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Dominican Sisters at Galway City Museum

Galway City Museum was delighted to welcome the sisters from the Dominican convents in Galway and Dublin, to an event to commemorate a three-hundred-year-old reliquary donated by the Sisters to the Museum in 2022.


The Dominican Sisters have a long history in Galway, first establishing a convent here in 1644.  Having fled to Spain in 1652, two nuns, Sr Julian Nolan and Sr Mary Lynch returned to Galway in 1686 and re-established the convent in Kirwan’s Lane (where Busker Browne’s is now).

The reliquary of St Ursula was made by Galway silversmith Richard Joyce – of Claddagh Ring fame – in 1723, to hold the reputed remains of St Ursula, a fourth-century British princess who tradition relates was martyred along with her 11,000 female followers by the Huns while on a pilgrimage to Rome. The dome of the reliquary is inscribed with the words: ‘Pray for sisr Marg’ of ye Rosary Joyce, who procured ye inclosed Religies of st Ursulla for ye Dominican Convent of Nuns Gallway & adorned ym with y casc ye 18 of June 1723.’ It is likely the reliquary was commissioned especially to house the remains.

Galway City Museum is indebted to the Dominican sisters for their contribution to the collections and to the people of Galway.  In 2011 a collection of embroidered textiles, including chalice veils and altar frontals dating to the seventeenth and eighteen centuries was donated.  Many of the pieces have since been conserved through funding from the Heritage Council.  The most recent donation to the Museum is a collection of silver, dating again to the seventeenth and eighteen centuries, most of which was made by craftsmen in the locality.

At a special Object Spotlight Event two expert speakers, Dr Dagmar O’Riain-Raedall and Raghnall Ó Floinn gave lectures on the subject of the Reliquary of St Ursula and it’s history with the Dominicans.  Watch the filmed TALKS.



Left to right: Eithne Verling, Galway City Museum, Sr Michael (Peggy) Noone, Sr. Joan O’ Shanahan, Sr. Catherine Campbell, Sr. Alberta Lally, (seated), Helen Bermingham, Galway City Museum, Sr Padraigin Mc Kenna, Sr. Caitriona Gorman and Sr. Patricia St George.



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