EXACTLY 100 years ago, Athy Urban District Council made market bye-laws which were approved by the Local Government Board of Ireland and which, so far as I am aware, are still operative even if they have been redundant for many years past. They give an interesting insight into an important aspect of the commercial life of Athy in the years before the First World War and for that reason are worth reviewing today. The byelaws were printed in the local press on 1 July 1907 in an advertisement which read:
‘THE ATHY URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL hereby give PUBLIC NOTICE that the Business of the Athy Markets will be conducted subject to the provisions of the Bye-Laws as follows:
MARKET PLACES The Market Place shall consist of Twelve Divisions. The enclosed market for butter and eggs. The Markets for Corn, Fish, Vegetables, Fruit, Cabbage Plants in Carts, Cooperage, Ponies and Kerries in Market Square (front of Town Hall). The Market for Hay, Straw, Coals and Wool, in the Hay Market. The Fowl Market at West and South sides of Court House. The Market for Turnips and Mangolds at Northern end of Court House. The Market for Potatoes in the Potato Market as at present. The Market for Calves in the Calf Market, at the east side of the Court House. The Market for Second-Hand Clothes, Potato Baskets, Earthenware, and all Miscellaneous Articles shall be held between the Barrow Bridge and South end of Chains on Barrow Quay. The Turf Market shall be held opposite Chains on Barrow Quay. The Buttermilk Market in Woodstock Street. The Pig Market shall be held in Woodstock Street and William Street, as far as Canal Bridge and Nelson Street. The Market for Gates, Ladders, etc., shall be held at the Northern side of Leinster Street above the Public Pump.
The Cattle Market shall be held on the First WEDNESDAY in every month and the Pig Market on the next PRECEDING Day, and in other cases, the Market Day shall be TUESDAY of every week unless when Christmas Day, St. Patrick’s Day or St. Stephen’s Day falls on Monday or Tuesday, when the Market shall be held on the preceding Saturday. Provided, notwithstanding, that a Market for the Sale of Pigs, by live weight may be held on every Tuesday.
The Market Places shall be open as fol-Fowl Market not earlier than Seven o’clock a.m. Butter, Calf and Egg Market at Nine o’clock a.m. Hay and Turnip Market at Ten o’clock a.m. Corn and Potato Market at Eleven o’clock a.m. Fruit, Vegetables, and Fish at Eight o’clock a.m. Fat Pig Market not earlier than Seven o’clock a.m., no person shall bring any car into the Pig Market before Ten o’clock a.m. except while loading or unloading. Small Pig Market at Ten o’clock a.m. Second Hand Clothes, Earthenware etc., Turf, Horses, Creels, Carts and Donkeys, Jennets at Ten o’clock a.m.
A person in charge of any wagon, cart, car, truck, barrow or other vehicle, with or without a horse or other animals attached thereto, shall not, at any time while the Market is being held, cause or allow such vehicle to remain in any Market Place, or in any street or passage leading thereto, so as to cause an obstruction any longer time than shall be necessary for the sale of, or for the loading or unloading of, Provisions, Goods or other commodities.
A person in charge of any wagon, cart, car, truck, barrow or other vehicle shall not, at any time, while the Market is being held, cause or allow such vehicle to stand or remain in any Market Place, or in any street or passage leading thereto in such manner as to cause obstruction or inconvenience to the public in such Market Place or street, or passages. A person, resorting to a Market Place for the Sale of any Marketable Commodities or Articles, shall not cause or allow such Commodities or Articles to be brought or conveyed into such Market Place, or to be placed , or be exposed for Sale, in such a manner as to cause obstruction or inconvenience to the public in such Market Place, or in any of the approaches leading thereto.
A Tenant or Occupier of any Building, Stall or Standing in a Market Place, shall not cause or allow any Goods, Produce, or other Marketable commodities, to be deposited or exposed for Sale in or upon such Building , Stall, or Standing, so that such Goods, Produce, Provisions, or Commodities, or any part thereof, shall project beyond the line, or limits of such Building, Stall or Standing.
A person shall not smoke or spit in the Butter Market.
Every person who shall offend against any of the foregoing Bye-Laws shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Five Pounds for every such offence, provided, nevertheless, that the Justices or Court before whom any complaint may be made, or any proceedings may be taken in respect of any such offence, may, if they think fit, adjudge the payment as a penalty of any sum less than the full amount of the penalty imposed by this Bye-Law.’
The market tolls levied on goods sold at Athy Market were also the subject of an order made by the Urban Council. The tolls collected by the Council were-Every Sack of Corn - One Penny. Every Sack of Potatoes - One Penny. Every Basket or Box of Fish - Two Pence. Every Churnof Buttermilk- One Penny. Every Cart of Cabbage, Plants or Fruit-Three Pence. Every Cart of Fish - Six Pence. Every Calf, Pony, Donkey, Kerry, or other Animal - Two Pence. Every Basket of Fowl - One Penny. Every Car or Cart of Fowl - Three Pence. Every Creel of Bonhams - Three Pence. Every Fat Pig - One Penny. Every Basket or Box of Eggs - One Penny. Car or Cart of Second-Hand Clothes - One Shilling. Every Car or Cart of Churns, etc, - Six Pence. Every Gate, Wheel, Barrow, Ladder, Car - One Penny. Every lump of Butter, not exceeding 7lbs - One halfpenny (weighed free). Every Lump of Butter, not exceeding 14lbs- One penny(weighed free). Lump of Butter over 28 lbs - Three Pence(weighed free)’.
In addition to the tolls, the farmers who brought produce to the market were required to use the Council’s ouncel or weighing scales to guarantee the weight of goods offered for sale. The scale of fees for using the weighing scales located at the back of the Town Hall were: ‘Every Sack of Corn - One penny. Every Sack of Potatoes - One Penny. Every Pack of Wool - One Shilling. Every Load of Turnips, Mangolds, Potatoes - Three Pence. Every Load of Coal - Six Pence. Every Load of Hay or Straw - One Farthing per Cwt. (Gross Weight). Every Load of Metal, Iron and Timber- Six Pence. Every Load of Stones or Gravel - One Penny. Every Pig - One Penny. Every Sheep - One Penny. Every Beast - Two Pence.’
The public notice of the Market Bye-Laws was signed by JP Whelan, chairman of the Urban District Council and by JA Lawler, the Town Clerk. Presumably, the market tolls and weighing tolls were the equivalent of modern day disc parking affording as they did, a useful source of income for the town council. The townspeople of 1907 were probably as much in the dark about the amounts collected in tolls and the use to which they were put as we are today in relation to the parking fees which are collected by today’s town council.
Some things never change.