Prof. Breandán Ó Cochláin.



Past Lecture Series (2008-2009):

8th September 2008 

English language daily newspapers in 20th Century: boon to or bane of the Irish Language?  Professor Nollaig Mac Congáil.

13th October 2008 

Galway Mechanic’s Institute: Dr. Kieran Byrne.

10th November 2008

The history of the Freemasons in Galway since 1733: Mr. Basil Fenton.

8th December 2008

Unearthing the Ancient CeltsProf. John Waddell.

12th January 2009 

Bridges of Nimmo:  Prof. Noel Wilkins.

9th February 2009 

Do I wake or sleep? The West in contemporary Irish Writing: Dr. John Kenny.

 9 March 2009      

Public Health and living conditions in Connacht, 1850-1922:  Dr. Caitríona Clear. 

20th April 2009    

Dick Dowling – Galway’s Hero of Confederate Texas: Mr. Tim Collins.


Past Lecture Series (2007-2008):

12 November 2007

Irish Surnames and the DNA Question – Mr. Patrick Guinness

10 December 2007

Irish women in the workplace 1880 to date – Ms. Sally Anne Kinehan

14 January 2008

Galway Corporation in the 16 Century  – Mr. Kieran Hoare

11 February 2008

Castles of Corrib Country – Mr. Peadar O’Dowd

10 March 2008

Long-term human impact in Western Ireland: Professor Michael O’Connell

New pollen records from Bogs and lakes

14 April 2008

The Catholics of Galway in 1708 – Dr. James Mitchell

Previous Lecture Details:

14 April 2008

The Catholics of Galway in 1708 – Dr. James Mitchell

In a lecture entitled ‘The Catholics of Galway in 1708’, to be delivered under the auspices of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, at 8.00 p.m. on 14 April in the Harbour Hotel, Dr. James Mitchell will discuss the background to the arrival in Galway in April 1708 of an East India fleet including a vessel, on which “a popish bishop and other Romish clergy” were on board; the identity of the clergy in question; and the degree of communication between them and the laity of the town.  The lecture is free and all are welcome.

10 March 2008

Long-term human impact in western Ireland: new pollen records from bogs and lakes – Professor Michael O’Connell

New information on environmental change in western Ireland will be presented in the course of an illustrated lecture by Professor Michael O’Connell, Department of Botany, N.U.I., Galway. Long-term patterns of change will be reconstructed based on the evidence preserved in peat and lake-sediment cores. Particular attention will be paid to the evidence derived from fossil pollen which enables, not only woodland history, but also the nature and duration of farming economies associated with earlier cultures, and biodiversity and climatic change to be reconstructed in considerable detail. These specialist investigations have been carried out by Professor O’Connell and his research group in the Palaeoenvironmental Research Unit, N.U.I.G., in collaboration with comparable research groups in several countries in Europe and with financial support from EU, national and local sources.

11 February 2008

Castles of Corrib Country – Mr. Peadar O’Dowd

‘Castles of Corrib Country’ is a power-point presentation of the various castles verging Lough Corrib.  While their importance in the Norman settlement and later, will be discussed in general, over twenty structures will be detailed under such headings as Description, Date, Construction Details, Ownership and History/Folklore. Peadar O’Dowd has lectured extensively on the heritage of Galway and has contributed much on his favourite subject in books, articles and through weekly as well as monthly columns in various publications.

Earlier Lecture Details:

March 2007

Published March 1st, 2007

The next lecture of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society will be held on Monday 12th March 2007 in the Harbour Hotel, Dock Road, Galway, at 8pm. Prof. Noel Wilkins will deliver a paper entitled “Alexander Nimmo: A Life”.

Noel Wilkins is recently retired as a Professor of Zoology at NUIG.  He has written extensively on fish and fisheries and lectured all over the world on these topics.  As part of his research on the history of Irish fisheries he became interested in Nimmo, who built many of the original fishery piers around the coasts of Ireland.  He has now completed his study after five years of research in archives and libraries in Ireland and Britain.  His book on the life and works of Nimmo is now being prepared for publication and his talk will be the first presentation of his results.

October 2006 Lecture

Published October 2nd, 2006

The next meeting of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society will take place on Monday 9th October at 8pm and the Harbour Hotel, Dock Road, Galway. The lecture will be given by Dr Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, Department of Archaeology, NUI, Galway, entitled “The Estates of Learned Families”, and will look at the landed estates of Gaelic learned families in counties Clare and Galway in the later middle ages. All are welcome to attend.

September 2006 Lecture

Published September 4th, 2006

The next public lecture of the in the IIB Bank Lecture Series held by the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society will be at 8pm on Monday 11th September 2006 at the Harbour Hotel, the Docks, Galway. The lecture will be by Dr. Bernadette Cunningham and is entitled Illustrating Lordship in 16th Century Connaught: The Seanchas Burcach. All are welcome to attend!

To become a member of the Society, please contact our Secretary Kieran Hoare at


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