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On Wednesday January 23rd the Winter Lecture Series, entitled ‘The Seeds that grew the tree’, resumes at Screene’s of Guilka. This talk, ‘A Class Quite Distinct – West of Ireland Herdsmen in the 19th Century’ will offer a fascinating insight into the lives of the individuals many of whom were in the employment of landlords throughout County Galway and indeed many of whose descendants continue to live locally to this day.

Skehana and District

West of Ireland herdsmen, according to one expert, Roger Richards, in the 1890s, formed ‘a class quite distinct from any employed in any of the English districts, being neither shepherds nor bailiffs and yet a compound of both’. Numerous in Counties Galway and Roscommon, where they were employed by landlords and large graziers, they were responsible workers, liable for damage to their employers’ stock, whether caused by ‘hogs, dogs, bogs, or thieves’, in their own phrase.

This illustrated talk will describe the anachronistic working conditions of the herds, and considers the efforts of their Herds’ Associations through which they defended their position against employers and tenants’ movements during the land war and after. It promises to be a most informative and enjoyable evening and will be delivered by Dr. John Cunningham of NUI Galway.

To coincide with Dr. John Cunningham’s talk of the West of Ireland herdsmen the Skehana & District Heritage Group will have available photographs, images and sketches of many of the ‘Big Houses’ of County Galway, many which are no longer extant, but with which these herdsmen would have been most familiar. The database comprises of close to 400 at present spread across this vast County of ours. Attendees will have the opportunity to view their own local houses of interest on the night and can, if desired, order prints for a nominal charge of €3 euro just to cover printing costs.

The event commences sharply at 8.30pm and complimentary food, tea and coffee will be served at its conclusion. We look forward to welcoming you to Screene’s of Guilka on the 23rd.  


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