The Croí na Gaillimhe Resource Centre, Maureen O'Connell House is located at No. 1 Mill Street, Galway, a beautiful building which dates from 1850. It is in a prime and central location in Galway City with breath-taking views of the river. This building is described thus by William Garner in his book, Galway Architectural Heritage, 1985: “To the north of the little bridge is a house with a watercourse beneath it. It has a two-bay, three-storey façade of cut limestone and a simple, early 19th century door case with a fluted head and a triple keystone”. In the context of Galway’s architectural heritage, he classes it as “L”, of local importance.
Tradition suggests that this house was built at the turn of the 19th century by a Mr. Ruxton, who also gave his name to the nearby “little bridge” on Mill Street mentioned above. The building, if it was originally the home of Mr. Ruxton, who it is suggested was a mill owner, is unique in the Galway City context, because it is the only know example with a watercourse constructed to run directly underneath it.
Mr. Ruxton may have owned for a period the adjacent mills. By 1855, when Griffith’s Valuation was carried out, the building was classed as No. 22 on the schedule supplied by Maurice Semple in his book, By the Corribside, p. 59, accompanying a map of the proposed development of the city waterways. The explanation as regards dates given with the map is rather confusing but the CYMS building (No. 21) is shown to have been owned by an Anne Mitchell and occupied by a Maria Hughes and used as a flour mill.
After the Great Famine, and with the advent of the railway in 1851, most of Galway’s water-based industries closed down, and this building ceased, it seems, to have any connection with milling from then on, and the adjacent waterways became redundant.
In the 1940’s it was occupied by the CYMS (Catholic Young Mens’ Society), the Credit Union and a number of other tenants. The building was left to St Vincent de Paul in 1963. In 1987 the building was leased to a local youth soccer club, Galway Bohemians, at a nominal rent.
In 2005 St Vincent de Paul regained possession of the building. During 2006, in a search for new initiatives to be funded by the O’Connell Bequest, a group of St Vincent De Paul volunteers met with local voluntary and statutory bodies. The need for a city centre facility catering for older people and providing educational supports for young people was identified.
Thanks to the “O’Connell Bequest” (The bequest of the late Maureen O’Connell) the Society of St Vincent de Paul was able to develop the building at Number 1 , Mill Street as a valuable asset for Galway City. It was agreed by the Society that it would be a Resource Centre for disadvantaged people in Galway City.
The building contract was signed in March 2008 and the building was handed over at the end of February 2009. During 2008 St James Conference, consisting of existing SVP members, was established to plan and oversee the operation of the Centre. A number of activities have begun and at the end of March 2009 the Manager was appointed.