Memories of Shantalla Place

Shantalla Place was a little development of 23 houses which were built by a man named Birmingham, Nos 1 to 6 are on the Rahoon Road, and Nos 7 to 23 form a terrace just off that road. Originally, it was called Birmingham Terrace, later Sycamore Drive, before they finally settled on Shantalla Place. Mothers on this terrace used to warn their children not ‘to go down to the scheme’ when the rest of Shantalla was being built.

The Shantalla quarry was located at the top of the terrace between a very narrow tree-lined Maunsells Road and what is Highfield Park today. This granite quarry was quite a large industry at the end of the 19th and the early part of the 20th century. After the business folded and the site was abandoned, parts of it filled with water which created deep pools which could be dangerous. There were drowning tragedies there, and a young man named Lawrence Fahy rescued two locals on different occasions.

There were three quarry holes, the big quarry, the small quarry, and the ‘Blacker’. The big quarry was where the local children played most, gathering frog spawn, playing cowboys and Indians, and also hide and seek, among the great rock formations where there were lots of places to hide among the many crevices. Many battles were fought here using catapults, known as cathys, and stones, between the fellows from Lenaboy Park and Devon Park in Salthill (’The Seagulls’ ) and the boys from Shantalla (’The Shannies’ ). These battles were potentially dangerous and probably ceased after one young fellow lost an eye.

The Blacker, the deepest hole, was very near Maunsells Road and also the back of the Shantalla Place houses. There were large trees all around it so you could not see it from the road. There is a bungalow there now. They filled in these quarry holes with rubble from the old Central Hospital after it was demolished and later rubble from the old gaol.

Our photograph today shows Andrew Ruane in the quarry field in 1949. This is where Maunsells Park is today. There were trees to the left and the house in the background was Garavan’s and was accessed by a lane off Maunsells Road. There was a lane down on the right which led to Madden’s. Taylor’s Hill is in the distance.

This is one of the illustrations in a book recently published by Andrew’s sister, Pearl O’Kennedy, entitled I Remember I Remember, Galway Stories and Sketches. It is a charming and delightful collection of reminiscences of her time growing up in the area. Some of the games she and her friends played were marbles, rings, ball games with rhymes to accompany them, skipping, cad, hopscotch, top (which was played up and down Maunsells Road ), Jack Jack show the light, roller skates, conkers, and making slides in winter. All of these were healthy and played outdoors. The local children used to put on plays in the Quarry Field. Pearl later took part in Corpus Christi processions, helped bring home the turf, and also worked teasing the mattress. Pure nostalgia. The book is available in good bookshops at €10.

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