Camp Street in the 1920s
CAMP STREET IN THE 20’S
THE NAME : When the military barracks was being built about 200 years ago the tradesmen had to live in tents or comps because there were no houses, and gradually the street became known as Camp Street. There was an old castle belonging to the Martin family at the end of Camp Street. It was said to have been built to protect against the O’Flahertys. It was in ruin when the military came, and the stones of the ruined castle were used in the construction of the barracks. The barracks was burned in the early 20’s. One high wall of the barracks is all that remains.
THE PEOPLE : There were families living in the barracks – Sweeneys, Dunleavys, Whelans, Mary Kilmartin, Guckeens, to name a few. They moved out at the time of the troubles. Also there were may gifted people living in Camp Street in the 20’s. They included Pat Donnelan and his wife Biddy (Fahy). They reared a son Padraigh who became a professor of Irish in UCD. They lived in a small thatched house beside Patrick Conneely’s present house. Biddy was a fluent Irish speaker and Padraigh was a great friend of Eamon DeValera, who came on holiday during the summer and spent the days talking Irish to Biddy. Willie Donellan was married to Delia Hynes. Willie was a teacher in the boys’ school and was an uncle of Padraigh. He and Delia had a daughter Maude (Gerraghty) who was the district nurse. Maude’s brother John was a teacher and a CountyCouncillor.
LACE MAKERS : The lace makers were Mary Kate Walsh (Delia’s mother), Mary Ann Faherty (Patrick Conneely’s grand aunt, and Maggie Lee. They made lace for table centres, d’oyleys, handkerchiefs, and veils for communions and weddings. They made the veil for Countess McTexas’ daughter when she got married. The style was Carrickmacross made with crochet, fine thread, muslin and net.
COOPERS : Johnny Kenny was the cooper. He often worked at night by candlelight. He used to heat the side of the candle in the fire and then stuck it to the wall. It never fell off. He made churns and tubs and barrels. These were essential items in the houses for making butter, washing clothes and preserving the pig after it was slaughtered.
BOAT BUILDERS: Paddy Kinneavy (Marcella’s husband) was a boat builder and the Kinneavy boat was especially designed for the lake. He also had sawmills and employed seven men including Paddy Geoghegan, Michael Dixon, Brendan Gibbons, Bob Joyce, Pat Gannon (Marcella’s brother and Jimmy O Toole. The wood came from Hudson’s at Currarevagh on the Glann Road. This wood was used all over Connemara for furniture making and coach building. The ruins of the sawmills can be seen near Marcella’s house in Camp Street today.
LAUNDRY: Kathleen Gannon (Marcella’s sister) ran a laundry service long before there were automatic washing machines. At any one time she would have four irons in the fire to cope with the ironing of sheets and linens for the local hotels and guest houses. They were washed by hand on a washboard and rinsed in the river at the steps.
POSTMAN : The postman was Marcella’s father, Stephen Gannon. On his round he walked to Rusheeny, Bunagippaun, Gregg, Tonwee and rowed out to Jones’ island in a punt to deliver the post there. He had to be up at 5 a.m. to meet the mail train and he had a hand cart to bring the bags to Monaghan,s Post Office for sorting. Molly Monaghan was the postmistress.
CARPENTER : Tom Faherty (Patrick Conneely’s grandfather) was a carpenter, but was also the local “taxi man”. He had a side car in which he brought brides to be married, emigrants to the train, babies to be baptised, and visitors who came for the fishing.
COACH BUILDER : John Walsh (Delia’s father) had a coach-building business where Kitty Walsh lives today. He was known only as John Bartley. He made carts for donkeys and horses, traps, coaches and all kinds of furniture. He also made churns and even musical instruments. He made violin out of a tea chest. He was also a keen musician and played the accordion and violin and was a dine singer and dancer.
SHOEMAKER : Jamsie O Brien was a shoemaker and lived where Jimmy Masterson lived.
FISHMONGER : Bartley Finnerty took the potatoes turnips, other vegetables, apples and plums which came by boat from the islands to the old quay and brought teem up to the market where Tommy Mallon’s house was. There was a weighing scales there for checking them in and the townspeople came there and bought their supplies.
BLACKSMITH : Tom Walsh and his son Paddy had a forge where Tommy Molloy’s house is today. It was such a treat watching the smiths making the fire and reddening it with the bellows. They reddened the iron and shaped it into horseshoes on the anvil. The water which cooled the iron was a cure for warts.
DRESSMAKER: Mary Ann Jordan designed and made drapery and curtains for the Hudsons and Countess McTexas. She also made clothes for special occasions such as first communions and weddings. She was an excellent seamstress.
GARDENER: Alec Carr, an uncle of Marcella was a gardener to the gentry. At that time nearly everyone had a bit of a garden and grew corn and wheat and potatoes and vegetables. They took the corn to Moycullen for grinding and used the flour for their bread. Most families were self-sufficient at that time.
OTHERS: Dick Gibbons and his family owned the bakery, where Mrs Coyne now lives. Lawrence o Connor (Peggy Blehein’s grandfather) had a butcher shop where McGeough’s is now. Opposite that butcher ship was another shoemaker, Eddie Geraghty. Johnny Halloran (uncle of Frank O’Toole) was a tailor. He made suits and jackets and employed three or four men. They all sat cross-legged on the table and we always wondered how they got down. There were two priests. One was Fr Martin Kinneavy (Marcella’s brother in law) who had ministered in Australia. The other was Fr Frank Cunningham (uncle of Robert Watson). He lived in Scaraveen house on the bridge. His niece was Sister Stanislaus in the Mercy Sisters. Sister Dominic Shaughnessy was also born in Camp Street- (There were five nurses in the Shaughnessy family. They were daughters of the postman Pat Shaughnessy).