Previously the modern Grand Jury system enacted under the Act of 1836 had charge of county expenditure. The Grand Jury was selected by the Sheriff of the county, who was himself appointed by the Lord lieutenant. The Presentment session, were called in each barony previous to the assizes, and were composed of the local justices and a number of cess payers selected from a sort of panel of the highest payers of county rates, prepared by the Grand jury at the previous assizes. It was the duty of these sessions to first consider presentments for works, etc which subsequently came for ratification or rejected before the GJ at the ensuing assizes. The expenses of the system were provided for out of the GJ cess, levied off the baronies and other divisions of the county and off the county at large. The GJ responsibilities included the making and repair of roads, bridges, the construction and maintenance of courthouses, the county printing, and the administration of a number of statutes. They were also obliged to levy rates off the county for the support of lunatic asylums, county infirmaries, industrial schools, coroners, certain constabulary charges, the conveyance of prisoners, guarantees to railways or tramways, and other less important matters, down to the payment of court criers and tipstaffs. The GJ also considered claims for malicious injury to property, and criminal injuries to constables or witnesses, sustained in consequence of their duties.
Poor Law Unions: The poor law act for the ‘more effectual Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland’ was introduced to Ireland by the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act, 1838 and operated until 1923. The Poor Law system was originally constituted for the sole purpose of relieving paupers in workhouses, but by the 1880’s had gathered to itself a great variety of powers.
Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898 county councils and rural district councils were established. The poor law guardians were also the rural district Councillors; the same individuals but working in a separate capacity. From 1898 the Boards of Guardians were ‘restricted to poor relief and dispensary district work and were relieved of their power to strike a poor rate’ . The district councils were granted responsibility for the Unions’ functions relating to housing and sanitary services. These functions were in turn transferred to council councils in 1925 following the dissolution of rural district councils under the Local Government Act of that year.
When the Poor Law was abolished in 1925 the Guardians' remaining functions were transferred to county councils, and administered through Boards of Health and Public Assistance. These Boards were established by County Councils in countries outside of Dublin under the Local Government Act, 1925 to operate as executive committees of the county council to perform health, sanitary and housing functions, assuming responsibility for administering measures against infectious diseases and tuberculosis, sanitary arrangements, labourers’ cottages schemes, water and sewerage schemes and school medical services in small towns and villages. The Boards were abolished in 1942 and their functions taken over by the County Council. The workhouses were replaced by a system of county homes for the old and infirm and hospitals for the sick. Outdoor relief was replaced by home assistance.
The County Council's functions and responsibilities have evolved overtime, depending on changing legislation. For instance from the early 1960s it acquired functions in respect of the provision for proper planning and town development, and from the 1990s onwards it acquired additional functions regarding the protection of the environment. It also acquired responsibility for administering varoius grants and support schemes, such as those for the the promotion, development and protection of the arts, and heritage . In the early 1970s its functions relating to health care and public assistance were transferred to the newly established Health Boards.
Archival History ↴
Official transfer from Galway County Council
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Galway County Council ↴
Volumes of minutes of proceedings of Galway County Council, recording attendance, correspondence and business transacted.
From November 1922 (2nd 1/4 of volume 3) onwards the minutes, and generally the agenda, are printed and pasted into the volume. The minutes are, from this point, numbered, and primarily consist of short direct resolutions and / or orders. Also includes several annotations throughout Vol. 4; such as ‘copy to relatives’ ‘work to Co. Surveyor’, and ‘Done’.
Matters discussed include the full range of areas of responsibilities of the Council dealing with the collection of rates and the main programme groups relating to the building and maintenance of roads and bridges, water and sewerage schemes, environment, housing, from c. 1963 planning issues, personnel and general purpose or corporate services, and prior to the establishment of the Health Board in the early 1970s health and related issues.
The minutes reflect the evolution of the Council and growth in its responsibilities, the introduction of County Managers, relations with associated bodies and authorities, and degrees of centralised control exerted on it from central government, such as with the abolition of domestic rates, local authorities became funded from central government, and thus had less direct power .
Minues also relate:
– To Rural District Councils prior to their abolition in 1925. Prior to this the County Council mainly approved Co. Surveyor’s recommendations relating to roads etc ; County Council dealt for the most part with the collection of rates, administration of Court Houses (during the 1920s the cost of repairs to them following occupation by military), staffing issues such as appointments, and superannuation, and liaising with Rural District Councils.
– To the amalgamation of Poor Law Union under Board of Health and Public Assistance through to the eventual establishment of Health Boards in the 1970s; – subsequent uses for workhouse premises and lands .
Selection of various committees e.g. Finance, Buildings, Agriculture, Lunatic Asylum
– To the addition of new functions in particular relating
* to planning from the mid 1960s onwards,
* from the 1970s as a result of funding from the EEC (European Economic Community, now European Community) the drive to improve and build better roads, water and sewerage schemes, and introduce and implement new procedures to adhere to EC laws and directives in particular relating to environmental issues (such as waste management) and the necessity to comply with new laws, Environmental Impact Studies and so on ;
* from the 1980s to the development of an Arts programme,
* from the 1990s relating to Heritage and its protection
* from end of 1990s to early the 2000s a drive to introduce Better Local Government – Special Programme Committees – increase involvement and control of elected Councillors and stream-line management.
Also includes minutes relating to the Council’s
– Liaisons with IDA ; Health Boards ; Dept of Environment ; Environment Protection Agency (EPA) ; Arts Council ; Heritage Council
– Incentives to international companies to establish business in area, provide employment etc
Appraisal Destruction ↴
The collection is arranged chronologically.
Conditions of Access & Use
Minutes from 1899 to 2011 are available online at http://www.galway.ie/digitalarchives/, or on microfilm at Island House by appointment. Unrestricted access.
The material in this collection is available to all bona fide researchers by appointment only, and subject to the conditions of access governing the consultation of archival material at Galway County Council Archives.
Conditions Governing Reproduction
No material may be reproduced from this collection without the written permission of the archivist, and reproductions are subject to the conditions of access.