Elegant streetscape

There is a lovely vintage quality about this photograph of the most elegant corner in Galway, which was taken about 1950 at almost 6.15 in the afternoon. It shows how the three corner buildings, all of which are slightly rounded, complement each other. It was always known as Moon’s Corner or Dillon’s corner, never McNamara’s corner.

The shop on the left was Hill’s, “The Premier House for Home and Foreign Fruits, The choicest collection of confectionery of the purest ingredients at all times, none but the best description of everything kept on the premises”. If you really wanted to impress your girlfriend when you were bringing her to the pictures, you brought her into Hills for a small box of chocolates first. Wallace’s Medical Hall and dispensing chemist shop was around the corner, but Hills eventually took over that premises.

Beside it and tucked into the corner was where the Empire Theatre was located, and from where on November 17 1927,  Galway’s first ever live programme was broadcast on 2RN which had been set up the year before. It was a concert in aid of the National Relief Fund for the Cleggan Disaster. The regular programme consisted of a full two-and-a-quarter hour mixture of the best comedies, topical and interest pictures, and the best orchestra in the province. It also had a skating rink.

Next door was O’Brien’s Pub, and then Burke’s souvenir shop where they sold wallets, purses, notecases, brooches with views of Galway, ladies’ compacts, necklets, bangles, EPNS silverware, delph, china and glassware, and view cards of Galway city and county. These two buildings are where Matt O’Flaherty is today and they date from 1806.

Moons was built c1870 and was known as Eglinton Buildings. The shop opened originally under the name Farquarson, later it became  Farquarson and Moon, then Alexander Moon. It was a classic example of an old style long established clothes shop. Many will remember the antiquated system they had for taking cash. Your money and an invoice was put into a wooden ball, which was then shot up to an overhead rail on which it made its way to the cashier’s office. The ball would come back with your change and the receipt. It was fun to watch and nobody worried too much about having to wait. Brown Thomas bought the store as part of the Switzer group, and when it later changed the name to Brown Thomas, it changed beyond recognition. Most Galwegians still refer to the shop as Moons.

The shop on the far corner was McNamara’s. It was part of Colonial Buildings and was probably built by the same person who built Moons. The construction of those two buildings must have made an enormous difference to the whole area.

Note how little traffic there is, apart from the bicycles, how much litter there is, and how the electricity poles and wires spoil the streetscape.

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