Collections – 19th – 20th Century Galway

/Collections – 19th – 20th Century Galway
Collections – 19th – 20th Century Galway2019-08-20T10:34:29+01:00

19th – 20th Century Galway

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries were a mixture of prosperity and hardship in Galway. The early nineteenth-century in Galway saw the opening of the Gaol in 1810-1811 and the establishment of Persse’s Whisky Distillery in 1815 at Newcastle by Henry Stratford Persse, which was later re-located to the Nun’s Island premises in 1847.  The 19th-century also saw the opening of Queens College (now the National University of Ireland, Galway) in 1849, the Midland Great Western Railway line linking Galway to Dublin in 1851, the opening of the tram from Eyre Square to Salthill in 1879 and the construction of Renmore Barracks in 1880.

In 1821, the population was 337,374 within the county, while Hardiman estimated the population of the town to be 40,000. The 1861 Census reflected the devastation of the Great Hunger, with the population at 272,714 in the county and 25,161 in the town. The population decreased again by the time of the 1901 Census with 13,426 in the town and 192,549 in the county.

While Galway hosted the Irish industrial exhibition in 1908, the first such exhibition held in Connacht, some of the local industries were already in decline. By 1908, falling whisky consumption and competition from the larger distilleries in Dublin led to the closure of the Persse Distillery with the loss of over 50 jobs.

Of note are the jars in the Collections, from the various shops and public houses around Galway town dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries.  Each jar is marked with the name of the shop and in many cases, the location of the shop, such as Michael Walsh, 1 Eyre Square and Williamsgate St. The jars themselves were imported from pottery companies throughout Britain, including Liverpool, Birmingham and Glasgow.


Galway City Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday on four daily timeslots; 10am, 11:30am, 2:00pm and 3:30pm.  Admission remains FREE but visitors will now require a ticket for their visit. Tickets can be booked online by visiting and will need to be presented either in printed format or on mobile phones at the main entrance to the museum.  In light of Covid-19 the number of visitors will be strictly controlled and those attending will have to adhere to correct social distancing and health and safety protocols so that everyone can enjoy the exhibitions in a safe and comfortable environment.

For any further information contact or phone +353 (0)91 532 460. 
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