This photo of the Old Parish Church was handed in by Ann Joyce, Rathgorgan, Athenry for the Spring 2004 edition of the Athenry Journal.

Editor’s note: Nice read by Aggie Qualter who mentions “The Chapel Bell” in her lovely article about Athenry and its hinterland – The Big Houses and More.

The Third Order Secular known as the Secular Franciscans, includes devout persons, both men and women. Members do not live in community, but live their everyday lives in the world. However, members do gather together in community on a regular basis.

Some members of The Third Order in 1937

Eugene Durkin had a pub where the Shopping Basket is now!

Nellie Regan was the Church Sacristian for years!

Nora Byrne, Railway Station, was a great character!

Kate Coen lived opposite the Castle in Court Lane!

Mrs K Daly had a drapery business on the corner of North Gate Street where Peggy Browne’s is now. the Dalys also owned Raheen Stables.

In 1937 Charlie Redmond lived in Court Lane and Joseph Mooney, Boyhill, was a renounded shoe maker in in the 40s and 50s

Members of the Third order were buried in the Habit of the Order!

What was a “Sodality” in the Catholic Church?

Sodalities were an integral part of parish life in Catholic Churches worldwide for over a century. They are a lay ministry intended to bring Marian devotion, community service & a social experience to practicing Catholics at every stage of life. Female sodalities were popular of various ages.

The Latin word sodalis means “companion”, a sodality being an organization of companions or friends. The sodalities of the Church are pious associations and are included among the confraternities and archconfraternities.

Confraternities and sodalities had their beginnings after the rise of the confraternities of prayer in the early Middle-ages (around 400–1000 AD), and developed rapidly from the end of the 12th century, with the rise of the great ecclesiastical orders, such as the Dominicans, the Carmelites, and the Servites. Other associations of this kind soon appeared under the jurisdiction of the local ordinary and had no particular connection with a religious order.

This beautiful cut limestone building, built in circa I867 for Walter Lambert of Castle Lambert, has been neglected since the family moved away in the 1890s.

Beautifully crafted from blocks of cut limestone the roof was, over the years, damaged by the roots of saplings that grew in the crevices and dislodged the stones. Copingstones are lying in the undergrowth while the door was easily opened to the elements and vandals over the decades.

The Lambert Project Society has taken on the task of renovating this important monument. As a first step it has, through the Athenry Parish Graves Society, cleaned up the inside and has interred the remains in a stone vandal proof casket.

More recently it has been promised a grant from the Galway County Council towards an Archaeological /Architectural report on the Vault. Work on this has been done and the report from Ms. Gerry McManus the Architect has been received.

The next step is to seek funding for the implementation of the report.

 

Moorpark Cemetery is well known as a Lisheen for infants of the surrounding area and the burial place of some local families.

Headstones mark the graves of the Egan and Harte families and there is also a beautiful vault for the remains of the Lamberts of Castle Lambert.

On the ordnance survey maps this graveyard is named Moor Abbey and as part of our study of local history, in April 2000, Martin T. Kelly and I took aerial photos of the area to visually survey, in the first instance, evidence of a related settlement. We did find that Moor Abbey and the present day graveyard is part of a much more extensive site.

The photos show a trace of one enclosing embankment that is very clear on the east, south and west sides of the site. On the north side where the land has been reclaimed there still remains a less visible trace of the surrounding embankment.

The Lambert Vault, probably completed in 1867 for the interring of Walter Lambert, the local landlord, is built within what looks like a medieval stone building some of which remains intact. This may well be the remains of a church.

To the south and south east of the graveyard is what appears to be rectangular and sub rectangular wall footings which may indicate related structures. Also clearly visible, within the enclosure, are a deep well and a bullaun stone. These are also characteristic of an early monastic settlement.

From this preliminary investigation there seems to be enough evidence to suggest that Moor Abbey is an early lrish monastic settlement. In that regard further study and surveying is required to enable us to make a more definite interpretation of the site.

