St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church

By Cindy at Galway Rambling:

Today I had the great pleasure of finally venturing inside the above-named edifice due to the fact that the Galway Civic Trust is holding the Festival of Heritage this week. Today’s tour was dubbed as a “secret history” and was conducted by a young man named Conor Riordan, who billed himself as an “astroarchaeologist and historian.” Wikipedia has a listing for archeoastronomy, which seems like the same thing as Mr. Riordan described. Anyway, he’s a guy who studies how ancient people viewed the skies and how that affected their lives and beliefs.

A collegiate church is one that is run by a group of ‘secular’ clergy approved by the Pope. This church is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of children (Santa Claus) and of seafarers – apropos considering that Galway is a port city. It has been dated back to its dedication in the year 1320 but there is a portion of the church (the apse) that is thought to have been built and used as a small parish church as far back as the 12th century. Conor showed us some features on the exterior of the building that lead historians to believe this origin. The church holds and is surrounded by 450 graves and tombs, all of which are situated with the deceased’s feet pointed toward the west and head toward the east. That’s a lot of dead folk for such a small property! No one has been buried there since the early 20th century. St. Nicholas is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland in continuous use as a place of worship. It started as a Catholic church but now belongs to the Church of Ireland. The baptismal font is over 400 years old.

The first stop was at the celtic cross that was erected as a memorial for the members of the Connaught Rangers, nicknamed “The Devil’s Own,” who had lost their lives in World War I. The carvings on the cross originate from the Book of Kells (which is on display at the Trinity College Library in Dublin). The regiment was populated by men from the west of Ireland, particularly Galway. One tragic story sees a brother from one family die at the outset of the war and his elder brother die at the end. The church displays banners from the regiment as well as flags that were carried into battle and are much worse for the wear in their present state.

Conor pointed out to us a walkway that was once dubbed the “Leper’s Gallery” because some said that’s where lepers had to stand to worship. However, there were only two leper colonies in Galway at the time the church was built and those who suffered would never have been let inside the city walls. It’s really just a walkway to get to the belfry.

He led us to the center of the nave, where he showed us the pillars that hold up the church. It was pointed out that all of the pillars are round with the exception of the one on the southeast. This one bears the shape of a cross, which some say is associated with the Masons and the Knights Templar. There is a great deal of Mason history associated with the church; whether it is true or not is information lost to history. However there are a number of Masonic tombs and one which is said to be that of a knight. Conor took us outside to show us a tomb that is one of the best known examples of a Masonic burial dating back about 5 centuries. The most famous visitor was Christopher Columbus, who stayed in Galway for a week and likely worshipped in the church in 1477.

While we were outdoors, he also took time to point out that there are only 3 clocks on the 4 sides of the belfry. They say that the Protestants took the clock off the south facing side of the tower because most of the people living on that side of town were Catholics – the Catholics then coined the saying that they “couldn’t even give them the time of day.”

We went back indoors and looked at the Lynch transept, dedicated to the Lynch family, one of the Tribes of Galway and a very old and revered family line. Folks believe that it was the Galway Lynches after whom the term lynching was named. Stephen Lynch’s memorial is in the transept, but it was defiled by the Cromwellians when they took Galway and attempted to wipe out all traces of Catholicism, most tragically for the church by knocking all the heads and hands off the angels carved on the pillars and walls. One angel managed to escape their wrath and survives to this day.

The family for whom the main town square of Galway is named, Eyre, are also memorialized and buried in the church. It is said that Charlotte Bronte came and spent some time in Galway and had occasion to see the large memorial plaque to Jane Eyre on the wall, and thus used this name in her famed novel. Alas, this is not likely to be true – but it sure makes for a good story!

At the end of the tour Conor took us out to the Lynch Memorial Window and imparted the story of Mayor Lynch taking justice into his hands and hanging his own son, Walter, from the window. Once again, this story is not likely to be true, but it makes for some great storytelling – and there’s the wall to commemorate it!

St. Nicholas’ is a lovely, well-maintained old church in the heart of Galway; it is open every day of the week and people are welcome to visit. You can purchase a trinket or hand-made piece of food inside. Instead I left a small donation as a thanks for allowing me to spend time there. If you ever find yourself strolling Shop Street and you find you cannot face one more moment of shopping, stop in at St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church and indulge yourself in some fine history.

galwayrambling

(Photo courtesy of Google search)

Today I had the great pleasure of finally venturing inside the above-named edifice due to the fact that the Galway Civic Trust is holding the Festival of Heritage this week.  Today’s tour was dubbed as a “secret history” and was conducted by a young man named Conor Riordan, who billed himself as an “astroarchaeologist and historian.”  Wikipedia has a listing for archeoastronomy, which seems like the same thing as Mr. Riordan described.  Anyway, he’s a guy who studies how ancient people viewed the skies and how that affected their lives and beliefs.

