(pronounced /tʃuəm/; Tuaim) is a town in County Galway
. The name is pronounced choo-um
(tʃuəm). It is situated west of the midlands of Ireland
, and north of Galway
The record of human settlement in Tuam dates back to the Bronze Age
when an area adjacent to Shop Street was used as a burial ground. The name Tuam comes from the Latin
or burial mound. The town's ancient name wasTuaim Dá Ghualainn
, i.e. the burial mound of two shoulders. This probably refers to the high ground on either side of the River Nanny, overlooking a probable fording point over the River Nanny (or Corchra). In 1875, a Bronze Age burial urn
was discovered in the area by workmen, dating from c.1500 B.C. An early glass photograph still exists.
The history of Tuam as a settlement dates from the early 6th century. Legend states that a monk called Jarlath, or Iarlaith, who was a member of a religious community at Cloonfush some four miles west of Tuam and adjacent to the religious settlement at Kilbannon. Jarlath's life became uncertain as he wished to travel. Eventually, Jarlath's abbot St. Benignus of Kilbannon told him to "Go, and where ever your chariot wheel breaks, there shall be the site of your new monastery and the place of your resurrection". Jarlath's wheel broke at Tuam and he established a monastery there. As was typical with early settlements in Ireland, religious sites became established first and towns grew around them. Likewise, Tuam grew up around the monastery and has kept the broken chariot wheel as its heraldic symbol.
In 1049, when Hugh O'Connor defeated Amalgaid O'Flaherty, King of West Connacht, the O'Connor Kings became Kings of all Connacht, O'Connor built a castle at Tuam and made it his principle stronghold. This event was directly responsible for the subsequent rise in the importance of the town. In 1111, Turlough Mór O'Connor became High King of Ireland by force of arms and this brought Tuam its most prominent status as the centre of the seat of power in the 12th century.
At the Synod of Kells in 1152, the centre of government also became the ecclesiastical centre, as Tuam was erected into an Archbishopric, with Hugh O'Hession as the first Archbishop.
Turlough Mór O'Connor, (Tairrdelbach mac Ruaidri Ua Conchobair) High King of Ireland from 1128–1156, was a great patron of the Irish Church and it was due to his patronage that Tuam became the home of some masterpieces of 12th century Celtic art. Turlough was succeeded by his son Ruaidrí (Rory), the last native High King of Ireland. In 1164, Ruaidrí had a "wonderful castle" erected, with a large courtyard defended by lofty and massive walls and a deep moat into which the adjacent river was diverted through. Following the destruction of the first Cathedral in 1184, Rory O'Connor left Tuam and retired to the abbey at Cong where he entrusted the Church valuables from the Cathedral at Tuam into the care of the abbot. This left Tuam as a small, unimportant backwater and it wasn't until the early 17th century that it began to grow in importance again.
Throughout history, Tuam has been an important commercial centre with fairs and markets being an important part of commerce in the region. One of its fairs dates to 1252 when Letters Patent were granted to Archbishop MacFlynn by Henry III. Other fairs were authorised by Charters granted by James I and George III .
In July 1920, the town hall and other properties were burned down by armed Royal Irish Constabulary men, after two had been killed in an ambush by the Irish Republican Army near the town the day before.
The High Crosses of Tuam
The High Cross of Tuam was erected in 1152 possibly to commemorate the appointment of the first Archbishop of Tuam
, Archbishop Aodh O'hOisín
). An inscription at the base calls for "A prayer for O'hOisín; for the Abbot; by whom it was made". It is reputed to have been the tallest of the High Crosses of Ireland, but its artistry is scarred by the absence of the top portion of the main shaft. The sandstone Cross was originally erected in proximity to the earliest Cathedral erected in the town, a part of which still remains and is incorporated into St. Mary's Cathedral (12th century red sandstone chancel arch in Irish Romanesque
style which is a National monument). The original High Cross or Market cross may have been erected close to what is now the Market Square and High Street. When the first Cathedral collapsed after being destroyed by fire in 1184, the High Cross was dismantled into pieces each under different ownership. The archaeologist, George Petrie
, discovered the base of the High Cross c.1820 and went on to discover 2 other pieces in other locations. The High Cross also contains another portion from another High Cross, a ringed cross-section on top.
The Cross was then brought to Dublin for the Great Exhibition of 1852. However, prior to its return to Tuam, a disagreement arose between the two Churches. Catholic Archbishop Dr. John MacHale claimed the Cross rightfully belonged to Catholics, with Dean Charles Seymour of the Church of Ireland asserting a Protestant claim. Agreement was reached with the Cross erected half way between both Cathedrals and positioned so that it was visible from all main streets of the town. It was situated in the Square in the town centre in 1874.
By the late 1980s, it was evident that the decorative stone carving of the Cross was deteriorating due to weathering and pollution. It was also felt that there was a danger from traffic passing within feet of the monument. After lengthy discussions, the Office of Public Works, removed the monument from the Square in April 1992. Following cleaning and minor restoration the High Cross was re-erected in the south transept of St. Mary's Cathedral where it is now situated, in proximity to its original location. St. Mary's Cathedral also houses the shaft of a third Cross fashioned from limestone. It is thought that all of the High Crosses would have marked the boundaries of the monastic section of Tuam.
- Tuam is served by the N17 road (Galway to Sligo) and the N83 road (to Ballyhaunis) as well as R332 and R347. A bypass of the N17 (avoiding the currently congested junctions to the west of the town) is also planned, with land acquisition commencing by Galway County Council in late 2006. It is interesting to note that the design of this highway includes a bridge over the existing mothballed railway lines, thus acknowledging the potential future re-opening of the line.