Finbarr O’Regan teaches in Carnaun National School, Athenry and has published “Carnaun School 1891 — 1991 and “The Lamberts of Athenry” 1999. He is the founder and editor of “The Athenry Journal”.

Feature Photo – Tara Higgins, Kiera Laffey, Chrissie Qualter, Tara O’Regan in the school garden

I eat, therefore I am” is a Comenius Schools Project funded by the European Union under the Socrates Action.

Its aim is to encourage the emergence of a European identity for children. The European Union is a vast place with many countries and many differences in location, climate, housing, living and eating habits, wealth and religion. By understanding these differences and realising that we are all fellow E.U. citizens we can learn to live in harmony with each other and build a better and more peaceful Europe for the future.

This is a telecommunications project with “food” as the main topic of conversation between the schools – hence the name, derived from “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am -Descartes 1596 – 1650). Sharing ideas about good, healthy food from a local, regional and international perspective is good and attractive initiative for children, parents, teachers and communities. Sharing them with schools in Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Malta, Slovenia, Greece, Italy and Spain is indeed a challenge but for us in Carnaun School it complements our work in Environmental Awareness, in the production of certified organic food in our school garden and in the integration of Information Technology in our curriculum.

Organic Lunch  for Visitors, Board of Management and Friends in Carnaun School 10.05.2002

Online information

Our project website www.eat-online.net acts as a showcase for the huge volume of work done by the various partner schools. Here one can see the contributions of the Athenry children the eating habits of the Irish people, an international cookery book in all the different languages, organic gardening, the school’s heritage trail, traditions for feasts and festivals especially Christmas and Easter.

The children and teachers have made many good friends through email, weekly chatrooms and personal contact throughout the project.

Highlights of the year are the coordinators’ meetings held in different venues throughout the partner countries. Last year I have had the wonderful experience of visiting colleagues in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Sweden. Next year the children and l are invited to Slovenia, Hungary, Malta, Romania and Italy and we hope to avail of whatever funding we are offered.

Fortunate schoolchildren

Preparing the Organic Banquet for the visitors are Enda Trowell, Chrissie Qualter, Visitor from Romania, Barry O’Brien, Gerry Qualter, Visitor, Kiera Laffey, Visitor, Conor Feeney and Tara Higgins.

lt was a proud moment for our little school in the western tip of Europe when 30 teachers and students met in Athenry in May. And did Athenry “do them proud”? The community gave them “Céad míle fáilte” a true Irish welcome. They will never forget their sincere welcome into our schools, the generous hospitality of the B&Bs and the hotels, the courtesy in the Heritage Centre and the Castle, the friendliness of the people in the pubs, the parties they were invited to, the quality of the food in the hotels and restaurants in the area and of course the beautiful organic lunch served to them by the people of Carnaun School. They learned in Athenry all that is good about our Irish society. They learned that our schools in Athenry are second to none in Europe and that in their warm, safe and friendly atmosphere our children are privileged. Here, compared to the majority of European schools, our worries are minor and our complaints are trivial. They will never forget Athenry!

Award list

Since we started this project we have achieved many awards. Among them the Global Junior Challenge in Rome, 1st. Netdays Italia with a presentation in Florence and last November we were one of only 4 projects in Europe to be invited to Brussels to present our project for Netdays Europe. We now hope to continue into the next school year with 28 partner schools. So that, not alone do we have Europe’s best school’s project but we may also have Europe’s biggest school’s project.

Finbarr O’Regan, Carnaun National School, Europe.

Editor’s Note: Visit the project on the old Carnaun National School website, fossilised as it was in 2007, at  Carnaun School Project 

Séamus (Séamie) Lynch was born and reared in the Square Athenry. His mother Máire Ní Céidigh, from Spiddal, had a thriving drapery business on the corner of the Square and his father, Ger, had a bakery next door. He had an idyllic childhood in the late 50s and 60s in Athenry. It was a time of street games and there were plenty of playmates to play football on the streets of the town and in “the Back Lawn”. Hessions, Whelans, Cannons, Brownes, Currans, Taylors, Curleys and Jordans spent most of their daylight hours out on the street or in the ball-alley.

