The potato market at the Small Crane

This remarkable photograph of the Small Crane (Where was the Big Crane? ) was taken about 1890 with the potato market in full swing. This market was held here regularly, and was an occasion where town met country. Farmers from as far west as Inverin would bring their potatoes into town to sell to shopkeepers and individuals. The scale, which was kept steady by large rocks, was used to weigh the sacks. You can see potatoes stacked loosely on the ground beside the creels.

It has obviously been raining if one is to judge by the puddles on the road and the fact that all the boys we see are wearing caps. Notice the cobbled surface, and also the tracks of the Salthill tramway in the near foreground. The young lady in the centre is keeping a baby warm under her shawl, and the boy in the centre is in his bare feet.

A great pastime among the farmers while waiting for customers was betting on who could lift the heaviest load. One way was to lift a half hundredweight of potatoes in each hand and hold them over your head. Another was to catch one hand by the wrist behind your back and lift the half hundredweight with your free hand. This could also be described as a good test for the kidneys. A lot of money would change hands at these shows of strength.

On Logan’s 1818 map of Galway, this area is known as ‘Lands of Bohernabradagh’. I have an estate map dated 1876 on which the area is called ‘Fahey Beg’, and on which six plots are owned by a Mr. J.B. Ellard. It does not feature as a placename on the 1911 census.

The houses in the background were occupied by Richard Ward; ‘Babs’ Griffin; A sweet shop owned by Richard Ward; John Noone; Patrick Griffin. There was a horse trough behind the scale to the right, and a toll hut behind the scale to the left. Other toll huts around the periphery of the city were at Merchant’s Quay, Forster Street, Bohermore Gap, Woodquay, Railway Gap and Newcastle Gap. This photograph was taken from near “Sullivan’s Entry”, a small entry off Sea Road which contained about four houses. Nora Barnacle’s parents lived there once.

As part of the Western Archeological and Historical Society’s Winter series of lectures, Archeologist Robert Chapell will give a talk on the subject “Killora and Killogilleen Graveyards in Craughwell” in Cheevers Pub, Craughwell tomorrow evening, November 4th at 8pm. All are welcome.


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