The Galway Board of the Town Commissioners was established in the early 1830’s and one of their first objectives was the provision of gas lighting in the city. In December 1836, they invited a Mr. Lyddle from Glasgow to do a survey of the town and he recommended the establishment of a Galway Gas Company. His advice was taken. Shares were snapped up, an agreement was reached between the company & the Town Commission and the Rev. D’Arcy was appointed company secretary.
“The only occupation is fishing; they never trouble themselves with tillage; a milch cow and a potatoe garden are rare among them ------, then on shore they are principally employed in attending to, and repairing their boats, sails, rigging, cordage etc .., and in making, drying or repairing their nets and spillets, in which latter employment they are generally assisted by the women who spin hemp and yarn for the nets...
The Sisters of Mercy came to Galway on May 1st, 1840. They started, in extremely difficult circumstances, in Lombard Street with 3 postulants. The need for uncloistered sisters who would be free to go about the streets and visit the poor in home, hospital and jail was very great at the time. They were out and about the day after their arrival. An epidemic of cholera had broken out and they helped to nurse the ill and alleviate distress. They quickly prospered to become “Reputedly the best institution that ever was in Galway”.
This photograph was taken looking west from where Seapoint is today. The house in the picture was roughly across the street from the Bon Bon. It was once an RIC barracks and was latterly occupied by Monica Wallace. There was a concrete bench along the wall in front of the house which was known as “The Lazy Wall”, a place where old and countrified people, known as “The Fámairí” , would relax and chat and gossip. They came not for the views but for the conversations. Many arrived after their crops had been harvested. They usually brought their own food in the form of home-cured bacon, fresh eggs, butter, cooked chickens and cakes of bread.”You rented a room and you ate yourself”. They would use the family kitchen of the house in which they were staying and consider themselves part of that family for the duration. There was a small bit of beach below the wall where the patrons could bathe or paddle.
An interesting number of medical institutions were established in Galway in the 20th century. In 1908, the Port Sanitary Intercepting Hospital was built near the docks opposite Forthill Cemetery as quarantine for any suspected cases of cholera or smallpox that might have come in on board ship. It cost £1,000, had 20 beds and happily it was never needed for its primary purpose and only ever housed 3 patients. It burnt down in 1966.
This photograph of the corner of New Dock Street and Flood Street dates from the 1930s. The large threestorey house on Flood Street was formerly known as ‘The Dispensary’ and was the property of the Poor Law Guardians. It was obviously occupied by a doctor. It was in this house that the McDonogh dynasty began in Galway.
When Bailey’s Hotel was being sold it was advertised as being “Fifty Yards from the Railway Station. One hundred and fifty yards from the docks. Frontage; Fifty Feet. Depth: one hundred feet. Eigheen bedrooms,four reception rooms. One additional large room sixty feet by twenty six feet. Bath rooms, lavatories, Kitchen, Pantry, Yard etc. Electric light throughout. Very fine bar, seven day licence. Premises held under lease of 99 years from March 1904, at yearly rent of £4.”
This photograph was taken in 1900 of the staff of Robert MacDonald, the plumber from Dominick Street. The business was started by his father, Peter MacDonald (late manager for Ross and Murray), who advertised himself in 1887 as “Plumber, Brassfounder and Gasfitter”.