Lynch’s Drapery Shop with Eileen, Martin and Séamus

In his wonderful stories “Walking around Athenry with Séamus Lynch” he tells of his “happy memories of swimming in Cahertubber lake as a child. In those long – gone days, it was considered a major achievement to graduate from the local ‘swimming pool – the widest pool in the local river behind the Bag Factory – to the daunting waters of Cahertubber.

Mary and Eileen Lynch with their Mother, Máire Ní Céidigh

Fishing took up a lot of his youth – “I meet first with Paddy Corley at the River Bridge and as this month is usually the height of the fishing season, we anxiously anticipate the next flood.  “In Cahertubber there was a small lake where we fished for tiny fish which we called ‘Roach’. Nobody ever seemed to eat those fish but the ‘craic’ was always great.” … “days and nights I spent fishing along the banks of Gort na h’Abhann.  Names of great fishermen and wonderful characters like John Crosby and Gerry Collins quickly come to mind”. Ger Browne’s shop in Bridge Street was the place to buy rods, hooks and line”.

At that time handball was very popular in Athenry. Played up against the north wall of the Priory (locally called the Old Abbey) it was a gathering point for young and old. Hand balls were scarce and relatively costly and they could be lost in the Old Abbey grounds in tall grass, nettles and briars, worse still into the river or into Johnny Whelan’s rose garden. If it went into the river there was a rush down the river bank with a very long stick with a net on its end to get the ball before it was swept river out of reach. Séamus spent many evenings in Paddy and Eileen Curley’s house beside the bridge. The family were all gifted athletes.  … He notes “Their eldest son Tony, now living in Boston, is a personal friend of mine and I was privileged to be his partner in many an Inter- County handball competition”.

Séamus Lynch, Eileen and Paddy Curley, Mary Lynch and Tony Curley with the Purcell Cup

Séamie and Tony excelled in hard ball competitions and in 1965 won the Connacht Minor Hard ball doubles and went on to win the Purcell Cup in the All-Ireland hardball doubles that same year. In fact, it was the last major title won by Athenry Handball Club since then. Gerry Cronnelly, played handball until he was 54 years old and then began coaching the young lads – John Murphy, Francis (Boso) Hession, Adrian and Donnacha Ruane, Paul Cleary, son of Tom Cleary, Tony, Jimmy and Eugene Curley, Séamie and Joe Lynch – all of whom brought the highest honours to Athenry by winning County and Connacht championships. I think Jimmy Cleary and Gerry Ward won the All-Ireland under 14 championship around the same time. Over the years Séamie did a lot to promote the game and for many years was Chairperson of both the Athenry club and County Galway Handball. In 1979 local news reporting on the opening of the new Handball Alley in Swangate states that “Athenry’s Séamus Lynch, Chairman of the Galway Handball Board told the attendance that the Athenry Club were now in a position to host major competitions such as County and Provincial Finals. He referred to the strong tradition of handball in Athenry and stressed that to maintain the interest of the youth the provision of facilities such as these included in the development was vital”.

It wasn’t all handball with Séamie for according to the Tuam Herald, 9th. January 1966, Séamie took to the stage with a newly formed pop group, the Omegas, for an ICA concert. This group, consisted of Tom Howley, Séamus Lynch, Sean O’Dowd from Athenry and Senan Drury from Loughrea, got a great reception from a packed audience in the Town Hall. Among the other contributors was the Hession school of Dancing among them were Delores Murray, Martina Cleary, Kitty Staunton, Nancy Murphy, Ethna Kennedy, Maura Shields, Barbara Gibbons and Marion Quinn. Eamon Torpey, Billy Carson and Grant Curran were another group and others involved were Rosemary Kennedy, Joan Murphy, Chrissie Kearns. Martina Cleary played the harp. And on the 19th March 1966, we find Séamie and Tom Howley again entertaining another large audience, in the same place, for the ICA. Other names on the programme were Norman Payne, Dominic Parr, Kevin Rohan and Christy Howley and members of the Athenry Drama group.

