Friday, January 19, 1996

Butlers Row

Continuing the story of Butlers Row, Athy, last week I mentioned the Mahon family who lived there over 65 years ago. John, a good footballer died young and his brother Michael a superb player with few equals on the football pitch emigrated to New York in October 1927. On the night before he emigrated the local G.A.A. Club, then called Young Emmets, made a presentation to Michael at a function in the local Council offices in the Town Hall. He had played for Athy Senior Team in the 1923 Senior Championship Final when Athy was defeated by Naas and was later chosen for the Kildare County Senior team in the year he emigrated.

In Number 6 Butlers Row lived Fran O'Rourke who had married Kate Cunningham of Meeting Lane. He was a carpenter working for the railway company in their Inchicore Works commuting to Athy each weekend by train. His sons Paddy Joe, Thomas, Frank and Hughie are dead as is a daughter Josephine who was married to the late Joe Moloney. A son Peter is living in Londonwhile a daughter Breda is married to Michael O'Meara and living in Geraldine. George and Mary Ryan were appointed tenants of No. 6 in 1942 and lived there until 1950 when they transferred to No. 63 Pairc Bhride. Their son George born the same year as myself was in my class in St. Joseph's Boys School. He died in 1949 and I can still recall the entire class under Sr. Alberta praying for George, little realising the finality of death. He was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery one week after another of our young friends Jimmy Bracken of Emily Square who had drowned underneath the Barrow Bridge. That was a sad week in November 1949.

George Ryan Senior was a first class handballer who won the All Ireland Hardball Junior Doubles title partnered by "Wiggie" Costello of Shrewleen in 1936. While living in Butlers Row George won the All Ireland Hardball Junior Singles title in 1946. Sadly he died in 1969.

In the next house lived Mr. & Mrs. O'Brien and their daughter. I have no information about them. They were followed by Mick O'Shea, his mother and grandfather who moved from Garden Lane off Meeting Lane. Mick and his sister Molly who had spent many years in England later moved down to No. 2 Butlers Row. Mick who worked for many years in the I.V.I. Foundry was the last tenant of Butlers Row living there for some time after the remaining houses fell vacant. He and Molly now live in Kirwans Court off Leinster Street.

"Robbie" Robinson and his wife Caroline later moved into No. 7. Robbie worked in the I.V.I. Foundry and was known locally as "Black Sam" because of his frequent performances as a blacked up minstrel in local musicals in the Town Hall. Their son Michael who is now in Australia was home for Christmas and renewed acquaintances with his school pals with whom he attended the Christian Brothers School in the 1950's.

The Stapleton family lived in No. 8. There were three brothers and one sister, all now long dead. Jim and Larry were bakers in Bradleys bakery which was located at the rear of the present Delaney's Barber Shop in Duke Street. Mick was unemployed largely due to ill health while their sister Mary kept house for her bachelor brothers. Tom and Maria Langton and family replaced the Stapletons. Tom was a local postman and fireman and both himself and his wife were wonderful ballroom dancers known far and wide for their dancing skill.

Next door in the 1930's we find Mr. & Mrs. Dargan, their son Jim and two daughters. They later moved to Offaly Street taking over the house vacated by the Stafford family. Mr. Dargan worked in Duthie Larges and his son Jim was in his early years in the Irish Army. Jim took part in many of the musical shows in Athy over the years. His sister Katie who never married was reputed to have the cure for haemorrhage. When the Dargans moved to Offaly Street the new tenants were Tommy and Eileen Pender. Tommy worked in the I.V.I. Foundry and when the family were still young they moved to Offaly Street taking over Sunderlands house. In doing so Eileen Pender was moving to live opposite her own family home where her brother John Evans and parents were still living.

Mr. & Mrs. Dempsey and their daughter Lil lived in the second last house in the Lane. "Cruiser" Dempsey as he was known was the Porter in the Hibernian Bank in Leinster Street. He was a small man with a moustache and always wore a cap. Lil married a railway porter named Tobin and moved down the country. Mick Corr, his wife and two sons later lived in the house and Mick is now living in Nelson Street, his wife sadly dying while they were living in Butlers Row.

At the end of Butlers Row lived Mr. & Mrs. Hendricks. He was a photographer and used the wall of the Leinster Arms Hotel yard to hang his photographs of local events and people which he wished to sell. Hendricks was an exceptionally tall man whose wife was equally exceptionally small. Paddy Dunne his wife Molly and family later lived in Hendricks house.

The houses in Butlers Row were privately owned. It may be assumed that the name indicates the original owner or person responsible for their construction. Peter P. Doyle of Woodstock Street at one time collected the rent averaging 2/6 per week on behalf of the then owner George Dillon who was a butcher in Leinster Street. On his death George willed the Butlers Row property to his nephew Tommy who lived in Ardreigh and in time he sold the 11 houses to Mona Sylvester of Offaly Street. Mona is reputed to have paid £100 for the entire housing scheme and she continued to collect the rents to the end.

Butlers Row is now no more. The roofless remains of the houses which once echoed to the lively sounds of family life now wait for the bulldozers to knock the remaining walls. In recording the names of those who lived there over the years since 1930 inevitably some names will be missed and some mistakes made. If you can help to add to what is published here I would welcome hearing from you.

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