Monday, October 5, 2015

Brian Friel - An Appreciation

It is with great sadness that we note the laying to rest of Brian Friel yesterday. A quick look through our archival holdings shows the range and influence of Brian as a playwright and a friend to various theatre people for well over fifty years. From writers such as John McGahern and Thomas Kilroy, to a variety of theatre companies and actors, the energy and enthusiasm he brought to Irish theatre is clearly visible. In September 1963 the Lyric Theatre staged "The Enemy Within".

Featuring George Mooney in the role of Columba, it was one of a number of plays staged by the Lyric Theatre Company from young emerging Irish writers in the late fifties and early sixties.

Another play which features strongly in our collections is the "Loves of Cass Maguire". Siobhan McKenna's role as Cass in the Abbey's 1967 production introduced one of the most enduring characters to an Irish audience.

It was also one of the plays staged by the Druid Theatre Company in their opening production in the Summer of 1975, revived in 1996 for the 21st anniversary production, both productions starring Marie Mullen.

The Abbey Theatre Digital Archive, uniquely available at NUI Galway, captures the legacy and engagement of Brian Friel with Ireland's national theatre. The Abbey would première some of Friel's most powerful plays from the 1970s to present day, including The Freedom of the City (1973) Volunteers (1975) Living Quarters (1977) Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) Wonderful Tennessee (1993). The Abbey archive contains scripts, prompt scripts with detailed annotations, posters, programmes and recorded videos of performances of many of Friel's landmark works.

With around ninety references to Brian in our online holding search engine, available at why not take a virtual tour through our holdings to appreciate the impact of one of Ireland's great playwrights on Irish theatre.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Nation Rising

This morning marks the launch of NUI Galway's calendar of events to commemorate 1916, A Nation Rising and the Archives Service is delighted to be hosting the launch here in the Special Collections Reading Room. A programme of events is available at

The archives service holds a range of material that refers to the events of 1916, some of which have a particular Galway focus. First of all there are the records from the College itself, which highlight the impact on the University in terms of staff and students arrested without trial in the immediate aftermath of the rising.

There is also an intriguing entry in the University's visitor book from the 4th August 1899 when Patrick and William Pearse sign their names in Irish. Pearse himself said that he first heard Irish spoken as a living language here in Galway, and it may well have been on this visit that this happened.

Other holdings in the James Hardiman Library Archives emphasise the links between the University and the events of 1916 and its commemoration. The Brian Cusack Papers show the student life of Dr. Brian Cusack, winner of the Moffet Medal for academic achievement presented by the President each year, for 1913. He was later to become the representative for Galway at the first Dail when it sat in early 1919.

Other material, from the G.A. Hayes-McCoy collection emphasise the commemoration of the Rising in 1966. Other items in our holdings include a special edition of the "Connacht Tribune" during the Rising detailing events in Oranmore and Carnmore in the outskirts of the town, as well as rumours of what was happening in Dublin.
From the Prionnsias Mac an Bheatha Collection there is copy of a special edition of the Irish language newspaper 'Inniu', which Prionnsias edited, commemorating the Rising in 1966.

Information on these items and other material relating to this time can be accessed at and is available for researchers in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sports Archive Month - From 'Association Football' to Soccer

This edition of Archives Sports Month from the archives looks at soccer on campus at NUI Galway. In the early years of the 20th century, the records show news reports, club notes and photographs from when it was known as 'association football' and by c.1910 it became more commonly called soccer in the club notes. While the records from 1914, below, detail increasing numbers of those taking up and playing soccer on campus, there is a lack of any notes or records in the college annuals for many years afterwards which would indicate a break in the soccer club activities until the mid-1920s. The images below are from the 1914-15 season, one of the last updates from that period:


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September Sports Month - Hockey on campus in the early 20th Century

September Sports month continues this week with a look at hockey as played on campus at UCG/NUIG. Looking back at the student annuals (available in our Archives and Special Collections Reading Room) which were published published in the early 20th century, the sports reports are a great resource for sporting history on campus. Hockey is one sport had the near unique distinction of fielding a mixed-sex team for the first time in 1912-1913. The team is pictured below and the report states:
"This year has been an important one in our Hockey Annals, for it marks the formation of a College Mixed Hockey Club, and this, we are glad to say, has turned out a decided success in every way. The team that we are able to put into the field is one that can be trusted to give a good account of itself on all occasions, and we expect it do great things in the future."

In the same notes, particular mention is made to some of the female players, "'Miss Prendergast and Miss Paul', who were selected to play for the Ladies Connacht team in a tournament held in Dublin recently." While success of both men's and women's teams were well documented in this year and noted to be among the most successful sports teams on campus, their fortunes would quickly wane as the reports for the following year of 1914 would show a club being potentially disbanded:

"When we think of the important position that the College Hockey Club once occupied amongst the hockey clubs of Connacht and the West, we must all feel regret that it holds that position no longer."

