- Category: Claregalway Historical and Cultural Society
- Published on Wednesday, 08 August 2007 12:27
- Written by Joe O'Connell
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It can be gleaned from local knowledge and gathered from interviews with long time residents that Claregalway parish had an abundance of crafts and trades in olden times. Many of those occupations are now in decline. It must be understood that official statistics are difficult to get so we must rely on local knowledge.
Michael Skerret Making a Wooden Cart Wheel
We begin our compilation at the Claregalway crossroads. As we travel towards the bridge there was a row of thatched artisans cottages. First was Pat Egans, where Hughes supermarket now stands. This was a weavers/loom. Pat Egan was Michael Hughes great grandfather. Next was Skerrets. Michael Skerret was a carpenter who specialised in making horse and donkey drawn carts and wheels. His sister Maggie was a dressmaker. Hughes car park occupies the site where the Skerrets cottage and workshop once stood.Next to Skerrets was Donoghues where Horans house is now. Donoghues owned a small grocery shop.Next to Donoghues was James Hession’s public house. It was built by Kellys and then became Longs. James Hession known as ‘velvet’ (because of his jacket) returned from America and married into Longs and so it became Hessions until November 1974. It is now the Summerfield bar and Bruac na hAbhain restaurant.
Dunleavys Thatch House, in the village
Next to the Summerfield bar there is the last remaining one of the thatched cottages, which is the residence of Kathleen and Bob Dunleavey. Brid and James Glynn formally occupied it, Brid was a teacher and James was a local guard. This was the residence of Pat Williams, a cobbler. Pat was the brother of Mick Williams the postman. Next door to Pat Williams was Pat Ross who was a tailor. Nothing remains of the Ross house. After the water pump lived Mick Burke who had a pub there. He was known as a ridire chaorach because he owned 1001 sheep. No descendants now remain.
Lenihans Pub, Where Dunleavys Nine Arches is today
Right beside the handball alley stood Lenihan’s public house, which was popularly known as Binas. Binas father was Pat Lenihan and his wife was Kelly from Waterdale. It is mentioned in an interview with Kathleen Dunleavey (Binas niece) that this may have been at one time a bakery owned by the O’Reillys. In the late 1960’s the business was transferred to where Dunleavys bar and grocery now stands.
Over the river towards Loughgeorge and next to the castle on the right side back in the field is Casey’s cottage. Pat Casey fought in World War II. This was a herd’s cottage. On the left where the Western Irons crafts is now, stood the Hanley brothers engineering company. The Hanley brothers’ father was Martin and he owned a dance hall on this site. It was known as Hanley’s hall.
Kellys Pub, where Terry Brennans Central Tavern
The Central Tavern, which is a pub and restaurant and whose proprietor’s are Joe and Julie Kyne has a long history. Roddy Kelly who was Joe’s uncle owned it. Roddy’s father was Malachy Kelly from Drumgriffin in Corrundulla and he emigrated to America many years ago. He became wealthy in America and returned to Loughgeorge and purchased the pub along with 270 acres of land at a reputed price of £1 per acre. He purchased the property from the Ffrenchs. Joe inherited the pub in 1970. When replastering an upstairs wall the name Helen Ffrench was discovered.
Michael Smiths Blacksmiths Forge, Loughgeorge
Travelling towards Tuam a few hundred yards further on we find Michael Smith’s forge which is still in use. Michael and his ancestors were blacksmiths. In the townland of Peake, Tom Duffy a tailor lived. Tom’s family now live in Prospect Hill beside Lohan's chemist. Also in this locality lived another tailor named Higgins and a cobbler named Commins. Moving left towards Mullacuttra/Bawnmore there lived James Keane who built many of the newer houses in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, including the extension to the Summerfield Bar and Cormicans in Lakeview. William Tarpey at the crossroads was a blacksmith. He was Peter Feeney's grandfather. Tim Tarpey in Cloughaun was a farrier.
The Late Michael Smith, Blacksmith working in his Forge
In Waterdale, Willie Cullinan was a stone mason, John Dolly a thatcher and Willie Keaney also known as “Coogan”, was a blacksmith. The name “Coogan” derived from Fintan Coogan T.D. who was also a blacksmith. Willie worked with Martin Cannon, a blacksmith in Tonroe, Lydacan, his brother Paddy who died in November 1998 was also skilled. In Gortadubha-Cloonbiggen there was a thatcher named Seamus Loftus. Returning again to the Claregalway crossroads and into Montiagh we find Seamus (Liam) Duggan a thatcher (father of Padraig). In Cahergowan-Clogher were the brothers John and Michael Cogavin, known as gaeilge as O’Cogabhain, who were tailors.
Blacksmith shoeing Tommy Reillys horse in 1982
A thatcher named Seamus O Loughlin, a weaver named Martin Duggan and a cooper named Sean McGuinness who was also a boat builder. Stephen Lynskey was a thatcher and he and his brothers Sean and William were members of the Old IRA. John (Kitty) Forde was a champion slaner (turf cutter) and Tom Forde (brother of John and Mary) was a thatcher and also a chimney builder. As we come out onto the main road and return towards Claregalway crossroads we can point out a trademan's house of old where the Concannons now live, whose name was Samways and he was a nailer. Just before that at the Clogher turnoff was Scullys. Pat Scully was a cobbler and his son Mike was a thatcher and a stone mason.
On the left, down the field lived Pat Clancy a thatcher. His brother was drowned at Curraghmore bridge along with Charlie Quinn’s brother and Fahy from Cregboy. There was a grocery shop owned by Clancys where Carrs is now. Pat Carr (Pat’s grandfather, Matties father) lived and he drove a steamroller with Galway County Council. He was a good mechanic. Patrick Cullinan lived where Cullinans old house now stands and he was a horse doctor. He was a member of the cavalry in the USA army, hence his knowledge of horses.
Martin Lally, weaver from Carnmore at work
Mrs Flood, the national teacher, lived near Cullinans. Her son Peter was a bus conductor in Galway. Father Malachy Mannion lived in Cahergowan. Remains of his house are still there, also there is a road through the bog and commonage known as Clochan an tSagairt.
In Tonroe, Lydacan we have Martin Cannon a blacksmith and Andy McDonagh a builder. In Caherlea lived a stone mason named Kerrigan who was known as An Preabaire Ciarragain. Fahy a carpenter, lived in Kiltrogue. In Carnmore we find from local knowledge a thatcher named Flaherty and another named Rabbitt.
House builders named Kings and Kellys, Martin (Mhichil) Fox a thatcher, Rooneys were carpenters who made wheelbarrows. Lallys lived where Feeneys near the airport now live and they were weavers (fiadoiri). Sean O Bane and his son William were stone masons. Moving down to Ballymurphy there was a shop that was owned by two brothers named Murphy. And finally we conclude our journey at Morans old family residence in Lakeview (by the river) and this was originally a herd’s cottage.