The Ivy Hotel

The Ivy Hotel in Eyre Street was known as Baker’s Hotel during the Black and Tan era. Captain Baker, who had served in the war, lived there with his daughters. A number of Black and Tans, including the infamous Krumm, lived there, and others frequented the hotel. The girls were friendly with the Tans and the local IRA took a poor view of this.

One of the daughters, Eileen, came downstairs early one morning and opened the front door for the postman. “I turned my back and the folding doors were flung open. Six tall men came in wearing black clothes all over their heads and faces. One man walked up to me with a revolver and pulled me to the middle of the hall, whilst the man behind caught my plait — I had my hair in plaits at the time — near the head. They cut the plait with a single clip. They said very little but they searched all the police coats and caps before they walked out. The man with the revolver had a razor, as if they intended to shave my head.” Miss Baker’s head was cropped close.

That night, during curfew hours, parties of men, carrying revolvers and electric torches, wearing black and white masks, slouch hats, and uniforms called on the houses of Mrs Madden, St Brendan’s Terrace; Mrs Broderick, Prospect Hill; and Mr Turke, College Road. Miss Gertie Madden, Miss Margaret Broderick, and Miss Margaret Turke were taken outside and their hair cropped close with three pairs of scissors wielded by three men, while a fourth held a torch.

The hotel was fully licensed, had electric light and central heating throughout, and a very good billiard table which proved to be very popular. It was described as ‘a home from home’.

In 1937, the hotel was bought by Miss Julia Puniard, who was always known as ‘The Matron’ as she had spent some years as matron in Summerhill College. The facade of the building was covered in ivy, and this gave the hotel its new name. She catered for a number of permanent guests, but most people who stayed there came to Galway on business or for a short holiday. One of the permanent guests was Charlie Costelloe whose family had been in the flour business. He originally lived in The Croft in Taylor’s Hill, and when his father died, he moved into the Royal Hotel. He transferred to the Ivy after the Royal closed. The famous Limerick hurling goalkeeper Paddy Scanlon was also a permanent guest, as was Mrs Wade, an irrepressible elderly widow who died tragically when a man running on the footpath knocked her down and seriously injured her. The distinguished national school teacher and much loved Taibhdhearc actor Cyril Mahony lived there until the Ivy closed, and then he moved to an apartment in Dominick Street.

Our photograph was taken c1975 from Rosemary Avenue and was kindly given to us by Mixie Clarke. As you can see from the gable, there had been another building attached to the left of the hotel as we look at it. The structure we see in the distance was the back of the County Buildings.

On Wednesday next, An Taisce is hosting a lecture in The Ardilaun at 8pm. The title is Traditional Death Customs in Rural Ireland. It will be given by Anne Ridge and all are welcome.

Tom Kenny [email protected]

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