Christopher Dillon Bellew and His Galway Estates

An Irishman by Now

A Lone Woman In Ireland.,
Page 3 of 13

View on the Quay

View on the Quay.

warehouses, now disused and decaying in every part where their massive stony architecture could decay, I wandered as though I were in a great cemetery, where, while all reminded one of life, no life was to be seen. But one sound disturbed the stillness, although it was mid-day. Faint and timid, it was, I thought, that of a cricket; but as I drew near I perceived it was caused by the hammer of a smith, who worked in a little cellar-way, and in the back part his wife and a brood of chubby children were nestled like swallows in a ruined wall. On the opposite door a sign less obliterated than the surrounding objects bore the inscription, “No admittance except on business!” while the doors were rotting away, and the broken windows showed the decay within, reminding one of those days when the great edifice was so filled with the momentous affairs of commerce that there was no room for visitors, or the idle and unprofitable social ceremonies by which men link themselves in amity. A little further on I stopped before the ruins of a palatial mansion, the walls of the first and second stories only remaining. From its shadow an old woman sprang out with that deer-like agility which seems not to desert them with youth hereabouts, and entreated a copper of me to buy herself a coffin. As her demise seemed not so imminent as to necessitate great haste in procuring that melancholy receptacle, I prayed her to tell me whose initials were upon the escutcheon, and learned that it was the mansion of the Joyces, one of the greatest and richest families in Galway in the days when her merchant princes were powerful and considered. They were one of the thirteen tribes of Galway, so called by Cromwell in derision of the friendship and attachment which during their persecutions held together the families of the original settlers of the city, but afterward adopted as an honorable mark of distinction among themselves. Farther along, on the corner of the main street, is the only complete example of Spanish-Irish architecture in existence. It is a large building, having square-headed doorways and windows, with richly decorated mouldings and drip-stones. There is also a portion of the cornice or projecting balustrade at the top of the house, the horizontal supporting pillars being terminated with grotesque heads. On the street face are richly ornamented medallions containing the arms of the Lynches, with their crest, a lynx; and the carved figure of a monkey and child commemorates the saving of an infant belonging to the family by a favorite monkey on an occasion when the house was burned. A striking commentary on the emptiness of earthly glory is formed by the fact of a chandler’s shop now occupying what was the home of a once great and powerful family.

A very remarkable story is told by Hardman of James Fitzstephen Lynch, mayor or warder of Galway in 1493. “He traded largely with Spain, and sent his son on a voyage thither to purchase and bring back a cargo of wine. Young Lynch, however, spent the money intrusted to him, and obtained credit from the Spaniard, whose nephew accompanied the youth back to Ireland to be paid the debt and establish further inter-


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