There have been a great many developments and improvements to Galway Docks since they were first constructed.
There was a major scheme to build the Dun Aengus Dock, the new pier and to deepen the channel in 1937-39. This entailed the removal of thousands of tons of mud, soft materials and granite. Most of this material was dumped near Hare Island. The work took longer than it should, mostly because of industrial disputes, but it was finally completed in November 1939. Two units of the contractor's equipment, a rock breaker and a floating crane, lay in the Commercial Dock throughout the war years.
In the early sixties, it was becoming obvious that further improvements were needed. This was really a continuation of the earlier project.
This was to include the deepening of the Commercial Dock, the surveying and dredging of the channel, the provision of cargo transit buildings, the need to build false quay walls, the replacement of the Dun Aengus dock gates, and a lot of road resurfacing. Much of the silt taken from the bottom of the docks was found to be wholly composed of sewage sludge. The port was one where travellers greetings were exchanged "beside the most ugly pile of tumble down sheds imaginable and awful heaps of rusted ironwork, rotted wood and junk scattered about in grass-grown and weed-grown areas that everywhere told of stagnation".
Furthermore, zinc had been discovered in Tynagh, and the port was hopefully going to become very busy as a result. In the end, what was probably the biggest cleanup the docks ever received was carried out. Many will remember the huge carriers of rocks and rubble being removed, the occasional blasts of dynamite, the gradual improvement of the whole area.
As you can see from this photograph many of the buildings which used to surround the docks have now gone to be replaced by apartments, offices and carparks.
If you would like to know more about the area, read "Safe and Commodious" by Kieran Woddman which is a history of the Harbour Commissioners, or "Galway, A Maritime Tradition" by Brendan O'Donnell, a collection of old photographs of people, boats and ships.
The Old Galway Society will hold the third of its Members Car Outings on Sunday 22nd September leaving the Cathedral Car Park at 10:30am. The leader for the day will be Donal Taheny who will guide the tour through the delights of Ballinrobe, Moore Hall and Straide, Co. Mayo. You are advised to bring a packed lunch and suitable clothing and footwear. For further details contact Elizabeth Byrnes at 091-566131 or 091-794435
The Annual General Meeting of the Old Galway Society takes place at the Mercy Secondary School, Newtownsmyth, at 8:30pm on Thursday 26th September. All are welcome.