I received quite a few phone calls following last weeks article concerning the whereabouts of “the Hand”. I had not heard of the locality referred to by that name until the previous week. The first person to phone me was Dom Brennan of Barrowhouse who told me that “the Hand” was well known by the older people in the Barrowhouse area. It was the junction of the Bleach and the main Kilkenny road. He first heard the expression from his late mother, and told me that Barrowhouse folk still refer to “the Hand” when speaking of that locality. Interestingly enough Dom, on reading my article, asked a couple of his workmates in Tegral, including some who live in the Bleach where “the Hand” was and more of them had never heard of the local placename.
There is obviously a good explanation as to how or why that name came to be given to the locality, but neither I nor any of my contacts know what it is. Is there anyone who can say why the junction at the Bleach cottages came to be known as “the Hand?”
While I’m on the Kilkenny road, I’ve decided this week to press out a little further and enter into the borderlands of what the Land Registry in Dublin still refer to as the “Queen’s County”. Ballylinan, although in county Laois, is rightly regarded as part and parcel of Athy’s hinterland and over the years many links have been forged between the town and village. Some weeks ago I wrote of the public houses in Athy in 1924 and I thought it might bring back a few memories if I tried to trace back the history of some local public houses in the Ballylinan area.
In 1899 there were eleven licenced premises in and around Ballylinan, taking in Killabban, Ballylehane Upper and Lower and Crossard. The village itself had five public houses 102 years ago, one of which was a thatched house owned by Patrick Lacey. It had an ordinary 7 day licence as did the other four public houses in the village. Patrick Lacey’s continued in business until 1910 when the licence was transferred to Elizabeth Murphy and transferred in turn six years later to John Murphy. The latter was still running the public house in 1926.
The other village pubs were in 1899 owned by Johanna Delaney, William Fleming, James Quigley and Michael Shortall. Delaney’s changed hands on several occasions, firstly to John Cleary in 1904, to John Troy in 1914 and to John O’Byrne in Timahoe in 1918 before Michael Nolan took over in 1923.
William Fleming died in 1903 after which his widow Anne took over the business and she was still operating the pub in 1926. James Quigley’s public house was licensed to himself until 1917 when Anne Quigley took over and she later transferred the business to Elizabeth Lacey who was still in charge in 1926.
Michael Shortall’s public house business in Ballylinan was augmented when he took over Anne Nolan’s pub in Ballylehane Lower in 1903. This latter pub was a thatched house and both pubs passed to Kate Shortall in 1915 and she was still proprietress eleven years later. However in 1927 the Ballylehane Lower pub was taken over by Edward Hogan.
In Ballylehane Upper there were two pubs. Jeremiah Keeffe had a six day licence which in 1920 was taken over by Mary Keeffe, before she in turn transferred it to her daughter Mary in 1923. James Hughes had a 7 day licence for his pub also in Ballylehane Upper which passed on to John Hughes in 1902 and to James Hughes in 1916. Ten years later James Hughes who was perhaps a grandson of the first named James Hughes was still running the business.
Crossard, Ballylinan also boasted two licensing premises in 1899, although only one of them was a public house in the strict sense of the word. The pub was owned by Elizabeth McGrath and in 1915 by William Byrne. Three years later the proprietor was Michael Leech and he was still running the business in 1926. The second licensed premises in Crossard was owned by Michael Knowles who had a Spirit Grocers Licence only. He was entitled to sell spirits for consumption off the premises and could not sell beer or porter. On his death the business went to his son Michael (Jnr.) and he was still in charge of the premises in 1926.
Killabban was the location of a thatched public house owned in 1899 by Thomas Deegan which passed to Margaret Dooley in 1907 and two years later to Michael Ryan. He was still in business in 1926.
I wonder how many of these public houses can you identify, and how many of the businesses are still in the same family ownership as 75 years ago.
I had intended last week to pass on good wishes to a former class mate of mine who retired recently. Pat Flinter, originally from just around the corner from “the Hand” was a brilliant student in the C.B.S. who went on to achieve remarkable success in his working life. He worked locally, after leaving secondary school and became in time a Director of Tegral Metal Forming Ltd. As far as I know, he is the only local man ever to be promoted to the Board of a company within the Tegral Group of companies. Its never easy for anyone to attain success in their home town but Pat Flinter’s achievements in fashioning Tegral Metal Forming into one of the most soundly-based manufacturing companies in Athy is a remarkable achievement.
Enjoy your retirement Pat and while I’m at it may I extend good wishes to another school mate of mine, Seamus Ryan, who last week tied the knot, yet again, this time in Beijing, China. It must be something in the Chinese air, which encourages our class mate to go on the merry-go-around a second time when Pat Flinter, Ted Kelly, myself and the rest of the class of 1960 can hardly muster up the energy to stand up straight.