Looking Back at Tullow Street
Photo by Dermot O'Brien
By the Late Edwin Boake
STARTING at the Market Cross and proceeding up Tullow Street on the
right-hand side as far as Barrack Street National School, crossing
to the Shamrock and down the other side of the street, I will try to
give you a picture of it as it was then, and you will see for
yourself that 70 years has brought many changes. Very few business
houses have the same family name over the shop-fronts. We can single
out McDonnells (No. 7), and Hughes' Monumental Works.
No. 1, Tullow Street, was a Hotel run by a Mr. Ogle.
Murphy's Drapery Shop, formerly owned by Cullen, was being
remodelled with plate-glass windows, the first in the town. The
father of the late Thomas Murphy, Urban District Councillor,
acquired Crib's Harness Shop to add to his premises.
A Butcher's Stall occupied by James Herson is now in the name of the
late George Douglas, whose uncle converted it into the present
Jeweller's Shop. The late Dan McDonnell's Provision Shop has
remained in the same family name for over 100 years.
John Hammond, Chairman of the Old Town Commissioners, and M.P.
(1899-1906) for the Co. Carlow, owned what is now Gerald Donnelly's.
William Jackson, uncle of the late W. J. Jackson, of the Yellow
Lion, was in possession of what is now Shaw's, and up to very
recently Browne's. Joseph O'Brien had a Grocery and Bar—which passed
on to Mansfield—later to Hosey, brother of Mrs, Doyle of the
Shamrock, and then to Bolgers —now Corr's, Chemist's Shop.
On the coming of, Haddens to Carlow they acquired four houses, viz.,
Forde's Drapery Shop (2 houses), Sander's Leather Store, and John
Hearns' Butcher's Shop, and later on O'Neill's Provision Store.
Sanders was very deaf, and all customers had to write their orders
on a slate.
O'Briens, Furniture Dealers, was owned by Fenlon, Painter, and Miss
Foley's Library was occupied by Deegan.
Molloy's Drapery establishment was owned by the late Michael Molloy,
an M.P. for the Co. Carlow from 1910-1918, who succeeded John
Hammond as Chairman of the Urban Council. The old Scotch House,
owned formerly by Henderson, who had such a large staff that they
were able to have a Band on the premises, on the balcony of which
they played in the summer evenings, was acquired by Molloys, i.e.,
the three display windows, and formerly Hosiery factory. They also
took over a Provision Store (Molloy's first window) owned by a
Quaker lady, a Miss Pew, who used to have little bowls of coins in
the window with 2/6.'s, 2/-'s, l/-'s and 6d.'s.
What is now Meighan's was occupied by Mr. Oliver, grandfather of Jim
Oliver, one of our members, before they settled in Dublin Street. It
was taken down and re-built by the late Frank Slater.
Mrs. Lawlor, mother of Jim Lawlor in Early's, Solicitors, carried on
a Licensed Business in what is now King's. A Michael Mcaney had a
Provision Store in what was up to recently Miss Hoey's Stationery.
He was also Storekeeper in the Asylum. A curious coincidence this:
that Miss Hoey's was purchased lately by Mr. O'Brien, present
Storekeeper in the Mental Hospital.
Mr. Smyth, who had his private residence at Belgriffen, Athy Road,
had what is now Poynton's Boot Store. They also had a branch in
Kilkenny. Over the shop-door was a Wooden Boot, which was lifted one
day by a clown from a circus and taken to the top of the town!
We now come to Finegan's, then owned by John Jackson, father of the
late Willie Jackson of the Yellow Lion. The Guards Barracks was then
occupied by the R.I.C. who had moved from Burren Street.
What was, the property of the late Nicholas Roche (now Darcy's) was
formerly occupied by Cullen, a draper, who had two shops there.
The present Munster and Leinster Bank was the property of John
Bolger, and later of Patrick Lawler, who carried on a bacon-curing
business and also a Wine and Spirit Store.
