Old Galway

"The Long Walk"

18th July 2002

This turn of the century photograph of the Long Walk shows just why it has always been so popular with visual artists. It has so many different elements - the Spanish Arch, buildings of various heights and colours, the river, fishing boats, the beautiful swans etc.

The third house from the right, the tall building, was the birthplace of Peter Yorke, the son of Captain Gregory Yorke and Brigid, whose maiden name was Kelly.

The Yorkes were Dutch back in the 16th century, who spelled their name Jorke, but this changed when they came to Ireland.

Christopher Yorke, Peter's grandfather first came to Galway in the early 19th century.

He built lighthouses and breakwaters in Galway, Aran and Westport for the government. He had six sons, five of whom became sailors and sea - captains. Gregory was one of these. He died in 1864, and his youngest son Peter was born 6 months later, on August 15th, 1864. Peter was educated in Galway, and eventually graduated from St. Jarlath's in Tuam 1882. He went on to Maynooth where he studied for 4 years before being adopted by the Diocese of San Francisco. He was ordained in 1887.

Many believe that the most important person in the history of the Archdiocese of San Francisco was Fr. Peter Yorke. He became the editor of THE MONITOR, an Irish Newspaper, and emerged as a great defender of Catholic interests, publishing a series of exposés on leaders of the anti - Catholic American Protective Association, and engaging in highly published debates. He then became very involved in politics, which put him out of favour with his Archbishop.

In 1901, he placed the Church on the side of labour in a teamsters strike. It was a bloody and brutal struggle, and he attracted crowds of 15,000 to hear him speak. Increasingly the strike became a stand off between Yorke and the Mayor. The strike was eventually settled in a way which pleased neither side, but Yorkes popularity soared.

In 1902, he founded and edited a local Irish newspaper called THE LEADER, which gave him a plat form to discuss his views. He was a leading educator, and an early advocator of liturgical reform. He was also a fierce Irish Nationalist, an outspoken advocate of a free Ireland. He died on Palm Sunday, 1925 and in commemoration of his contributions to the city and the Archdiocese, the day grew to become a major Irish and Labour memorial. He has a street named after him in San Francisco.

These of you out in cyberspace who like to keep in touch with Galway will be glad to know that The RENMORE SEAGULL has gone on line, and can be accessed at http://www.homeweb-ireland.net/community.html

Don't miss the exhibition of photographs by Seán Tomkins in the Galway City Library - superb western landscapes, and equally don't miss Joe O'Shaughessy's show in The Eyre Square Centre, beautifully observed studios. Both highly recommended.

Please forward any queries/comments to oldgalway@kennys.ie

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