Monday, December 31, 2012

Some History Snippetts of Abbey Row, Athenry (Revised 2018) by Ronan Killeen



The historian Aggie Qualter wrote in her book Athenry Since 1780: History, Recollections and Folklore that ‘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’ (i.e. Athenry Dominican Priory), while the archaeologist R.A.S. McAlister added: ‘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.’

Qualter goes on to state that ‘the barracks were later occupied by various regiments; 37th regt. of foot which became the last to leave Abbey Row in 1819 when the police militia moved in and remained until the Royal Irish Constabulary was established’. The police next occupied the new barracks at Cross Street from about 1850, in a road off Abbey Row. Latterly, it became the F. C. A. barracks and it is now a restaurant called the ‘Old Barracks’.

 For many decades the Abbey Row barracks was vacant, this in an era when the general housing conditions in that area were ‘the lowest of the low’. Squatters would be evicted, but frequently returned before the barracks building itself was finally demolished and the existing (photographed) Abbey Row estate was built and finished sometime in the 1890s.

 The image, above right, has the old National School and the handball alley/Athenry Abbey that many SEGAHS readers will be familiar with. The Postcard is from a photograph called ‘Abbey Bridge’,

 Part of the Valentine collection in the National Library. My understanding is that the collection is named after the Scottish Photographer James Valentine.#

 Sources: 1. MacAlister, R. A. S., ‘Athenry Dominican Priory’, Journal of Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, sixth series, vol.3, no.3, Sept 1913, p.198 . 2. Qualter, Aggie, Athenry Since 1780: History Recollections and Folklore, (Qualter, 1989), p.20-21 . 3. Ibid. 4. National Library of Ireland Photographic Collection, http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000046391 (On-line) 5. For a basic background on valentine, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Valentine_(photographer) 

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