The Claddagh market

Grace Henry was born in Aberdeen in 1868. She studied art in Paris where she worked with Andre Lhote. It was there she met the Irish artist Paul Henry, and they married in 1903. They returned to Ireland to paint. In 1912 they went on holiday to Achill Island, and ended up staying there for eight years. They both painted a lot on the island, but also in other areas in the west. Her work was very influenced by Paul in those years. Eventually they moved back to Dublin and, in the late 1920s, they separated. They continued to paint and each developed a major artistic reputation. Grace died in 1953.

This painting of hers, which probably dates from the Achill period, is titled Claddagh Market. It is of interest because there are so few historical paintings of Galway. In this picture she uses expressionistic colour and fluid painterly brushwork. The image is simplified and veers slightly towards abstraction. This painting is currently on show in a retrospective exhibition in the Jorgensen Fine Art Gallery in Dublin and we show it courtesy of the AIB collection. It is a very good example of Grace Henry’s work.

It is also of interest to us because of the Galway connection. The only market we know of in the Claddagh was the turf market, which took place every Saturday. Farmers would bring cartloads of turf and assemble opposite where the fire station is today. They would do business there, but there were no stalls there or people selling vegetables or any other kind of goods. We think the artist took artistic licence with the title as well as with the painting, and that this picture was painted at the Saturday market in front of St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. We also think she may have made a preliminary drawing there and then finished the painting later on Achill. The striped shawl in the foreground is not a Galway shawl but is morel like the kind Paul Henry painted on Achill. She may have associated the shawled women with the Claddagh. The two ladies in the foreground were customers as was the one far left, while the one on the right (who seems to be holding a jug ) was behind a stall and selling. The canopy over the next stall was well put together and while we cannot say what was being sold there, we think it may have been colourful clothes which would have needed protection from the rain. This would also explain the flash of blue under the canopy, it could have been a blue cloak hanging in under the canopy. The male figure in the background was from out of town wearing his soft ‘cáibín’.

We had the biggest entry ever for our Christmas Crossword. I want to thank Dick Byrne especially for his help in driving so many people nuts with his clues. The correct answers were: Across: 1, All Blacks; 3, Nile Lodge; 7, Puff; 11, Wig; 14, National; 15, Ass; 16, Good; 17, Devon Park; 18, Hotel; 19, Genoa; 21, Race; 22, Pants; 24, Newspaper; 25, Sawdoctors; 27, Over; 28, Walter; 29, Pampooties; 31, Green; 33, Value; 35, Rudder; 36, Ocean; 38, Music; 39, Rugby; 44, Burke O’Hara; 46, Safety; 51, Axle; 52, Yeats; 53, Corrib; 54, Amateur; 56, Olly Jennings; 59, Dooley; 61, Claddagh Ring; 63, Aran; 64, Sea Road; 67, Blake; 69, Tiller; 70, Collerans; 72, Cathedral; 73, Lady; 74, Beggars; 76, Anthony Ryans; 78, Ffont; 80, Daly; 81, College; 83, Lydons; 84, Bish; 85, News; 87, Gasworks; 88, Mart; 89, Higgins; 91, NUIG; 92, Advertiser; 96, Theatre; 97, Mammal; 98, Valve; 99, Augie; 100, Taxi rank; 103, The Mon; 105, Hat; 106, Person; 108, Skeff; 110, Orchestra; 112, Town Hall; 113, St Clerans; 114, Victoria; 115, Baboro; 116, Cottage; 117, Mozart.

Clues down: 1, Lynch; 4, Dunsandle; 5, Topper; 6, Morris; 7, Peter; 8, Mix; 9, Fair; 10, Book; 12, Galway Omnibus Co; 13, Clipper; 16, Garavans; 17, Darcy; 20, West; 23, House; 25, Savoy; 26, Sword; 30, Arch; 31, Green Dragon; 32, Eyre Square; 34, McCambridges; 37, Carlton; 40, Christy; 41, Taxman; 42, Spanish; 43, Molloy; 45, Horse; 47, Face; 48, Ground; 49, Warwick; 50, Mace; 55, Ros na Run; 57, Railway; 58, Shoes; 60, Yacht; 62, Lenaboy; 64, Salthill; 65, Mills; 66, Jesuits; 67, Boots; 68, Arts Festival; 70, Cattle; 71, Abbeygate; 72, Coat; 73, Lancers; 75, Socks; 77, All that; 79, Maxwell; 81, Carriage; 82, Estoria; 85, Newcastle; 86, Side; 90, Skehanagh; 93, Shirt; 94, Rovers; 95, Flamenco; 101, Astaire; 102, Jacket; 104, Martin; 107, Volvo; 109, Bobby; 111, Jazz.

The photographs were of Merchants Road where there is a car park and a hostel today; Part of Murray’s house and shop at Nile Lodge; Abbeygate Street, Johnny McMahon; Presentation Sisters, Presentation Road; Lombard Street, Geraghtys; and corner of Abbeygate St and Whitehall, Renault.

The first all correct answer drawn out of Dick’s hat came from Peter Connolly, Forramoyle West, Barna. Many congratulations, Peter, your prize is on the way.


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