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Archive News

Thousands turn out for Titanic auction



Date Published: 08-May-2013

 ABOUT 10,000 people passed through the gates of Costello Lodge in Connemara at the weekend to view the contents which

fetched a six figure sum at auction on Monday.

Niall Dolan of Dolan’s Art Auction put hundreds of items under the hammer in what he described as “a marathon event”.

There was phenomenal interest in the auction because of the history of the 10,000 sq ft house where the disgraced Joseph Bruce Ismay lived in semi-recluse fashion after the sinking of the Titanic.

Mr Ismay was a director of the White Star Line which owned the Titanic and is believed to have dressed as a woman to get off the sinking ship on that ill-fated night.

After he died in 1937, his wife continued to live there until her death and the house was then bought by a Dublin couple, Jack and Agnes Toohey, who made their money in clothing and who were great art collectors.

On Monday more than 3,000 people attended the auction and in fact the side flaps of the marquee had to be pulled up so that the overflow of people could hear the auction.

Mr Dolan kept the momentum going from 12 noon until after 9pm that night never once taking a break. Yesterday, he admitted that it had been his longest lasting auction to date beating a six hour one a few years ago.

“We expected great interest in the house and its contents but it far exceeded our expectations. There were people here all weekend from all counties in Ireland.

“Of course the Edward Luteyns designed house did bring a lot of people through the house over the weekend but it also raised a lot of interest in the auction,” he said.

Though there were some Titanic memorabilia from the Ismay family days (a White Star linen embossed table cloth fetched €800), most of the contents were furniture, art and cars belonging to the Tooheys and were being sold by their executors.

The auction kicked off with the sale of three cars, including a 1985 Mercedes Benz 500 which fetched €5,000 and a BMW 321 convertible got €2,300.

Everything that moved was sold and people were still collecting their purchases on Tuesday, which now leaves the house empty for sale at the end of the month.

Other items sold on the day were two fur coats. The full length one fetched €1,900, two wheelbarrows for €230, a ride-on mower for €1,200 and art work (particularly Kenneth Webb paintings) for €7,000 a piece.

There was garden furniture which included lime troughs for €1,000, a courtyard fountain for €1,400, a sundial for €1,800 and bird houses for €90.

There were full dinner services with 250 pieces including coffee pots and china tea sets. It is not often the full contents of a house go on sale, and especially in this case in a house that had such a notorious history in its early years.

It was built as a fishing lodge as the fishing rights were privately owned and barred to locals. It was burned to the ground by the IRA before the Ismay family came to live there after extending it into the existing building.

There was much local curiosity about the house down through the years. That curiosity was sated from last Friday when the house was opened for viewing.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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