Fair day, Eyre Square, September 2, 1926

This photograph of a cattle fair on Eyre Square was taken looking toward the west. The buildings in the distance were, on the far left, Gilbey’s, drinks distributors which later moved premises to William Street; next to it was Webb’s Hotel. This was originally built in 1810 and was known as the Clanricarde Arms. It was later known as Kilroy’s Hotel, then Murphy’s, until it was taken over by Joe Delaney and he changed the name to The Imperial Hotel.

To the right of that was Black’s Royal Hotel. It was taken over by Mrs Webb (from next door ) in 1867 and became known as Mack’s Royal Hotel. In 1909, Miss Dunn was the proprietor and she eventually sold it to JT Costelloe and he, in turn, sold it in 1952. It was then demolished and rebuilt as Woolworths.

Beside that was Lenihan’s tea, wine, and spirit merchants which opened for the first time in 1864. It was a high class grocery which imported lots of exotic food and was also contracted to the Galway Hospital and the Galway Union. The building was eventually converted into a pub and restaurant known as The Tavern.

The two buildings at the end have not changed at all.

The buildings we see in profile on the far right were Hayes McCoy’s Haircutting Rooms and next to him was Frank Leonard’s drapery shop. The building at the end, on the corner of Rosemary Avenue, was at one time Burke’s Posting Establishment where you could buy or rent cabs, open carriages, or landaus. It was subsequently taken over by James J Ward and converted into a garage. The first petrol pumps in Galway were installed here in 1918.

Fair days were common events in Eyre Square. Cattle fairs in Galway were originally held at Fairhill but moved to this location towards the end of the 19th century. In addition to the cattle fairs, the Square played host to sheep fairs, horse fairs, pig fairs, turf markets, hay markets, sock markets, etc. There was also the market with no dignity, the gathering of spailpíns at the railings opposite the Skeffington Arms Hotel. These were unemployed men who came mostly from west of the city and who were hoping to be employed as labourers by farmers from east or south of the city.

This photograph includes an interesting piece of industrial archaeology in the shape of the trough we see on the left, which was used to water the animals.

This image is from the Murphy Negative Collection and is shown courtesy of the Tipperary County Council Library Service.

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