Galway In Days Gone By

A protest against the demolition of old buildings in Lower Merchants Road, Galway in 1979.
A protest against the demolition of old buildings in Lower Merchants Road, Galway in 1979.


Big Galway fire

One of the biggest fires that has occurred in Galway for a number of years took place in the early hours of Saturday morning, when the Galway Steam Saw Mills, owned by Messrs. T. McDonogh and Sons, were completely gutted by fire.

The outbreak was first detected at 1 o’clock a.m. and it was immediately reported to the police at the Dock barracks, and the military authorities at Renmore were also acquainted of the fact. The municipal fire brigade was on the scene in a short time, but the fire at this period had obtained a general grip of the mills, from which huge flames were emerging.

Several lines of hose were trained on the burning building, but the water supply was defective and the hoses were not in the best condition.

About 2.30, a detachment of military, composed principally of the Munster Fusiliers, arrived, and set to work with energy. It was now found that it would be impossible to save the mills, so their efforts were directed towards confining the area of flame.

Eye witnesses state that the work of the military is deserving of every praise, and they refer to the gallantry of a soldier from the Munster Regiment who occupied a dangerous position on the roof of an adjacent store for four hours, playing a hose all the time on the raging inferno beneath him.

At 3.30, the progress of the fire gave cause for much anxiety, as large timber sparks were flying and alighting on the roofs of the adjoining houses, and portion of the stone directly opposite the saw mills had become ignited.

The inhabitants were warned of the danger, and they were advised to have their furniture ready for removal. Fortunately, the rain was falling heavily, and this retarded the raging flames. Were it not for this fact, and that the breeze blowing was slight, the block of buildings at the rere of William-street would have been burned.

The saw mill was one of the most up-to-date in Ireland, and the machinery was of the latest pattern. Messrs. McDonogh are contractors for munition boxes, of which no less than 1,000, ready for consignment on Saturday morning, were burned in the conflagration.

It is stated that the amount of the insurance will only cover one-third of the actual damages. During the war there will be considerable difficulty in replacing the machinery.


Poor mail service

The disruption to trade caused by the unsatisfactory mail service in Galway was discussed at a meeting of the Council of the Galway Chamber of Commerce and among the suggestions put forward was that mails should be sorted en route from Dublin.

It was decided to write to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs suggesting that: (1) The mail train for Galway should leave Dublin earlier in the day so that an earlier delivery of mails could be made by the Post Office, or (2) The outward mail from Galway should not leave until later in the day so as to facilitate the despatch of orders and correspondence, or, alternatively (3) the mails should be sorted en route from Dublin.

Profiteering case

John Loughnane, merchant, Main St., Ballinasloe, charged with selling a bicycle tyre at 25s. (controlled price 5s. 3d.), was fined £10 and 10s. expenses. Mr. Eric Davidson asked for leniency as he said Mr. Loughnane bought these tyres for £1 each some time before this as people were begging him for tyres, and he did not at the time of sale know the maximum controlled price of tyres.

John Coen, Eskerboy, Killimore, gave evidence of the purchase, and the price paid, 25s., and following lengthy evidence, the Justice said the price was greatly in excess of the controlled price.

He had no proof that the defendant bought the tyres at £1 each, or where he bought them, and it was hard on people who depended on their bicycles and tyres for a livelihood that they had to pay these excessive prices and be salted to the extent of paying 25s. each or go without them. This, he said, was another bad case of profiteering.

Closing hours

The closing hours for shops in Galway and Salthill, other than exempted businesses, during the month of September is 9p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 10p.m. on Saturday. These hours will be changed during the month of October.