An important stage in Galway’s housing drive was reached in 1952 when the Minister for Local Government, Mr P Smith, opened three housing schemes comprising 142 new houses, 12 at Ballybrit, 30 in the Claddagh, and 100 in Shantalla.
Shantalla, derived from Sean Talamh or Old Ground, was largely green fields and agricultural until the end of the 19th century when a Mr Miller, a Scotsman, rented the fisheries on the Corrib. In order to find work for his men during the winter months, he employed them in quarrying and polishing local marble. They noticed a lot of red stones on the surface of Col Courtenay’s property and when some of these were wrought and polished, it was discovered the material was valuable. By 1900 the Galway Granite & Marble Works Company was formed and in 1911 they built a one and a half mile branch railway line along what is now Seamus Quirke Road, from the Maunsells Road quarry to the Clifden railway line. The quarry was closed in the early 1940s and a few years later Galway Corporation devised a plan to construct the housing estate we know as Shantalla today.
The building work, the laying of the roads and footpaths, etc, took some years, but in 1952, Costelloe Road, Redington Road, Colmcille Road, Ashe Road, etc, came into existence. Ashe Road is named after a local councillor, Maggie Anne Ashe from Cross Street.
The first residents on the road were at No 1, Vincent Scally; 2, Patrick Holland; 3, Mrs Morkan; 4, Lawrence Wynne; 5, Frank Nally; 6, Michael Dooley; 7, Thomas Conroy; 8, Tom Browne; 9, Mrs McElroy; 10, Mrs Agnes Keegan; 11, John J Kelly; 12, Colm Cooke; 13, Mrs Kathleen Barden; 14, John Folan; 15, George Walsh; 16, William Leech; 17, Patrick Regan; 18, John Lally; 19, John Lane; 20, Martin Murphy; 21, John Donohue; 22, Michael Kyne; 23, Mary Mulveen; 24, FJ Kilkelly; 25, Joyces; 26, McEvoys (Ryans ); 27, Clohertys; 28, O’Donohues; 29, Connells; 30, Kavanaghs (Conneelys ); 31, Flahertys; 32, Crowleys; 33, Currans; 34, Joyces (Murphys ); 35, Lydons; 36, Kings (Smiths ); 37, Rigneys; 38, McCarthys (Mitchells ); 39, McDonaghs; 40, Wileys; 41 Reas; 42, Coynes; 43, Regans; 44, Keanes; 45, Sullivans (Walshs ); 46, Leapers (Dooleys ).
The vacant area at the top of the road was known as ‘The Flaggers’ and next to that was ‘The Stream’ and Mick O’Malley’s Boreen.
When blessing the estate, the bishop said: “Through the efforts of the Corporation, healthy, magnificent and spacious homes were now ready in Shantalla, ready for so many husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and children. The children are the hope of Galway and Ireland for the future and I wish the tenants of the new houses peace in their homes and peace with their neighbours.” This blessing obviously had an effect as there has always been a sense of community on the road, and they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the road with the publication of a book of memories by many of the residents. This weekend they celebrate the 60th anniversary with a social event in the Westwood Hotel on Saturday, a wonderful opportunity to reminisce and rekindle the bonds of a common past. Tickets are €30 and available from Tom Nally at 087 9547 570.
Our photograph shows a gang of local young people, mostly from Ashe Road, taken about 1973. They are, front row: Joe Butler, Michael Keane, Martin McDonagh, Joe Wynne, Martin Joe Joyce, Eddie Rigney. At the back are Anthony Wiley, Jody Curran, Seán Higgins, PJ Keane, Alan Glynn, Maureen Nally, Anne Nally, Gerard Nally, Ollie Dooley, Mary Lally, Tim Sullivan, Patricia Browne, Frank Nally, Mena Ryan, Geraldine Flannery, and Peter McDonagh.
The genealogical research group Galway Family History Society West are currently based in the community centre on Ashe Road. Wouldn’t they be an ideal group to locate in Comerford House at the Spanish Arch instead of converting it into offices, where they would be more accessible to locals and tourists alike, especially in the year of ‘the gathering’ next year?