Photo courtsey Terry Nolan, Athenry Drama Group

These concerts were not the only stage appearances for Seamie. He was, for many years an active member of the highly acclaimed Athenry Drama Group that has entertained us for generations. On the 16.04.1971 the Connacht Tribune reporting on the All-Ireland final of the Loughrea Drama Festival noted that the adjudicator stated that “he liked very much the playing of Seamus Lynch as Algernon” in “the Importance of being Ernest” by Oscar Wilde. Also praised were Noreen Hession as Gwendolen and Joan Murphy as Miss Prism”. The group was awarded the prize for the Best Comedy of the festival. If he was not part of the cast Séamie helped as a stage hand and very often was Master of Ceremonies for the night. Rehearsals for the stage were held in the old boy’s school in Abbey Row.

The Stock Exchange – Photo: Patrick Dineen – Photoblog.ie

Séamie spent many years in the Athenry Cooperative Mart graduating from being a clerk to becoming an auctioneer in his own right. He was very good at his job, had a great voice, could detect a half wink from a small man bidding for a heifer while he hid behind a few others, gave the animal “a great selling” and was known far and wide in the farming community. Among those who worked the gavel, over the years in the mart, were Colm Hillard, Padraic McCormack, and Noel Tracey all of whom were later elected to Dáil Éireann. (Who knows, Seamie could have followed in their footsteps, his brother Martin was a successful politician. Séamie certainly had the ability but, unfortunately, he had to retire after some years, due to ill health.) Other auctioneers who worked in the mart were Jimmy Delaney, Phelim Kearns, Michael Mannion, P.J. Callanan and Terry Cooke.

In the 60s and 70s the Canon Canton Memorial Hall was one of the premier venues for Snooker and Billiards in the county and like many others he was part of it all his life from when he could chalk a cue and maybe sooner. He writes, in his walks around Athenry about one of his mentors Seán Dempsey– “Seán’s sudden and much-lamented passing from this life has already been well documented. His various sporting abilities were second to none. Like countless others, I considered myself very fortunate to be a personal friend, and I was privileged to play alongside him on the local snooker team on numerous occasions in many venues throughout the province. He will be greatly missed. ‘Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam”. The same could be said of Séamie!

Christy Barret, Séamus Lynch, Jimmy Cleary, Frank Kilkelly

The local papers noted his achievements regularly! Tuam Herald 13.03.1965 shows him picked on the team for the first round of the County Championship, Billiards with Francis Hession, Willie Higgins and Frank Sweeney. Others who played snooker with him then were Paul Waldron, Johnny Crosby, Luck Glynn and Eddie Somers. On the 13. 11, 1965 he plays in the semi-final of the snooker tournament against Johnny Crosby while veteran Christy Barrett plays Willie Higgins.

Seamus Lynch,  Hector Ó hEochagáin, Tommy Tiernan, Pádraid ÓChéidigh (Cousin of Séamus) and Ken Doherty

On the 27.01/1967 the same group of players, plus Kevin Whelan and Jim Barrett came out on top in the club and then went on to beat Loughrea and Portumna in the county Final. In April 1971 Séamus was defeated in Billiards but made up for it when he and Sheamus Waldron won the darts competition. In 1973 he played stiff opposition to get to the final in billiards but was beaten by Christy O’Grady in the final. That year he was elected on the Canton Hall Committee and he was also on the winning team for the Inter County Snooker and Billiards Tournament.

In 2005 Séamie, was Elected President of the Canton Hall with Canon Tony King, Kevin Devally, Cathal Atkinson, Stephen Murphy, Sean O’Gorman, Shane Bane, Paddy Ward, Declan Ward, Patrick Devally, Donal Foran, Kevin Higgins, Ronan Ward, Aaron Ryan, Dan Ryan and Shane Murray. In 2011 he was still in the news as president of the club and was running the competitions there.

