Category: Previous Lectures

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Managing the Windsor of Ireland:
Galway’s town council 1603 to 1653
by Dr. Bríd McGrath

Galway was a very wealthy town in the early 17th century; this paper explores the membership of Galway’s town council, the men who controlled and managed the city in the first half of the 17th. century.  This talk looks at who were the members, how many of them came from which of Galway’s famous tribes, how did they deal with the pressure to appoint protestant mayors and bailiffs, what do we know about these men and their wealth and their role within and outside the city.  The talk is based on Galway’s famous Liber A, the corporation records [see it online] and other material from archives in Ireland and some recently discovered letters from the famous Galway lawyer Patrick Darcy now held in the Huntington Library, California.… Read the rest

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Mayo Archaeology
by Bernard O’Hara

County Mayo has a rich and varied archaeological heritage. To date, over 8,500 monuments for the county have been recorded under 181 classifications on the national Site and Monuments Record database. These monuments represent all eras from the late Mesolithic period to recent times. This illustrated lecture presented examples of the main monument types reflecting change over 6,000 years of human settlement.… Read the rest

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Some Elizabethan sheriffs of County Galway
by Dr. Joe Mannion

The province of Connacht was shired early in 1569, in preparation for the establishment of the provincial presidency later that year. The newly erected county of Galway comprised the territories over which the second earl of Clanrickard exercised some degree of control, nominal or otherwise, and its first sheriff belonged to a collateral branch of the Clanrickard Burke family. The significance of this appointment in Lord Deputy Sir Henry Sidney’s overall plans to anglicise the western region will be explored in this lecture in the first instance, as will its ultimate responsibility for the initial failure of the presidency. A subsequent change in viceregal policy saw the appointment of outsiders to the shrievalty of County Galway, many of whom apparently abused the position for their own material gain. But they were not alone in doing this, as one of the most notorious sheriffs of the embryonic shire was a native of the town of Galway, who predictably belonged to one of the celebrated fourteen ‘tribes’. The primary sources have not yielded a complete list of the sheriffs who served in the county under Elizabeth, but an assessment of the personalities and tenures of those on record broadens our understanding of the many new challenges faced by the Gaelic Irish of the region during the later Tudor period.… Read the rest

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The Ballinlass evictions, 1846 –

On Friday 13 March 1846, the sub sheriff of Co Galway accompanied by a large force of police constables and a detachment of military, approached the townland of Ballinlass, a townland of some 300 statute acres, situated some two miles to the north east of Mountbellew in Co Galway. The townland was in the ownership of John Netterville Gerrard and his wife Marcella, of Gibbstown House, Navan, Co Meath. The sub sheriff called upon the tenants to render possession ‘and forthwith the bailiffs of Mrs Gerrard commenced the work of demolition’. The evictions were a civil matter – a dispute between landlord and tenants. The presence of such a large contingent of police and military was there in anticipation of a breach of the peace. Possibly because of such a presence, the onlookers and tenants were intimidated and the 61 families, a total of 270 people, were evicted and their homes demolished.… Read the rest

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The Benevolence of a Quaker:
James Hack Tuke and the West of Ireland’

When James Hack Tuke arrived in Ireland in 1846, aged 26 years, with his fellow Quakers, William E. Forster and his father, to provide relief during the Great Famine it marked the start of a close relationship with the West of Ireland which continued for the rest of the century. Tuke displayed both sympathy and empathy for the poor of Connacht and in his pamphlet, A Visit to Connacht in the Autumn of 1847 he condemned the relief operations of the government and the landlords which brought him into conflict with the leadership of the Society of Friends Central relief Committee. In February 1880 Tuke returned to Ireland during the ‘Forgotten Famine’ of 1879-81’ and touring Donegal and the West of Ireland during the Spring of 1880 was convinced that no improvement had taken place in the intervening period, and poverty and destitution would remain a permanent feature in their lives because of over population and the unviable nature of their holdings. In 1881 he advocated that families be assisted to North America and in 1882 the Tuke Fund was established which sent over 9,500 persons from Connemara and Mayo to Canada and the United States over the following three years, the fares being paid by the British government and the Tuke Committee. In this three year period 15% of the population of Connemara and 14% of Belmullet was assisted. Tuke saw emigration as only a part remedy of the West of Ireland and the economic development of the region also needed to be addressed. While the assisted emigration schemes came to abrupt end in 1884 because of opposition from the Catholic bishops, Parnell and the Irish Parliamentary Party and local shopkeepers Tuke continued to work to improve the position of the people of the west and was instrumental in the establishment of the Congested Districts Board in 1891. His involvement in Connacht was because of his philanthropy and sympathy with the poor, but yet he has been largely written out of history.… Read the rest

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The O’Kellys of Hy Many, 1541-1601:
English Expansion in a Gaelic Lordship
by Dr. Joe Mannion

This lecture charted the advance of anglicisation in the South Connacht lordship of Hy Many in mid-to-late Tudor times. Beginning with the Butler-O’Kelly agreement of 1541 relating to the medieval manor of Aughrim in East Galway, the speaker will outline the major political developments of this crucial period in Irish history, and the strategic response of the leading O’Kelly lords to the determined extension of Tudor rule into their hitherto autonomous lordship. This involved some five decades of collaboration and cooperation with the government officials of the day; however, the ever-increasing demands of the crown and the ultimate failure of some segments of the clan to adapt to the alien English governmental structures led to discontentment and revolt in some parts of Hy Many as the sixteenth century drew to a close. An overview of O’Kelly involvement in the Nine Years War and the momentous battle of Kinsale in 1601 will conclude the presentation.… Read the rest

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Captain George O’Malley 1786-1860:
his manuscript narrative and Smuggling career analysed.

