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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Corcoran's of Carlow

This article and photos previously appeared as a supplement to the Nationalist & Leinster Times in 1987

Thomas Corcoran
Founder and Proprietor of the firm, Thomas Corcoran
CORCORAN & Co Trade Mark
This bottle was found in Rossmore c1968 by
W. Muldowney.
The group of Corcoran employees photographed in the Bottling Hall of the factory. The wooden cases in the upper left of the picture were referred to as "Coffin" cases due to their appearance and weight.
An early Corcoran poster.
"My Favourite"
An artist's impression of Corcoran's factory with Carlow Castle in the background circa early 1900s.
The first two petrol-driven Corcoran lorries making their deliveries to surrounding area.  They were possibly the first petrol-driven lorries in Carlow.
Corcoran Lorry outside the Gresham Hotel c1920's
Corcoran lorry outside the old Gresham Hotel in the early 1920's.  The late Patrick F. Governey is seen in the front as a young boy.
Possibly the oldest Corcoran photo on record taken around 1910 it includes Patsy Scully, Paddy Hoare, Johnny Hogan, John Dowling, Jimmy Kealy, John Kenny, Paddy Byrne, Tom Haughney, Christy Brien, Tom Foley, Michael Governey (extreme left). Paddy Brien, Mick Magee, Jimmy Moore, Tom Hayde, Murt Pender and Tom Fenlon.

Clocks for workers

Photo taken on retirement presentation of clocks to Michael Farrell and Mick Magee. Included in background: Bernie Culliton, Leo Whelan, Mick Kenny, Mick Rossiter, Jim Burke, Noel Power, Mick Darcy, Michael Nolan, P. L. Hogan, Jim Nolan. Pat Purcell, Pierce j Hosey, Pat Moore, Paddy Foley, Mick Keating, John Dooley, Jim McAssey, Joe Walsh, Charlie Brien, Larry Nolan, Davey Bolger, Jim Moore, Frank Cox, Johnny Bowling, Tom Meaney, Jimmy Walsh, Ger Donoghue, Mick Butler, Dinny Grant, George Haughney.Tom Kelly, Paddy Haughney, Steve Donoghue, John Walsh, Paddy Governey Snr., John McAssey, Tom Sunderland, Jimmy Moore, Tom Doyle, Seamus Byrne, Paddy Doyle, Jim Hogan, Noel Alcock, Christy Callinan, Jimmy Byrne, Patsy Donoghue, Francis Governey, John Alcock and Noel Murphy.

Combined team show their flag.
Team Outing to Guinness

The combined Corcoran and Boot Factory team on outing to play Guinness selection in early 1950s. Included are: Paddy Hayden. Tom Moran, Brian Culliton, M. Hogan, John Hutton, Paddy O'Neill, Joe Walshe. Davy Bolger, John Nolan, Mick Byrne, Noel McAssey, Alfie King, Pa Hayden, Mikey Nolan, Willie Hogan. Sean McAssey, Dinny Hayden, Mick Kenny, Tom Byrne, George Haughney, Paddy Haughney, Mick Rossiter.

Another Photo from the past

Start of a New Beginning

When Thomas Corcoran opened his first Mineral Water Factory in 1827 the campaign for Catholic Emancipation was reaching its climax.  In 1828, Dr. Doyle laid the foundation stone of the New cathedral which was to rise in 1883 – imposing and triumphant in historic Chapel Lane where the old church (which had catered for the needs of the parishioners of Carlow since 1792) stood. The main entrance is now in College Street and next door another world famous Carlow institution St. Patrick’s College.

History in the Making

Carlow Castle occupies an imposing position against the local skyline, standing in the grounds of Corcoran and Company and overlooking the five arched bridge which spans the River Barrow just above its junction with the river Burrin.  From the opening of the mineral water factory in 1827 the castle was chosen as its trademark. The factory began an important stage of Irish history and many important developments national and local have happened since then.

A regular visitor to Carlow was the great Daniel O’Connell. He was a close friend of Dr. James Doyle (J.K.L.) who was in the forefront of the struggle for Catholic Emancipation. In 1823 Daniel O'Connell founded the Catholic Association to campaign for the removal of discrimination against Catholics. In 1828 he was elected as M.P. for County Clare but as a Catholic he was not allowed to take his seat in the House of Commons. To avoid the risk of an uprising in Ireland, the British Parliament passed the Roman Catholic Relief Act in 1829, which granted Catholic emancipation and enabled O'Connell to take his seat.

