The Growth of the Town

What of their effect in Ballinasloe during that century? There is no doubt that they laid the beginnings of the prosperous town that now exists. Great encouragement was given to the linen industry in the early part of the century. The following is in Pue's Occurrences in 1747:

"To be let for three lives from the first day of May next, several plots in the town of Ballinasloe in the County fo Galway, with a sufficient number of acres near said town very convenient for parts to said plots: and also for any term not exceeding 35 years the lands of Drumsule within half a mile of said town, containing about 400 acres and the lands of Cloonlongfield within three miles of said town for any term not exceeding twenty years, very convenient to persons inclined to carry on the linen or woollen manufacture in said town of Ballinasloe, who may want land in the farming way."

That the Trenches controlled building is clear enough from the straight streets which now exist. During part of the eighteenth century the town was very small on the Galway side and only gradually crept out from the river. The old mail coach road forded the river from River St. to St. Michael's church. The bridge was doubtless too narrow then for these vehicles. The old GarballyKilconnell road ran through Garbally, crossing the present broad walk near the garden. The Ahascragh road did not exist. The Cleaghmore road ran from Dunlo Hill past the Garbally gates and the top of Mount Pleasant and must have followed the Esker to Kilclooney. Much of that esker disappeared in the building of the railway.

There are very few details of the social life of the town in that century. The hotels were concentrated near the river, showing that was the centre of the town. There is mention of Cuffe's hotel near the bridge and Corbett's hotel where Wolfe Tone stayed towards the end of the century. When Dean Swift passed through the town in the early part of the century he stayed at the Sign of the Cock and Hen. This may have been at Dean's in River St. where a sign displaying tow fighting cocks hung until recently.

Shortly before 1742 a new racecourse was established near Ballinasloe and a County of Galway Plate was given by the Sheriff and Justices of the Peace of the County to be run for on Tuesday 19th October in that year. It was confined to inhabitants of Galway or any county putting up a like plate. Nine stones was the limit. On Wednesday a purse of 20 was run for, ten stone being the limit and on Thursday a purse of 25 and twelve stone the limit. A guinea was the entrance fee on the two first days and a moydore on the third and no scrub admitted! There were balls and entertainments for the ladies on the three nights.

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