THE 1920’S Housing in Tuam was of a varied variety. Some of the town houses were of a fine quality but there were over 250 thatched houses deemed unfit for human habitation.
CIRCULAR ROAD, EARLY 20TH CENTURY view from Moran’s Corner, Dublin Road.
Nationally, serious efforts were made to clear the unsanitary hovels inhabited by the poorer citizens, and to re-house the poorer families in more reasonable accommodation.
1931 The government introduced The HOUSING (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT to allow local authorities to clear unsuitable houses and to build new estates.
Locally, there were several calls for new housing schemes to be built to replace the thatched cottages that snaked along the roads leading out from Tuam.
McGough’s House Galway Road,the last remaining thatched dwelling in Tuam
Mr. R.M. [Bobby] Burke, Toghermore, was foremost in advancing the cause through a series of letters written to the Tuam Herald and through meetings and discussions held with national politicians.
August 1934 A meeting was held in the Town Hall to promote house building in Tuam. The Tuam Herald reports there was ‘a large attendance and the proceedings were most enthusiastic’.
The meeting was chaired by the Chairman, Town Commissioners, Mr. W. Cahill and passed 2 resolutions;
The people of Tuam request the Government to help us in our scheme for better housing.
That we, the people of Tuam, call upon the Government to raise a National loan for the improvement of housing conditions in the Saorstat.
1934 The establishment of the Sugar Beet Factory provided employment for hundreds in the town and raised the prosperity of the area.
1934 ‘Employment boost.’ ‘On November 23, 1933, the first sod was cut on the site of Tuam Beet Factory and the anniversary of that historic occasion will be fittingly commemorated as actual manufacturing operations will commence in the factory on November 23, 1934.’
There will be 600 men employed at the factory during the sugar-making season, and about 130 normally. A staff of 40 loading agents with field men will be permanently employed at the factory, and in addition, the railway company will have an increased staff to deal with the carriage of beet.
Tuesday 4th December 1934 Tuam Beet Factory was officially opened by Dr. Ryan, Minister for Agriculture. This increased the need for housing in the town.
1934 It was proposed by Tuam Town Commissioners to build a large housing scheme at Tubberjarlath, Tuam.
THE SITE FOR THE TUBBERJARLATH HOUSING SCHEME.
Mr. P. J. Raftery, B.E., born at Corofin, Tuam drew up the plans for the new housing scheme
THE NAME - TUBBERJARLATH TRANSLATION – ‘JARLATH’S WELL’. In a little booklet in Irish, An t-AtairPadriac Mac Aoda, Carraroe, Co. Galway,entitledNaoimhIarlaith, states “There was a holy well near Tuam, called ToberIarlaithe, but it was stopped up years ago. A Protestant Bishop, named Plunkett, was responsible for its extinction.” Canon O’Hanlon in his ‘Lives of Irish Saints’, refers to the well, “In the year 1838 people frequented it on the festival of Jarlath [June 6th]. At that date, this spring was nearly dried up, while around it some whitethorn bushes and briars grew. It was in a corner of a field near the North end of Tober Jarlath’s townland, [to which it gave name]. Canon O’Hanlon quotes a letter received from Gaelic scholar, Canon Ulick J. Burke of Tuam, dated 3rd August 1863 as follows; “There is a holy well sacred to St. Jarlath just at the outskirts of the town. Many miracles are reported to have been wrought there through the intercession of the Saint. Unfortunately the field in which it is situated has fallen into Dr. Plumkett’s hands, and these 15 years the place has been stopped up. I trust that spot shall soon again be available to the public, and that the well be re-opened”.
12thJanuary 1935 The Tuam Herald reported that the Town Commissioners, at their monthly meeting met with engineer, Mr. J.P. Moran, who produced the plans and layout for the new housing scheme proposed for Tubberjarlath and explained them to the Board. The scheme was for the construction of 90 houses.
In the same paper under the Mountbellew and Moylough News a small article requested the intervention of the Divine Protector to send some good weather as it had rained continually for the past few months and there was an air of languor and depression about and there was no incentive to do any kind of agricultural or other work.
FEBRUARY 19TH 1935 TENDERS WERE INVITED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE HOUSES. THE TOWN COMMISSIONERS ACCEPTED THE BID OF MESSRS. HESSION BROTHERS, ROSCOMMON.
THE COST OF EACH INDIVIDUAL HOUSE WAS £ 283.0.0 [approx.] WHILE THE FULL TENDER WAS PRICED AT £26,725
MR. P.J. COLLERAN WAS CHOSEN AS CLERK OF WORKS TO OVERSEE THE PROJECT ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD.
THERE WAS A DEBATE ON WHETHER TILES OR SLATES SHOULD BE USED FOR THE ROOFS. TILES WERE CHEAPER BUT SLATE WAS REGARDED AS BEING HIGHER QUALITY, SLATE WAS CHOSEN.
