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Galway Harbour Master Pays Tribute to Church Role as Navigational Aid & "Safe Haven" for Mariners

10th February 2020
St Nicholas’s medieval church - the illuminated clock tower was an aid to navigators, and the alignment of Nimmo’s pier and the St Nicholas church spire indicated the entrance point to the shipping channel over centuries St Nicholas’s medieval church - the illuminated clock tower was an aid to navigators, and the alignment of Nimmo’s pier and the St Nicholas church spire indicated the entrance point to the shipping channel over centuries

Galway’s harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan has paid tribute to the “safe haven” offered by the city’s St Nicholas’s medieval church as it marks its 700th anniversary writes Lorna Siggins

The illuminated clock tower was an aid to navigators, and the alignment of Nimmo’s pier and the St Nicholas church spire indicated the entrance point to the shipping channel over centuries, Capt Sheridan noted at a special service on Sunday evening.

Christopher Columbus is believed to have prayed there before setting sail to the Americas, and the church was named after St Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of seafarers, Capt Sheridan said. Records from 1585 show that Galway was the busiest port on these islands then after London and Bristol.

"Christopher Columbus is believed to have prayed there before setting sail to the America"

He recalled how ships’ horns in Galway port responded this past new year’s eve when the church bells marked the beginning of the 700th-anniversary celebrations.

The bells rang again 700 times at the weekend, and President Michael D Higgins and deputy Galway mayor Cllr Donal Lyons were among hundreds of people welcomed by Rev Lynda Peilow to the anniversary service.

Participants included Bishop of Tuam Patrick Rooke, the Catholic bishop of Galway Dr Brendan Kelly, Rev Canon John Auchmuty of St Columba’s Parish church in Belfast, Fr Tudor Ghita of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Fr Des Foley of Galway’s Augustinian church, pupils of St Nicholas’s primary school and many parishioners.

The proceeds of the collection were divided equally between the RNLI and Galway OS, a local children’s charity.

A history of Galway market, which has traded outside the church for centuries, is among a number of events planned for both the Galway European capital of culture and the anniversary year, and 700 trees will be planted on Earth Day.

Galway capital of culture’s opening outdoor ceremony had to be cancelled due to Storm Ciara at the weekend, but Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard received the European title at an indoor reception attended by EU Trade commissioner Phil Hogan.

Published in Galway Harbour
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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