Mayoralty House and Lower Cross Street

This photograph of Cross Street was taken in 1946. Early maps of the city show an open air altar at the end of the street. It was built by the Dominicans and used for various processions and Corpus Christi. The building facing us is Mayoralty House which was originally built in 1793 for a member of the Daly family. This family exclusively held the office of mayor from 1776 to 1816. It was probably built by James Daly, who was mayor in 1804, 1810, 1814, 1818, and 1819. The Dalys owned the house until the late 1840s. In Griffith’s Valuation in 1855, there is no mention of Mayoralty House, but a house fitting its description belongs to the Town Commissioners. These had replaced the mayor and corporation about 1935. It was later used as a police barracks.

The house has a striking facade of five bays and three storeys with a three-bay breakfront. It is built of ashlar limestone with wide architraves to the tall narrow windows, moulded sills, raised coignes, platband coving on the lintel level of the ground floor, and a heavy cornice. The tall doorcase has a segmented head and a bolection moulding which is a very rare feature. It is of note that the basement has stone mullions in the windows.

Mr Hugh Hannon bought it in 1870. It is not clear from whom but he did buy the lease on “The stone adjoining the dwelling house known as the Mayoralty House in the town of Galway” from a Mr John De Burgh Lynch. Hannons were general carriers, and flour, meal, bran, and sugar factors. The house was in the possession of the family until 1973. In the 1950s, a brother and sister named Ryan occupied the first floor and taught ballroom dancing there at 2/- per lesson. In the late 1970s Brendan Conroy renovated the house and brought it back to its former glory. It is one of the most attractive buildings in the city.

The 1651 map shows three houses on the left where the large wall is. Later maps show five houses. They were all three storey and had cellars. The house on the far end was once occupied by the Laffey family, and around the corner to the left was a tenement known as Guilfoyles. The house at the near end was a tenement known as Clarke’s Halls. Among those who lived there was a blind man named Furey, a Mrs Bennett, and a seamstress who was known only as “Mary the Bonnets”. When our photograph was taken the area on the left was a timber yard owned by Corbetts who built the high wall.

Clarke’s Woollen Mills was on the right hand side of the street. One could look in the window and watch people working their looms. Next to that was a large derelict building, and down at the corner was another door into Clarke’s House. Just around the corner on Flood Street was a building known as ‘The Brides Hotel’ and next to that was Francis’ Sweet Shop.

This part of the street made a great ‘slide’ on ice for local kids during the winter.

 

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