In the 1600’s trade tokens were given out by the Crown and were used as a royal license to do business. If you were a trades or business merchant, you had to obtain this token. Some had dates on them and some had not. In Galway city and county there were 43 merchants listed in the period 1653-1679. By 1680, many of these tokens were replaced by the halfpenny copper coin.
If you think Saint Patrick’s Brass band seems to have been around forever, you are almost right. It was founded 119 years ago in 1896, in Forster Street by Peter Rabbitte, Michael Spelman, and Paddy Walsh. It was originally a fife and drum band known as St Patrick’s Fife and Drum Band Society.
Thomas Duggan was popularly known as “Baby” because of the contrast to his considerable proportions. He was born in 1899. Although only a boy, he was one of the first to take up arms with Liam Mellows in the lead up to the Rising. When the Rising was quelled, he was arrested with many others and interned at Frongoch. He was kept there until Christmas, when he was released under a general amnesty.
In 1909 Galway was at a low ebb, the population was just over 3,000, the local economy was in poor shape, the canal and the docks were not being well used commercially, the student population of UCG was 131, there was very little manufacturing and local politics was still bedevilled by the Parnell split. There were two local newspapers, The Connacht Champion which actively supported William Smith O’Brien M.P. and often virulently attacked the Irish Parliamentary Party, and The Galway Express which originally supported the conservative unionist viewpoint, but which gradually became more nationalist until their premises were wrecked in 1920 by the Black and Tans.
James Hardiman in his history of Galway mentions a spring well that was reputedly 1,000 years old. He described it as “A Chalybeate spring of the same class as the celebrated Scarborough Waters, outside the East Gate was in great repute here. A spa house has been erected over it by a Mr. Eyre (who sailed with Columbus when America was discovered) and is much frequented”. Hardiman attributed to the tonic qualities of the water the numerous instances of longevity which he observed in the district.
Mícheál was born in Spiddal. He left school when he was 14 and got a job in McCambridge's for 6d a week. Lady Killanin convinced him to go back to school and he became a monitor, went on to training college in Dublin and it was there he became a Nationalist. “I became a member of the IRB towards the end of 1910 when I was teaching in Dublin (from August 1910 to January 1913). Then I came to my native place, teaching in Spiddal for one year and then coming to Furbo”.
Walter Macken’s first published English language play ‘Mungo’s Mansion’ was about people in the tenements of Buttermilk Lane about to be re-housed away out in the country, in the wilds of Shantalla. This was causing great distress to the ‘townies’ who would have to move less than a mile as the crow flies.
There was a ferry service to the Aran Islands in the 1960’S, but the ship could only dock at Inis Mór. In 1969, Colie Hernon wrote a letter to the Irish Times complaining of the inadequate transport facilities to the islands which prompted Hayden Lawford to conduct an aerial survey of Inis Mór. Meanwhile, Ralph Langan whose business was fruit wholesaling in Galway and who had problems shipping fresh fruit to the islands, had also seen Colie’s letter.