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Galway Summer – 1910

Galway Harbour

Galway Harbour

The Newsletter 26th November, 1910 (abridged) p5
Galway was a very pleasant sociable place in olden times. In the summer ladies flocked into it from every corner of Connaught for the sun-bathing – at least so they gave out (says a writer on “Old Irish Travel” in “Blackwood’s Magazine”). Such a muster of fair ones naturally brought a corresponding number of young men in its stream, who came openly and avowedly for amusement, and often returned home provided with a partner for life. There were gatherings every evening to which admittance was had by a small payment, and they were designated routs, drums or assemblies, according to the price charged. The greatest gaiety and unconstraint reigned at these gatherings. In the evenings, if there chanced to be no rout or assembly, the summer visitors and the residents promenaded the streets, going in and out of the shops, buying, chatting with their friends and acquaintances, and enjoying themselves.
The shopping had, however, a serious side to it, for the milliners were always willing to give the ladies credit for the articles of attire which they needed to enhance their looks, and to let the bill stand over till after the fair one’s wedding. So great indeed were the attractions in Galway that they made some people oblivious even of the passage of time.
“There were in this good city,’ remarks the writer, “ladies who grew old without perceiving it and who went on dancing, shopping and bathing until they were upwards of 50.”
Many and ingenious were the devices adopted in those old days to outwit the Customs officers. Boat loads of native brewed poteen or of foreign claret and brandy were ferried across Lough Corrib and Lough Mask snugly stowed away beneath a harmless looking covering of turf or straw. Funeral processions might be seen wending along the rough mountain tracks, the keeners trooping after the coffin and sending their cry echoing over the desolate wastes. The coffin instead of its ordinary burden was filled with tobacco, and the mourners carried parcels of the same valuable commodity beneath their capacious coats. The whole consignment having then been disposed of inland the party would return merrily homewards.

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