A collegiate church is one that is run by a group of ‘secular’ clergy approved by the Pope.  This church is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of children (Santa Claus) and of seafarers – apropos considering that Galway is a port city.  It has been dated back…

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#OTD in 1920 – War of Independence: The Burning of Cork.

The Burning of Cork is the name commonly given to a devastating series of fires that swept through the centre of Cork City on the night of 11th December 1920. The burning and the subsequent controversy is one of the most significant events of the Irish War of Independence.

During the War of Independence, Cork was one of the main centres of IRA activity. On the day of the fire, a soldier was killed in an attack on British forces at Dillon’s Cross. Later that day Black and Tans opened fire on a group of civilians near the corner of Summerhill North and what is now MacCurtain Street.

At 10 pm that night fire engines responding to reports of a fire at Dillon’s Cross encountered a fire in a department store on Saint Patrick’s Street. Several other fires had been lit in the vicinity, and the fire service was unable to control the conflagrations.

By the next morning numerous buildings on Saint Patrick’s Street were completely destroyed by fires that had been set in buildings along its east and south sides. The City Hall and the Carnegie Library were also completely destroyed by fire, resulting in the loss of many of the city’s public records.

Over five acres of the city were destroyed and an estimated £20 million worth of damage was done. Also that night two IRA men, the Delaney brothers, were murdered in their beds by the Black and Tans.

The loss of the stock of the library and of the records in Cork City Hall was a huge blow to future historians. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, Sir Hamar Greenwood, immediately denied that Crown forces were responsible for the conflagration. He also refused demands for an impartial enquiry which was called for by several public bodies in Cork.

In spite of Greenwood’s obstinacy, the Irish Labour Party and Trades Union Congress published a pamphlet in January 1921 entitled, ‘Who burned Cork City?’ The work drew on eye-witness evidence assembled by Seamus Fitzgerald which suggested that the fires had been set by British forces. Members of the fire service testified that their attempts to contain the blaze were hampered by soldiers who fired on them and cut their hoses with bayonets.

A subsequent British Army enquiry (which resulted in the “Strickland Report”) pointed the finger of blame at members of a company of Black and Tans. The soldiers, it was claimed, set the fires in reprisal for the IRA attack at Dillon’s Cross.

Among the buildings completely destroyed on Saint Patrick’s Street were Roche’s Stores, Cash and Co., The Munster Arcade, Egan’s, The American Shoe Company, Forrests, Sunners chemist and Saxone Shoes.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

The Burning of Cork is the name commonly given to a devastating series of fires that swept through the centre of Cork City on the night of 11th December 1920. The burning and the subsequent controversy is one of the most significant events of the Irish War of Independence.

During the War of Independence, Cork was one of the main centres of IRA activity. On the day of the fire, a soldier was killed in an attack on British forces at Dillon’s Cross. Later that day Black and Tans opened fire on a group of civilians near the corner of Summerhill North and what is now MacCurtain Street.

At 10 pm that night fire engines responding to reports of a fire at Dillon’s Cross encountered a fire in a department store on Saint Patrick’s Street. Several other fires had been lit in the vicinity, and the fire service was unable…

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#OTD in 1921 – After lengthy negotiations, the British give the Irish a deadline to accept or reject the Anglo-Irish treaty. In the words of Lloyd George, rejection would mean ‘immediate and terrible war’.

Negotiations on Irish independence from Britain enter their final and crucial stage at Downing Street. The Irish delegates including Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith had returned from an acrimonious cabinet meeting in Dublin where unfortunately clarity did not exist. The negotiators again met with the British team which included Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.

It was an extremely hostile meeting with much debate about the status of the north of Ireland and Loyalist reaction. Minutes of the meeting taken by Irish delegate Robert Barton show the aggressive negotiating style of Lloyd George who stated ‘that he had always taken it that Arthur Griffith spoke for the Delegation’, that we were all plenipotentiaries and that it was now a matter of peace or war and we must each of us make up our minds. He required that every delegate should sign the document and recommend it, or there was no agreement. He said that they as a body had hazarded their political future and we must do likewise and take the same risks. At one time he particularly said very solemnly that those who were not for peace must take full responsibility for the war that would immediately follow refusal by any Delegate to sign the Articles of Agreement.

