The recent royal visit of William and Kate prompted us to dig out this photograph of Williamsgate Street taken in August 1903. It was taken just before or after King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra passed through. There were more banners and flags up while they were in the vicinity. The Royals had sailed into Killary Harbour on the royal yacht, then toured Connemara and then travelled by train to Galway. Their visit here was full of pomp and ceremony.
The city was turned into a blaze of colour and decoration with Venetian poles along the route supporting flags, banners, and streamers. Many building facades were individually decorated. The city was full of visitors who came in from the countryside. All business in the shops was suspended after 1pm and after 3pm, no traffic was allowed on the streets.
The King and Queen were driven through the Square, down Shop Street, across O’Brien’s Bridge, down Dominick Street then past the Claddagh to the docks via Wolfe Tone Bridge. They boarded the royal yacht at the docks. While they were here, the Queen had been presented with a Galway cloak made by Alexander Moon, and the King was given a Claddagh ring by Messrs Dillon. Griffin’s Bakery supplied the royal party with bread and confectionery.
The building we see on the far left of our photograph was McCullagh’s which sold books, prints, and had a picture framing service. Beside them was McDonnell’s tearooms where ladies and gentlemen could have freshly made tea and cakes, or ice cream in 24 hours. They made a lot of cakes to order. It was a much-used gathering place for the Volunteers at the time of the Rising and the War of Independence.
Next door was Corbetts which opened in 1894, an extensive hardware business where you could buy anything from a pin to a threshing machine. Beside this was O’Donnells gift shop which sold Irish souvenirs, Connemara marble, and Galway-made toys. Next was John Whelan’s chemist shop which opened in 1898, then Giles’ sweet shop, then an entry into an alleyway that led to the Castle Barracks, and finally there was Dillon’s jewellers which opened 270 years ago.
The buildings on the other side of the street were McNamara’s high class grocery and Fallers jewellers