Aim and content

The aim of this Collection has been to source private images and documents to add to official and published accounts of the life of University of Galway over more than a century and a half.

Contributors are retired staff, their friends and relatives, and other alumni. They were asked to provide photographs or videos relating in some way to the University of Galway, its academic development, the life-stories of students and staff, its relationship with the City and region, and its changing physical environment.

Many of the photographs are accompanied by commentary by the contributors and these individual memories add great richness to the visual and oral history of the University.

The result at the end of this first stage of the project, in April 2024, is a collection of some 350 images that range from the late 19th century to 1995, the 150th anniversary of the University's foundation. 

With the exception of some rare newspaper photographs of unusual interest, the images in this archive are all from private collections and have never before been available to the public.


The project to collect photographs and recollections of the University from retired staff and make them available online was initiated by Prof. Jane Conroy in 2018. Prof. Stephen G. Jennings, who was the Chair of the Retired Staff Association (RSA) / Agallamh na Seanórach, supported the idea and together they began collecting in earnest. The RSA decided to sponsor it, using its contacts with retired staff. Potential contributors were asked to look through their photograph albums and video collections for images connected with the University. Encouraged by early responses, the project gathered momentum and the team was joined by Dr Séamus Mac Mathúna. In 2021, when the President’s fund for research into the history of the University was established, a successful bid was made. It was decided that, rather than having a stand-alone website, as was originally envisaged, the collection would make a stronger contribution to the University’s history if it was hosted by the Library among its Digital Collections. Major thanks are due to the Library’s archivists and IT specialists, led by Dr Cillian Joy, for agreeing to support the project by making one of their platforms, Omeka S, available, and sharing access to it from March 2023. Their commitment has been a major benefit for the Collection. Dr Jackie Uí Chionna, an experienced historian, joined the project team in April 2023. The support received from the President’s Fund has enabled collecting to proceed steadily since March 2022. The rate has accelerated towards the end of this phase as more contributors joined in. Their willingness to share their photographs and memories, and their support for the project, has been remarkable. It underlines the importance of the University’s role in many lives. There is undoubtedly much more to be included in a future phase.


Without the photographs and memories contributed by the following people this collection would not exist. We are deeply grateful to them for working with us on the project.

Sinéad Beacom; Michael Brennan; Jean Butler (de Buitléir); Bríd Carr; Patsy Clancy; Gene Connolly; Jane Conroy; Susan Courtney; Gerald P. Creagh; Morwena Denis; Peter Faherty; Bernard F. Finan; Tom Furey; Tom Glynn; Michael Guiry; Ted Hurley; Donal Igoe; Frank Imbusch; Stephen G. Jennings; Michael Kane; Tom Kenny; Patrick Larkin; Gerry Loftus; Peadar Mac an Iomaire; Nollaig Mac Congáil; Séamus Mac Mathúna; Anne and Hubert McDermott; Gerry and Pat Morgan; Labhaoise Ní Dhonnchadha; Eoin and Niamh Ó Dochartaigh; Siobhán O'Donovan Glynn; Séamus O'Grady; Pádraig Ó Héalaí; John Patching; John Sheil; Jackie Uí Chionna; John Waddell; Ann Walsh; Clare Walsh; James Ward.


Images may be downloaded. With the exception of images from newspapers, all items may be used for non-commercial purposes under the terms of Creative Commons licence 4 at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/. The re-use of images from newspapers  requires permission from the publisher. Please see the Rights statement in each item.

The University of Galway Library, which hosts this collection, applies a 'take-down' policy to its online digital collections. This means that if someone lodges an objection to an item in this collection the item will be removed.

How to cite 

For each item, the appropriate wording is given under 'Bibliographic citation'. 
Example: M. Brennan, J. Conroy (2023), ‘Camogie team, 1982’, Visual History Retired Staff Collection, University of Galway Digital Collections, Asset Id 13614, Archival Record Id VHRS, accessed 5.3.2024.

We recommend adding the date of access because this collection will continue to be updated and information in it may change.


The Collection is eclectic but its key themes are easily identified. Subjects are grouped under major headings, such as Buildings & estates; Clubs, societies & unions; Academic ceremonies & events; Academic disciplines, and so on. They can be easily searched, for example to find events on- or off-campus, to find a particular person, or all images from the 1970s. 

  • Browse by Image or Browse by Person. This allows you to survey the collection by paging through all the items in that category (25 to a page).
  • Browse by Facet, accessed in the Browse by Image page. Several primary facets such as Academic ceremonies & events, Sports, Buildings & estates, Period, or Academic Discipline can be applied to see related topics that you can explore by clicking.
  • Basic search. This is accessed from the Browse by image page or by clicking on the Search icon on other pages. It will find data entered in the following fields: Contributor, Description, Keywords, People, Period, Spatial Coverage, Subject, Title. 
  • Advanced search. This allows you to target combine search terms under several property headings (such as Title or Subject). Advanced search also has a 'full text' search box for less precise searching. Results will be quite comprehensive.
  • Using links between items. Clicking on a Subject, a Place, a Person or a Contributor in a record will bring up all items linked to that Subject, Place, Person or Contributor. Clicking 
  • Map. Not all geo-locations have been entered so the results from using a Map search will be limited.  


-  Names of people, places, societies and events may appear in Irish or English or both. So, for example, it is advisable to look for Ó Céidigh and Keady. Omitting accents will not affect the search. 

- Some people have different formal names to those by which they are generally known, so it may be advisable to search for the family name on its own. Example: Searching for "Ger Jennings" may not find Stephen G. Jenning.

- Use inverted commas to narrow your search. A search for coffee shop will find every item where coffee and shop appear, but not necessarily close together. A search for "coffee shop" will find items where the words appear together, for example the item called 'Mrs Creaven, "Ma Creaven'" outside the College coffee shop'. It will also find 'Seán Tobin, north of the Quadrangle', because the coffee shop is mentioned in the 'Description' of that item.

- Depending on the period when the photograph was taken, the name of the University may appear as Queen's College Galway (1945-1908), University College Galway (UCG, 1908-1997), or National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG, 1997-2022), all of which may be found by searching. The name used is that which was in use when the photograph was taken. When the University today is meant it is called University of Galway, for example under 'Publisher', 'Spatial Coverage' (location) or 'Subject' in each record, or in some cases under 'Description'. 

Users' comments and contributions

Information, comments and offers of items for the collection are very welcome. If you would like to contribute, please see the Contributions page. 


The project was supported in 2022-2024 by the President's Fund for Research into the University's History since its foundation in 1845. That support is what has made this collection possible.
The project team is grateful to the Library’s archivists and IT specialists for their encouragement and commitment. They have been very generous in supporting the project in several ways, especially through providing access to Omeka S, and through invaluable technical expertise and guidance on copyright issues.  
The work of the project team was greatly facilitated by the Moore Institute through valuable advice, administrative assistance and access to resources and facilities. Our thanks go to Prof. Daniel Carey, Martha Shaughnessy and Iwona O'Donoghue.  
Finally, we are grateful to the Retired Staff Association for sponsoring this project from its early stages and for its encouragement and practical support.  

About the Team
Jane Conroy, PI
Stephen G. Jennings
Séamus Mac Mathúna
Jackie Uí Chionna

University of Galway Library
Cillian Joy, Head of Open and Digital Research
Catriona Cannon, Head of Heritage Collections and Digitisation
Eimhin Joyce, Digital Projects Officer
Aisling Keane, Digital Archivist