Bernie Ní Fhlaherta, in the Connacht Tribune 18th January 2008, wrote about Séamie’s discovery of a medieval stone carving which he rescued from a builder’s skip and saved it from being lost forever.

The Bishop’s Head

In the meantime, Séamie had become a Peace Commissioner which is an honorary appointment made by the Minister for Justice, Mr. Alan Shatter. This was a very responsible position with the duty of: Taking statutory declarations and oaths, Witnessing signatures on documents required by various authorities and Signing certificates and orders under various Acts,
He was also connected to the Heritage Centre where he could put to good use one of his favourite subjects – local history. His “Walking Tour of Athenry” was a success from the start and brough many visitors, from home and abroad, to our little Medieval town. The Connacht Tribune of 16.07.2020 published “Athenry Historian’s efforts draws praise from US Major General”. He gave some US Soldiers a tour of the town and they were very impressed with his story of an American B 17 bomber crashlanding in the vicinity of the town and so their commanding officer wrote him a letter of thanks.

In 199os Seamie contributed articles to the Athenry Journal and his series “Walking around Athenry with Séamus” sold many copies. These are available on www.athenry.org and have been read many times.

Séamie was always good company, a wonderful storyteller, always had time for a chat, excellent memory for names and facts. He had a very warm personality and great crack. Living alone wasn’t easy as he enjoyed company and sometimes, like many of his generation may have spent more time than he should on “the high stool” indulging in a little more than his health allowed. However, as “part and parcel” of Athenry it’s for his great commitment to his community that he will be remembered.

Joan Gardner, Christy Flynn, Séamus Lynch and Kitty Lardner

Times have changed in Athenry – no cries of children swimming in the pool, no fishing the river as there are no trout there anymore, neither do we hear the crack of the ball in the alley. Sadly, the Back Lawn and the Canton Hall are closed to the locals but we can still have memories of Séamie walking the roads of Athenry with the little terrier, always ready to stop and have a chat except when he was heading for the dinner of bacon and cabbage in his sister Eileen’s house or on his way home to a nice brown trout for his tea!

Captain John, Shawe-Taylor (1866–1911)

Extract from The Galway Reformer:

In 1909 Captain John Shawe Taylor, brother of  Frank Shawe Taylor, Moorpark, Athenry, initiated a prize scheme for best-kept cottage and garden as part of a campaign to brighten and beautify the homes of Ireland.

In a letter to the press, John advocated a few simple recommendations to ensure good hygiene and good health in the home – all animals should be evicted from the home, thatch should be kept repaired, walls should be limewashed inside and out annually, everything inside the home should be kept scrupulously clean, window sashes should be painted, window panes should be kept clean, farm refuse should be removed from the front of the house to some distance away, all corrugated iron should be painted either dark green or red and flower boxes or a small flower gardens should be kept.

It was felt that untidiness and uncleanliness were a result of historic circumstance rather than being inherent in the Irish people. In times past, many people had struggled to put food on the table while keeping up with rent payments which were often more than they could afford.  Any attempt at improvement either in the home or upon the person would have been accepted as evidence of a prosperity that did not exist and would have attracted another turn of the rent-screw.

Captain Shawe Talor was instrumental in bringing the first Brighter Homes Exhibition in Ireland to Athenry, Co. Galway.

The idea behind this exhibition was to encourage people to make improvements to their homes and to utilise the land around them to the best advantage.

Twenty ‘model’ cottages, some of which were built in Caheroyan, were built under the Labourers Act (1906) * were on show with their neatly tended grass and flower borders. The outside walls of the cottages were covered with creeper and ivy and colourful window boxes were displayed on the window ledges.

The interiors were well – designed with bright and airy kitchens. Every square inch of the  one acre plot behind the house was cultivated.

County Galway Agricultural Committee presented John Keating, Athenry with a prize of £3 (Over €400 in today’s money) for the best-kept cottage and holding.

An industrial exhibition was held in the courtyard of the ruins of the castle. Demonstrations were given in fruit packing for market, poultry rearing, bee keeping, honey storing, bacon curing, cooking, crochet, báinín flannel, wheelmaking, boot and whip making.

