Monday, December 31, 2012

Some History Snippetts of Abbey Row, Athenry by Ronan Killeen

Above left Photograph: Two seperate pictures of Abbey Row, Athenry. On the left photography you can see that the handball alley/piece of the Athenry Dominican Abbey and Old National School are together. The man on the bridge is
unknown including the year of the photograph.[1]

Above right Photograph: The right handside photograph has the Old National School in it but not the handball alley/Athenry Dominican Abbey. The photograph on the right actually called Abbey Bridge[2], which is apart of the Valentine collection which you can get in the National Library of Ireland. My guess is that the collection is named after the Scottish Photographer James Valentine [3]
You can see a full size picture of this in Ray Glynn's Pub also known as the Central Bar, The Square, Athenry. The following people in the Abbey Bridge photograph are; 1. Man washing his side car is the late Sonny Grady. 2. Little girl on the river bank is Ciss Cleary with her dog 'Joego' (cut off from picture), 3. Boy with white collar is Jack Egan (he was later killed in the Battle of the Somme), 4. Woman on river steps is Mrs. Kenny to her left is May Kenny. ( I think this is also cut from picture).[4]

Photo courtesy of Athenry Historic - Google maps designed by Brian Quinn.

The late historian Aggie Qualter wrote about Abbey Row in her book Athenry Since 1780: History, Recollections and Folklore which was published in 1989 Abbey Row was occupied by Cromwellian soldiers in 1650-1651. They were billeted in a three storey structure formerly part of the Dominican living quarters (She is referring to Athenry Dominican Priory).  The archaeologist R. A. S. McAlister more or less writes the same thing  ‘In the eighteenth century the transformation of the old Dominican house to a barrack no doubt aided to the ruin of the church which was wantonly defaced by soldiers. The total absence of monuments between 1730 and 1780 is to be noticed.’ [5]
The commander of the army in Ireland was General Lambert.  He led many campaigns in England and Scotland before being posted to Ireland.
The barracks were later occupied by various regiments; 37th regt. of footwhich became the last to leave Abbey Row in 1819 when the police militia moved in and remained  until the Royal Irish Constabulary was established’
This force occupied occupied the new barracks at Cross street about 1850, it became the F. C. A. barracks but today we all know it today as The Old Barracks Restaurant.[7]
Many decades later Abbey Row barracks became vacant as housing conditions in that era were the lowest of the low.  Squatters would be evicted, but later returned as the barracks itself was finally demolished  on the site of Abbey Row estate was built and finished by 1892.[8]

[1] Athenry Historic – Google Maps  designed by Brian Quinn
[4] Qualter, Aggie, Athenry Since 1780:History Recollections and Folklore, (A. Qualter 1989). The very first page of the book

[5] MacAlister, R. A. S., ‘Athenry Dominican Priory’, Journal of Galway Archaeologican and Historical Society, sixth series, vol.3, no.3, September 1913 p198
[6] Qualter, Aggie, Athenry Since 1780:History Recollections and Folklore, (A. Qualter 1989) p20-21
[7] Ibid
[8] Ibid

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