In 1953, Colonel Pierce Joyce?s estate in Mervue was placed on the market. Because of expanding population, Galway Corporation purchased the land and a housing development followed. On August 7th 1954, The Connacht Tribune reported that the accepted tender for the erection of 253 houses and 12 shopping units with flats at Mervue was £396, 350-1s-5d. It was approved by Galway Corporation on Thursday, August 5th 1954. A total of eleven tenders were submitted and the contract was awarded to the Brennan Brothers of Naas, Co. Kildare. This tender related to the first stage of the Mervue Housing scheme, but ultimately it was envisaged that an additional 144 houses, and 22 sites be made available for private building. Mr. C.I. O?Flynn, the County Manager reported that the first stage would be built over a three year period and would mean an increase of one farthing on the rates. There were concerns amongst some members on Galway Corporation who did not agree with the increase in the rates on existing house-holders. Maggie Anne Ashe adamant that they should build houses that would: ?pay for themselves?. Alderman Joseph Ownes stated that many people were concerned that the business area of Galway would become derelict, with 300 families eventually moving out to Mervue. The County Manager said that it was up to them to decide whether they were going to provide housing for the people, while Mayor Peter Greene stated that they should have thought of all this before making the decision. Finally, T. O?Connor proposed acceptance of the tender and Fintan Coogan (Senior) seconded the motion, thus Mervue Housing Estate was going ahead.
By 1955, the first houses became available, and the first families began to set up homes. It was decided to name all the avenues in memory of Irish nationalist figures.
On January 3rd 1966, the Town Clerk, Patrick Watters, recommended that 100 new houses should be built in the Mervue area. The site chosen for New Mervue was close to the Dublin Road and similar to Old Mervue, many of the streets were named after Irish nationalists.
In 1963, Mervue Credit Union became Galway?s first Credit Union. The original founders and first investors were know as the ?Famous Nine Half Crowns?, because this was the sum invested by; Paddy Faherty, Jimmy O?Connor, Joe Lawless, Seamus Conneelly, Michael Smyth, Donal Killeen, Frank Kelly, Des Fitzmaurice and Frank McDermott. The Credit Union?s assets are now in excess of ?50 million.
The Mervue Industrial Estate was established in 1969, providing welcome employment for the people of Mervue. The first three companies to set up business in the estate were Semco Ltd., Keeleric (Ireland) and Astor Benning (Ireland) Ltd. This development was followed by the establishment of the Ballybrit Industrial Estate in 1971. The first three companies established at Ballybrit were Digital Equipment Corporation, General Monitors and Wilson Sporting Goods Ltd. In 1978, Parkmore Industrial Estate was established.
Prior to the church at Mervue being erected, the people attended Mass in the main hall of Potez factory (situated where Thermo King is presently) for at least ten years. Eventually, the site for the church and schools at Mervue was purchased from Galway Corporation of £7,000. On August 18th 1968, Dr. Michael Browne, Bishop of Galway, officially opened the Church of the Holy Family in Mervue. The first priests assigned to the new church were Fathers Jack O?Connor and Martin Coen, the first child baptised in the church was Oliver (Ollie) Neary. Mary Burke from McHugh Avenue became the first child confirmed in the church on August 26th 1986, the first marriage in the church took place, when Bernard Fallon and Bridget Cusack were married.
All of the above information is contained in a new book to be launched tomorrow. Entitled ?Mervue?, it is written by William Henry, and contains history, folklore, details on religion, sports, education, organisations, entertainments etc., in the area. It contains lots of photographs and is available from good bookshops at ?10
Our photograph today shows part of Pearse Avenue, in Mervue shortly after it was built. The whole of Mervue will be en fete for June 27th ? 29th for the Mervue Festival.