The Slum Clearance Schemes of the early 1930’s enabled Athy Urban District Council to rid the town of many of the unhealthy lanes and courts which had been home to local families for generations past. New houses were erected in St. Joseph’s Terrace to accommodate families from Mount Hawkins and The Gulch and before long those families bonded together to form the strong close-knit community which still exists today.
Let us look at the families who lived in Lower St. Joseph’s Terrace in 1935.
No. 1 - Mick Keogh and family. Mick worked for the Duke of Leinster’s Agent who had an office in what is now the Old Folks House in Leinster Street.
No. 2 - Mrs. Leonard and family.
No. 3 - Annie “Ba” Alcock and her brother Tommy “Tut” Alcock.
No. 4 - Jim “Scallop” O’Neill, his wife, daughter Gertie and son Joe. “Scallop” was a fine exponent of the art of basket making.
No. 5 - Paddy O’Neill, son of Scallop, and family. Paddy worked in Carbery’s Builders and at one stage had a small shop in his house. Paddy died in Manchester last week.
No. 6 - Jenny Kavanagh and her two brothers. All later emigrated to England.
No. 7 - Johnny and Dora Johnson and family. Johnny worked in the sandpit at Gallowshill with his two sons. Two daughters, Sheila and Irene are married and living in Athy.
No. 8 - The Kavanagh family, including John and Maggie, both of whom died in recent times. Their father was batman to John Vincent Holland, who won the Victoria Cross in World War I. His son Isaac joined the Irish Guards.
No. 9 - Johnny and Mag Davis and family. Johnny, who was in the English Army, had four sons and two daughters.
No. 10 - Mrs. Pender and her children Peg, Molly and Tom.
No. 11 - “Jacksie” and Mary Kelly and family, then consisting of Jim, later a postman, Paddy, Mick and Christy. The Kellys suffered the loss of three sons in World War I.
No. 12 - Patsy and Kathleen Delahunt and family. Patsy, a postman, served in World War I as did his brother Jack and both were fortunate to survive. Their young son Paddy died at 13 years of age. The other six members of the family are alive and well today.
No. 13 - Mrs. Kavanagh and her two daughters. One daughter married a Navy man while Mary died two years ago in England.
No. 14 - Nell Keogh with Chevit and Johnny Doyle. Johnny later emigrated to England and Chevit, a former Urban Councillor and a good footballer in his day, died some years ago.
No. 15 - Neddy and Kate Rainsford. Their son, Michael, is now living in Ballylinan having returned from abroad.
No. 16 - Johnny Rainsford, his wife and family. Their daughter Mag is still in the house while another daughter was married to “Hocker” Mulhall, their next door neighbour. The Rainsford brothers, Neddy and Johnny, worked on the bog harvesting turf, which they sold in Athy and surrounding area.
No. 17 - Hocker Mulhall, a barber in Leinster Street and his family. Interestingly enough, their son Jim, who worked for years in Athy, has again returned to South Kildare, as has his sister Mary who had lived in England for many years. Their sister Eileen is married to Eddie Doyle, who lives in the Churchtown area.
No. 18 - “Messcock” Kelly, a cheerful man noted for whistling to his own accompaniment as he beat his fingers on the bottom of a milk can while walking to the dairy. The widow of his son Christy now lives in the house.
No. 19 - The Chanders brothers.
No. 20 - “Brudge” Dunne, her husband and family. Their children included Jim, Jack, later of Meeting Lane, Christy, fondly known as “Bluebeard”, and two daughters one of whom, Nan, married Jim Kelly, postman. The only one of the Dunne lads still alive is Dick who lives in Dublin.
Recording the names of persons who lived in an area 60 years previously is always a hazardous venture, and inaccuracies or omissions can be expected for any such inaccuracies or omissions in the above list, I can only ask my readers indulgence.