Thing to Do Category: Museums and Galleries
The Nora Barnacle House, Bowling Green, Galway was built in the 1800s. The smallest house in the street, its accommodation consists of two rooms and a tiny back yard. The ground floor room served as a kitchen, dining room, and often a bedroom. Cooking was done over an open fire, in pot ovens and on large griddles. water was drawn from a pump across the street as the house did not receive its own supply until the 1940’s. The tiny back yard may have served as an extended kitchen in summer time. The upstairs room was a communal bedroom. Small houses like this one sometimes served very large families and the sleeping arrangements were divided between the two rooms. At the turn of the century Nora lived here with her mother and six younger Barnacle children, until she left Galway in 1904 for Dublin.
The house was derelict for much of the past two decades, until in 1987 it was purchased by Mary and Sheila Gallagher who restored it to its turn of the century condition and opened it to the public. Since then, thousands of people have visited this important landmark in the lives of Ireland’s most famous writer and his wife, Nora Barnacle.
James Joyce first met his mother-in-law Annie Barnacle in the small kitchen of the house when he and his son Giorgio visited in 1909. In 1912 the Joyces made a family visit to Galway and spent much of their three week holiday at the house. Nora, accompanied by Giorgio and Lucia, paid her final visit in 1922. Annie Barnacle continued to live here until her death in 1940.
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