Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Pat Doyle, Peter Smith and Pat Flood

During the past week Athy has lost two men who in years past carried on business in Leinster Street. Pat Doyle, a Wexford man, came to Athy in 1972 when after many years of retailing experience gained while working for various businesses in the south east opened his own drapery shop at No. 28 Leinster Street. Athy’s main street, known in earlier times as High Street, was also the location of Pat Flood’s business which the Monaghan man opened in 1963. That same street in the 1920s and later was home to two of the largest and busiest commercial firms in the town. Duthie Larges and Jacksons provided a range of services and employment opportunities which unfortunately came to an end with the closure of Duthie Larges and the liquidation of the Jackson company. Jacksons extensive premises were sold off in two lots. Chapman & Timoney acquired Jacksons garage which occupied what is now Perrys supermarket, while Pat Flood with two business associates purchased that part of the Jackson premises from where Quinn & Co. subsequently traded. Nine years after Pat Flood’s arrival in Athy Pat Doyle opened his shop in what was previously Charlie Prendergast’s electrical shop. The neighbouring businesses 37 years ago included Des Noonan’s pub, the fashion shop owned by Misses Farrell and Mulhall, Darlings former barber shop (but by then a private residence) and nearby Hannah Nolan’s drapery shop. The changes in the street since then are quite apparent as all those listed businesses have been replaced not only by new owners but also different types of businesses. It’s a very noticeable feature of life in Athy, and possibly of every town in Ireland, that the constant movement of people both in and out of the town provides an everchanging business format on our main streets. The physical streetscape remains unchanged, but the business names change and at times the business models also change. This latter change comes about almost unnoticed but becomes apparent when one reflects on the number of public houses which once lined the streets of Athy supported by a population less than half of its current size. But it is not only the pubs which have closed and re-opened with new businesses. Long established businesses changed hands and new arrivals, such as Pat Flood in the 1960s and Pat Doyle in the 1970s, renewed or created business models to help regenerate the commercial life of the town. Both Pats retired from their business operations some years ago and they did so with the good wishes of the people of Athy. It was a sad coincidence which saw Pat Doyle and Pat Flood die within days of each other. Both were gentlemen of the highest integrity and well liked within the local community. Both Pats endeared themselves to everyone they came in contact with and both extended courtesy and good humour to all throughout their involvement in various aspects of the town’s life. Pat Doyle’s association with the Credit Union and Pat Flood as a founder member of the Lions Club showed commitment and a willingness to work for the community they both joined when setting up business on the south Kildare town’s main street. Another death noticed as I write this Eye was that of Peter Smith, son of Andy Smith, a shopkeeper of Leinster Street many years ago. Peter after retiring from the ambulance service went to live in Wexford and relatively recently returned to this area. His father, Andy Smith, like Pat Doyle and Pat Flood came to Athy to set up business on Leinster Street. He did so in the early part of the last century and during his years in Athy Andy Smith was a stalwart supporter and member of the local GAA club. Indeed, Smiths of Leinster Street was the ‘eating house’ for county teams involved in matches in Geraldine Park during the 1940s and 1950s. The sadness felt by family members and friends when loved ones die is tempered somewhat when the deceased are elderly, as was the case with Pat Doyle, Peter Flood and Peter Smith. The sudden tragic death of Marian Reid following a road traffic accident at Duke Street on Wednesday afternoon brings in its wake untold sadness and a huge sense of loss for her family and friends. This was the third tragedy I can recall in recent years involving the death of a female pedestrian on our main streets. In each case I believe the vehicle involved was a truck which highlights the need to get heavy duty traffic out of the town and onto a bypass road. The loss when loved ones die is in many ways immeasurable and our sympathies go to the families of all those who have died during the past week.

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