The Dacent Man
Terence Byrne, Horse Dealer, owned the next premises. He entertained
the Duke of Clarence when over playing Polo in the County Grounds at
Tiny Park. A Miss McDarby had a sweet and top shop above this, and
"The Dacent Man" Nolan occupied the next house.
William Evans lived above this and had the only Gun Shop in the town
or county and had a certificate under the Arms Act. He had two
sons—William, a bird fancier, and Thomas, who served 21 years in the
Dragoon Guards, and on retiring took over his father's business.
Next, we come to Tom Doyle's Ball Alley where some famous matches"
were played. (Among the better known exponents were Tommy Cleary and
Darter Nolan). Mr. Doyle boasted he stood on the cross of St. Anne's
Church—true it was, but when it was on the ground! Next in order was
McDonald's Pawn Office in what is now O'Neill's Garage, and then
Maher's Provision Store (now Kelly's). Where the Coliseum Cinema
stands was Ryan's Turf Yard. Between the Cinema and Reddy's Hotel we
have Lowry's, now Foley's. Lowry was the popular Rate Collector
(Rates 2/- in £) and also a Member of the Town Commissioners. He
bathed all the year round with Stanley Johnson, and he taught many
of the boys to swim. Next came Reddy's Hotel and Hughes' Monumental
Works (still in the same name), then the Licensed Premises of
The National School in Barrack Street was built by Mr.
Browne-Clayton in 1867.
Crossing the road to the Shamrock, this was the Town House of Mr.
Fishbourne. The shop was built in front by Joseph Kinsella, who was
succeeded by Patrick Doyle, and later by the present Kieran Doyle's
grandfather. This is one of the most extensive premises in Carlow.
having a large Saw Mills and Turf and Coal Yard. Next we had "the
Palace" occupied by Patrick Byrne, known as "Bishop Byrne." Then
Miss Ellis, who lived on her money, and next Ned Feeley, Top Turner,
supplying all the spinning tops to the small boys. Then Connors,
Dyer and Cleaner. He did a good business as Beaver and Bowler Hats
were common in those days, but after a shower of rain the dye ran
off. From constant work at dyes, Mr. Connors got very dark skin, and
a story is told that when he got ill and went to the County
Infirmary and was given a bath, he wasn't able to bear the loss of
his "dye" so he "died."
Speed The Plough
Then we come to the Plough owned by John Whelan, with the sign still
over the door, "God Speed the Plough." Mr. Whelan was an extensive
Corn Buyer and his name is still to be seen over his stores in.
Bridewell Lane, used until recently by the Barrow Milling Co., and
formerly Carlow Gaol. He kept Stables and some very fine race
At No. 72 lived Mr. Thomas Byrne who had four sons— P. J., who was
Solicitor to the Board of Guardians, Board of Health and Urban
Council; William, also a Solicitor, who had his office in Dublin
Street, now Desmond Early's (P. J. had offices over Poynton's, and
took over Willie's practice in Dublin Street on the latter's death);
Edward was an Auctioneer, and Thomas carried on his father's
business. Next came Ryan's Salt Store, followed by Jimmy Farrell's
Hardware, which is now James Dempsey's. Doyles, the Saddlers,
occupied where James Griffin is now. What is now Hanlon's was owned
by Hanrahans, Cork Cutters. His son, Michael, who was executed in
1916, was a very enthusiastic Irish speaker. He studied the language
and Street, he was taught Irish classes in the town. When the
Workman's Club was formed in Brown Street he was responsible for the
Bilingual name over the door: "Cumann na bfear oibre"—as well as
"The Workman's Club."
Burke, Painter and Cabinetmaker, was where the Misses Maher now
occupy. J. C. Lawler's Drapery Premises were occupied by Mark
Purser's father, who carried on a Hardware Business.
With the building of the Presentation Convent Schools in 1899,
several houses were taken in, including Kavanagh's Hardware and
Thos. Keegan's Victualler Shops.
