Some 100 years before this photograph was taken, most of the area we are looking at would have been under water, the river covered much of what is Woodquay today. Most of the people who lived in the area would have been small farmers or fishermen, their houses (outside the city walls ) made of blocks of stone, often with moss stuffed into the crevices and a roof covered partly with straw, partly with turf. The river provided a rich source of food, though in the city, the fishery, from the Salmon Weir to the sea, was privately owned.
This photograph of Waterside c1885, which we feature courtesy of the National Library, shows the old salmon weir in the foreground. This weir was built from stone and wood to control the water levels on the lake. Construction took place as part of the major drainage and navigation scheme in the mid 19th century. Only two of the original gates remain as part of the current structure.
The house we see on the left was Horgan’s and to the left of that again was Sarsfield’s Yard, and you can just about make out the outline of the houses in Bohermore in the background. To the right of Horgans, on the corner, was Dooley’s Yard. Behind that, in the far distance, you can see the old County Infirmary, which would later become the County Buildings. On the opposite corner was Lally’s house, later occupied by Cookes. To the right of that was Lydon’s and on the right of picture, you can see Corrib Castle, which was for a time occupied by the O’Connor family.
To the right of that again there were large sheds which, at one time, were a grain store. In fact, Corrib Castle may also have been part of this grainstore, because there was quite a large furnace in it when the O’Connors moved in. The castle was owned by James G Alcorn of Corundulla until 1926.
All of the buildings were part of the Erasmus Smith Estate.
The photograph was taken in winter as you can see from the leafless trees in the background. The small trees along the embankment have obviously been recently planted.
Old Galway Society is hosting a lecture in the Victoria Hotel this evening at 8pm. It will be given by Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh on the subject of “Galway through the eyes of strangers c1850-1914”. All are welcome.