Thursday, December 27, 2001

Des McHugh / Niall Dunne / Athy Businesses 1824

Christmas time sometimes brings sorrow as well as joy. Last week Athy mourned the passing of Des McHugh, a man full of years and Niall Dunne, a young man some years short of his prime. I knew both quite well.

Des McHugh, for me, epitomised all that one could desire in a man who lived in and for his hometown. Born in Athy over eight decades ago, he lived out his long life amongst the people of the South Kildare town where his father had founded the family business over one hundred years ago. A gentleman to his fingertips Des McHugh played an active role in the social and cultural life of Athy over many many years. He was a past captain of the local Golf Club and of Athy Rugby Club and with the latter club captained the first Athy team to win the Towns Cup in 1938. He was also responsible for the setting up of the Lions Club in Athy which he did with the active participation and encouragement of his brother-in-law, Paddy Reynolds. Des had a vast store of local knowledge and lore, all of which he was generous in sharing with me whenever we met. On our last meeting at the November meeting of the Lions Club held in the Leinster Arms Hotel he spoke of a photograph of old Athy which he had wished to pass on to me. Unfortunately his sudden death deprives us of a cultured man who shared his experiences and knowledge with a generosity and a kindness which is often difficult to find nowadays. He will be sadly missed but his memory will live on in the work of the local Lions Club of which he was the first President and in which he was active right up to the very end.

Niall Dunne was a young man whom I had met on several occasions in recent years and who was intended to follow in the footsteps of his father, the ever popular Pat Dunne and his Grand-father in the family hostelry in Woodstock Street. The large attendance at his funeral comprised of young and old alike, bore witness to the respect in which Niall and his family were held by the local people. He was a hugely popular man amongst his youthful peers and his unexpected and sudden death shocked the town where the Dunne family has been so well known for so long.

Our thoughts at this time are with the McHugh and Dunne families, two of the oldest business families in the town of Athy.

I recently came across a Directory of Irish Towns of 1824 which include a list of shopkeepers, traders and tradesmen in Athy 177 years ago. I wonder how many of those businesses named are still represented in the town.

Richard Alcock Tailor
John Andrews Nailer
James Atkinson Schoolmaster
Thomas Bailey Boot and Shoe Maker
Thomas Ballen Hatter
Mrs. Jane Barras Post Mistress
George Blacking Painter and Glazier
Mary Bryan Grocer and Baker
Mary E. Bryan Grocer
John Butler Tanner
James Byrne Publican
Jeremy Byrne Grocer
Michael Byrne Baker
William Clarke Match Maker
Thomas Coffer Woolen Draper
Mary Coram Grocer
Edward Couse Boot Maker
Mary Cox Haberdasher
William Craig Grocer
Michael Cummins Corn Factor
Richard Cummins Tailor
John Delaney Chandler
John Duan Dyer
John Duncan Boot and Shoe Maker
John Dunn Publican
James English Smith
Catherine Fogarty Grocer & Baker
Dennis Fogarty Publican
John Fogarty Woolen Draper
Goold & Dunn General Merchants
John Holmes Leather Cutter
James Hoysted Publican
John Johnson Shoe Maker
John Johnson Tinman
Peter Keating Publican
William Keating Grocer
Michael Kehoe Grocer
John Kelly Linen & Woolen Draper
Edward Kennedy Leinster Arms & Head Inn
James Little Smith
Alex McDonnell Haberdasher
Robert Molloy Merchant Tailor
James Moore Publican
Patrick Murphy Publican
William Murphy Publican
William Nevil Saddler & Harness Maker
John Owens Soap Boiler
John Peppard Grocer
William Plewman Watch Maker
Catherine Purcel Baker
Peirce Sharman Carpenter
Richard Sharman Shoe Maker
Thomas Sheil Grocer
John Slater Publican
John Sourke Baker
John Staines Publican
James Wright Brewer
George Youall Soap Boiler and Chandler

May I thank all those from Athy and abroad who wrote to me or otherwise contacted me during the past year. I wish all of you a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

No comments: