The egg and butter market, Woodquay

This photograph of that part of the Woodquay market at the corner with Eyre Street, was taken c 1890. It was here that country women gathered to sell their eggs and country butter. The market had a long tradition in Woodquay even at that time.

In her book Old Galway, Professor Donovan O’Sullivan mentions the market in Woodquay where wood and timber, brought down by boats, were sold. She wrote that the natives brought in turf, wood wattles, frieze lyncloth (linen cloth ), broad cloth, corn, grain, honey and poultry.”

In 1840, Reverend Peter Daly complained: “That the establishment of a turf and vegetable market in Market Street and Lombard Street is a great annoyance to the public, and that we strongly recommend to the Mayor and Magistrates the propriety of having the persons accustomed to take standings there for the sale of these articles, to be removed to the neighbourhood of the Wood Quay, the New Bridge and Gas Works, where there appears to be an abundance of spare room, which might be occupied by those persons with infinitely less annoyance to the public.”

By the time our photograph was taken, the market in Woodquay was mainly for the sale of potatoes, with this corner reserved for the sale of eggs and butter. They also sold turf here, and occasionally, one could buy scallops for thatching. The derelict corner building we see was later developed and became Creavin’s boot shop. It was subsequently occupied by O’Connor TV, then Brian O Malley’s flower shop and today it is occupied by Richard Hughes, an optician. Next door on the Woodquay side was Miss Paisley’s boarding house, and beside that was O’Halloran’s….Mr O’Halloran was a foreman in McDonogh’s. Beyond that was Dooley’s shop and yard. They had a natural well on the premises and sold mineral waters. They also made pikes and pitchforks. Next door was Murphy’s pub (Mr Murphy was from Kilbeg ), then Tim Lally’s pub and then William Glynn’s house. Mr Glynn sold a lot of milk.

The buildings behind our photographer were occupied by Burke’s sweet shop, Mrs Greaney’s (later Heaneys ), and Peter Cosgraves.

In the distance you cane see some of the buildings on either side of Abbey Lane, and among those who lived on that side of Woodquay at the time were Johnny Lee’s pub and boot shop, Rabbitte’s bakery, Hessions, Michael John Noone, Miss Dooley’s shop, Fordes, Kavanaghs, Fitzpatricks, Fahys, Sarsfields grocery shop, James Forde’s pub, and Greaney’s pub.

There is an interesting array of shawls and cloaks on view in this photograph.

The name Woodquay is self explanatory, deriving from Bárr an Chalaidh. It appeared as ‘Barrcally’ in a 1622 document. It takes a real local to be able to pronounce Borahalla correctly.

At one time, the space we know as Woodquay was all underwater. The Corrib came right up to where our photograph was taken.


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