Crossing College Street, we have Delaney's, formerly owned by
McDonald, whose premises had the title of "The Old House," but some
bright hoys changed the H to M and ever after he was called "The Old
What is now Walsh's Bakery was Johnny Gorman's, Carlow's oldest
Borough Rate Collector, and next in order was Miss McAssey's, now
Miss Gretta Hearns'. Crotty's bakery was situated where the Milk
Depot is now. They supplied Barm loaves to the Castlecomer miners,
and held that home-made bread would not keep down the mines. Then
Thomas Hearns' was owned by "Saxty Brennan" who got his name from
boasting that he would not marry a woman under saxty pounds.
Thomas Tuomey's was formerly the residence of Arthur Fitzmaurice of
Kelvin Grove. The shop was built in front by Mr. Vaux, and in 1860
was taken over by W. H. Boake, father of the late Edwin Boake, who
erected the clock over the door. He it was who owned No. 128 (the
Vaux Bakery, which is now Slater's Bakery).
Doran's Hardware was then owned by two Misses Treacy, who had a Boot
Shop; then came John Murphy who was the first Labour member of the
Carlow Urban Council. What is now Timmon's was occupied by Peter
Allen (Fishmonger), then came the Vaux Bakery mentioned above.
What is now the Ritz Cinema was occupied by Henry Birkett until
1836, when it was taken over by Matthew Tynan, grandfather of Mr.
Paddy Tynan. They had a Hotel and Grocery and Provision Store.
Crossing Charlotte Street, the next two houses were the property of
the Society of Friends, who had their Meeting House at the
rear—these are McKechnies, and Corr's Hairdressing Saloon. The door
to the Y.M.C.A. rooms was the entrance to the Quakers' quarters.
Colgans had two shops— Stationery and Bakery (now Gerald Kehoe's).
The late Miss Walsh's stationery was Pat Molloy's Bakery.
Graham's is now occupied by William Hosey, Draper, and next comes
W. P. Good's Hardware was occupied by Albert Morris.
Mrs. Doyle occupied Michael Clarke's, now Tully's. Lipton's was
owned by William Jackson. Wood's China and Delph Stores was the
Atlantic Stores, now in the possession of Mr. Evan McDonnell.
Dan McDonnell's Bakery was dowry's Bakery, and the Bon Bon was
occupied by Peter Belton, Hardware Merchant. Grahams owned Ml.
McDonnell's, and Brannigan's was occupied by the late Geo. Douglas's
uncle, who then bought the house across 'the street.
Nolan's, Chemists, was the property of Spong, Seed Merchant; who
lived in Rose-ville, Kilkenny Road, and had Nurseries and Gardens at
Pembroke. He was generally known as "Field Marshal Spong."
Looking up the street, I can see Mike Mulhall putting out the street
lamps, and I can hear the voice of Tim Harrington, Carlow's last
Watchman, calling out "Past Twelve O’clock. All's Well."
The Wrong Day
"The Nationalist and Leinster Times," which was moved from Dublin
Street to their present premises in 1894, was occupied by the
Hopkins Brothers, who also owned Hayden's. They were Coach Builders
and had a big connection with the gentry, repairing and painting
their carriages, wagonettes and side-cars. These were two old
bachelors who lived strictly to rule, and it was their custom - to
attend Killeshin Church every Sunday morning for Service, call at
the Club House for lunch as guests of Henry Wilson and retire to bed
early. On one particular Sunday evening, Mr. Browne-Clayton and
family were walking to Service at St. Mary's, Carlow, and noticed
Nicholas Hopkins taking down the shutters and displaying his wares
outside the door as was his custom on week days. When asked what was
wrong, Nicholas rubbed his eyes and said: ''Why! I am late. I heard
the Convent bell ring a quarter of an hour ago." We wonder was it
the effect of the lunch in the Club House! This story was" told to
the late Mr. Boake by Nicholas himself.
