Thursday, July 24, 1997

Ballylinan Carnival 1937 and Athy Business Houses of that Year

Do your remember the Carnival held in Ballylinan from August 15th to 29th in 1937. As best I can find out it was the third annual carnival held to raise funds for the primary school opened in the village in 1935. The school which cost £5,600.00 was built on a site provided by John Hovenden and for a number of years the local PP Reverend J. Killian had encouraged the carnival committee in its efforts to reduce the parish debt.

In 1937 McDonalds Amusements occupied the carnival grounds where the most popular attractions were the dodgems, the chairoplanes, the swing boats and the hobby horses. On the first Sunday the No. 3 Army Band gave an outdoor recital while a drilling and gymnastics display featured soldiers from the Curragh Camp. A miniature nine hold golf course was specially laid out for the duration of the carnival while for most people the chief attraction of the fortnight was the nightly carnival dance. This surprisingly enough was held in the new primary school
where each night the Adelaide Melody Band under the directorship of Vincent Rogers held sway from 9 to midnight. The nightly ceili featuring the Ballylinan Ceili Band was held in what was described as the Ballylinan Club. A whist drive and a children’s sports were other notable features during the carnival fortnight.

The Ceili band members who performed every night from 9 to 12 included Joseph Byrne, James Daly, James Brennan, Pat Kaye, J. Loveday, D. Murphy, Joseph Kelly and Thomas Kirwan. John Farrell was responsible for what was described as a touring troupe of more than twenty men and women who performed exactly what I cannot say. The Chairman of the carnival committee was John Murphy with Laurence Dunne, as secretary and Thomas Roche and Mary Bambrick as treasurers. Unusual for events of this kind a very comprehensive programme was issued which as you can imagine was well supported by local businesses through advertising.

Looking through the advertisements 60 years later is like making a tour of the pre war town of Athy which is largely un-recognisable to the present generation. One of the most eye catching advertisements was that inserted by John Farrell, Licensed Carrier, Ballylinan and Athy who exorted his readers to “send it by Farrell”. John apparently made daily trips to Dublin where he had a depot at 10 and 12 Mary’s Abbey.

Cunninghams of William Street advertised their lounge/bar as well as their groceries, provision and hardware. The proprietor was Michael Cunningham later a County Councillor and an Urban Councillor whose premises are now known as the “Canal Bar”. M.A. James of Duke Street had stationery, fancy goods, pipes and cigarettes for sale in a shop which is now no more. Nolans of 6 Duke Street and 27 Leinster Street were drapers offering gents and ladies clothing in addition to furniture and radios. Most of us will recall M.G. Nolan’s premises in Duke Street which is now Moores Chemist shop. I had not realised that Nolans either M.G. or his Mountrath based brother had another shop in Leinster Street in what is now Tom Manley’s.

John Anderson of Market House, family grocer, tea, wine and spirit merchant is one of the businesses sixty years ago still going strong. Andersons, however no longer boast a grocery section while William Crawley’s grocery and bakery in William Street another advertiser in 1937 is long gone. Such is also the fate of D & J Carbery Limited Building Contractors of the Joinery Works, St. John’s and A. J. Mape of Duke Street who had a millinery, mantels and drapery warehouse with dressmaking as a specialty.

Thomas Flood another family grocery, tea, wine and spirit merchant owned the Railway Hotel in Leinster Street. The beautiful brick building is now owned by Margaret Kane. Those attending the Ballylinan Carnival were exorted to visit Thomas Dowling, tea, wine and spirit merchant of Offaly Street “for courtesy, civility, value and attention”. Tom also supplied coal at keenest prices from the premises which remains the only licensed premises in Offaly Street. Tom a Naas man returned to his native town in the 1950’s when he sold his business to the legendary John W. Kehoe. The Commercial House recently revamped and now Supermacs was in 1937 owned by Murphys who had traded as general drapers for over sixty years. Their advertisement referred to the range of goods which were available there including boots and shoes, furniture and bedding, Irish tweeds and linen.

An interesting advertisement which I had not seen elsewhere before was for castings in cast iron, brass and aluminum. Matt McHugh & Sons of Meeting Lane also offered to repair all classes of machinery with hay bogies, ring rollers and plough fittings being a specialty. McHughs foundry has been silent for many years as has that of Tom McHugh his brother which was located in Janeville Lane.

Next week I shall continue my perusal of the advertisements of 60 years ago in the Ballylinan Carnival programme.

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