Famine Years in the Town and County

In 1829 when Emancipation became a fact of life nowhere in Ireland was there more rejoicing than in the streets of Carlow.  The O’Connell connection continued when , in 1841, the Liberators son and namesake, Daniel O’Connell, opposed Colonel Bruen in a famous by-election. After a particularly bitter campaign, Bruen won by a majority of nine votes.  To celebrate the victory, Bruen’s supporters presented him with a large sum of money with which he built St. Anne’s Church on the Athy Road. This church was eventually bought by the Parish Priest of Graiguecullen and it was transferred stone by stone to a site on the Killeshin Road alongside the convent of Poor Clare nuns where it still stands and is known as St.Clare’s. The famine years hit the town and county of Carlow very hard. Thousands of people died of hunger and cholera between 1845 and 1848 and many Soup Kitchens and emergency dispensaries were opened.

Hundreds of corpses were brought by barge and boat to be buried in the ‘Cholera Plot’ beside the River Barrow near the Old Graves.  The 1830’s were a busy time for builders, because in 1830 a new roof and spire (by Cobden, designer of the Cathedral) were erected on St.Mary’s Church of Ireland.

In 1837 the Mercy Nuns established their Convent and Schools on Dublin Road and in the classrooms of the good Nuns, many thousands of worthy Carlo citizens learned the three ‘Rs’ and of course a lot more.  In 1859, the Christian Brothers opened their Carlow Schools and still provide much of the education for the youth of the county.  In 1896, the Poor Clare Community moved from a first home, Bridge House, to their new convent erected on a site on Castlecomer Road gifted to them by Michael Governey.

Many well known visitors came to Carlow

Many well-known names passed through Carlow during both the Land War and the Home Rule campaign. Michael Davitt, Charles Stewart Parnell and John Redmond held – at different times – monster meetings in the town centre.  In 1903, Michael Governey established Catherlough Boot Factory which for more than half a century provided employment for hundreds of workers.  Early in the 1900’s branches of the Gaelic League were established and in 1913 many Carlovians joined the National Volunteers. 

In 1916, Michael and Henry O’Hanrahan, who’s father had a hardware business in Tullow Street, took part in the Easter Rising. For this, Michael was executed on May 4, 1916.  Henry was also sentenced to death but the sentenced was commuted to life imprisonment.  Michael is commemorated by a plaque on the wall of the Workman’s Club.  During the War of Independence, 1917-1922, many Carlovians took an active part. One of the most prominent in the struggle was Padraig McGamhna who in later years was Chairman of the U.D.C.  In 1926, Carlow Sugar factory (the first in Ireland) was opened and has continued to expand down he years.

With nearly 160 years of progress behind them, Corcoran and Co. of Carlow still have the zest and enthusiasm of a very young company.  The firm has tackled many changes and challenges in the market place over the years but has always held fast to the idea of manufacturing only top quality products.  This according to Managing Director, Mr Paddy Governey, is the secret of Corcoran continued success.  Only the best and purest ingredients are used and new technology has been employed to the full to see that the highest standards are maintained at all the various stages of production.

Oldest in Ireland

The firm, which is the oldest mineral water factory in the country, has also devoted much time and investment in up-to-the-minute methods of quality control.  Latest bottling and packaging techniques are under continual examination and there is a constant search on for new and more appealing flavours.  As a result of market research, Corcoran's recently re-launched their original Brown Lemonade and the response from the public has been spectacular.  Apparently, Corcoran's lemonade is part of everyone’s childhood memories and the decision to bring it back by public demand has been a winner for it’s Carlow originators.  It is this finger on the pulse of public taste that has been responsible for much of Corcoran's success. If the markets change – they change with them but the ground rules remain unaltered.

Only the best is good enough

Only the best is good enough and this is reflected in the care and attention given to the product’s by every member of the staff.  Many of Corcoran's workforce are third generations of the same family to have worked for the firm. They share a genuine sense of pride in the company’s achievements while keeping a keen eye on developments for the future  One Hundred and Sixty years young, Corcoran's today is just as buoyant and lively as the drinks the produce.

The above article and photos appeared as a supplement to the Nationalist & Leinster Times in 1987

Images from the past

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