Prime Minister Lloyd George told Collins that if they did not accede to the treaty which they finally signed in the early hours of the following morning, Britain would recommence hostile activities.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Negotiations on Irish independence from Britain enter their final and crucial stage at Downing Street. The Irish delegates including Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith had returned from an acrimonious cabinet meeting in Dublin where unfortunately clarity did not exist. The negotiators again met with the British team which included Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.

It was an extremely hostile meeting with much debate about the status of the north of Ireland and Loyalist reaction. Minutes of the meeting taken by Irish delegate Robert Barton show the aggressive negotiating style of Lloyd George who stated ‘that he had always taken it that Arthur Griffith spoke for the Delegation’, that we were all plenipotentiaries and that it was now a matter of peace or war and we must each of us make up our minds. He required that every delegate should sign the document and recommend it, or there was no agreement…

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King Edmund Ironside

The Freelance History Writer

King Edmund II, "Ironside" (Image in the public domain) King Edmund II, “Ironside” (Image in the public domain)

It was the early eleventh century and England was being overrun by Vikings. Parts of the country were in the hands of the Danes and they were trying to acquire more. King Aethelred, known as the “Unready”, was weak and ineffectual in fighting off the threat. His son Edmund had watched what was happening and when the time was right, he decided to take action. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says King Edmund II was called Ironside because of his valor.

Edmund was born c. 988. He was the son of King Aethelred II of England. His mother was Aelfgifu, Aethelred’s first wife. We know little of Edmund’s childhood. Edmund may have lost his mother at a young age and was probably brought up with his siblings by foster mothers and his grandmother Aelfthryth, mother of King Aethelred. Aethelred took a second…

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8 irische Weihnachtstraditionen

Irish history, folklore and all that

Vom ungewöhnlichen Gebrauch des Mistelzweigs über mehrsprachige Weihnachtsgrüße: Acht interessante Fakten über Weihnachten in Irland

Nummer 1: Der frühe Vogel …

Weihnachten kann nie früh genug kommen. Daher beginnt die Weihnachtszeit in Irland offiziell bereits am 8. Dezember. Überall leuchten festliche Lichter, auf der ganzen Insel öffnen Weihnachtsmärkte ihre Pforten und aus allen Himmelsrichtungen kehren Familien und Freunde nach Hause zurück, um gemeinsam zu feiern.

Nummer 2: … kriegt den schönsten Baum.

Immergrüne Nadelbäume kommen an Weihnachten in Irland erst seit verhältnismäßig kurzer Zeit zum Einsatz. Traditionell wurden stattdessen Stechpalmen und Efeu als Dekoration benutzt. Abergläubig? Es heißt, je mehr Beeren am Stechpalmenbusch hängen, umso mehr Glück verspricht das nächste Jahr.

Nummer 3: Ein original irisches Weihnachtslied

„Good people all, this Christmas time, Consider well and bear in mind …“ Was wäre Weihnachten ohne Lieder und Volksweisen? Eines der ältesten Weihnachtslieder, das Wexford Carol, stammt vermutlich ursprünglich aus Enniscorthy…

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Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England

The Freelance History Writer

Luisa’s daughter Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England

Amidst all the commotion created by King Charles II’s sex life and flamboyant mistresses, there actually was a Queen. She was Catherine of Braganza and she led a very interesting life in England as the King’s wife and later as ruler of her country of origin. Catarina Henriqueta de Braganza was born on November 25, 1638 in the Vila Vicosa in Alentego, Portugal. She was the eldest child of Joao, Duke of Braganza and his wife, Luisa Maria Francisca de Guzman. Catherine had two siblings, Afonso and Pedro and grew up in a loving family. Catherine’s mother took an active interest in her children’s education.

In 1640, Catherine’s father led a rebellion against Spain. During the rebellion he was offered the crown of Portugal and at his wife’s urging he agreed. The family moved to Lisbon and he was crowned King…

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#OTD in Irish History – 21 November:

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

615 – Death of Columbanus. He was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries on the European continent from around 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeuil Abbey in present-day France and Bobbio Abbey in present-day Italy. He is remembered as an exemplar of Irish missionary activity in early medieval Europe. Columbanus taught a Celtic monastic rule and Celtic penitential practices for those repenting of sins, which emphasised private confession to a priest, followed by penances levied by the priest in reparation for the sins. Columbanus is one of the earliest identifiable Hiberno-Latin writers.

1281 – Stephen de Fulbourne, bishop of Waterford and treasurer, replaces the infirm Robert de Ufford as justiciar and establishes a mint at Waterford.

1759 – Henry Flood enters parliament and becomes leader of the opposition.

1761 – Birth of Dorothea Jordan, in Bland, Co Waterford. She was an Irish…

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