Friday, August 9, 2019

“Houses of the Nobility and Gentry”: Big Houses of County Galway Heritage Week Photographic Exhibition 19 – 24 August 2019

Houses of the Nobility and Gentry”: 
Big Houses of County Galway
Heritage Week Photographic Exhibition
19 – 24 August 2019

O’Donoghue Centre, NUI, Galway 



Galway Landed Estates from the Archives
Heritage Week Seminar
24 August 2019, 10.00-13.30
O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI, Galway


10AM: Welcome
10.10-11.15: Researchers’ Panel
Olivia Martin: West of Ireland Landed Estates collections as sources for women’s lives
Joe Murphy: The Redington Papers: Insight into a 19th Clarinbridge estate
Ann O’Riordan: Hearnesbrook House & Estate, Killimor

11.15-11.45 Coffee/Tea

11.45-12.30 Landed Estates resources in practice
Geraldine Curtin: Family History in estate archives:  the Wilson-Lynch Collection
Martin Curley: The Landed Estates database as an educational tool for primary and second-level students
Brigid Clesham: Landed estates collections as evidence for landscape studies, the Plunket estate, Tourmakeady

12.30-13.30 Marie Boran & Brigid Clesham: Landed estates research workshop: Landed Estates database researchers will be on hand to help with queries relating to sourcing material on the history of big houses and landed estates in Ireland.


NUI Galway, Galway County Council Heritage Service and Skehana Heritage Group are collaborating on a photographic showcase on Galway Estates as part of Heritage Week, which takes place from 17 to 25 August.

In 2016 Skehana Heritage Group first began displaying images of some of Galway’s “Big Houses”, the buildings from which landed estates large and small were managed for over 200 years. They were the multi-nationals of their day in providing employment. Sadly, however, their legacy was frequently one of control and which perpetuated an increasingly unsustainable economic model. The estates’ demise principally came about in the first decades of the twentieth century when the government-sponsored Land Acts advanced the money to tenant farmers to purchase their holdings and become owner-occupiers.

It has been estimated that east Galway, in particular, had a larger proportion of such houses, large and small, than any other county in Ireland. The Skehana initiative complements the research conducted at NUI Galway’s Moore Institute in the Irish Landed Estates project which has been in existence since 2007. For more information on the Irish Landed Estates project see

The Heritage Week event will see hundreds of photographic images of these houses - some intact, some ruined, some whose memory only exists on the landscape in the form of a map or drawing from the nineteenth century – on display in banner format in the O’Donoghue Building foyer, from 19 to 24 August. An added attraction will be facsimile copies of leases, maps, memoirs and marriage settlements from the over 20 landed estate archival collections housed in the James Hardiman Library’s Archives and Special Collections.

NUI Galway will also host a half day seminar, Galway Estates from the Archives, on Saturday, 24 August from 9.30am to 1.30pm. The seminar will explore how historians and other researchers employ these documents to tell the stories of their families, local areas, landscapes and communities.

Marie Boran, NUI Galway Special Collections Librarian and Landed Estates researcher, said: “This is the first time the Galway Big Houses banners will be on display in Galway City, though they have been exhibited in various parts of the county. It will be a wonderful opportunity for Galway people and visitors alike to learn more about these buildings which are so central to our past.”

Attendance at the event is free. Details of booking and information are available at:

Friday, March 1, 2019

Maurice Hayes and the GAA

As well as being an outstanding public servant and commentator Maurice Hayes had an abiding interest in Irish culture, the Irish language and the GAA, particularly in relation to his native County Down. The archival collection now with the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway reflects those interests, in particular his abiding interest in County Down. 

As a player he was a hurler with Kilclif, and became the first player outside of the Ards to play on the Down county team. His interest in the GAA continued in Queens and later on his return to Downpatrick as a teacher. This interest in hurling may have been inspired by his father Michael, a native of Kildwan (near Bunmahon) County Waterford, while his mother’s links with her native Listowel probably inspired an interest in football. 

The GAA was the first organisation that Maurice became deeply involved in, and from an early age. He was a County Down delegate at the famous (or infamous) 1947 GAA Congress, which decided to hold the All-Ireland football final in New York that year. Although only a teenager at the time his abilities were noted, and he was Assistant Secretary of the Down County Board by 1950. In his report to the County AGM published in the “Irish Press” on 12 January 1951, he gave details of the new club football league introduced and played in 1950. “Ten teams were selected to take part and special by-laws were drawn up and approved”. He went on to report “there was a full programme of senior football in the county, catering for an average of 150 players each Sunday, either by way of league, championship or county matches”. This was followed by an inter-barony league, introducing players to a high standard of games, as well as better medical care for injured players and the introduction of track-suits to allow substitutes get on the field quickly. 

Becoming Vice-Chairman of the Ulster Council in 1955, Maurice continued with others to support the development of the county team, encouraging players and officials to think big. One of those players, Brian Morgan, was interviewed by Fabian Boyle in 1970 and recalled in impact of Maurice. Brian had come onto the County Team in 1957, along with household names like James McCartan, Paddy Doherty and Tony Hadden, who had been suspended for playing soccer. “The talent was there all right, but it could just as well have been squandered. The pieces did not just fall into place; it took three years of effort, experiment, persistence and organisation to slot the right man into the best position, and produce the magic formula.” 

“Maurice Hayes knew precisely where he was going, and predicted that, if we stayed together and co-operated with the team-management, we would win the Sam Maguire Cup. He had confidence in our ability, and there was mutual respect between him and the players.” 

“We could have got a U.S trip, after winning the All-Ireland title in 1960. But Maurice promised that, if we waited and went on to win in 1961, we would get a holiday that we would never forget. And, true to his word, the Down squad was treated to a six-weeks tour of the U.S.A., with everything laid on. The organisation was superb.”  

Speaking to Declan Bogue in 2017, Maurice gave his opinion on that team.  
"The one thing is that the 1960 team, every one of them was a good citizen afterwards. They made a contribution in one way or another to the society they were in." 

Chris Patten, Lord Patten of Barnes, will officially open the archive of Maurice Hayes at NUI Galway before giving a public lecture entitled, ‘A European identity: some reflections on the career of Maurice Hayes on the opening of his archive at NUI Galway’ on Tuesday, 12 March.