From Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil Richard Lovett
At the mouth of the harbour, and forming the southernmost quarter of the town, is the Claddagh, a district inhabited solely by a clan of fishermen and their families; they live in low thatched huts, and are engaged for the most part in the herring fishery. By some authorities they have been considered of Spanish descent, while others, with more reason, hold that they are of Celtic origin. 'The commerce between Galway and Spain was, no doubt, at one time very extensive and important. The Spanish style of many of the houses now in ruins, the traditions and authentic records, prove that Galway was in old times a very thriving, busy, gay, and luxurious city. No doubt many Spanish merchants lived in Galway, and intermarried with natives long before the stern old Warden condemned his own son to death for slaying a Spanish rival. A Spanish face may still be seen in and about Galway--once in a week or so; but it appears to me quite certain that the Claddagh, above all other people, had no intermarriage with Spaniards. In proof of this, their present names are nearly all Irish, such as Connolly, Connor, O'Flaherty; there are some English and Welsh, as Jones, Brown and Barrett; those first mentioned, however, form the great majority. The Christian names are generally Scriptural, as John, Matthew, Michael, Paul, also Patrick, Catharine, &c.; but they have this remarkable peculiarity that there are so many persons of the same name that they are distinguished (in the Irish language) by the names of fishes; thus, Jack the hake, Bill the cod, Joe the eel, &c. The men and women of the Claddagh, and indeed of Galway County generally, are very fond of gay dress and bright colours; the country women often wear red cloaks, but the Claddagh women wear blue cloaks and red petticoats; the fishermen wear jacket, breeches and stockings home-made and light blue. The women often go bare foot, and wear the short blue cloak, bed-gown and red petticoat; the head dress is a kerchief of bright colours.
Formerly they would not on any account commence the fishing season unless the priest went along with them, and in regular form pronounced a blessing on the day, the boat with the priest sailing out at the head of the fleet.
'The appearance of the village of Claddagh is dirty, but the houses are clean enough inside; and be it known that before the famine their houses were models of cleanliness; and we must recollect that those manure heaps which frequently offend the eye in Irish villages have no offensive odour, on account of the deodorizing power of the peat which forms a large portion of the compost. The men and women have generally clean linen, although often covered with rags. It is a general fact worthy of note that in Ireland a dirty outside generally covers a clean heart.'
 The Ulster Journal of Archaeology, vol. ii., pp. 162-165.
Charlotte Milligan Fox, sister of the poet Alice Milligan, was a founding member of the Irish Folk Song Society and an indefatigable field collector of Irish traditional music. Her singularly important work on Irish haprers is here presented for the twenty-first century reader. This edition of Annals offers a much greater number of illustrations than were included in the original 1911 publication, a full biographical introduction, an extensive bibliography of the writings of Milligan Fox and an appendix discussing the variant texts of Arthur O’Neills Memoirs.
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