A centenary booklet to celebrate 100 years of Athy Urban District Council has just gone to the printers and the following material culled from the Minute Books of the Council for inclusion in the Booklet give an interesting insight into the happenings in Athy during the last two decades of the 20th century.
17TH NOVEMBER 1902
The Council extended congratulations to Patrick Brien of Canalside who saved three children from drowning in the River Barrow at the Horse Bridge on 15th November, 1902.
The School Attendance Committee of the Urban Council reported in March 1904 that the average number on rolls in the local Christian Brothers School in 1901 was 291, with an average attendance of 191. The figures for 1904 were 298 and 233. In the Convent Schools the numbers on the rolls in 1901 was 493 with an average attendance of 283 pupils. Three years later the number on the rolls averaged 438, with an average attendance of 207. The 1901 figures for the Model School averaged 62.4 on rolls with average attendance of 42.5 and in 1904 68.4 average on rolls, with an average attendance of 48.
6TH MARCH 1905
The Council Resolved :-
“That in order to constitute St. Patrick’s Day a General Holiday the Urban Council appeals to all the traders of the town to close their houses on that day.”
It was also agreed that posters to this effect be posted throughout the town as they had been done the previous year.
In a letter dated 15th April, 1907 James Duthie, Secretary of the Volunteer Fire Brigade for Athy, indicated that it’s membership was 27 which it was hoped to increase to 37. The Urban Council approved the use of the Fire Brigade engine by the newly formed Volunteer Fire Brigade Group.
It was reported to the Council on 23rd December, 1907 that there were eighteen T.B. cases in the Workhouse and five deaths from T.B. in the town since 12th November. The recently formed Tuberculosis Committee urged the Urban Council to adhere to Dr. Lumsden’s appeal for “dry cleaned drained yards, dry floors, water tight roofs and large windows made to open up and down” in the houses of the poor.
On 18th May, 1908 the Council agreed that the workmen in the employment of the Council be granted an early leave off at 4.00 o’clock p.m. on every Saturday for the following six months on a trial basis.
16TH JUNE, 1909
The following Resolution was passed by the Urban Council :-
“That the Secretary of the Athy Hurling and Football Club be granted permission to place the necessary number of posts on the Gallowshill Road footpath at the entrance gates of the Showgrounds in connection with the All Ireland Hurling Match between Dublin and Tipperary to be played at Athy on 27th June, 1909. The posts to be removed immediately after the match and the footpath left to the satisfaction of the Town Surveyor. The Football Club to be responsible should any accidents occur.”
2ND MAY, 1910
The Urban Council resolved :-
“That the Irish Automobile Club be requested to have warning posts erected at the main entrances to the town cautioning motorists to drive slowly through the town at a speed not to exceed seven miles per hour.”
7TH NOVEMBER, 1910
The Council noted that on 7th November, 1910 there were twenty-one cow keepers in the town of Athy and two retailers of milk.
1ST MAY, 1912
The Shops Act of 1911 came into operation on 1st May, 1912 under which shop assistants were entitled to a weekly half day holiday. The local traders were balloted by Athy Urban District Council to find out whether :-
1. They were in favour of a half day holiday in the town.
2. If so, whether it should be on Monday or Thursday.
A majority of the local traders opted for the half day holiday on Thursday of each week. The results of the plebiscite showed that 36 publicans, 31 grocers, 16 drapers, 4 hardware merchants, 6 butchers, 3 watchmakers, 2 chemists and 2 hairdressers voted. Interestingly enough this was the second plebiscite held by the Urban District Council within a period of ten years. Following a subsequent request submitted on behalf of 12 local drapers the Council agreed to delay the early closing on Thursdays from 1.00pm to 2.00pm.
21ST JULY, 1913
Lord Frederick Fitzgerald agreed to install a new floor in the Town Hall provided Councillor Michael Malone who originally sought this improvement would give a ball at the opening of the hall. Malone in a letter of 21st July, 1913 declined in favour of the Urban District Council Chairman Dr. Jeremiah O’Neill wrote:-
“In selecting me for the honour of opening the much extended and renovated Town Hall with a ball, his Lordship, not being living amongst us could scarcely be expected to fully understand the storm of resentment which would be evinced by other members of the Council towards myself at being the recipient of such an honour, a storm before which I would have to bow my head.”
28TH MAY, 1914
Urban Council workman James Chanders of Rathstewart, stone breaker, employed at the Gallowshill Gravel Pit, was killed on 28th May, 1914 by a 13ft. high bank falling on him.
21ST JUNE 1915
The Council ordered that a “role of honour” be compiled of the soldiers who had gone to the War from Athy Urban District and also a list of the men who had been killed or wounded and that the Central Recruiting Council in Dublin and the local Recruiting Officer be asked to help in the matter and to supply the necessary forms.
2ND DECEMBER, 1918
Athy Urban District Council resolved :-
“That the action of Mr. T. Hickey J.P., the representative of the Council on the Technical Committee in imposing a fine at the last Petty Sessions on the Teacher of Irish Language in the Technical School for signing his name in Irish be condemned and that Mr. Hickey be called upon to tender his resignation to the Council as their representative on the Technical Committee.”
The Urban Council workmen were unionised after the first World War and on the application of the Transport Workers Union in February 1919 their wages were increased. The workmen worked 52 hours a week in summer and 47 hours a week in winter for a wage of 33 shillings per week. This had been increased from 27/6 per week.
19TH JULY 1920
The Urban Council resolved :-
“That the names of the town’s streets be changed and a Committee consisting of the whole Council be appointed to go into the matter, the question to be placed especially on the Agenda for the next meeting.”
1ST NOVEMBER, 1920
The Council meeting of 1st November, 1920 was adjourned as a mark of respect for the late Lord Mayor of Cork and also “to mark our horror and indignation at the sentence passed on the youth Kevin Barry, ruthlessly carried out this morning.”
The centenary booklet which will give a brief overview of the first 100 years of Athy’s Urban District Council will hopefully be available in late September. More about that again.