Camp Street in the 1920s

Mary Kyne

Camp Street 1947

Where some of the people in the article lived

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 Donnellan and his wife Biddy (Fahy).  They reared a son Padraig 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 Padraig 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 Padraig.  He and Delia had a daughter Maud (Geraghty) who was the district nurse.  Maud’s brother John was a teacher and a County Councillor.

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 Metaxa’s 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, Bunnagippaun, Cregg, 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 Metaxa.  She also made clothes for special occasions such as first communions and weddings.  She was an excellent seamstress.

GARDENER:   Alex 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).

This page was added on 04/03/2011.

Comments about this page

  • To: Layla Watson

    1911 census records Michael Naughton as 28 years of age and married 2 years to wife Maggie.

    I have not found a marriage record for him, so it would appear that he married in England?

    There is a Michael Nocton who was born in Oughterard in September 1882. His father – John Nocton a Fisherman and his mother Mary Gannon.

    Can you confirrm the surname of “Maggie”.



    By jim fahy (23/04/2021)
  • I am the great granddaughter of John Naughton who lived on camp street with his father Michael, mother Maggie and sister Mary in 1911 I would be very interested in any information about the family. My great grandfather married and lived in Lancashire but I don’t know when he came here. It would also be nice to hear about his father Michael’s family

    By Layla Watson (18/04/2021)
  • Hi Nigel,

    Regarding William Watts, a Bernard Watts had a house at 47 Barrack Street (Camp Street) early 1920’s. A nearby neighbour was a member of the newly formed Irish Police named Martin Whelan.

    Any connection with Bernard Watts?


    Jim Fahy 9/12/2020

    By jim.fahy (09/12/2020)
  • Camp Steet, Oughterard – Further to previous Post

    Galway County Council have records of Barrack Street, Fough East & West, in their archives from c1912 which are presently closed, due to Coved-19 virus.

    They hope to have their Archives open to the public in the new year.

    Information can be had from the Archivist at


    Jim Fahy 7/12-2020

    By jim.fahy (07/12/2020)
  • Re: William Watts

    Irish Army Military Records have a William Watts, age 24, No. 35887 having joined the Irish army in Galway on 7th of October 1922. His address was Camp Street, Oughterard. Next of Kin – His wife at same address.

    While it does not identify a particular house, it confirms that such a person did reside there at that time.

    Credits: Irish Army Census 1922

    Jim Fahy – 5/12/2020

    By jim.fahy (05/12/2020)
  • Does anyone know of Willie and Molly Watts from Camp Street. I’m trying to locate where their house was, I’m guessing it would been around 1940-1950’s. They lived there before moving to Lemonfield. I have asked my relations there but they are unsure of where their house was.
    I am led to believe it was around the entrance to the boat yard (lower Camp Street).
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Nigel Downes – son of Kathleen Watts

    By Nigel Downes (01/12/2020)
  • Camp Street in the 1920’s

    I am interested in finding out what became of “Johnny Kenny” Cooper who resided in Camp Street. His father was “Luke Kenny” who is buried in Kilcummin cemetery. He is recorded in Camp Street in 1875 and is believed to have come from Headford?


    Jim Fahy 086 8187372

    By jim.fahy (31/08/2020)
  • Please could you make a map so it would be possible to see where all these people listed live.
    it would make it so interesting.
    Please and thanks

    By geri slevin (21/06/2020)
  • The comment about Countess Metaxa’s son being a crashing bore came from Isaiah Berlin, once-famous Cold Warrior and Oxford Professor. In “Affirming Letters 1975-1997”, there is reference to staying in the huts on Lough Nanilaun [Loch na noileáin?], the first lake on the right going from Peacockes to Keane’s pub in Maam, in the 1930s, when it was owned by Countess Metaxa.

    By martin conneely (22/07/2017)
  • My Mother Elizabeth Naughton was the Grandaughter of Mary Gannon who had daughters who made Lace they all died of Tuberculosis (they called it consumption then) her Sons Michael,Pat and others I’m not sure of their namesbut Michael married Maggie Wilkinson they were first cousins he met her when she stayed in Oughterard for ill health he took her on the Lough Corrib they were chaperoned in them days her Mother was Katie Casey who married a Naughton. There were 5 children to Michael and Maggie born on Camp Street John Mary (who is on the School photo 1924) she went to America and Elizabeth my Mother William and Delia who married one of the Flannerys. I come to Ireland every year to see my extended Family but my heart belongs to Oughterard. Godbless you all x

    By Helen Massey-Roche (20/02/2016)
  • As a member of the A-J family am trying to track down info about Edward William A-J b.1864. I am specifically looking for his wife’s maiden name and any children. If anyone can help I would be very grateful as he of all of them is elusive.


    By Roz (03/06/2014)
  • I have sent you an email with some information

    By Antoinette Lydon (24/12/2016)
  • Under the section LACE MAKERS, you mention a Countess McTexas – I think you must mean Countess Ruth Metaxa. She was the sister of Captain Edward William Anketell Jones, Inishseanbo Island (our fathers referred to it as Jones’s Island). On Census night (1911) Edward and Ruth were on Inishseanbo. Someone once remarked, “Oh yes, the Countess Metaxa is a large, nice motherly kind: but her son is abominably hearty, and a crashing bore!”

    By Zara Brady, Annaghkeen Bay (01/02/2013)
  • Very interesting history. Thank you.

    By Sean Kinnevy (01/06/2011)

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