Author: Séan O Duibhir

Some Town Castles of Galway by Patrick Larkin The first GAHS lecture of the new 2019/20 season will take place on Monday 9th September at the Harbour Hotel. In medieval times, the saying that ‘a man’s home is his castle’ was a reasonable reflection of reality. This was entirely apposite in the case of the aristocracy and merchant classes whose warrior culture would identify with the defence possibilities offered by castles as residences. Over time, such castles evolved with changes in culture, and the way they were used changed too. Galway’s town castles were no different, and this illustrated talk will explore the evolution of the town castle as demonstrated in the city of the tribes.   Harbour Hotel, Galway, Monday, September 9th at 8pm.… Read the rest
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A History of Irish Dance by Hubert Jennings A first for GAHS! Despite it being one of the most popular forms of entertainment for many centuries, in our 119 year existence it looks like we have never looked at the history of dancing. Hubert Jennings will guide us on a whistle-stop tour through the ages on the subject of Irish Dance – its changes and development. It will cover the dance masters of the 19th century, their flamboyant demeanour  and modus operandi. The talk will sketch the main social, cultural, economic, religious, political, legal and technological influences brought to bear on the development of our traditional dance and the reciprocal impact on those characteristics of society from the first ceilí in London in 1898 to Riverdance 1994. There will be an outline on traditional dance development in Galway City from the 1930s and some of the main players who promoted this part of our cultural heritage for recreation and competition. The lecture will take place at the Harbour Hotel, New Docks, Galway on Monday 8th of April at 8pm. Admission is free of charge and all are welcome to attend.  … Read the rest
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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’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… Read the rest
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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. In 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… 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… 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… Read the rest
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Ruaidhri 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 This 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 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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