A May procession in the Claddagh, c1935

This photograph was originally taken from the top of the high wall which fronted the town dump in the area of the Claddagh still known as ‘The Swamp’ in 1931. In the early years of the 20th century Galway’s Parliamentary Representative Stephen Gwynn prompted the Government to award a grant of £450 for the reclamation of this marshy ground between the Claddagh and the seashore, which was prone to flooding, and as a result a half-mile racing track in the shape of a rectangle with rounded corners was built around the perimeter of the area. It cannot have been very successful, because some time afterwards the area became the site for the city dump. In 1931 the Carnegie Trust presented the city with a grant of £500 to help develop part of the site into a number of playing pitches. This development was a gradual process and eventually, in the early fifties, the whole area was converted into a municipal park devoted entirely to sporting activities. The high wall was largely knocked and reduced to its present height. It took a while to completely clear the ground... many who played matches there at the time remember taking lumps of glass or tin out of the surface of the playing pitch and leaving them on the side wall.

This part of Frenchville known as ‘the Coast Road’ and was originally a rough track. It was properly surfaced in the 1920s. The May procession was a Claddagh tradition which involved many of the people who lived there. It would leave the church and take various routes through the village before finishing up back in the church. The group in our photograph seem to be first communicants from the local national school in the care of some of their teachers. Many of the kids are wearing sandals... do you remember the wonderful sense of liberation when you put on sandals for the first time after the winter, and how fast you could run? They are carrying a variety of banners which probably represented various sodalities. As you can see, the locals put out a lot of bunting for the occasion. Notice the shawled spectators on the right.

The buildings in the background were known as ex-servicemen’s houses. They were built by the Government in the early 1930s for people who had served in the war. Each house had a large garden to encourage the residents to grow their own vegetables. There were 24 of these houses in all, number 24 being on the far left. Number 24 belonged to the Skuse family, later the Fahys; Number 23 was Heffernans, then Duffys, Gardiners, Whites, O’Donnells, Williams, Irwins, Creans, Tyrrells, McNamaras, Higgins, Coffeys (later Flanagans ), Listons, Whitehouses, Hynes, Hehirs, Devlins, Barnetts, Portlands, and Brodericks.

Further along this road is Beattystown, which is supposedly named after a general who fought in World War I.

Our thanks to Mrs Eileen Murphy for her help with the above.

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