IN those days Potato Market was a regular entertainment centre with
shows of one kind or another. In the winter evenings the caravans
would be all lighted up with oil lamps - Waxworks, Menageries, Side
Shows, Peep Shows, Punch-and-Judy, a large tent for half-hour
entertainments, Hobby Horses, Swing Boats, etc. A show was only
allowed one week at a time to let the next Show in. Among them were
Sylvester Bros, and Purcell's Theatre. With the last exhibit here,
an American "dentist" called Sequoi arrived in his beautifully
decorated caravan. He had a band playing so that the cries of the
patients would not be heard during extraction. He extracted the
teeth free, but sold to each client a packet or more of Prairie
Flour and Oil, which was supposed to cure rheumatism. Seemingly, he
was successful himself in rubbing this on the patient—but at home it
was useless. Now Pat Kerrigan, a dentist living in Montgomery
Street, did not like this opposition, and so every evening mounted
the steps in the Market, and with a pea-gun plied Sequoi with peas,
and he was a very good shot. Shortly after, Sequoi departed.
Ginnane, News Editor of "The Nationalist and Leinster Times," gives
some aspects of life
In Town To-day
A WORD about
the present may seem odd in an O.C.S. Journal, but perhaps it will
merit inclusion to keep the record straight.
entertainment taste has drifted to the neon lights of the cinema,
but although the film habit has become almost as contagious as the
tobacco habit, self effort still wins a place in public favour. Take
the example of the Carlow Little Theatre, developed from a group
meeting uncertainly in rented rooms to a Society which to-day owns
its premises and which can ask Ria Mooney, Director of our National
Abbey Theatre, to advise on full-length productions. The heights on
which the Society has carved a stout foothold were once distances
almost beyond its ken, but a plucky challenge to chance all on one
throw, and balance the future against the purchase of a Browne
Street tenement— since re-decorated and reconstructed by the brain
and brawn of domestic labour—has put the Little Theatre on a footing
enjoyed by no other Carlow Society.
All of which
emphasises the town's greatest blemish. Various groups and
organizations have enumerated reasons why Carlow should emulate
Bagenalstown in providing a communal building such as the McGrath
Memorial Hall, with a spacious and heated central theatre for plays
and civic meetings, flanked by smaller rooms for Committee debates
and other uses. So far, however, the arguments have spurred no
concerted or practical effort to meet the problem. The Urban Council
has talked of redesigning the Town Hall ballroom, centre of
colourful gatherings in the more chivalrous days of Fire Brigade
Balls and Masquerades, but of late degenerated into a drab parade
room for our F.C.A., the civilian soldiers being apparently expected
to bear zero temperatures uncomplainingly.
appearance of the Arts Council has created new interest in the
question of a home for Carlow Societies. The Arts Council, founded
in April, 1952, is responsible to the Urban Council, which
administers the audited fund of accumulated rent from property given
to Carlow by G. B. Shaw. This gift, besides adding a new Act to the
Statute Book, set a puzzle in that Shaw included a condition that
the money was to aid no project which would relieve the rates. The
difficulties solved, the Arts Council is to-day functioning
realistically as the guardian of the Arts in Carlow.
It is worth
recording that these several developments have been accompanied by
an appreciation of post-primary education, and University courses in
Political, Social and Economic Science are being conducted at the
Technical School by experts in these departments.
years, too, Carlovians have noted with natural pride the revival of
the Show Society with its annual Show at Browne's Hill. This Society
stems directly from the Muintir na Tire Parish Council, formed in
1948 after Rural Week at Knockbeg College.
many other thriving Societies, movements and organizations, sports,
swimming, hurling and football clubs, while the Carlow Rowing Club
of past years' fame got a fresh start this season when some of the
younger men began training for outrigger rowing.
period has been significant for a flurry of building activity which
has changed the face of the town. At Pollerton 44 houses were handed
over to new occupiers by the Urban Council in 1950. The completion
of this scheme marked the beginning of another on the same site,
where the first of 156 houses have already been finished. Nor is
Graiguecullen being neglected. Preliminary arrangements are ready to
build there a satellite village of more than one hundred good homes
under a plan which opposes drab rows of houses and weary lines of
cement roads, and allows considerable space to green openings, and a
park. The whole will be set off against the background of an
obelisk, and the Croppies' Grave will be decently improved.
Source: Michael Purcell c2008
Quarries & Marble Hill ]
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