St Bridget’s Terrace, one hundred years ago
This aerial photograph of the top of Prospect Hill (which was originally known as St Bridget’s Hill) and the beginnings of Bohermore was taken in the 1950s and was given to us by Fr Des Forde. On the left you can see part of the old County Buildings. The terrace we see to the right of our picture is St Bridget’s Terrace. Before the terrace was built, it was the site of two large reservoirs which were constructed in 1868 to supply water to the city. Water was pumped up from the Dyke Road to these reservoirs by pumps situated in the lane in the centre of our photograph, which was known as Pumpeen Lane.
In the 1890s the landscape here changed with the building of the Prospect Hill Bridge, which really was a cut and cover built in the form of a tunnel to carry the Clifden railway under the main road. The tunnel is still there, though closed up at one end. With the opening of the railway line in 1895, there was a need to provide housing for railway personnel and other workers. Fr Peter Dooley PP had already built a good number of houses for workers, especially in Woodquay. This prompted the urban council to construct 16 houses at O’Donohue’s Terrace and six at the Headford Road. At their meeting of July 26 1910, they proposed a scheme to include 40 houses (St Bridget’s Terrace) at an estimated cost of £6,512 or £312 each. Thirty-two houses were on the terrace itself and eight were facing on to the main street, all built on the site of the former reservoir which by then had been filled in.
In 1912 the houses were finished and occupied at a rent of three shillings a week. Inevitably, there were some problems in the early days but they were soon ironed out and the residents settled in to the general life of the district. Some had allotments on Hidden Valley and on the Headford Road, but as the city developed these patches of ground disappeared under concrete. The local children used to lie on the ground and feel it vibrate when the train passed underneath. A number of residents were involved in the War of Independence, and this resulted in the shooting dead of Hugh Tully, a railway employee and a lodger in No 34, by the Black and Tans on the night of May 11, 1922.
The terrace leading off Pumpeen Lane into the County Buildings was known locally as ‘High Street’ and the terrace at the top of our picture was St Bridget’s Place Upper. The waste ground between it and the main terrace was known to the local children as ‘The Wires’, and behind it was the double wall, an area where the kids played. Another local playground was ‘The Railers’, part of the Clifden railway embankment, and then of course there was the street itself, which was virtually traffic free.
There was always a sense of community on the terrace, and when St Patrick’s Church was being replaced in the early 1970s Patrick Henry and Jack O’Connell collected money on a weekly basis and organised fundraising events for the new church.
That sense of community will be reinforced on June 17 when the residents of St Bridget’s Terrace get together to celebrate the centenary of their street. Fr Des Forde will celebrate Mass at 5pm in the Western Hotel and this will be followed by a night of music, finger food, and entertainment. If you have any connection to the terrace you are welcome, and especially if you can bring any old photographs or documents or news clippings relating to the area. They are hoping to compile a book of reminiscences and images so if you have any material which might be of use, contact William at 091 753 786 or at 086 870 7405.