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 May 2002 Nuacht Chláir archives. Check out the full archive, dating back to 1996, here.

 

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Summer has arrived and the cuckoo in a wood near my home heralds its arrival every morning with his call and so too in the garden centre, summer has arrived with people busy getting ready in the garden. A lady told me recently that the most satisfying thing she did in the garden last year… Read more »

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The Claregalway Parent & Toddler Group had a very busy month of March. We invited the toddlers to get in touch with their creative sides by introducing them to painting and playdough. The toddlers had a very fun and messy time and produced some real works of art! We continued with our song time this… Read more »

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With the summer weather finally arriving and everyone spending more time outdoors this month I will discuss some common injuries. Insect stings & bites: Milder reactions resulting in itchy hives or rashes can be treated with antihistamines and/or hydrocortisone cream. If there are signs of anaphylactic shock ie. the face and neck start to swell, difficulty… Read more »

 

History Snippets

Pictured is Hughes’ original house, supermarket and post office (formerly a weaver’s cottage). Keep an eye on Hession’s chimney in the left of the photo to see the transformation from the 1970s to present day.

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.

Ever wondered what Claregalway Friary looked like in the past? This sketch from 1792 shows a magnificent west window (which has unfortunately completely vanished since), and a doorway from the cloister (grassy area inside) to the River.

 

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