- The town is located on the for the moment disused railway line from Limerick to Sligo. There was a successful campaign (West-on-track) to have the line reopened as a Western Railway Corridor which was recognised in the Transport21 project. Construction work is well underway (with a 2009 opening date) on the line between Ennis and Athenry: http://www.westontrack.com/ . Passengers trains will run again between Limerick and Athenry/Galway with further extensions planned. Tuam railway station opened on 27 September 1860, closed to passenger traffic on 5 April 1976 and finally closed altogether on 18 December 1978. The rail lines were heavily used by trains transporting sugar beet to the Irish Sugar Factory (CSET) located off the Ballygaddy Road. The train line was used during the filming of "The Quiet Man", and can be seen when John Wayne disembarks at Ballyglunin, around 6 km (4 mi) from Tuam.
- Tuam is served by Bus Éireann routes 25, 52, 64, 417, 429 and 433
Tuam is the location of several educational institutions, St. Patrick's College (formerly the Christian Brothers School), St. Jarlath's College
, MacHale Vocational School (Mixed), Presentation College Currylea and St Bridget's Secondary School. An amalgamation between the two boys schools and the two girls schools has been planned for years.
Tuam has two cathedrals; St. Mary's Cathedral (Church of Ireland
) and the Cathedral of the Assumption
), seat of the Archdiocese of Tuam
The town has a strong Gaelic Athletic Association
tradition: Tuam Stars
, founded in 1888, are the local Gaelic football
team, and are one of Galway's most successful clubs. From the period 1953–1960, Tuam Stars were the dominant force in the Galway County Championship winning seven titles in a row, with players such as Seán Purcell
and Frank Stockwell
playing at the time. St. Jarlath's College
, Tuam has won the Hogan Cup
(National Championship for secondary schools) a record 12 times since the competition began in 1946.
Tuam Stadium (Páirc Naomh Iarflaith) was officially opened on May 21st 1950 by the Archbishop of Tuam, Rev. Dr. Walsh. It became “the home of Galway football” and has a long history and tradition, having hosted many important matches including Connacht Senior Football Finals. A new €5 million redevelopment project has been granted planning permission including a new 6,400 capacity stand and ancillary facilities. Tuam Stadium Development Committee is currently fundraising for this ambitious project.
There are also two local soccer teams: Tuam Celtic, founded in 1974 who play their home matches at Celtic Park, Cloonthue. And Dynamo Blues, founded in 1978 whose home is the College Field, Athenry Road.
Rugby, while third to football and soccer, has long been popular in Tuam. Tuam RFC draws its members from Tuam and its hinterland and plays its home matches at Garraun Park, Dublin Road.
Tuam Golf Club was established on the 17th October 1904 with the original clubhouse situated at Cloonascragh on the Athenry Rd. Later, the club relocated to Mayfield, on the Dunmore Rd., in 1937 due to a deterioration of the Cloonascragh course. Although, in March 1940 a new club called the Commercial Golf Club was established, which renovated the course and remained for many years at Cloonascragh. World renowned Irish golfer Christy O'Connor Snr
joined Tuam Golf Club as club professional in 1948.
In order to develop an 18 hole course, Tuam Golf Club relocated to Barnacurragh (close to the original Cloonascragh course) and a new clubhouse and the first 9 holes were opened in 1975. 18 holes came into play by 1979, on the course designed by golf architect, Eddie Hackett. Improvement works have continued over the years with Christy O'Connor Jnr
advising the club on course improvement works.
in chronological order:
- Sir Gerald Lally, an Irish Jacobite and French military officer
- Dr. John MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam
- Sir Theobald Hubert Burke, 13th Baronet of Glinsk
- Thomas Henry Burke, Permanent Under Secretary at the Irish Office, was killed during the Phoenix Park Murders
- Augustus Nicholas Burke, Artist
- Richard W. "Dick" Dowling, American Civil War Commander
- Dr. Mark F. Ryan, Author and nationalist
- Peter Maher, Heavyweight Champion boxer
- Robert Malachy Burke, Christian Socialist, better known as Bobby Burke.
- Seán Purcell, Gaelic footballer
- Frank Stockwell, Gaelic footballer
- Tom Murphy, Playwright and Dramatist
- Mike Cooley, Trade union activist
- Finian McGrath, Independent politician
- Paddy McHugh, Independent politician
- Brian Talty, Gaelic footballer
- Blaze X, Punk band
- The Saw Doctors. The N17 road does in fact pass through the town, as their famous song "N17" suggests.
- Paul Cunniffe, Singer-Songwriter, Musician
- Jarlath Fallon, Gaelic footballer
- Steve Heneghan, International Motorcycle Road Racer, British Superbike Championship Racer
The following places are twinned
- The people of Tuam claim it is the smallest city in the world based on the presence of a cathedral, one of the original definitions of what constitutes a city. However, despite Tuam's two cathedrals, it is officially a town. Moreover, the city of St. David's in Wales has a smaller population and is officially a city.
- Rocky Road to Dublin is a song about a man's experiences as he travels to England from his home in Tuam.
- Tuam Street, Christchurch, New Zealand is named after the Irish (Anglican) bishopric of Tuam. It was named by Captain Joseph Thomas, the Canterbury Association's Chief Surveyor and his assistant Edward Jollie .
- Tuam Street and Tuam Avenue, both in Houston, Texas, USA, are named in honour of Richard W. "Dick" Dowling .