College House, a brief history

This photograph was originally taken in 1983 as the corporation was preparing to knock down the high wall that ran around St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church and replace it with the railings that had surrounded Eyre Square… one of the better Quincentennial projects that helped improve the face of Galway.

At the end of Church Lane you can see College House. It fronted on to Market Street, and behind it was the Monastery School and, behind that again, Bowling Green. The residence of the Patrician Brothers was to the east of the enclosed quadrangle of the school, and the outoffices to the west thereof. In 1650 College House was on the site of the Athy Castle, reputedly the first stone castle built in Galway. On June 23 1703, as the property of James Rutledge (who had been accused of treason ) and occupied by his wife Catherine, it was sold by the trustees for selling forfeited estates for £60 by cant in trust for Her Majesty. Shortly afterwards, it was converted to a barracks.

On December 10 1822, Lieutenant General Freeman conveyed the site, which had been described as a barracks, now described as ‘house, yard, garden and old castle’ to the Rev Edmond French. Two years later it was conveyed to Rev Patrick Mooney and Rev Mark Finn as trustees to allow Rev E French to use it as a school. On October 27 1836 it was conveyed to Mark Finn, L O’Donnell, Peter Daly, J Kirwan, and B Roche.

According to a pamphlet by Peter Daly, College House was built in 1827 at a cost of £800. William Brady was the architect. £30 was paid to Robert Doyle for the railings and front gates, and £20 was spent on sundries.

There is a reference in a list of documents held by Fr Peter Daly as secretary of the college to an indenture by D French, FX Blake, Dermot Noone, John Lowther, Laurence O’Donnell, Mark Finn, Peter Daly, Andrew Martin, Joseph Kirwan, April 3 1827, for securing money borrowed for the building of College House from the funds of the Free School.

In January 1916, £180 was due to the school fund. The payment of £20 by College House was ceased by order of the bishop in 1949. Between August 1938 and February 1939, Rev P Glynn spent £600 on a new hall and in converting the old library into a dining room, and the old dining room into a kitchen. From then on the Diocesan conferences were held there and dinner served to the clergy. Previous conferences were in St Mary’s College, but no dinner was served.

Our thanks to Tom Kilgarriff in the Diocesan Office for the above.

On Monday next, October 11 at 8pm in the Harbour Hotel, the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society will host a lecture intriguingly titled ‘Patrick Lyons, Antiquarian, Policeman and Indefatigable Colleague of Hubert Knox.’ It will be giver by Máire Lohan and all are welcome to attend.

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