Print culture in Loughrea, 1850–1900

Reading, writing and printing in an Irish provincial town

Bernadette Lally

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ISBN: 978-1-84682-116-5
September 2008. 64pp.

This study examines the demand for and supply of print in Loughrea in the second half of the nineteenth century. Literacy levels grew steadily throughout the period and print became an integral part of business and social life. But what were people reading? This study looks at the access to reading facilities provided by reading rooms and the books available through the education system. Loughrea had a printing tradition going back to the middle of the eighteenth century and was unique in the later nineteenth century in having the only literary and local affairs journal published in the west of Ireland. The Loughrea Illustrated Journal was published between 1857 and 1884. The bulk of the content was literary extracts from external sources but it also contained local literary works, news and comment and advertisements from local businesses. It provides a unique insight into the town throughout its long publication run. The journal was published by Thomas Kelly and later by Michel S. Kelly, the family printing and publishing business which supplied much of the printed material for Loughrea during this period and well into the twentieth century.

Bernadette Lally is from Loughrea, Co. Galway. She has worked for Galway County Library and now works in the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology library in Galway.