The weekend of 26th – 28th May saw the Federation hold its AGM at the
Ardilaun Hotel in Galway, “City of the Tribes”.
Friday 26th May
The beautiful Ardilaun Hotel was a perfect venue for our weekend activities with forty seven delegates staying in the hotel. The weekend started with a “Prosecco Reception” in the Garden Lounge followed by evening dinner in the hotel restaurant . We had two enthralling after- diner talks on the subject of who might be considered Galway’s greatest entrepreneur. Jackie Uí Chionna presented the case for Martin Mór McDonogh and Eugene Jordan that of Fr. Peter Daly. Excellent presentations by Jackie and Eugene recounted the stories of two very extraordinary men. Although a show of hands would have favoured Martin Mór McDonogh all agreed that a draw would be a fair result. The evening ended with a visit to the lounge for a few libations.
Saturday 27th May
There was a large attendance on Saturday morning for the official business of the AGM with sixty or more delegates gathered in the Aran Suite. There were representatives from fourteen counties including Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Roscommon, Westmeath, Mayo, Cork, Waterford, Louth, Tipperary, Down, Antrim and Armagh. Thirty two local societies were also present. Federation Chairman, Michael Gaynor, welcomed everyone and introduced Dáibhí Ó Cróinín to officially open the AGM. Dáibhí extended a very warm Galway welcome to all present and said how delighted they were that the Federation had chosen Galway City as the venue for its AGM. He praised the Federation and local historians for all the important work they did in helping keep alive an interest in the history of local communities. He said that without the huge contribution made by history, heritage, cultural, folklore and archaeological societies so much of the history that helps make us what we are would be lost. Dáibhí wished the Federation success with the AGM and hoped we enjoyed our stay in Galway.
We had reports from our Chairman, Michael Gaynor, Secretary, Betty Quinn and Treasurer, Mairead Byrne all of which illustrated the very successful year the Federation had enjoyed with our many talks, walks and trips during the year. The highlight was probably our visit to the Battlefields of Belgium and France and a visit to the European Parliament as well. This was a joint trip between the two Federations, North and South in sharing the memories of WW1. Another great trip was the visit to North Wales when we were again joined by our friends and colleagues from the Ulster Federation. The current committee and officers were re-elected. We also welcomed four new members to the Federation Committee, Clare Walsh from Waterford replacing Ann Cusack, Michael Mullaly from Newbridge, Mary Kenehan from Thomond and Marie McCarthy from Inniscarra. A new approach to the Society Spake using a power point application proved very successful and reports were heard from thirty two different societies.
After lunch in the Ardilaun we were off on our bus tour of South Galway, taking in Kinvara, Coromroe Abbey, Kilmacduagh, Gort and the Kiltartan Museum. So great was the demand for seats that we had to hire a second bus to accommodate everybody. During the tour we passed through some beautiful landscape until we reached Corcomroe Abbey where we were captivated by our guide, Patrick Larkin, who gave an absorbing account of early life in the monastery. Then it was on to Kilmacduagh with its fine round Tower. This time we were in the hands of Christy Cunniffee who gave another very interesting and informative account of the site and its historical significance. Our last port of call was to the Kiltartan Gregory Museum near Gort. What an architectural gem it was, an old national school built in 1892 and now a unique museum devoted to the works of Lady Gregory. It now contains a wealth of photographs, manuscripts, first editions, memorabillia and local genealogy. Within its walls it houses a recreated schoolroom with old desks, blackboard, maps, paintings etc. We also had the pleasure to meet with Rena McAllen and Mary de Lourdes Fahy RSM both very lovely ladies who welcomed us to the museum.
It was then time to reluctantly say goodbye to Kiltartan Gregory and head back to the hotel.
After a lovely meal in the Ardilaun it was time to hear another two after-dinner talks from our hosts. Patrick Larkin gave a most interesting and informative talk on the many castles scattered around the area of Galway Bay while Bernard O’Hara recounted the colourful story of Nora Barnacle, wife of James Joyce. It was a pity that such a wonderful day had to end.
Sunday 28 May
After breakfast we all met at the Eyre Square Centre to meet with our guides , Peadar O’Dowd and Damien Quinn. There followed two fascinating guided walks and talks, one around Galway City and one on the military history of the city. This was all in the lovely morning sunshine. Our last port of call for a farewell event was the King’s Head where we again were treated to two most interesting talks. Dr Joe Manning gave a great talk on the Clans of Ireland and this was followed by Hubert Jennings who gave us an abridged History of Traditional Irish Dance. Prof Noel P Wilkins gave us a very warm farewell on behalf of the Galway Archaeological & Historical Society and wished us a safe journey home. Prof Wilkins kindly presented everybody in the audience with a copy of his book, “The Odd shelf of a Common Reader”.
And so ended a memorable weekend, courtesy of the Galway Archaeological & Historical Society, whose hard work and effort had made it all possible. It was indeed a real feast of local history, served in a warm, friendly and inclusive manner.
Many thanks again to them for making it so enjoyable.
Click photos to enlarge