The building of a series of new houses in Frenchville & Beattystown in 1925 made the thatch cottages in the Claddagh look humble and a bit dilapidated. In 1927, as the Urban Council were debating the erection of further ex-servicemen's houses, necessitating the demolition of the old gun battery beside the former coastguard station at Fairhill, its engineer, Billy Binns was already drawing up plans for a new housing scheme for the Claddagh. The main reason for this was a lack of modern sanitation and water supplies which made the Claddagh an unhealthy area within the meaning of the various Health Acts of the time.
Of 250 buildings surveyed, 51 were classed as "poor", 69 as "bad" and 106 as "very bad" under normal housing conditions. On July 9th, 1927, Dr. Michael McDonogh M.O.H., declared the Claddagh an unhealthy area. This was endorsed by the Vincent De Paul and much debate ensued.
People were nervous of "the exorbitant rent of five shillings a week", and many were against change. Despite all of these problems, by April 1932, ninety-three new houses had been built at a total cost of £34,000
McNallys Builders knocked the Old Claddagh and built the new. As you can see from this photograph some of the old buildings were made with mud walls, and were easy to knock. Occasionally, some disgruntled locals would throw stones at McNally's men as they were working taking down the thatch. Tom Connolly was the foreman, and he and his men often found hand grenades and pistols hidden in the old thatch since the troubles. These were all handed over to the Gardai.
This evocative image documents the change for the old to the new - one of McNallys men knocking down a house with a pickaxe. Notice the lines of washing hanging on the old house in the background, and the new houses to the left and in the distance.
It is just one of the photographs in a new book entitled "The Irish, A Photohistory 1840-1940" by Sean Sexton and Christine Kinealy. It is a collection of remarkable early photographs of all parts of Ireland, covering a period of about 100 years.
Sean has been collecting original historic photographs of Ireland for 30 years now, and is a world authority. Christine is an historian who has written a wonderful introduction to the book. Very highly recommended at EUR35.00 in all good bookshops.
The Old Galway Society is holding a talk entitled "Women of Galway Jail" by Geraldine Curtin at 8:30pm on Thursday 14th November in the Mercy Secondary School, Newtownsmyth, Galway. All are welcome.
Galway Archeological & History Society's Annual General Meeting takes place on Monday 11th November at 7:30pm in the Harbour Hotel, The Docks, Galway followed by "A Thousand Years Of Irish Coin" by Michael Kenny, Keeper, National Museum of Ireland. Contact Kieran Hoare at 091-524411 for further information.
Western Family History Association: Symposium on Family Trees addressed by Matt O'Connell, Maura O'Riordan and Sr. Teresa Delaney at Menlo Park Hotel, Headford Road, Galway on Wednesday 13th November at 8:30pm. New members welcome. For further details contact 091-755891