This 1893 photograph of the aptly named Prospect Hill comes from the Frost Collection, which is part of the very fine collection of old images in the county library.
On the left you can see the old weighouse. Behind it, out of picture was the County Club, then Leonard?s, Fallon?s, Sullivan?s Hotel, Lydon?s Bakery and Hynes claypipe factory (just to the left of the cart) Caulfield?s which later became Flesk?s. The three-storey building was once an R.I.C. barracks ? on of the few buildings on this part of the Square with no back entrance. In 1883, ten years before this photo was taken, Bartholomew Giblin first rented these premises from Lord Morris, and started off in business as a grocery, bar and accommodation ? later known as Giblin?s Hotel. The Giblin family celebrated one hundred years of business there in 1983.
We do not know who lived in the thatch cottages further up the hill on the left. The buildings on the right hand side of the hill have changed substantially over the last 20 years. Notice the rough street surface, and how wide the street seems without traffic.
Further up the hill, though not visible in our photograph was the County Infirmary, which is now the County Buildings. A little further up was St. Patrick?s House, which was in fact derelict about the time this photograph was taken. It was bought by the Sisters of Mercy about 1890, and used by them as a ?House of Mercy?, a training centre for girls. This scheme eventually failed due to a lack of finance and staffing problems. It was eventually let out to rent, and one of those that lived there ? in 1915 ? was Augustus John, the famous painter. One of the conditions of his tenancy was that he would do no paintings of nudes while he was there. At the beginning of the First World War, Sinn Féin rented it as a meeting hall and for drilling practise. It was burnt down by the Black and Tans in March 1921, as were several thatched houses on the far side of the street.
A little further on is where the indefatigable Peadar O?Dowd lives, and he has just produced a book entitled ?Galway in Old Photographs?, published by Gill&MacMillan. It is like a family album of about one hundred images recalling the city?s commercial, sporting and artistic life with nostalgia and affection; a Galway that actually was and not simply imagined. Highly recommended. Available in all good bookshops priced at ?14.99.