MacDonald’s Irish Dictionary and Gazetteer for 1913 published in Edinburgh was the 26th edition of the publication and contained a wealth of information about Irish business life as well as population figures from the 1911 Census. I came across a copy of MacDonald’s recently in a secondhand bookshop and the entries relating to Athy, as you can imagine, were of particular interest to me. Spread across two pages it lists every business in the town from agricultural implement manufacturers to watchmaker and jewellers and includes one entry under miscellaneous. That last entry was for J.S. Doyle of William St., a photographer and how I wish he had photographed the town and the people of Athy and that those same photos had survived to this day.
Local bicycle agents were Duthie Larges and Maxwells of Duke St., P.J. Corcoran of Emily Square and Doyle & Sons of Leinster Street were the only Auctioneers listed. Of Bakers there were no less than 7 listed – Kate Bradley of William St., John Dooley of Leinster St., Michael Dooley of Duke St., Edward Darling of Offaly St., N. Fitzgerald, Duke St., A. Stynes, Leinster St., and Myles Whelan of Duke St.. Surprisingly there was only one bootmaker named only as Murphys of Duke St.. Dressmaking was in the hands of Mrs. Keegan of Woodstock St. and M. MacNamara of Leinster Street. John Patterson of Emily Square seemed to have the butchering business all to himself and carpentry was apparently confined solely to M. Candy of Leinster Street. Coach building was well catered for in 1911 Athy with J.P. Glespen in Duke St., William Manders of Offaly Street and Robert Brothers of Woodstock Street.
As you might expect in pre-war Athy, the pawnbroking business was represented with Doyle & Sons having offices in both Leinster Street and Duke Street.
Matthew Murray was the only plumber listed with an address at Leinster Street and in the main streets were also to be found saddlers J. Campbell in Leinster Street and P. Prendergast in Duke Street.
Mrs. Darby had a restaurant in Leinster Street, while R.C. Matthews premises in the same street was more particularly described as Tea Rooms.
Leinster Street was the location of the town’s three listed hotels. Hamilton’s Hotel, Leinster Arms Hotel and the Railway Hotel where J.A. Butler was proprietor offered facilities mostly for the commercial travellers who traversed the country every week in search of business.
Tailors were to be found mostly in Duke St., where John Coleman, Felix Kilbride and Thomas G. Lumley had their premises. The odd man out was J.W. Coote who was a merchant tailor and outfitter in Market Square.
Hannons had mills at the Barrow Bridge and at Ardreigh, while the hairdressing demands of the day were catered for by T. Keane of 29 Duke Street and M. Mara of Emily Square.
Watchmakers and jewellers included W.P. St. John of Duke Street with his near neighbour E. Higginson and at Emily Square W.T. Duthie.
As you can imagine the greatest single business activity was that of groceries, wine and spirit dealers, with no less than 50 establishments listed. That list, tedious perhaps to read, is nevertheless important to record. T. Brennan, Leinster St., Margaret Coleman, William St., Mrs. Collins, Stanhope St., M. Conroy, Woodstock St., Corcoran Brothers, Duke St., C. Crawley, William St., W. Cunningham, Duke St., James B. Deegan & Sons, Railway Bar, Leinster St., Michael Dooley, Duke St., Doyles of Woodstock St., Doyle Brothers, William St., Denis Doyle, William St., James J. Doyle, Duke St., P. Fitzgerald, Duke St., M.J. Foley, Duke St., S.G. Glynn, Duke St., Michael Hughes, William St., Jackson Brothers, Leinster St., John Kelly, Market Square, Luke Kelly, Stanhope St., M. Kelly, Leinster St., John Langton, William St., E. Lawler, Woodstock St., Michael Lawler, Hibernian Hotel, Leinster St., Patrick Lee, Leinster St., Bernard Luttrell, Shamrock Bar, Emily Square, James McEvoy, Leinster St., John Maher, Leinster St., Michael Malone, Woodstock St., M. Mara, Market Square, Miley Brothers, Duke St., E.T. Mulhall, Barrowbridge House. Mrs. Murphy, Stanhope St., James Nugent, Leinster St., M. O’Brien, Nag’s Head, Stephen O’Brien, Market Square, Edward O’Connor, Stanhope St., Richard Phelan, Duke St., Purcell Brothers, William St., James Reid & Son, Market Square, W.H. Saunders, Duke St., Scully of Leinster St., Stirling & Co., Barrow Quay, J. Tierney, Stanhope St., Patrick Timmons, William St., David Walsh, Leinster St., Joseph P. Whelan, Offaly St., Myles Whelan, Duke St. and T.J. Whelan, William St.
How many of the 1911 businesses can you recognise and how many have survived to this day?