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Galway treasures – 1935

Irish Examiner 8th June, 1935 p.13

The Claddagh, Galway Photo: Irish Examiner, 1935
The Claddagh, Galway
Photo: Irish Examiner, 1935

Time flows on and in its swift passing links with a storied past drift and sometimes disappear. Galway, a city with an unusual blend of ancient and modern, in its tall-housed winding streets – reminders of the day when it was a port for the gallant ships of the Spanish Main – and in its seaside suburb, Salthill, signs of progress and modern development – has many treasures of the past.
The historic sword and mace of Galway will shortly be disposed of in Sotheby’s Auction Rooms, London. Priceless memoirs of the city’s past, those old relics were given to Edmond Blake, a member of one of the twelve tribes. In 1841, Mr. Blake had been Mayor of Galway for ten years, but although he was entitled to an annual salary of £800 he was never paid a penny of it, so when the Corporation was dissolved on that date, Mr. Blake agreed to accept the civic sword and great mace, which then passed into his keeping. In 1908 he died at the age of 92, bequeathing the historic relic of the city’s greatness to his family. Some time ago, it seems the sword and mace were offered to the National Museum, which refused to purchase them, so they are now up for auction in London. Mr. Louis Wine, of Dublin, made several offers of the sword and mace to the Galway Urban Council but they could not buy them. It seems sad that they should be taken away from their original home, particularly now when there is every reason to hope that Galway will again have a Mayor and Corporation.

Galway enjoyed the privilege of incorporation from the fourteenth century until the passing of the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act, 1840. Under the new Bill the city’s status will be raised to that of a Municipal Corporation. Galway will become a local authority under the meaning of the Air Navigation Act and the status of the city will then be about that of Wexford. The city will have a right then to a seal and to assume the armorial bearings previously borne; the new borough will have the power to extend its boundaries, and the liabilities of the Urban Council.

Note: The sword and mace were sold in 1938 to William Randolph Hearst for £5,000.  He willed them to be returned back to Galway. On 27th October, 1960 Mrs William Randolph Hearst officially presented the mace and sword to the Minister for External Affairs Frank Aiken at a reception in New York’s City hall. Thanks to the Hearst family they have been returned to Galway.