The Garra Glas (The green field or green garden ) was an area of the Claddagh which corresponds to where the Fire Station is today. Our photograph was taken in the 1930s when things were changing in the area .. the old Claddagh houses were being gradually knocked down to make way for those that are there today. Kerbstones were being laid down to frame the newly laid road surface. The house we see on the left belonged to the Flaherty family. The building next to it was obviously converted from a cottage into a workshop of some kind with the large beam supporting the double doors. Next door was Cubbards. You can see someone peeping out the door.
The gap between it and the next house led down to Raftery's Woollen Mills, which was probably the only manufacturing business in the Claddagh. There were spinners and woollen carders who made black mourning shawls among other things.
The Claddagh church is visible in the background. The gable we see was that of the Mannion family and next to them were the Folans, the Conneelys, the Nees and the Collins. Notice the water pump at the gable. There must have been other such pumps around the village.
One of the characteristics of the Claddagh for the visitor was the pleasant atmosphere created by the smoke from all the turf fires. The houses had no gardens and were very close together in a hospitable kind of way. They were made of thick walls built of rock and stone and mortar and had thatched roofs. They were all well whitewashed on the outside, "one or two are washed with a whitish blue, one or two a shell-pink, and one a canary. Certainly, they are lovely to see, and to be near, because they have a human warmness; no stiff, cold, unapproachable tone about them." Nice words there from Leo R. Ward in 1939 who goes on to say:"The new little houses aren't so attractive, outside or inside, as the poor old ones. Even the open fire, which next after the people, is the soul of an Irish kitchen, does not give to the new houses the peace and calm it gave to the old. And the new houses, though they will in time fit into the landscape, do not have the charm of the old, they do not yet bear themselves with such ease and simplicity."
If you would like to hear more about the Claddagh, especially the Claddagh ring, you can tune in to Gerry Anderson's programme on radio Ulster next Sunday at 1.30pm by clicking on to www.bbc.co.uk/ radioulster.
This evening at 8.30pm, the Old Galway Society is hosting a lecture by the irrepressible Donal Taheny in the Mercy School, Newtownsmyth. The title is "These have I loved" and entertainment is guaranteed. All are welcome.
On Monday next, February 14, The Galway Archeological and Historical Society presents a lecture by Dr. Miriam Moffitt in the Harbour Hotel starting at 8pm. The title is "Protestant Missions in Conamara, 1846-1937" and all are welcome.
Finally, on Wednesday next, Febuary 16, An Taisce is hosting a lecture by Dr. Michael Gibbons on "Recent Discoveries in Conamara", starting at 8pm. The venue is The Ardilaun hotel and again, all are welcome.