NUI Galway, Galway County Council Heritage Service and Skehana Heritage Group are working together to produce a photographic exhibition of the ‘Big Houses’ of Galway.
In 2016 Skehana Heritage Group first began displaying images of some of Galway’s “Big Houses”, the buildings from which landed estates large and small were managed for over 200 years.
In their time they were the hub of local employment, but it was a system of control that was ultimately part of an unsustainable economic model.
The estates’ demise principally came about in the first decades of the twentieth century when the government-sponsored Land Acts advanced the money to tenant farmers to purchase their holdings and become owner-occupiers.
It has been estimated that east Galway had a larger number of such ‘Big Houses’ than any other part of Ireland.
The Skehana Heritage Group has been exploring that history as part of research which complements that done by the Moore Institute at NUIG in the Irish Landed Estates project, up and runnin since 2007.
For more information on the Irish Landed Estates project see http://www.landedestates.ie/.
This Heritage Week will see hundreds of photos of these estates on display at NUIG. Some of them intact, some in ruins, and some persisting only through old maps and drawings.
The exhibition will display them in banner format in the O’Donoghue Building foyer from August 19 – 24.
In an added attraction, facsimile copies of leases, maps, memoirs and marriage settlements will also be displayed.
They have been gathered from 20 landed estate archival collections housed in the James Hardiman Library’s Archives and Special Collections.
NUI Galway will also host a half day seminar, Galway Estates from the Archives, on Saturday, August 24 from 9.30am to 1.30pm.
The seminar will explore how historians and other researchers employ these documents to tell the stories of their families, local areas, landscapes and communities.
Marie Boran, NUIG Librarian and Landed Estates researcher, said “This is the first time the Galway Big Houses banners will be on display in Galway City, though they have been exhibited in various parts of the county.”
“It will be a wonderful opportunity for Galway people and visitors alike to learn more about these buildings which are so central to our past.”
Attendance at the event is free. Details of booking and information are available at: https://www.heritageweek.ie/whats-on/event/galway-estates-from-the-archives