A letter from the Lord Lieutenant, Dublin Castle to Rev. James Fleetwood Berry, Rector of Galway, dated 1 August 1903, which accompanied a declaration of gratitude from King Edward VII who had recently visited Galway as part of a tour of Ireland.
The visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to Ireland began on Monday 20 July 1903, leaving Holyhead in Wales on the royal yacht. On Thursday 30 July, having travelled from Mayo through Connemara, a special train was organised to leave from Recess arriving into Galway at 5.15pm. After some formalities, the couple went on procession through the town from Eyre Square, William St., Shop St., Mainguard St., Bridge St., Dominick St., Raven Terrace, Claddagh Fishmarket, New Dock St. and onto the Harbour. From there they boarded a royal yacht to travel onto Cork.
Crowds of people thronged the streets to see the king and queen being brought through the city in an open topped, horse drawn carriage. Some of the newspapers of the time were filled with adverts from locals who were renting out windows at 5s a head to anyone who wanted a good viewing point to see the king as he came through the city. Moons presented Edward’s wife, Queen Alexandra, with a Claddagh cloak.
The letter from King Edward VII expressed gratitude for their ‘loyal greetings’. It goes on to mention the contribution made by men from Connaught in the service of the British Empire. It mentions also the ‘less prosperous’ but hopes a ‘better future is in store for your city and for the entire province’.
The visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to Galway was a controversial trip which took place during a time of rising nationalism in Ireland, coinciding with the centenary of Robert Emmett’s rebellion, and it was strongly opposed in the nationalist press. It also drew a mixed response from local citizens. With a nationalist majority Galway County Council boycotted the visit. Following heated debates, Galway Urban Council voted 8 to 4 in favour of taking part in the official welcome.