The actual cutting of what we now know as The Eglinton Canal began in March 1848. It provided much needed work during the Famine. It began at the Corrib Club and entered the sea near the Claddagh Church. The filling they dug out was used to fill terraces in UCG (which was also being built at the time ) and to fill in the causeway behind Claddagh Quay. The Claddagh Basin and the Claddagh Quays were constructed to cater for the 300 boats which were operating out of the Claddagh at the time.
Our photograph was taken from an unusual angle some 35 years later and shows the beginnings of the Claddagh village on the left and Raven Terrace towards the centre. The two storey building on the left of picture was the Claddagh National School, known locally at the time as Miss Deeney’s School – Mrs Burke, Miss Browne, and Miss McDonagh taught there. Some of the houses on the other side of the school were occupied by Mrs Long, Honor Connor, Flahertys, and Walter Smith. The beehive thatch cottage in front of it, known as “The Round Tower” or “The Round Top”, belonged to Mrs Conneely who was known as Máire Dhá Láimhe.
The gable facing us was McDonagh's, better known as Donny’s Sweet Shop. Some of the houses behind that were occupied by ‘Shiners’ Conneely, Turkes, and Johnny Garry. The gap between the ‘Round Top’ and Donny’s shop led to a field known as the “Flaggers”, which would be the beginning of Father Griffin Road today.
Raven Terrace, Árdán na bhFiach, first appeared on a map in 1839 with no name, but it has been called by its name since 1846. You can see the Canal Lock House on Dominick Street Bridge in the background. The Wolfe Tone Bridge was originally built to connect the Claddagh with the Fishmarket. It was a temporary wooden affair and one needed to be brave to cross it. It was replaced by an iron bridge which was a major advance in terms of health and safety on its predecessor. There was a lovely 19th century piseog concerning this bridge, surely invented by Claddagh women, that any man coming home this way after midnight with drink on him, was sure to be attacked by a gliomach, a sea monster.
The trees we see on the right of our photograph have since gone.
Thanks to Galway County Library for today’s image.