Thursday, April 18, 1996

Leinster Street 1932 (2)

Continuing our survey of Leinster Street in 1932, we retrace our steps and start with the shop opposite the Leinster Arms Hotel. That first building bearing the name Athy Co-Operative and Agricultural Stores. It was known locally as the Co-Op Stores and its neighbour was a shop owned by Delaneys. The Leinster Arms Hotel yard lay between Delaneys and Miss Darby's house. The yard provided secure parking for the Hotel patrons and was watched over by the ever vigilant Paddy Webb of St. Patrick's Avenue, a ex-Army man who was later Caretaker of the C.Y.M.S. Hall in Stanhope Place. Miss Bridget Darby was a teacher in Churchtown and a member of Athy Urban District Council. Indeed she may well hold the distinction of being the first female member of that body. She was a member of the Fianna Fail party and very involved in the Irish Language Revival movement.

Next door was another private house before we met Hutchinson's Hibernian Hotel. Mr. Hutchinson was an electrician who carried on extensive electrical business for many years. He later lived in Church Road. The Hibernian Bank, the finest building in the street, is now occupied by the Hibernian Insurance Company. It was next door to the small two storey house of Dan Neill, a local Building Contractor. In the 1950's Dan owned the lands now occupied by the Kingsgrove housing estate on the Carlow Road and his only employee in those days so far as I can recall was Jim "Salty" Doyle of Butlers Row. Duthie Larges had extensive premises fronting on to Leinster Street as well as commodious buildings extending back up Chapel Lane. Once the largest garage and only foundry in Athy it continued in business until the early 1980's. Dooley's Bakery occupied a premises now owned by Mrs. Hughes. This was an extensive business with several bread delivery vans on the road. It was owned by Paddy Dooley, brother of Michael Dooley of Duke Street.

Across Chapel Lane was T.C. Walsh's pub, later Hickeys and now "Cheers" Bar. Doran's clothes shop was next door to Campbells harness maker while "Sapper" Neill was still carrying on his butchering business in the adjoining premises. It was later acquired by Willie McGrath who was in time to open McGrath's tearooms in the same premises. Hylands were next door to Jacksons and then a large emporium consisting of a grocery, hardware shop, drapery, shoe shop and garage. The business was put into receivership in the late 1950's given the now infamous Russell Murphy some early experience of Irish provincial business live. Part of the premises was sold in 1963 to a consortium which included Pat Flood who is now retired and living in Chanterlands.

Fran Doran's clothes shop was next with Johnny "Mockers" McMahon's sweet shop alongside Mick Egan's tailoring shop. What is now Sunderlands was believed to have been a small sweet shop and lodging house while Wynnes shoe repair shop was then a private house owned by Mick Howard who worked in Blanchfields Sawmills. Kellys lived next door followed by Miss Johnson's shop. This prompts me to ask if this was where Paddy Johnson lived after moving from Boher Bui when St. Michael's Cemetery was extended. He is believed to be the only man legally buried in his own back yard, lying as he is inside the front wall of St. Michael's Cemetery where his small house was once located.

The next house was occupied by a Mr. Langton whom I believe to have been an uncle of Tom Langton, well remembered and beloved Postman and Fireman now long deceased. Mrs. O'Meara's pub to where Barney Dunne first came to work in the 1930's is now called The Anglers Rest. There are still three public houses here and 64 years ago the last two were owned by Paddy Kelly and Jim McEvoy. Alex Kelly who died quite recently was a son of Paddy Kelly while Jim McEvoy present proprietor of the Railway Bar is a son of the late Jim McEvoy.

Conroys sweet and grocery shop was followed by a row of houses occupied by George Ellard's father, Mick Langton - a postman like his son Tom, Jack Roche, 'Locky' Murray, Mick Ellard, Miss Watts who worked in Jacksons and John Maher who was a Drayman for C.I.E.. Across Kirwan's Lane was to be found the Railway Bar, owned by Pat O'Brien whose brother Michael owned and operated the Nags Head also in Leinster Street. Next came three houses occupied by the Reilly family, the May family and Isaac Thompson and his family. Nellie Reilly, later had a sweet shop in the front room of the family home before she emigrated to England in the 1950's. The large house now known as the Care of the Elderly home was then occupied by Mr. Rogers, an Englishman, who was Caretaker of the Peoples Park and agent for the Duke of Leinster.

Looking back at the names of those who lived and worked in Leinster Street 64 years ago it is not surprising to find that many of those names are no longer there today. Some physical changes are also noted in the street, particularly in relation to the small row of houses which adjoined Conroys shop. These houses are now gone, the last occupied by Mrs. Ellard having been demolished last year. The three small houses adjoining Blanchfields in the square are now roofless shells. Elsewhere on the street businesses have changed and private houses have been converted to shops. I wonder what the future holds for the street in 1060 when another 64 years will have elapsed.

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