Claregalway, County Galway

Where the story begins…

An archaeological dig in 2011 revealed that a settlement in Claregalway (around the site of the Castle) was the beginning of urbanisation in the county of Galway. It would appear that even a millennia ago, Claregalway was bustling with human activity. The famous Claregalway Friary—the first Franciscan Friary in Connacht—was built in the early 13th century, establishing Claregalway as a religious hub for east Galway. The beautifully restored Claregalway Castle has withstood many battles over the centuries, helped by its strategic position on a curve in the River Clare. Boasting a recently refurbished western face, the magnificent Nine Arches no longer bridge the river, but remain an attractive landmark in Claregalway village.

Modern day Claregalway is a vibrant hub, still bustling. As described by artist Alan Hounihan, “any landscape is a work-in-progress subject to the continual processes of physical change. Even a farmed or managed landscape is a constantly changing canvas, a palimpsest shaped by human needs and work to which each generation adds a new layer.” The ‘layer’ added by the 21st century community in Claregalway is colourful, bustling and optimistic. With the growing urbanisation of Claregalway, and the covering of layers of history with modern amenities however, it is very easy for the unique past of Claregalway to be forgotten or lost. The History of Claregalway section below has been curated by Claregalway Historical & Cultural Society and we welcome any and all contributions.

 


 

History of Claregalway

In 1999, Claregalway Historical & Cultural Society initiated a FÁS sponsored scheme which began the enormous task of documenting Claregalway’s local history, which is provided here with kind permission from the society.

 

 


 

Fifteen years ago in Claregalway

These local stories are taken from the August 2002 Nuacht Chláir archives. Check out the full archive, dating back to 1996, here.

 

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U12 City League Final Carnmore 2–4 Moycullen 0–2 Carnmore claimed their first title of the season with a fine win over Moycullen. On their way to the final Carnmore had victories over Sylane, Moycullen, Oranmore, Spiddal and Rahoon. On the day of the final Carnmore were faced by a physically big and strong Moycullen side… Read more »

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The top Irish Junior swimmers competed recently in the Age Group Championships, which were held in Ennis. Swimmers aged from 12 to 16 years from all over Ireland competed for the title of Irish Champion. The Galway Swim Club had excellent results and impressive personal bests on their way to claiming a total of 11… Read more »

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Carnmore held the annual golf fund raising event on the 20th and 22nd of June. This was a very successful event with excellent sponsorship and a full compliment of teams taking part. With the weather up until this time being predictably bad it was an anxious week for the organising committee but in the end… Read more »

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A Group from the Carnmore Ladies Club and friends took part recently in a sponsored walk for Galway Rape Crisis Centre and raised a total of €2,020. The Galway Rape Crisis Centre has done very valuable work for victims and all monies raised will hopefully help its existence to continue as they are currently striving… Read more »

 

History Snippets

In 1838 Fr Thomas Hosty was appointed Parish Priest and he set about building a new church on the site of the present day church. However, his efforts suffered a major setback when the roof of the church was destroyed on the night of the big wind, 6th January 1839. Fr Hosty died in America before the church was completed. Local tradition has it that he was robbed and murdered at the quay-side on the day he was due to return home. His sister, who was also his housekeeper, was angry at what happened to him and is said to have burned all the parish records up to that date.

Fr James Commins was then appointed as Parish Priest and on the 24th June 1858 the new church (pictured above) was completed, 20 years after work first began. This church was demolished in 1974 to make way for the building of the present church of Claregalway and this was officially opened on the 15th August 1975.

This aerial view of the N17/N18 junction was taken around 1970—there were no traffic lights then (a lot of vehicles at that time were horse drawn). It shows Hessions house, farm and pub, alongside Hughes original house, farm and supermarket (now demolished). The old Claregalway Church (also demolished) is barely visible in the bottom right hand corner.

The number of houses in the Parish increased from 712 in 1991 to 1537 in 2009 (+116%) and the residential population 1992 to 2006 from 2706 to 4379 (+62%). These increases were amongst the highest in Co. Galway.

Next time you’re stuck in traffic coming into the village from the Galway side, see if you can spot these odd stones in the wall.

The long cut stones were taken from the original Nine Arches during its restoration, and used to rebuild this wall (just before the bus lane ends).

 

Anything you’d like to add? Get in touch or submit stories and photos here.