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 2003 Nuacht Chláir archives. Check out the full archive, dating back to 1996, here.

 

Posted on in News

Claregalway/Lackagh U-13 Boys Community Games Success On Saturday 30th June, we played Athenry in the quarter finals of the county community games. The team had five of last year’s All-Ireland winners: Ronan Badger, Michael Brennan, Paul Fox, Stephen Nally and Donie Burke, who is this year’s captain. The remainder of the panel of twenty players… Read more »

 

History Snippets

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.

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 cottage belonged to the Skerrets in the 1970s. Michael Skerret was a carpenter who specialised in making horse and donkey drawn carts and wheels, and his sister Maggie was a dressmaker. Now on the site is Hughes Supermarket, at the busy N17/N18 junction.

 

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