St. Augustine’s Well
St. Augustine’s Well on the shores of Lough Atalia (along Lough Atalia road) is one of only two surviving holy wells in the vicinity of Galway and has been revered by generations of locals for its healing power, particularly for those with eye problems. In 2000 the Trust’s Community Employment scheme completed a major renovation of the location which involved improving access to the well, the erection of a retaining stone wall and the installation of a bench and commemorative plaque on site. A beautiful stone cross was also commissioned by the Trust to replace the concrete one which previously identified the site. The result is a wonderfully restored holy well, refurbished in consultation, and co-operation, with the local Residents Association.
Restored by Galway Civic Trust, the Fisheries Tower which is situated on Wolfe Tone Bridge is one of Galway’s most historical and architecturally important buildings. The tower was built in 1853 by the Ashworth brothers and functioned as a draft netting station as well as a look out point from which fish stock levels and illegal poaching could be monitored. In 1997 Galway Civic Trust agreed to lease the building from the Fisheries Board and undertake a detailed restoration project which would see the tower lovingly returned to its former glory. This work was completed in 1999 and when open the Tower showcased various exhibitions.
Fisheries Field Lime Kiln
Located in Fisheries Field in the grounds of the National University of Ireland, Galway, this restored lime kiln is a fine example of 19th century local heritage. Such kilns became particularly common throughout Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries when they were used to burn limestone down to a fine powdery substance which was then used as a fertilizer as well as mortar and white wash. Lime was also used to sanitise buildings and it is likely that lime from the kiln was used to disinfect the nearby fever hospital, gaol and workhouse. As mechanically crushed lime became increasingly available in the 20th century, many such kilns went out of use and fell into disrepair. This kiln though was thankfully restored by Galway Civic Trust in 2007 and stands as testament to an important chapter in Galway’s medical, industrial and social history.
Martin Tea- House Folly
The preserved remains of the 19th century Martin Tea-House folly is located in ground belonging to NUI,Galway in Dangan on the banks of the River Corrib, approximately 1.5 km northwest of Galway city. The Tea-House Folly is part of the remains of the once powerful Martin family’s Dangan House residence who used it as a place from which to view activities on the river while taking afternoon tea. It is also thought that the location of the Tea-House was a sign of contempt or indifference by the Martin’s to their rival family the Blake’s who resided in Menlo Castle on the opposite bank of the river. This architectural curiosity had been in danger of collapse, and was completely overgrown when the Civic Trust decided to preserve it. A sensitive restoration project was undertaken by our FÁS crew, under the direction of Supervisor Michael Davis, and Martin Barrett of NUI, Galway’s Buildings Office with advice from Galway City Council’s Heritage Officer, Mr. Jim Higgins. The preservation of this important heritage building was completed by Galway Civic Trust in 2002.
Mrs McHugh’s Garden
This garden is located on the banks of the Eglington Canal at the intersection of University Road and Canal Road Upper and was one of the first projects completed by the Trust. It was built to commemorate Mrs. Nellie McHugh, a local lady who was responsible for the planting of flowers and shrubs along the banks and waterways of Galway. She also encouraged young local volunteers to do likewise. It is her civic consciousness which the Trust seeks to encourage and uphold. Opened in 1994, the garden comprises of a planted area complete with canal-side bench and commemorative plaque. The Trust also maintains a number of other riverside plots.
As part of its ongoing efforts to protect and promote Galway’s waterways, Galway Civic Trust has previously undertaken a number of clean-ups of the city’s canals. This work has included the physical removal of rubbish from the canals and the cutting back of overgrowth in order to make the citys waterways more attractive and navigable. We have also previously planted bulbs along stretches of the waterways which make for a colourful display in spring and summer.
O’ Briens Bridge Sculpture
This star-shaped fort was constructed by Cromwellian forces and played a key role in the fall of Galway to British parliamentarian forces following a siege of the city in 1651/52. This event effectively ended the influence of the ‘tribes of Galway’ and heralded an extended period of decline in the city’s power and status. Sometime in the second half of the last century three-quarters of the fort was removed. In the late 1990s, however, the remaining eastern section was conserved as part of a programme of works by Galway Civic Trust aimed at preserving the City’s heritage. Access steps have been installed, the shape of the fort is now clearly defined, the moat surrounding it restored, and an interpretative plaque erected to tell something of the site’s history which stands as testament to one of the darkest episodes in Galway’s history. Bollingbrook Fort is located on Sean Mulvoy Road.
Red Earl’s Hall
The remains of the original de Burgo Hall were uncovered in 1997 when work began on a proposed extension to The Custom House. The hall was originally a church like structure with large, round headed windows and opposing entrances in its south-eastern end. In essence, it acted as medieval equivalent of a tax-office, courthouse and town-hall rolled into one. It is thought the hall was probably abandoned towards the end of the 15th century when the 14 ‘tribe’ families of Galway usurped the De Burgo’s influence over the town. The hall was reported to be in a ruinous state by the middle of the 16th century while the famous 1651 map of Galway certainly shows it as that. Galway Civic Trust has presented the Hall to the public since moving to its new offices in 2009.