Various reasons were mentioned such as a lack of schools in the West having hockey teams that supplied willing players upon reaching College. Another was a lack of a dedicated ground of their own and also interestingly is the rather cryptic reason of "the college at present being in transition, a fact which is affecting all other games, including hockey." Things did improve over the coming years with the reports recording rising numbers and greater victories for the teams of the college hockey club.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Culture Night 2015 at the Hardiman Library!

‘Yeats and the West’ explores his life, work, legacy, and deep connections to the west of Ireland and wider western worlds. Through images, words, film, and sound, with touchscreens and rich display cases sourced from NUI Galway and archives around the world, featuring rare material from Yeats, J.M. Synge, and Lady Gregory, and original artwork from Jack B. Yeats, Gerard Dillon, and Fergus Bourke, ‘Yeats & the West’ tells anew an old story: a story of going west to find those places, real and imaginative, that change our sense of where and who we are.

This Culture Night, Friday 18th September, join the exhibition curators, Adrian Paterson and Barry Houlihan, and special guests, for a series of talks and guided tours of the ‘Yeats and the West’ exhibition and discover, in this anniversary year of Yeats2015, what the west meant to Yeats and what this might mean to us.

Tours and talks begin at 5pm, Hardiman Foyer, and continue on the hour until 8pm.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

September Sports Month - Camogie Success and Silverware at UCG: Ashbourne Cup, 1916

Our September Sports Series continues with a piece ahead of yet another All-Ireland Final appearance this coming weekend. This occasion features the camogie players of Galway and their hope for All-Ireland glory in Croke Park when they face Cork.
The archives of NUI Galway shed light on the long tradition of camogie on campus. These extracts highlight some of the winning teams who brought silverware back to campus at UCG in the early 20th Century.

Our September Sports Series continues with a piece ahead of yet another All-Ireland Final appearance this coming weekend. This occasion features the camogie players of Galway and their hope for All-Ireland glory in Croke Park when they face Cork.The archives of the Hardiman Library at NUI Galway shed light on the long tradition of camogie on campus.

These extracts highlight some of the winning teams who brought silverware back to campus in the early twentieth century   in the form of the Ashbourne Cup in 1916. The college annual recounts how:
"This year has been a phenomenal one in College athletics, for we have at last secured a cup through the agency of the lady students. The result, of course, was to be expected from the energy and enthusiasm with which we worked through the year under the able captaincy of Miss O'Dowd. The practices were regular, our able trainers Messrs. F. O'Doherty and P. Fahy, being of great assistance to us."

The victory was secured by Galway in a win over Dublin. "Friday was the day of the 'grand finale' . . . As on the previous day, there was no score on either side up to half-time. However, in the second half all anxiety on our side was removed when Miss Stella Cloherty scored a goal, thereby declaring Galway the winners of the cup!"

UCG Ashbourne Cup winners 1916

Camogie Notes 1916
Camogie Notes, 1920

UCG Camogie Team 1922-23

Friday, September 4, 2015

September Sports Month - Hurling on campus from the archives

The month of September will be a special 'Sports from the Archives' month, where we will post a series of pieces featuring features and images from past victories and interesting stories from the sporting annals of the University. From hurling, camogie, soccer, Gaelic football, rugby, hockey, tennis and more, the series will-tie in with upcoming events such as the senior and minor All-Ireland Finals featuring Galway teams going for glory, the Galway camogie team playing in the All-Ireland final; the Rugby World Cup (Dare we to dream?!) with the team including a current NUIG student in the squad.

This first post will focus on G.A.A as this weekend all attention in the West will be on Croke Park. The hurler of Galway will face Kilkenny in the Hurling Final and our neighbours of Mayo will face Dublin in an all-Ireland Semi-final. As we look back into the archives it can be seen that hurling too time to embed and develop among the student population on campus but took home the honours of the FitzGibbon Cup for the first time in 1919. Sadly no photograph of this team is printed but the match notes record "This year marked the turning-point of hurling at UCG. It was the first time for the past few years that Galway turned out a FitzGibbon team, and we are glad to say, won the cup. Martin Fahy was a capable captain…" The competition was played in Galway and UCG beat UCC in the first game by 11pts to 4pts. In the next round Galway beat UCD 25 pts to 23 pts. Following the third round of games, all honours were even as Galway suffered a loss to UCD of 3 pts. With all teams even on points controversy would arise as the Cork team refused to hand over the cup, believing as holders from the previous year, they should retain it. UCG had superior scoring difference in the tournament and after much debate took the cup back to campus of Galway.

Following this win, as the notes from the student annual of 1922-23, UCG did not field a team for a number of years. 
Hurling Notes, 1922-23

The hurling notes from an earlier student annual of 1916 show a further account of hurling on campus from the author under a pseudonym of 'Camán'. Typical of the time it is written in, the notes are strong in their sentiment of cultural nationalism and puts the GAA and hurling as a point of necessary revival. As well as sporting records, these accounts are interesting historical accounts of politics and society in the West.

As the time draws near to this Sunday when the Galway team will take to the field of Croke Park in the hope of bringing the Liam McCarthy Cup back to the West, it is good opportunity to look back on past sporting achievements on campus and we will bring you more updates throughout September.