Two photographs for you this week of the top of High Street and the beginning of Shop Street. The first was taken in 1928 and shows the 'Arches' or 'The Stannins' in the background with the large tree behind them. They were occupied by Mrs. Oakley who sold teas and sandwiches; Anne Flanagan from Church Lane who sold apples and oranges; Mary Shaughnessy who sold apples and oranges and Mrs. Bodkin who did likewise. O'Gorman's bookshop can be seen further up in the street.
On the right is Anthony Ryans, then Taaffes, Kavanaghs Medical Hall, Gleesons Drapery Shop which has the rugs, coats & bolts of cloth outside. To the right of that again was the Galway Commercial Academy which probably taught shorthand and typing. This is where the Kings Head is today.
Our second photograph was taken in 1953, during a Eucharistic Procession. Included in Saint Patricks Band are, from the left - John Casey, Tommy Heneghan, Colonel Patton, Michael Ryan, Paddy Power, Paddy Spellman, Billy Madden, Pat Sullivan, Michael Mitchell, _________ Francis, Michael John Burke, Jimmy Scully and Joe McLoughlin. In the background you can see Griffin's Bakery, and to the right of that was the Connacht Mineral Water Company (where the Kings Head is today) and The Old Malte Pub.
No. 15 High Street, Galway, home to the King's Head Pub, is a building which incorporates over 800 years of Galway history. Archaeological research has shown that a building was in existence on the site since the 13th century, which is evidenced by the classic burgage polt lay-out of the site.
The fireplace, which you encounter as you enter the building, is dated 1612, and gives us our first clue as to who lived at
No. 15. This marriage stone carries the coats of arms of the Bodkin, Martin and Ffrench families, 3 of the original 14 "Tribes of Galway".
The first pictorial representation of the house occurs in Speed's famous map of Galway, drawn in 1651. What we see is a large stone building - featuring a three story dwelling fronting onto the street with a very impressive six story building known as Bank's Castle adjoining it to the rear. It was certainly one of the tallest buildings in Galway, occupying a very prominent position in the center of the town.
The Grealish Family, who own the Kings Head were anxious to learn more about their historic building and to know if there was any truth in the rumour that it got its name from the fact that the building was given as payment to a Galwegian, Richard Ganning, for his role as the executioner of King Charles I in 1649.
Under the direction of archeologist Paul Gosling, and Jackie Ni Chionnaith of the Galway Civic Trust, the students of G.M.I.T.'s researches in Ireland and England revealed that the man who beheaded the King was most likely a Colonel Peter Stubbers, one of Cromwells most trusted Generals, at one time the Governor most trusted Generals, at one time the Governor and self appointed Mayor of Galway, Stubbers in fact seized the High Street building in 1654 from Thomas Lynch Fitz-Ambrose, and also ousted him as Mayor of the city.
This Charles story is just one of many fascinating stories which are revealed in a new 16 minute documentary made by the well known producer Donal Haughey (he made the films on the Estoria and Sonny Molloy). This important film documents a lot of the history of the building. It will have its premiere in the Kings Head on Saturday morning, and will be shown regularly thereafter to locals and tourists alike.
A wonderful addition to our city's heritage, and a very good reason - if you did not have one already for visiting this landmark pub.
Congratulations to all concerned.