The last of the traditional Claddagh cottages was demolished in the 1950s. Prior to this the dwellings were of thatch with open fires, sash windows and half doors.
The following is taken from Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil by Richard Lovett
A large number of the population is employed in the salmon and herring fishery, and the Claddagh is their home. This is an extraordinary assemblage of low, thatched cottages, built with total disregard to system, and numbered indiscriminately. Hardiman wrote of them as follows: "The colony from time immemorial has been ruled by one of their own body, periodically elected, who is dignified with the title of mayor, regulates the community according to their own peculiar laws and customs, and settles all their fishery disputes. His decisions are so decisive and so much respected that the parties are seldom known to carry their differences before a legal tribunal or to trouble the civil magistrates." The title and office are now quite obsolete. At one time they never allowed strangers to reside within their precincts, and always intermarried among themselves, but now strangers settle among them. They are a very moral and religious people; they would not go to sea or away from home on any Sunday or holiday. The dress of the women of the Claddagh was formerly very peculiar, and imparted a singular foreign aspect to the Galway streets and quays. It consisted of a blue mantle, red body-gown and petticoat, a handkerchief bound round the head, and legs and feet au naturel; but that dress is rarely seen now. The Claddagh ring—two hands holding a heart—becomes an heirloom in a family, and is handed down from mother to daughter.
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