Samuel Gamble Bayne
Recess to Galway (2) | Start of Section

At Recess we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. W. J. D. Walker, Inspector and Organizer of Industries for the Congested Districts Board. We had a long and interesting reminiscent chat with him regarding other days in Ireland; he is an enthusiast on the subject of helping the poor there to help themselves. The Board has employed experts to teach these people the best way to fish, build boats, breed cattle, till and improve the soil, make lace, weave cloth, manufacture baskets, and do many things of which they have at present but little, if any, knowledge; in fact, they are helped in every possible way by the British government.

Galway was near by, and an agreement was made to join Mr. Walker on one of his tours of inspection to the Aran Islands. So to Galway we went, where we received our first mail since leaving America. After having ascertained that the Seaboard Bank's doors were still open, glanced at the price of "U. S. Fours," and noted the growing strength of the "Hackensack Meadows," we set out to see the town.

Galway is situated on gently rising ground, on the north side and near the head of the bay. The greater portion of the town is built upon a tongue of land bounded on the east by Lough Athalia, an arm of the sea, and on the west by the river which forms the outlet of Lough Corrib. The other and smaller part is on the opposite bank of the river and in the district known as Iar-Connaught, the connection being maintained by one wooden and two stone bridges. The West Bridge is a very ancient structure of the date of 1342, and formerly possessed two tower gateways at the west and centre; these, however, have long since disappeared. The Upper Bridge, leading from the court-house, was erected in 1818.

Under various names a town has been established here from the very earliest times, and Ptolemy mentions a city called Magnata, or Nagnata, which is generally considered to be identical with Galway. This last name is derived, according to some, from a legend to the effect that a woman named Galva was drowned in the river hard by; by others, from the Gallaeci of Spain, with whom the town carried on an extensive trade; and by others, again, from the Gaels, or foreign merchants, by whom it was occupied. Nothing is definitely known of Galway until 1124, when, according to the "Four Masters," a fort was erected there by the Connaught men. This was thrice demolished by the Munster men, and as often rebuilt. In 1226, Richard de Burgo was granted the country of Connaught, and, having crushed the O'Connors, established his power in the West. He took Galway in 1232, enlarged the castle, and made it his residence. From this time Galway became a flourishing English colony. Among the new settlers was a number of families whose descendants are known to this day under the general appellation of "the Tribes of Galway," an expression first invented by Cromwell's forces as a term of reproach against the natives of the town for their singular friendship and attachment to one another during the time of their unparalleled troubles and persecutions, but which the latter afterwards adopted as an honorable mark of distinction between themselves and their cruel oppressors. There were thirteen of these so-called tribes, the descendants of some of which, as Blake, Lynch, Bodkin, Browne, Joyce, Kirwan, Morris, Skerrett, D'Arcy, Ffrench, Martin, may still be found among its citizens, who in those days carefully guarded themselves from any intercourse with the native Irish. In one of the by-laws, of date of 1518, it is enacted "that no man of this towne shall oste or receive into their housses at Christemas, Easter, nor no feaste elles, any of the Burkes, MacWilliams, the Kellies, nor no cepte elles, withoute license of the mayor and councill, on payn to forfeit 5l., that neither O' nor Mac shalle strutte ne swaggere thro' the streetes of Gallway."

The following singular inscription was formerly to be seen over the west gate:

"From the fury of the O'Flaherties Good Lord deliver us."

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On an Irish jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara

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Samuel Gamble Bayne was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, and educated at Queen's University in Belfast. At the age of twenty-five he left for America with a view to making his fortune. He invested in an oil well in Pennsylvania and later founded a bank which subsequently came to be the JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. By the time this book was written he was wealthy enough to be referred to as a billionaire. His account of the tour through the north, west and south of Ireland is a pleasant snapshot of how that part of the country was in the early part of the 20th century. He describes what is to be seen, gives some background history and, through the illustrations especially, provides wonderful glimpses of the area's social history.

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