This lecture was delivered on Monday, 10 November 2011 by Prof. Louis Cullen gave a talk on

Captain George O’Malley- is known in folklore for several poems attributed to him. He grew up in Ballinakill, co. Galway, where his father Patt was a small smuggling master in the 1790s and early years of the nineteenth century. As was the case for many other smugglers the island of Guernsey was his source of supply. It was finally closed to smugglers in 1805 and 1807 by British legislation. That explains why he exited the trade and moved to Clare Island. It also explains why his son inherited no business and from 1808 to 1818 his career was abroad as mariner and adventurer. He returned to Mayo in 1818. Apart from growing up in a smuggling milieu he had had no direct involvement in smuggling. In a boom in tobacco smuggling post 1815 he became involved as a master of large craft maintained by smuggling houses in Flushing in the Low Countries. The businessmen were English, the crews also but, because of the need of local knowledge, the captains were Irish. This boom was halted by the advent of the Coast Guard a paramilitary force which made its appearance in the west in 1821; He made his peace with the authorities in 1828.… Read the rest

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A Lost Hanoverian Fort on the Gaelic Frontier
– Oughterard Barracks in context
by Mr. Michael Gibbons

“The whole tract of land is inhabited by the antient Irish, and has never yet been made amenable to the laws. No sheriff dares go thither to execute any process, but I believe they now soon will be reduced.” – Lord Chief Baron Edward Willes on Eyre Connaught  – 1761.

Research into the survival of Gaelic elite culture in Connemara following the supposed downfall of Gaelic Ireland in the 17th century has revealed that the old Gaelic aristocracy retained much of their previous authority and even some of their military strength into the 1750s.

During this period Gaelic rulers continued to control many of the areas from which they had supposedly been displaced, the Royal Navy proved largely powerless to prevent smuggling and the O’Flaherties were strong enough to defy the law and drive out the latest wave of imported tenants. The supposedly 19th century barracks at Oughterard was in fact an 18th century Hanoverian Barracks, built in the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellions in Scotland. In combination with the newly constructed military road from Galway the fort/barracks played a major role in what could be described as the last military campaign against the old Gaelic order.

Michael Gibbons is a member of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland and is one of Ireland’s leading field archaeologists. He has a broad range of managerial, field and publishing experience. He has lectured extensively at home and abroad.
A former co-director of the Sites and Monuments Record of the office of Public Works, he has recently completed a preliminary survey of the intertidal zone archaeology of the Galway and south Mayo coastline which has identified hundreds of new sites ranging in date from the Mesolithic to the nineteenth century.


Harbour Hotel, Dock Road, Galway
Monday, 13 October 2014 @ 8pm.… Read the rest

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Some early 19th century cross carvings in Galway
Peadar O’Dowd

The illustrated lecture will study these enigmatic carvings centered mainly on the date 1816, in the context of the times when Catholic Emancipation was very much to the fore in the minds of Galway City dwellers.  Variations, dates, present-day locations and purpose of these early 19th century public manifestations of a religious context will be discussed.

O’Dowd, a former President and now a Patron of the society, has lectured widely at home and abroad on heritage matters pertaining to the West of Ireland.  He has also written many volumes on his favourite place, including “Tracing Your Galway Ancestors”, which was published in 2010.… Read the rest

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Mapping the West of Ireland. –
Perspectives from Regional and European Cartographic History.
By Dr. Nessa ni Chroinín

This lecture explored the cartographic history of different mapping endeavours associated with the West of Ireland. It traced a cartographic timeline of how the face of the Irish map changed with developments in Irish, British and European cartographic techniques and technologies over the course of four centuries. This is particularly exemplified through the visual rendition of the west and north-west of Ireland, from the renaissance maps of Mercator to the present-day Ordnance Survey. The final section of the lecture focused on local and regional community mapping projects that are changing the way we perceive and think of maps and imagined geographies in the 21st century, and considered the implications such mapping projects have for community groups, heritage projects and placename surveys across Ireland today.

Dr Nessa Cronin is Lecturer in Irish Studies and Director of the MA in Irish Studies, Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway. She read English and Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin (1998) and received an MA in Continental Philosophy and Literature from Warwick University (2000). She was the recipient of an IRCHSS Postgraduate Scholarship, an Arts Faculty Fellowship, and a Notre-Dame Summer School Fellowship for her doctoral research on Irish cartographic history at NUI Galway. She has subsequently been awarded fellowships and two research awards by the IRCHSS (2007, 2011), European Science Foundation (2008) and Culture Ireland (2008) for her work in Irish Place Studies. She is the author of several articles on various aspects of Irish historical geography and literary geographies. She is also co-editor with Seán Crosson and John Eastlake of Anáil an Bhéil Bheo: Orality and Modern Irish Culture (2009)

Her current work on Irish Literary Geographies and community mapping practices has involved the development of the interdisciplinary Irish Place Studies network, Ómós Áite at NUI Galway with Dr Tim Collins. She is also the Irish co-convenor of the Mapping Spectral Traces international network, working in association with Dr Karen E. Till (Geography, NUI Maynooth). She will be a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University and the Université de Nantes in 2015.… Read the rest

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