See also: Caheroyan by June Barrett

Brighter Homes Exhibition, Athenry, 1909

* The Labourers Act provided large scale funding for state-sponsored housing for rural labourers and others of the working class and helped to erase the previous inhumane habitations.

The Athenry Journal is published as a service to our Parish and its theme is Community Awareness and Development. The views and opinions expressed in the articles are those of the contributors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board.

The Athenry Journal is a project under the umbrella of Enterprising Athenry ADC Ltd. Any profit from it is being re-invested in its production so that eventually it may create employment in our Community. As a first step a computer capable of running Quark Express Desktop Publishing was bought so that the skills of typesetting and page making can now be taught to interested volunteers who have a knowledge of computers.

Production Team: Co-ordinator: Finbarr O’Regan, Swangate, Athenry. Typesetting and Photo Scanning: Michael O’Regan, Swangate Athenry. Proof reading: Haden Moore. Typing: Stephanie O’Regan.

Thanks to Martin Burke, Cahertymore and Michael Browne, Sheeaun Park for their advise and expertise.

Distributors: Kathleen Brody, Conrad Byrnes, Helena Fahy, Donal Jennings, Gerty Kilcommins, Rosaleen Madden and Kathleen Bane.

Photographs: Thanks to those who gave us photos and to those who went out specially and took photos. Copies of same may be had on request.

Thanks to all the retailers who sell The Athenry Journal. Some earlier editions are available.

Copyright: © Finbarr O’Regan (Enterprising Athenry ADC. Ltd.)

Printed by: Standard Printers.

Geraldine Cronin from Carnaun, Athenry, has recently graduated from Letterfrack Furniture College. She is a past pupil of Carnaun National School and Athenry Vocational College. Geraldine always had an interest in carpentry but unfortunately woodwork was not an option for girls when she attended school. That is not the case now.

However, Geraldine persevered and was chosen for Letterfrack College through the work she had done over the years at home. Through her own initiative she has fulfilled her ambition and is now working in England at her chosen career. We can all learn from her example.

In June 1995 l heard it being said that the typical Athenry shopper loaded up his car with the weekly shopping in the big supermarkets of Galway and only stopped in Athenry on his way home to ‘get the meat and a few things as the quality was better and the money had run out. ‘Tick’ was the name of the game and ‘I’ll see you again’.

Things are changing for the better. I was pleasantly surprised recently to hear from an ardent ‘Shopping Centre devotee’ that through no fault of her own she was forced to do her weekly shopping at home. To her astonishment the stores here were cleaner and brighter, service was personal, the quality of the goods was as good if not better and there was free delivery to her door without delay.

Shopping at home gives us more than that. We are creating jobs and are spending the money at home which is also very important. If we add these facts to the nuisance of the city traffic and the time spent travelling, we find that it definitely pays to shop at home.

Don’t forget that if you are pleased with your shopping say so, as everyone needs encouragement. Any criticism needs to be constructive.

Personally I think it would pay to have a fax machine with which to send in your main shopping list, to be delivered, and treat shopping for the extras as a social occasion with a visit to the other excellent facilities in our area, for coffee or ‘wine’ – and it might help with the traffic problem.

We have a traffic problem and the Women’s Group must be commended for high-lighting this. They know all about it as they drive the children to school and do the shopping. They are not on their own, they have twelve hundred signatures to prove it. ‘They would like a system put in place to alleviate the traffic problem’. They are not advocating any one particular system but state that a system is needed. It is in all our interests to find a solution. Many potential shoppers bye-pass Athenry because of our traffic problem.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Kieran Hickland to the parish as Manager of Enterprising Athenry A.D.C. Ltd. He is due to take up office early in January and I’m sure will be anxious to meet with and facilitate project teams. May his stay in this area be an enjoyable one. We in The Athenry Journal are happy to work with him and will help in any way we can to promote this unique method of development in our area.

Rath Dé ar a obair agus orthu siud a bhéas ag obair leis.