The restoration of Mutton Island Lighthouse and Keepers Cottage is the biggest project undertaken by the Trust to date. The lighthouse was established in 1815 and was built to the design of George Halpin Snr who designed numerous lighthouses in Ireland at the time. A castle on the island was demolished to facilitate the lighthouse. The light was first exhibited on 25th Oct 1817. Bill Scanlan’s Family manned the lighthouse in the 1940s and 50s and much of the information we have on the lighthouse is credited to him. He remembers hearing news of the outbreak of WWII on the wireless radio on the island. The Galway Fleming family were contracted to provide relief to Mutton Island in their púcan boat. A series of flags illustrated the requirements of the island to the mainland. The Island was largely self-sufficient however. The last keepers left the island in 1958 when the light became automated. The light was then turned off in December 1977 after 160 years of service. It was replaced by a canlestick-like lighthouse close to nearby Hare Island and a light buoy off Mutton Island itself. Galway Civic Trust has been involved in the restoration of the Lighthouse and keepers cottage since 2004 and it is hoped that the site will become a major attraction upon completion.
Rusheen Bay Bird Sanctuary
The Civic Trust was approached by BirdWatch Galway with a view to a joint project to develop a bird sanctuary at Lough Rusheen in Barna. The 2.5 acre site was donated to BirdWatch Galway in 1997 by Prof. Eoin O’Malley, who wanted to ensure that the land would always remain as a sanctuary for the many varieties of birds that frequent the area. Work commenced in October 1999, and included the cutting of a new access pathway, the rebuilding of stone boundary walls, and the clearing of excessive undergrowth in the area of the site known as the Small Wood (which has over twenty varieties of trees). Two birdwatching hides were also constructed from local stone.
The Rusheen Bay Bird Sanctuary was the winner of the prestigious Environmental Category of the Civic Trusts of Ireland Gulbenkian Awards in 2001. It was also won the 2002 Conservation Volunteers/ESB Community Environment Awards.
Since its inception in 1994, Galway Civic Trust has erected commemorative plaques in various locations round Galway which identify unique local traditions, landmarks and people. Examples of these plaques can be seen in Salthill – dedicated to the curious practice of ‘Kicking the Prom’ wall; at No 1. Eyre Square, recognising its connection with James Joyce’s famous short story Dubliners; at Dominick Street, commemorating Galwayman Robert O’Hara-Burke, who led the first expedition across Australia in 1860 and at the King’s Head Public House recognising the historical significane of the building.
The Trust has erected a series of poetry plaques at a number of waterside locations. Along with the River Corrib, Galway is home to a number of associated streams and canals. These waterways provide a calming haven in the heart of a thriving city and the poetry plaques draw attention to the value of such natural sanctuaries. These beautiful ceramic plaques were designed by Judy Green of Judy Greene Pottery – a former director of the Trust – and hold the verses of poems which refer to Galway and its waterways. These include Galway by Louis MacNeice and Oliver St. John Gogarty respectively and Hometown by Kevin Faller.
The beautiful River Corrib, flows through the very heart of Galway City and gives rise to a number of channels, canals and millraces. In conjuncton with Galway City Council’s Natural Environment and Waterways Group, Galway Civic Trust led a project in 2009 which saw a number of the these waterways renamed to reflect their social and industrial histories. This initiative led to the erection of granite name-plaques along 8 of Galways watercourses. These include ‘Slaughterhouse River’, ‘Persse’s Distillery River’ and ‘Gaol River’.
Galway – It’s My City / Gaillimh – ‘Sé Mo Chathair, was produced by former Galway Civic Trust manager, Jackie Uí Chionna. This engaging education pack aims to create a knowledge of what makes Galway special, thereby encouraging our youth to take pride in their city, and become the kind of citizens who take care of it. The pack provides a comprehensive history of Galway city and promotes awareness of local community and environmental issues by encouraging classes to undertake various practical activities. The pack is designed primarily for use by 5th and 6th class primary students but can also be used by teachers and students of all ages interested in the vibrant history of Galway city. Teachers can obtain a copy of the pack by contacting the Trust.
Galway City Waterways Walks Booklet:
In 2010 the Trust launched its Galway City Waterways Walks booklet. This booklet was a strategic action of Galway City Development Board’s Natural Environment and Waterways group and is designed to bring awarness to the wonderful natural and social history of Galway’s various watercourses. The booklet details 3 looped walks of varying lengths which bring users in contact with many of the citys ‘forgotten’ waterways as well as their associated ‘hidden histories’. As such it is an ideal resource for locals and visitors to Galway alike. Copies of the booklet can be had from the Trust. The Trust would like to thank Fáilte Ireland for its generous sponsorship of the booklet.