30TH APRIL 1935 THE TOWN BOARD PASSED THE SECOND PART OF THE HOUSING SCHEME. THERE WERE 2 ELEMENTS TO THE PLAN -
SECTION ONE - 14 HOUSES TO BE BUILT ON FR. BURKE’S FIELD, 18 HOUSES TO BE BUILT ON MR. MOONEY’S FIELD SECTION TWO - 40 HOUSES TO BE BUILT ON THE ATHENRY SIDE OF THE GRAVE YARD.
THE LOCATION OF THE GRAVE YARD PRESENTED PROBLEMS AS IT WAS PLANNED TO RETAIN THE FIELD ON THE ATHENRY SIDE FOR EXPANSION. IT WAS FELT THAT IF HOUSES WERE BUILT ALONG THE FRONT OF THE FIELD THEN THE FIELD MIGHT BECOME A DUMPING GROUND . IT WAS ALSO FELT THAT PEOPLE WOULD OBJECT TO BURYING THEIR DEAD AT THE BACK OF THE HOUSES. THE TOWN BOARD WENT AHEAD WITH THE PLANS FOR THE NEW SCHEME.
THE SITE FOR THE ATHENRY ROAD HOUSING SCHEME
TUBBERJARLATH ROAD. PROBABLE SITE OF JARLATH’S WELL, TUBBERJARLATH CHILDREN’S HOME PARKMORE DUBLIN ROAD ATHENRY ROAD MR. MOONEY’S FIELD GRAVEYARD FR. BURKE’S FIELD SITE OF VOCATIONAL SCHOOL THE DEANERY TUAM TOWN COURTHOUSE
The houses on the right-hand side [up from the Vocational School] were named after Fr. Burke, whose name was on the field on which they were built. These were given odd numbers 1-3-5-7-etc. This row of houses is officially Fr. Burke’s Row.
The houses on the left-hand side were named after Michael Moran. This side was officiallyMichael Moran’s Tce., The houses were given even numbers 2-4-6-8-etc.
Michael Moran Commander of the Tuam County Galway Battalion of the IRA was shot dead on the 24th of November 1920. The circumstances of his death were investigated by a Military Court of Inquiry held at Galway. The Inquiry heard that Moran had attempted to escape Police custody, he was being held at Earl’s Island Police Barrack. No details of the evidence given to the jury was available only the verdict of the jury was published, the jury found The Court, having carefully considered the evidence, are of the opinion that the deceased died from shock and haemorrhage following a gunshot in the left temple inflicted by the Police escort in the course of duty. The court is also of the opinion that the escort was fully justified in firing upon the deceased. Moran was 27 years old and was the eldest of a family of two sons and a daughter. He lived with his widowed mother on a farm two miles from Tuam on the Mountbellew Road. Moran was described locally as a man of fine physique who held strong political views. He became a prominent Volunteer after the 1916 Rising and was a prominent figure in the Volunteer movement in North Galway. The R.I.C. held him responsible for the Gallagh Ambush.
SITE OF MICHAEL MORAN’S HOME AT CARROWMONEEN, DUBLIN ROAD
MICHAEL MORAN’S GRAVE AT THE CEMETARY
1ST OCTOBER 1935 THE TOWN BOARD AGREED TO SELL A SITE FOR THE NEW VOCATIONAL SCHOOL ON THE ATHENRY ROAD.
8TH OCTOBER 1936 THE TUAM HERALD REPORTED WORK HAS STARTED ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE NEW TECHNICAL SCHOOL AT THE JUNCTION OF THE ATHENRY ROAD AND DUBLIN ROAD. THE CONTRACTORS ARE MESSRS. NAUGHTON, BALLINA, WHO ARE PRESENTLY ENGAGED ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF SEVENTY HOUSES ON THE ATHENRY ROAD.
THURSDAY 15TH OCTOBER 1936 THE MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOVERMENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL, MR. SEAN T. O’KELLY OPENED THE NEW HOUSING SCHEME AT TUBBERJARLATH.
THE OFFICIAL OPENING – OCTOBER 8TH 1936.
The Minister was received by a Guard Of Honour of Garda Siochana and the Boy Scouts Band played some Irish Airs. There was an archway of flags and bunting across the road. Some of the houses were already occupied.
The Houses on Tubberjarlath were built by Messrs. Hession Brothers, Roscommon. The Athenry Road scheme was built by Messrs. Naughton, Ballina, who also constructed the Vocational School.
THERE WAS GREAT PRAISE FOR THE DESIGN OF THE SCHEME. ‘THE HOUSES WERE SEMI-DETACHED WITH A FRONT GARDEN THAT MAY BE PLANTED WITH FLOWERS OR SHRUBS AND A REAR GARDEN THAT MAY BE USED FOR THE CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES.’ ‘THE SCHEME IS COMPLETED WITH CONCRETE FOOTPATHS AND A NEW ROAD, WIDE AND SPACIOUS.’
‘The new road at TUBBERJARLATH would be a great short cut to anyone coming late from Athenry to the new gaelic park which we soon hope to see in Parkmore’, MR. JORDAN T.D. FROM ATHENRY SPEAKING AT THE OPENING. THE NEW GAELIC GROUNDS WERE EVENTUALLY BUILT AT VICORSCHORALAND IN 1950 AS THE RACE COMMITTEE WOULD NOT PERMIT THE BUILDING OF ANY RAISED GROUND OR PLATFORMS THAT WOULD RESTRICT THE VIEWING OF THE COMPLETE RACE FIELD AT PARKMORE.
