The egg and butter market

Hely Dutton in his “Statistical and Agricultural Survey of the County of Galway” which was published in 1824, wrote, “The vegetable market near the Main Guard is generally well supplied and at reasonable rates ; all kinds come to market washed, by which means any imperfection is easily detected. The cabbage raised near the sea on seaweed is particularly delicious ---- those who have been used to those cultivated on highly manured ground cannot form any idea of the difference. There are also in the season peaches, strawberries, gooseberries, apples, pears etc.

Lean fowl can be purchased from the country people every Saturday, to be fattened by the consumer. Sometimes fat fowl can be purchased, but this is mere chance. Four or five women, forestallers, frequently buy up the fowl to fatten and then retail them again at the same market, and they often abuse the servants of those who send the fowl to market. I am at a loss to conjecture why they are not brought fat to market as there can be little doubt they would pay well in a town where good living is so much practised”.

Our photograph today was originally taken c.1905 and shows that part of the Saturday market in Church Street which was where women sold eggs and homemade country butter (it had a wonderful earthy taste, but sadly is no more ).

The tree on the left of the photograph is gone. Just opposite it was Heavey’s pub which later became the Genoa and which was badly affected by a major fire in the seventies, as was O’Neill’s Shoe Shop next door which was completely rebuilt after the fire as The Bank of Ireland. The high building housed Bartley Connolly’s business, and subsequently Raftery’s . When this photograph was taken it was all flats, with Miss Oakley’s Tea Rooms on the ground floor. The house next door was occupied by Tom O’Brien, a well-known lamplighter who lit the lamps along the docks and Quay Street every night. Beside him lived the Devaneys. These two houses were knocked into one, and housed John Murray’s antique furniture business for a time. It is where Sheridan’s Cheese Shop is today. Next door was John Naughton, a shoemaker which had previously been occupied by the O’Sullivan family. The rough wall on the far right fronted a derelict site, where Geraghty’s shop is today.

Eggs would have sold for about a shilling and twopence per score at that time, which seems a bit expensive . A lot of dillisc was sold on this corner of the market.... they used to say no matter how tangled your legs were from a feed of porter, a few mouthfuls of dillisc would set you right. It is almost exclusively women who are buying and selling here. Many of the sellers had carried heavy baskets laden with product some miles into town, and if they did not sell, would have to carry the same heavy load all the way home. There is an interesting variety of shawls and baskets in evidence here.

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