The Corrib Hosiery Factory

This factory was situated in Newtownsmith in a tall building that later became part of the ESB complex. It was quite a big employer of the day in the city, employing mostly young girls and women.

It was described by Jane Hackett (née Gallagher ) as follows: “I really didn’t have to apply for the job. There was this woman, a manageress, Nellie Kavanagh – she was Mrs Hehir afterwards – who lived over in Woodquay in McDonagh’s Terrace, and my mother asked her was there any vacancies in the Hosiery, and she said ‘send her over on Monday morning’. She said she’d see the manager and that’s how I got the job. It was very well looked after, a clean place to work, very spacious. You weren’t confined. There were different sections. On the ground floor there were the looms and upstairs you’d have the winding.

"We went in there at half past eight every morning and worked till six o’clock. I had seven shillings and six pence at the start but that went up to 15 shillings. We had an hour of a break for lunch and we’d go home to eat. The siren would blow and we’d all be looking forward to the siren blowing. There was never a canteen and there weren’t any tea breaks. In the Hosiery, they’d have a contract with the industrial schools, you know, Letterfrack and the Christian Brothers in Lower Salthill. We used to make socks and jumpers for them. Then there was an awful lot of people that would come in, ‘big shots’ we used to call them, that had their children boarding, that wanted their uniforms made. We made a lot for Kylemore Abbey. We usually had Saturday off but if there was a big rush, say for the industrial schools, getting the contract out like, we’d be working until one o’clock on Saturdays.

"Mr Redington and Mr Boylan were the managers of the Corrib Hosiery, and they managed the Woollen Mills as well. In later years of course, they managed the Woollen Mills only. Bernard Boylan lived in one of the three houses facing the Dyke Road and his daughter was at school with me. They weren’t strict bosses, they wouldn’t interfere with you if you were doing your work. When I was in the Hosiery and Mr Redington would be sitting in the office, there was a big window looking out to where we would be doing the machines, and that time, they were the real old time knitting machines – you’d be strangled with them – with a big handle and you’d be pulling the handle back and over … but you could take your time, you could rest your hands if you wanted to. They never harassed you or told you to get on with your work or anything like that.”

She spent four or five years working there until it closed in the early 1930s. There were three thatched cottages beside it in Newtownsmsith belonging to the Dolan, Smith, and Conneely families.

Jane Gallagher was born in Tipperary but moved to St Brendan’s Avenue with her family when she was three months old. Her father, Michael Gallagher (originally from Mohill ) was in the Connaught Rangers. She went to school in the Mercy Convent until she was 15, there was no secondary school at the time, and she went to work straight away in the Hosiery.

Our photograph shows the winding room at the top of the house. It dates from c1900 and is from the Mason Collection in the National Library, to whom we are grateful.

All of the above information comes from an interview Jane did in a book entitled Growing up in Galway: Histories and Memories, edited by Sarah-Anne Buckley and John Cunningham, which was published by Eva Books in conjunction with Galway City Museum in 2017.

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