Thursday, July 31, 1997

Business Houses of 1937 Continued

Last week I started to list the various business houses in Athy which in 1937 advertised in the Ballylinan Carnival programme of that year. One of those was the publican and grocery Louis O’Mara who is still remembered in Athy even many years after he died.

Louis of 67 Leinster Street offered a wide range of services including tea, wine, spirit, hardware provisions and coal. His son Michael who was in Athy for a visit recently now runs a very successful public house in Drumcondra known as The Red Parrot.

The L & N Tea Company was in 1937 advertising its stamp collecting scheme which ensured future discounts for its customers. This mind you was in the days long before Green Shield stamps came on the scene. No address is given for the L & N as it was known locally, but most locals will remember it being next to Andersons on the corner of Leinster Street and Emily Square.

Michael Kelly of Leinster Street another grocer and spirit merchant had his premises at the corner of Meeting Lane and Leinster Street in what is now Murphys. He also had a timber and grain Stores and sold hardware seeds and manures. Who knew A.P. Nolan of Leinster Street buyer of corn, wool and most agricultural products who stocked the famous Lepit gas cartridges which he assured us was a safe, sure and cheap method of killing rabbits, rats etc. John J. Collins, Chemist of 15 Duke Street occupied what is now Blooms Flower Shop. 1937 was the year Collins assistant Tim O’Sullivan arrived in Athy from his native Kerry. Tim now retired is living in Church Road. Shaw & Sons Limited another advertiser of 60 years ago still retains its role as a leading supplier of household, drapery, shoes and hardware goods. Duthie Large & Company, main Ford dealers and agents for all leading makes of agricultural machinery are no more and their extensive shop and garage premises in Leinster Street is now given over to a number of different businesses. Their near neighbours Jackson Brothers Limited of Leinster Street advertised as “the best house for family” encouraged all to “get an iron horse and have your own electricity”. I wonder what sort of contraption was referred to there?

D. Meehan was another chemist practising in Emily Square in what is now Mulhalls while A.B. Finn was a butcher in Leinster Street. His premises is now a betting shop. It must have been encouraging for his customers to read that “scarlet ox tongue was always in stock”. Other businesses noted in the carnival programme but now gone was that of publican Michael Hughes of 5 William Street and M. Wall, Ladies and Gents Hairdresser of 17 Duke Street. The latter claimed his as the “most hygienic and smartest saloon in the district”. The Leinster Arms Hotel managed by Miss K Darcy was then a high class family and commercial hotel while Joseph Rigney undertakers was one of the few enterprises which has survived over the years.

James Reid & Son of Market Square, Athy grocery and wines has long changed hands as has Mansfields of Duke Street and Purcells Bros. Butchers of Duke Street. Mansfields was the place for hats, coats, costumes, and ladies apparel occupying the substantial premises now known as Griffin Hawes. McHughs Medical Hall and Loughmans Bennettsbridge are still operating but not so Athy Co-Operative Agricultural Society or Morris Brothers the Satisfaction House described as drapers and shoe warehousemen. Does anyone remember the Morris Brothers whose boast was “Morris sells it for less”.?

Another name not familiar to me is that of Thomas O’Gorman, grocer and publican of Duke Street. Next door to the post office was E. Carroll wine and spirit merchant while Martin Brophy was at the canal side. Names familiar even today included Doyle Brothers established in 1883, Michael Conroy grocery of 70 Leinster Street, EP Mulhall, Publican Hardware and Arms Dealer of Barrow Bridge House and Purcell Brothers, grocers and publicans of William Street.

While the names are familiar none of the businesses have survived.

Newcome Empey 10 Leinster Street, house sign and ornamental painter, HJ Prole 35 Leinster Street, tailor and outfitter, boot and shoe warehouse, David Walsh, Leinster Street, Grocer, Publican and hardware are like their near neighbours P O’Brien, the Railway Bar no longer part of the business life of Athy as we near the second millennium.

It is amazing what changes have occurred over the last 60 years and less. The names over the shop doors are changing with alarming regularity and the younger generation cannot hope to know the men women who were an important part of the business life of the town such short years ago.

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