1936 The first house occupied was No 12 Athenry Road. Mr. William McGrath, father of Michael McGrath, was the first to live on the road with his 8 children.
The McGrath’s had lived on Tullinadaly Road but in 1936 their house was burned down following a fire in the adjacent house of a Mr. Michael McHugh. Fr. Killeen, Adm., made representations on behalf of the McGrath family to the town board requesting they be housed in Athenry Road. As the new scheme was suffering from some vandalism, it was agreed to house the McGrath family in No.12 . Mr. McGrath was to keep an eye on the scheme. The McGrath’s eventually moved to Demesne Cottages and the Keating family occupied No. !2. Subsequently, in the 1960’s when Michael McGrath returned from England he was housed at No. 9 Athenry Road, a previous tenant was Mr. Michael McHugh, whose house fire in Tullinadaly Road had originally caused the McGrath’s to be the first family to live on the new scheme.
22nd March 1936. The following is a list of the early tenants selected to live on the Athenry Road. Fr. Burkes Row. Michael Moran’s Tce. No.3 - J. Fahy. No. 6 – P. Gallagher. No.5 – P.J. McMahon. No. 8. – P. Costelloe. No. 7 – Harry Cunningham. No. 12 - William McGrath. No. 11 – James Connolly. No.14 – P. McCabe. No.13 – Bridget Smyth. No. 16 – Joe Noone. No. 15 -Thomas Grogan. No. 18 – Mrs. Larkin. No.17 – Michael Holian. No.20 – Thomas Moore No. 19. – Mrs. McHugh No. 22 – Annie Higgins. No. 21 – Michael Fahy. No. 24 – Thomas Ryan. No. 23 – Joe Reilly. No. 26 - Thomas Creaven No. 25 – W.F. Alcock. No. 28 – Martin Lang No. 29 – E. McWalters. No. 30 – P. Farrelly.
Mr. Michael Holian occupied No. 17. Today it is still in the family name and is the home of his son, Gabriel Holian. Does this make them the longest living family to reside in Athenry Road/ Tubberjarlath?
October 10th 1936 Like all new housing estates there were initial problems. A deputation of tenants met with the Town Commissioners at their October meeting and Mr. Joe Hurley, acting as a spokesman, laid out a number of complaints, There was an offensive and unhealthy stench from the sewerage outlet from the Children’s Home. A number of ranges were not working properly. The same key would open the doors of all the houses. Although electrically fitted, there was no electrical service and they asked the Board to request the E.S.B. to provide the service. The Board agreed to look after the complaints and to request the Post Master to deliver post to the new scheme.
Eventually all 160 houses were allocated and occupied. Many different craftsmen, tradesmen and vocations lived in the area. Inevitably, many were employed in the Sugar Factory or on the railway, but there were also , cattle jobbers, tailors, bakers, saddlers, labourers, teachers, post office clerks, guards, nurses, widows/widowers, commercial travellers, carpenters, block layers, plasterers, dental technicians, plumbers, small farmers, shop assistants, foresters, bus drivers, merchants, postmen, electricians, clerks, painters, dress makers, hackney drivers, musicians, grave diggers, bar men, mechanics, lorry drivers, soldiers, fishmongers, butchers, etc. A vibrant and supportive community developed within the area which contributed greatly and genuinely enhanced the life of the town of Tuam.
Not all of the people there answered the call, Miss Fore, for example, would hold onto your balls If they fell in her garden, she’d wait to attack and ignore all you’re pleading to ‘please give them back’. One auld one we called her ‘the news of the world’, she knew all the stories that ever unfurled, But mind your own business was our sacred code, don’t ever betray the auld Athenry Road. Chorus: Oh! The world and its wonder you might have seen, go from New York to London to seek out your dream You might search for contentment throughout the globe, but there’s eternal rest up the Athenry Road. Inside of the grave yard was a beautiful lodge, the home of that terror they called Mary ‘Bob’, As kids in the grave yard that’s where we would play but when Mary ‘Bob’ chased ya you soon ran away, We’d all help each other to manage somehow, we’d walk the long acre in search of Mac’s cow In fair weather and foul and days when it snowed, you looked after each other on Athenry Road. Chorus: Oh! The world and its wonder you might have seen, go from New York to London to seek out your dream You might search for contentment throughout the globe, but there’s eternal rest up the Athenry Road. God’s blessing on all who lived on that street, the kindest of people you ever could meet, From the ‘Tech’ to the sand hills and all round ‘The Home’, there’s no place on earth quite like Athenry Road. And now I recall with a tear in my eye, all the wonderful days that have passed me by, And the beautiful people that I used to know, my dear friends for ever, from Athenry Road. Chorus: Oh! The world and its wonder you might have seen, go from New York to London to seek out your dream You might search for contentment throughout the globe, but you’ll all finish up on the Athenry Road.