Minute Books of Galway Town Commissioners (1890-1909)

The NUI Galway Library is digitising volumes of Galway Corporation Records. Galway Corporation Records feature minute books, statutes, laws, and the different corporation records taken in Galway since the 1400s. 

Digitising these records shows us what decisions and laws have shaped Galway and gives insight into how Galway has formed into the place it is today.

This blog post is about the Minute Books of the Galway Town Commissioners (1890-1909). You can also view more volumes from the Galway Corporation Records collection.

Minute Books of the Galway Town Commissioners (1890-1909)

The Galway Town Commissioners were established under the provisions of the 1828 Act for the improvement of lighting in towns. The board of the Galway town commissioners itself was established by the Galway improvements bill which was passed in Parliament in 1836. The board took over all the local authority functions of Galway Corporation following the Corporation's abolition in 1840.

The Galway Town Commissioners Minute Book is one of the eight volumes of the Galway Corporation Records. Each volume contains minutes giving the date of meetings, attendance, correspondence and business transacted. Initially the Board of The Galway Town Commissioners met on a weekly basis, during in later periods it met less frequently.

Some interesting points in this volume include:

The results of the 1891 Annual Election of Commissioners (Page 88)

How the brothers in an industrial school complained about a fee being charged to them for ‘Water Rate’ and also what was presumably a fee for a hunting license to kill ‘beasts’ on their premises (Page 94)

A dispute about a house that was built in Salthill causing an obstruction, amongst other typical minutes from a committee meeting (Page 246)

More information about the Minute Books of the Galway Town Commissioners

The vast majority of the information contained in the minute books relates to the day to day provision of the services which the Board was responsible for including the collection of tolls, the watch and the maintenance of roads and footpaths. The minute books also contain references to wider social and political events such as The Great Famine and The Land War. The pages of the volumes in this collection are in good physical condition, the covers of some of the volumes are very worn.
The establishment of the Town Commissioners and the abolition of Galway Corporation represented the relegation in administrative terms of Galway to the status of a town. While arguably the 19th century was a period in which Galway was in relative decline it was also a period during which the city was 'modernised'. During the period in which The Board of the Galway Town Commissioners was in operation, street lighting, running water, trams and later electricity and telephones were introduced to Galway. It was also the period during which a rail-link with the rest of the country was established, the Corrib navigation was built, The University was established and the race course at Ballybrit was laid out. The minutes contained in the bound volumes that comprise this collection reflect in large measure these improvements. The Board of the Galway Town Commissioners was directly involved in the construction and maintenance of some of these improvements, such as the water supply, while it was also heavily involved in lobbying for other projects such as the railway and canal. There were a number of unsuccessful attempts to establish Galway as 'A Packet Station' for transatlantic shipping, the hope was that Galway could become 'A Liverpool for Ireland', this hope was partially based on the idea that passengers and goods would reach London more quickly if they disembarked at Galway rather than travelled by rail to Dublin, caught a ferry to Wales and then travelled on to London by rail. 


This blog was written by Eimhin Joyce, who works on the Digital Scholarship team in the NUI Galway library. Most the text content in the blog is from archival listing of the collection. If you need help on a similar project or have any questions related to this work, feel free to contact him at eimhin.joyce@nuigalway.ie.

Digital project partner

The digital scholarship team supports the University with guidance and digital services including imaging, archival storage of electronic files, metadata development, and other activities as needed. We are actively engaged in pursuing research opportunities in digital preservation and access, and remain active in national and international networks and professional organisations. We primarily focus on digitisation, digital preservation, and on providing access to primary research material.

Selected images from the Balfour album digital collection