De Burgo’s mansion

This wonderful photograph, dated c1865, shows a carved stone doorway in Market Street, an interesting example of Renaissance work, almost certainly earlier than the Browne Doorway.

The date was thought to be 1602, and the deep dripstone to indicate Spanish influence. On the 1651 map of the city this doorway is marked as the house of Sir Peter French. He actually died in 1631, but as the builder and original owner of the house, it still bore his name. The left handed spandrel contained the French coat of arms and the right hand spandrel had the Browne coat of arms. The decoration on the frieze was of a beautiful design, but while the pattern was carried around all the other angles, it was a curious circumstance that in the centre, it was broken for the sake of the insertion of the Burke arms. During the 19th century, this building was known as De Burgo’s Mansion. Notice the beautifully carved dripstones over the windows left and right.

To the left of this house was an old building which once housed an Augustinian nunnery, and to the left of that again was College House. To the right of this doorway there lived, at the beginning of the last century, a man called Michael John Cosgrave who was known as The Potato King, and who also sold cabbages and other vegetables. He used to have strings of dead rabbits hanging on the wall outside for sale

Next door to him was Michael John Horan, and the house on the corner of Market Street and Abbeygate Street was occupied by a Mrs D’Arch who ran a sweet shop.

This magnificent doorway would be on the right of the facade of the Connacht Tribune offices as you look at it today. It was a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and design, and it is a great shame it is not there any more. It probably led into a yard where one could have stabled horses and stored a cart or a trap. Notice the flags on the footpath outside the doorway and the cobblestones on the path to the left and right. The building looks a bit derelict. I am not sure what the man sitting in the doorway was doing.

This is another of the wonderful collection of old Galway photographs recently discovered in Britain’s oldest public library, Chetham’s Library in Manchester, and we thank the library for permission to use it today.

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