Made a trip to the library today, time to find a new read. I recently watched The Quiet Man – my favorite John Wayne film and one that hits close to our new home as it was filmed in part in Connemara – and remembered reading a blog post by a man who had discovered that Maureen O’Hara is living her golden years in south western Ireland. A little Wiki-research led me to the title of her autobiography, ‘Tis Herself. She has always been a film actress of the Golden Age of movies that I have loved watching, so I chose to seek out her book. After checking out I noticed some brochures, one of which was a history of Kirwan’s Lane provided by the Galway Civic Trust. I had previously had some difficulty finding Kirwan’s Lane – but once I did, I was well-impressed.
The history of the lane is lengthy; it is part of the city’s historic street layout and one of the streets where one of the 14 ‘Tribe’ families, the Kirwans, “presided over the city’s social and economic affairs during Galway’s most prosperous period from the early 16th to mid-17th century.” In 1270 Walter de Burgo began wall-building to secure the town; Kirwan’s Lane was inside that wall. Subsequently the ‘Tribes’ came to prominence and Galway began to prosper under their influence. In 1530 Johnock Kirvane (Kirwan) was elected Mayor of Galway, and the Lane is referenced in the Pictorial Map of Galway circa 1652. By the early 20th century the lane was being used for family homes but largely to house livestock and as storage. By the late 20th the lane had fallen into dilapidation, so a program of restoration and archaeological excavation was begun.
A great deal of Kirwan’s Lane has now been restored and houses unique independent retailers. A lovely bakery / restaurant called Goya’s was the destination that originally brought Kirwan’s Lane to my attention. Judy Greene’s design studio is a lovely storefront that showcases Irish designed goods from their location on the lane.
There is a lot more history to Kirwan’s Lane; I have merely highlighted parts of it. I love learning more about our newly adopted home town, and my oh my, there is so much history to learn!