Fair Green, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

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Where: Galway, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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Today we have a magnificent Fair Green in Ballinasloe which if my Irish serves me right translates as "The town of the gatherings (or crowds)".

There was certainly plenty of room for such gatherings as might assemble here - and not only do we see evidence of that in the wagons and traction engine here, but there's tents on the green in the 2005 OSI and 2011 Streetview that O Mac and Niall McAuley shared with us. We don't yet have a date for when our wagons were on the green, but the consensus seems to be that this was late 19th century or perhaps very very early 20th century.

Thanks also to Beachcomber for the 19th century contemporary descriptions of fairs on the green...



Photographer: Robert French

Collection: Lawrence Photograph Collection

Date: between ca. 1865-1914

NLI Ref: L_CAB_08301

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie

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Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 22417
robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection lawrencephotographicstudio glassnegative nationallibraryofireland ballinasloe béaláthanasluaighe fairgreen saintjohnschurch countygalway sistersofmercyconvent 1622 steamtractionengine wagontrain lawrencephotographcollection

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  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 14/Dec/2015 09:11:46

    I think it's Béal Átha (mouth of the ford) rather than Baile Na (town of the), so Mouth of the Ford of Crowds.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 14/Dec/2015 09:16:50

    I'll bow to your greater knowledge on the subject:-) In my native place the Fairgreen which was still used up to the late '50's was also the place of public execution. It was contiguous to both the courts and the prison which probably helped!

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 14/Dec/2015 09:26:36

    I see 3 churches, the town hall and a school which are in the NIAH - but all are older than 1865, no help on dates.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 14/Dec/2015 09:27:56

    Streetview

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    Niall McAuley

    • 14/Dec/2015 09:33:00

    Aha, I think this is at the early end of the date range. We should see the gable of this building, the former Sisters of Mercy convent, behind the left end of the town hall, and we don't, we see a different building. The NIAH dates it to roughly 1860, but gives a wide range, meaning they aren't very sure.

  • profile

    Niall McAuley

    • 14/Dec/2015 09:48:13

    The Sisters of Mercy say: In 1854 a foundation was made in Ballinasloe. The Sisters there ministered to the poor and needy as well as giving instructions in the Workhouse in spite of much opposition from the Protestant community. They took up permanent residence in the hospital in 1872. A Reformatory was openend in 1864 which eventually in 1884 became an Industrial School continuing to 1967, when both it and the Loughrea Industrial School were closed. , no help.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 14/Dec/2015 10:23:19

    Or maybe not. The DIA gives: KEMPSTER, WILLIAM HENRY Building: CO. GALWAY, BALLINASLOE, INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL Date: 1885 Nature: To be built at Mercy Convent.

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    ɹǝqɯoɔɥɔɐǝq

    • 14/Dec/2015 10:26:22

    " ... A range of other clues point to the fact, however, that the Fair is indeed ancient in origin. The most obvious is provided by the town’s original name in Irish, Béal Átha na Sluaighe, which translates as the “Ford-Mouth of the Hostings”. The “ford-mouth” refers to the crossing point the location offered over the River Suck and the “hostings” to those crowds, possibly military, who gathered to do just that. ... " From ballinasloeoctoberfair.com/history/history-of-the-fair/

  • profile

    sharon.corbet

    • 14/Dec/2015 10:26:58

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley] There's a second photo taken from the same spot, but with more of a view to the left. The Sisters of Mercy Chapel can be seen. (Not that it helps with the date - it was built in 1864.)

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    ɹǝqɯoɔɥɔɐǝq

    • 14/Dec/2015 10:30:28

    Contemporary descriptions of the fair via Trove - 1868 - trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/169266168 1875 - trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/70488697 1890 - trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/168054038

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    Niall McAuley

    • 14/Dec/2015 10:50:48

    I think at far right I can see the roof of this building from 1890.

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    O Mac

    • 14/Dec/2015 10:51:35

    The leaning bollard of Ballinasloe The chain and bollards marked the entrance to Carbally House. Before Harris Road. maps.osi.ie/publicviewer/#V2,584739,731026,12,9

  • profile

    O Mac

    • 14/Dec/2015 11:15:33

    I was thinking those wagons were too big for horse power.... then I saw a steam traction engine under a tarp to the right .

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    ɹǝqɯoɔɥɔɐǝq

    • 14/Dec/2015 20:32:04

    Not a great deal of luck with the date so far. But the time is 16:22, thanks to the very excellent megazoom on the NLI website, catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000331990 . Is this a new added bonus for the Lawrence collection? It seems late in the day for a photo.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 15/Dec/2015 00:05:47

    Well done to the eagle eyes for spotting the time and the traction engine. Map, tags, etc all updated accordingly. While it sounds like we could possibly refine the dates by a decade or so on either side of the range, we might keep the catalogue range in the description (perhaps until we're a little more certain of the range). Thanks again all - great stuff as usual!

  • profile

    Inverarra

    • 18/Dec/2015 13:06:57

    A great view of the two competing churches in Ballinasloe. The story goes that when one congregation were forced to build their church in lower swampy ground they decided to get closer to God by erecting a spire which would be higher than their neighbours. You are doing a great job by bringing us so many fine old photos.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 18/Dec/2015 20:46:16

    Thanks https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] - much appreciated. Though the stream would be nothing without the intrepid Flickroonies who contribute so much each day!

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    ɹǝqɯoɔɥɔɐǝq

    • 24/May/2020 09:45:50

    Sometimes Flickr is amazing! In 2013 via https://www.flickr.com/photos/robertriddell/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/robertriddell/37479419851/

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    Robert Riddell

    • 25/May/2020 13:15:59

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia Thank you - my home town :)