The Claddagh Quay

This photograph of the quayside in the Claddagh is one of the remarkable images in a book entitled Jane W Shackleton’s Ireland compiled by Christiaan Corlett and published by Collins Press. Jane Shackleton was given a camera and she went around Ireland with it between 1891 and 1906. She built up a remarkable collection, some of which are included in this delightful book.

The photograph was taken at ‘The Bankeen’ and shows the railings of the church on the right. The lane running along the priory wall up from the quay was known as Dogfish Lane and among those who lived there were the Moores, the Concannons, the Rushe family, the O’Connors, and the O’Donnells. The two houses with their backs to Dogfish Lane (behind the small mast ) belonged to the Morgans and the Olivers. The gable facing them was occupied by the Carrick family, and next door to them were the Cubbards. The houses to the left of the tree belonged to the Mulallys, the Clohertys, and the Kings. The corner house on the left was Murphys.

One does not normally associate the Claddagh with trees, but there are quite a number in this photograph.

A major addition to the area was the Claddagh Hall which was formally opened and blessed by the Bishop in December 1912. It was designed by the architect Mr Scott on the corner of South Park and Nimmo’s Pier, and could be seen from every point from which it is possible to have a view of the Claddagh. “The design of the hall is after an old Irish style, limestone exterior with the walls buttressed, giving a strong and massive appearance to the building. The stones, composing the interior walls, are brought out to an even surface and jointed with mortar, but it is not intended to plaster the premises on the inside. The Hall which is capable of accommodating one thousand persons, is divided into sections by means of folding doors, and the whole building opened up into one room when required, for a public meeting. There are hundreds of chairs and ample seating accommodation, presses for the use of the fishermen, and a spacious stage reaching from wall to wall at one end of the building.”

The bishop told them that the cost of the building was £1,000 but there was not a better hall in Galway. He believed the idea of a Claddagh Hall came from the Dominican Fathers. Half of the cost was provided by the Congested Districts Board and for that they were all indebted to Mr Micks (loud cheers ). His Lordship said the hall would be a major asset to the village, a place where fishermen could meet and discuss their interests and hopefully improve their fishing techniques and enrich their lives. He urged them to take advantage of the large boats placed at their disposal by the Congested Districts Board and which would become their own property ultimately. He told them they could wait for the fish to come to them. They must be up to date and chase the fish. The little boats used by their great grandfathers 200 years ago could not go more than a few miles on the bay, and then only in favourable weather. They must adopt the most approved gear and methods, and he sincerely hoped, before he died, to see the Claddagh people a comfortable, well housed, and prosperous community.

He did warn them, however, that when three or four men enter into an arrangement to work a boat, they ought not to go to a public house to divide their earnings, for they were almost certain to spend a large portion in drink, which was no use to them but on the contrary a great injury.

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