The Gunna Mórs

This area of the Claddagh was known as ‘the Big Grass’ or ‘the Green Grass’. It was the one open space of ground in the village and faced what is known as the Swamp today. It was very marshy, though some of it was used as a playground by local children, and it was also where the Claddagh Races took place.

Around the corner to the west of this area, at the junction of Fairhill and Grattan Road, was a battery which was enclosed by a barracks-like wall. I have never been able to find a photograph of this building. It was a training centre for reservists of the British navy drawn from the Claddagh and other places along the coast. They were known as ‘The Gunna Mórs’ because of the large cannons trained on the bay.

Their rifles and ammunition were stored in the battery and they went to Renmore for firing practise.

Jimmy Redington, one time Mayor of Galway, used to tell of a raid on the battery when he was young, c1888. The raiders were after the arms held there.

A jennet and a cart owned by the Persses of Glenarde was ‘borrowed’ by Denis Hession who worked for the Persses. The battery was forced and the arms loaded into the cart and covered, and then entrusted to young Arthur Hession (Denis’ young brother ) on the basis that his youth would free him from suspicion. He was to make for Oranmore.

He set out by way of Shrimp’s Lane, aka McGinty’s Lane, now known as White Strand, then by way of the crossing known as Nile Lodge, past the Central Hospital, through Woodquay, out to Ballindooley, across the Tuam Road at the Carrabrowne side of Killeen Barracks, and on to the Oranmore Road.

In the meantime the ‘hue and cry’ was out. Denis Hession’s role in the raid was discovered and he went on the run. The police caught up with Arthur, recovered the rifles, and let Arthur go because of his youth. Other raiders stayed quiet, and though suspected, no evidence was found against them.

They included Tom Casserley of Claregalway; Seamus Cannon of Muinteach, Claregalway; Pat Foley, a Galway saddler; and Tom Ashe, and Tom Sullivan, both of Galway.

A short time later, a train excursion left for Dublin. At Oranmore, Denis disclosed himself to two travellers, Joe O’Sullivan of Sea Road and Frank Henry. They hid him under the seat at stations (there being no fear of discovery in those corridorless carriages between stations ) and he got to Liverpool and thence to America, never to return. Arthur lived a long life at home.

When Mr Persse learned that his jennet and cart had been used in a raid against the authority of the British Crown, he got one of his men to shoot the jennet.

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