The Balfour Album of photographs was originally created in 1893-1895 by the Belfast photographer, Robert John Welch. It was a gift to the former Chief Secretary for Ireland, Arthur J. Balfour in recognition of his support for the building of the Galway-Clifden Railway. The album was presented to Arthur Balfour in the summer of 1896, a year after the railway had opened. It remained in the property of the Balfour family until 1987 when the then Earl of Balfour offered to sell it to the National Library of Ireland. Staff at the National Library felt that it more properly belonged in Galway and it was accordingly offered to the Librarian of the James Hardiman Library who purchased it for the library's collection. Read more about the Balfour Album.

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