September 2015

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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. (more…)

April 2015

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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. (more…)

February 2015

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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. (more…)

December 2014

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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. (more…)

November 2014

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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. (more…)

October 2014

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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.

September 2014

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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.

April 2014

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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.

March 2014

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Roger Casement & the Irish Language
Prof. Nollaig MacCongáil

Roger CasementSir Roger Casement presents us with one of the most interesting case-studies of the whole range of Irish history at the beginning of the last century. This lecture explored Casement’s introduction to, preoccupation and affinity with, and support for the Irish language and its speakers and promoters from the beginning of the last century until his death.

A native of Derry City, Prof. Mac Congáil received his Ph.D. at Queens University, Belfast in 1974. Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the National University of Ireland in Galway from 1994 to 2000, he has been Registrar and Deputy President since than. He has been author/editor of 23 publications, specializing in the areas of regional literature (especially Donegal), dialectology, modern Irish grammar, translation studies, bibliographical studies, history of Irish newspapers, history of Gaelic Colleges.

Rules of GAHS

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NEW RULES for the G.A.H.S.

At a General Meeting of the Society held at Galway on Monday 14th January 2013, certain alterations were made in the Rules, which are now as recorded below. The purpose of these alterations is to improve the representation of the Society membership on their committee by providing for more regular rotation of committee members and of the executive positions they hold, and to contribute to a regular renewal of the committee on a phased basis such as to ensure adequate continuity of the executive whilst facilitating renewal.



The rules as effective from 2006

The rules as effective from 2013

1 This Society shall be called the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society and/or Cumann Seandálaiochta agus Staire na Gaillimhe. The Society shall be called the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society and/or Cumann Seandálaíochta agus Staire na Gaillimhe.
2 The purpose of the Society shall be the study and investigation of the history, antiquities, and folklore of Connacht with special reference to the county and city of Galway The purpose of the Society is to foster and encourage interest in and appreciation of archaeology, history and folklore, especially those of the west of Ireland and of Galway in particular.  The Society pursues this end by means of lectures, an annual Journal, occasional outings, an interactive website and an occasional newsletter.
3 (a) This Society shall consist of a President, Vice-President, a Treasurer, a Secretary, a Public Relations Officer, and one or more editors of the Society’s publications, of a Committee and of annual members.

 (b) The committee shall consist of the Officers and of not more than eight other members, who are fully paid up members for a period of twelve months.

 (c) The President and the Vice-President shall be elected triennially at an Annual General Meeting of the Society.

 (d) The other Officers and Members of the Committee shall be elected each year at the Annual General Meeting of the Society.

 (e) Any vacancy arising on the Committee by death or resignation of a member may be filled by the co-option of another member of the Society.

 (f) Such persons as the Society may from time to time desire to honour may be elected patrons at the Annual General Meeting.

Membership is open to everyone who subscribes to the aims of the Society and pays the annual subscription fee. The names and addresses of those desiring to become members shall be submitted to the Committee for entry in the roll of the Society.
4 The names of persons desiring to become members of the Society shall be submitted, together with the names of their Proposers and Seconders, to the Committee, and if approved of by them, shall then be elected.

The Society shall consist of:

          – Annual [Ordinary] members of the Society: those members who, having been admitted to the Society, pay the full annual subscription in each year.  Annual members may attend all meetings and functions of the Society. They shall also receive one copy of the Society’s Journal each year it is published, subject only to the proviso that they have paid the full subscription for the year in question.  Annual members may introduce visitors to public meetings of the Society from time to time.

          – Patrons of the Society: such persons as the Committee may from time to time wish to honour may be elected Patrons by vote of the members at the Annual General Meeting, (subject to a maximum roll of 5 Patrons). Patrons shall enjoy all the benefits of ordinary membership, including one copy of the Journal each year, but are not required to pay the annual membership subscription.


(a) The business of the Society shall be conducted by the Officers and Committee.

(b) For ordinary business five members shall constitute a quorum of the Committee.

The business of the Society shall be conducted by a committee elected at the AGM by the ordinary members from among the ordinary fully paid-up members of the Society. The committee shall consist of a President, a vice-President and twelve other members.
6 (a) The fund year shall be the calendar year and subscriptions shall be due during the month of January.  

(b) The annual subscription rate shall be recommended by the committee and approved by vote of the members meeting at an Annual General Meeting or Emergency General Meeting.

