Houses and Housing

This article was written by Samuel J. Macguire and originally published in the 'Galway Reader' in the 1950s. The 'Galway Reader' is available from Galway Public Library.


The conditions of the majority of the inhabitants were so foul that the annual death rate from typhus and smallpox fever was high. The evils of overcrowding were acute. There were people living in cellars and around the courtyards of the old houses, some of which were only from to 15 feet between the rows. The backs of the houses in one court were sometimes built against the backs of houses in another court. At the further end there was generally an ash pit between two privies. The stench arising from these causes must have been beyond description. The population figures for 1812 show 24,684 persons, made up of 4,220 families occupying 3,353 houses, the average number to each family being 5.8. In Cross Street there were 2.5 families to each inhabited house; in Middle Street 2; in Playhouse Lane 2.5; in Whitehall 2.4; in Upper Abbeygate Street 2; in Cross Street 2.6; in Quay Street 2.2; in Mooney's Lane 3.6' in High Street 2.2; in Churchyard Precincts 4; in Buttermilk Lane 5; in Morgan's Lane 6.8; in Church Lane 3.2; in Lombard Street 5.4; and in Market Street 5.3.

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