Members of the committee shall hold office for three years. One third of the committee (four members) shall retire in rotation every year and be eligible for re-election for a further three year period, except as provided for in the interim temporary arrangements laid out in rule 7.
7 A Journal containing the Society’s transactions with other matters of interest and local notes and queries, shall, subject to Committee approval, be published periodically. Interim temporary arrangements for the election of a new committee.

At the AGM in January 2014 all members of the committee shall retire in the normal way and be eligible for re-election.  The President shall be elected for a term of three years. Four members of the incoming committee shall be elected for a three year period starting in January 2014, and shall be called the class of 2014. The remaining eight persons to be elected shall be elected for a term of one year.  At the AGM in 2015, the eight one-year members shall retire and be eligible for re-election.  Four members shall be elected to the incoming committee for a three year period starting in January 2015, and shall be called the class of 2015. The remaining four persons to be elected shall be elected for a term of one year. At the AGM in 2016, the four one-year members shall retire and be eligible for re-election. The four members to be elected to the incoming committee shall be elected for a three year period starting in January 2016, and shall be called the class of 2016. Thereafter, each class shall retire in annual rotation and each retiring member shall be eligible for re-election for a further three-year term. Any vacancy arising in the committee by death or resignation may be filled by the co-option of another fully paid-up member of the Society. Such co-opted person will be deemed to be a member of the year class of the person whom he/she replaces and shall retire with the class in its rotation.


(a) The Society shall hold an Annual General Meeting in the month of January for the purposes of electing Officers and Committee for the ensuing year, to approve subscription rates, and to report on the business conducted in the preceding year.

(b) The Society shall hold other private and public meetings and functions at such places as the Committee may from time to time decide.

(c) The meetings of the Committee shall be convened by the Secretary as business may arise.

8.         The President shall hold office for three years, after which he/she shall serve, ex officio, as vice-President for a further three years.  On completion of the latter term he/she shall be eligible for re-election as a member of the committee in the normal way. The President shall chair the ordinary meetings of the Society, direct the Committee in the conduct of the Society’s business, call an Annual General Meeting in January of each year and ensure, along with the committee, that the Society functions in accordance with its aims in an orderly, timely and efficient manner.

9 Members may introduce visitors to meetings of the Society, other than the Annual General Meeting, only on such terms as the Committee may determine from time to time. The vice-President shall act in place of the President in the latter’s temporary absence. The committee, as soon after the AGM as convenient, shall elect from among its members persons to act as Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, PRO, Webmaster, Editor and/or such other positions as the Committee shall determine from time to time.
10 No member shall receive the Society’s publication or remain on the roll of members who has not paid a membership subscription for the particular year. A roll of members shall be published triennially. The committee shall conduct all the business of the Society including the holding of meetings (private and public) and other functions, at the times and places determined by the committee.  It shall recommend the membership subscription each year for approval by the members of the Society at the AGM.
11 Any revision of the Rules of the Society be effected as follows:-

Any member who may desire to amend the Rules shall embody the proposed amendment in a written communication to the Secretary.

On receipt of such communication, the Secretary shall as soon as possible convene a meeting of the Committee for the consideration of such amendment. It approved by the Committee such amendment shall be put to the vote at the next Annual General Meeting of the Society; due notice having been given to members. If such amendment be not approved of by the Committee it may, on the motion of its proposer, be placed on the Agenda of the Annual General Meeting of the following year.

The financial year of the Society shall be the calendar year and membership subscriptions shall be due in the month of January.  For insurance and other purposes, the membership roll shall be up-dated in March each year and all subscriptions should be fully paid or standing orders in place, by then.  Persons may, however, join or re-join the Society in any month of the year up to October, on payment of the appropriate annual subscription. 
12 n.a. Meetings of the committee shall be convened by the Secretary as business requires.  Five members shall constitute a quorum for ordinary business. The committee members shall receive agendas and minutes relating to all meetings and proper records shall be maintained of all business carried out.
13 n.a. The Society shall keep confidential the addresses and other information in the membership list, which is intended only for use in Society communications with the members.  The Society shall meet all requirements of Irish data protection legislation.
14 n.a. Any member requesting a change to any of these rules shall communicate such request to the Committee in the form of a proposal. The Committee shall consider every such proposal and, if it is approved by the committee, put it to a vote at the next AGM, due notice having been given to the members in advance.  If the Committee does not approve the proposed change, it may be placed on the agenda of the next AGM on a motion of the proposer.