I started school in the Old Boys National School down at the old ball alley. I spent about two years there. My teacher was Mrs Woods. There were also two other teachers Sean King and Martin Welsh. The school at that time was in very poor repair.

Mrs Woods lived in the house next to the school later owned by Vincent Finn. In 1969 the new school was built in Swangate and we were all transferred there one Friday. It was a big day for us in the town and we were all marched up to the school. Little did I know or dream that I would later on own that school.

Martin Welsh better known as Máirtín Breathneach lived in Salthill, Galway and cycled out to Athenry every day on a big Hi-Nelly bike. This was during the war years and everything was scarce, tea, sugar, flour were all rationed. Bicycle tyres were very scarce and very often Mr Welsh would not arrive until 11. 30 or 12 o’clock much to our delight.

Mr. Welsh would send one of us across the road to Hansberry’s for a mug of hot water for his lunch and he would put in a spoon of tea into the mug and leave it in the ashes of the fire to draw. Billy Welsh who was in the same seat as me had the job of making the tea and I often saw him putting a spoon of ashes along with the tea into the mug and mixing it all up. The poor man never knew the difference.

Prior to Mr. Welsh getting the water in Hansberry’s he used to get a kettle of water up town. One day he sent Tom Dempsey a brother of Mia and Sean, up for the water and he came back with a lovely bronze electric kettle which Mr. Welsh duly left into the ashes to keep it warm. That was the end of the kettle of water.

There used to be a clock left on the window sill at the end of the school. One day one of the boys, I think it was Frank Milmow who took it. He hid it under the seat to change the time and what happened but the alarm went off, needless to say he was reprimanded.

I remember Jimmy Allen was missing from school for a few days one time. The teacher asked him why he was not in school and he said that it was because he knew everything. Whenever Jimmy came before the teacher he would say ‘this is the lad who knows everything’. When I was asked something I did not know I would say ‘I’m sorry sir but I have forgotten it’. After that the teacher would always say ‘look at that fellow down there he leams it but forgets it’.

Those were happy days but like everything else we did not appreciate them at the time. Later on, my own sons Jarlath and Enda went to the same school. Mr. Welsh was a great teacher and did not spare the rod. If you did anything wrong you were slapped hard on the hand.

Donal Kennedy, Mrs Meehan, Mrs Angela Connolly taught in the school after my time there.

There were a number of characters in the town when I was growing up in the forties. One who comes to mind is a man called Parley. He always wore white sand shoes and was always to be seen on Lady day, Galway Races and at the Show. He sold catalogues at the Galway Races, programmes for the Show, I can still hear him shouting ‘get your catalogues’.

Pat Linnane came from Gort and used to live around Athenry doing odd jobs and he was very well-liked. Another well-known man at this time was Pat Finnerty from Ballygurrane, better known as ‘the Wrecker’. He was known as the ‘Bell man’ as he used to attract attention going around the shouting out notices.

Bill Fallon, who lived in a little green house behind where the new ball alley is now, was related to Fallon the poet.

In the past I have written about Homesteads, Shops, Businesses in and around Athenry in the past. I will now write a few stories about some of the people who inhabited these premises.

The first person that comes to mind is Joey O’ Flynn who Joey ran an electrical shop where Martin Maloney’s shop is now. Someone told Joey that if he got a bonham he could use up all his left overs from the house, so off Joey went and bought himself a bonham. After about 3 or 4 weeks a man  came into the shop and he heard the bonham searching behind the back door, he said to Joey, “ that bonham out there is hungry,” “Well”, said Joey, “I can’t understand that because I gave him a saucer of tea this morning.”

Joey sold a radio to two brothers who shall be nameless. The radio at the time was run on two batteries, a wet battery and a dry one. They bought the radio from Joey and he duly delivered it to them and left it up on the table, put a wire out the window, connected the batteries and turned it on. The news came on and of course at that time R.T. E, was only on from 1 o’clock to 2.30 pm. So come 2.30 R.T.E. went off and of course with all them old Radios it started to whistle. Joey of course didn’t tell those men how to turn off the radio and they knew nothing about it and so the radio was never switched off.

It whistled away from 2.30 – 6.00 pm when the station came on again until 11pm and then whistled away all night until 1 pm the next day and whistled away from 2.30 to 6 pm and again all the following night. After about 2 days the batteries started going down and at about 3 o’clock in the morning the two boys were in bed and one of them said to the other “Mike it’s easing off a bit”

This next story is a personal experience of my own. I lived out in Newford and it was one of our past times when we were young to write down the numbers of the cars as they passed on their way to the Galway Races. I was about 18 years of age before I went to the Races myself. We used to do that when we were about 12- 14 years of age. This would be about 1940-43.

I was only thinking of those days on my way into Galway lately, meeting lines of cars going in and coming out and they all flying. But back then we would spend hours writing down the numbers of the cars. How times have changed.

My final story is about the plane that came down in the farmyard during the second world war. Now the American crew had not a clue where they were or what country they were in. They got out of the plane and the first person they met was Tom Healy one of the employees of the college. They said to Tom, “where are we”? Tom said, you are one and a half miles from Athenry”.

Barrack Lane

As before, in the other articles, I’m speaking from memory and liable to make mistakes but I’ll do my best.

Bridge Street – on the right is the Allied Irish Bank which once was the old Post Office. Next there was Joe Mannion’s Pub where Claire Parr has her hair dressing salon now. Joe was a ‘legend’ in his time. His claim to fame was that he supplied drink at the Galway Races which were held at the time, for the two days, on the Wednesday and Thursday. He had the franchise for the outside enclosure and as that’s where the crowd was.  He was a well known and popular man. He had two marquees for the duration and employed many people from our area. It was a red letter day for Athenry when Joe moved his business into Galway for the races. He had one son and four daughters.

Further down the street, where Millie Browne’s shop is now, Michael Whelan from the Square had a shop there and before him Paddy Judge. Next door lived Michael McGuinness who was an insurance official. His daughter Clemmie still lives there. She was famous in our time, both locally and nationally, as a tennis player. His wife, as far as I can remember, had a cure for burns.

After McGuinness’s house came Kitty Fahy’s. That’s where Conn Fitzpatrick lived also. He worked as a clerk on the railway. He was Rosaline Fitzpatrick, now Mrs Paddy Ryan’s, father. Eileen McCormack now Eileen Corley lived next door. They came from River Lane. Her father Jimmy worked in Corbett’s yard. Her brother, Jimmy ‘Junior’, was a postman and her mother Nellie was also a well known figure in Athenry. Eileen married Paddy Curley.

Next, across the street, where the new Post Office is now, was a yard owned by McDonaghs who were merchants in Athenry before my time. Regans from Loughrea had a stone cutting and monument business there. They were connected with Nellie Regan who for years was the church sacristan and lived in Chapel Lane.

Peter Curran lived where Tony Lenane’s house is now. He was married to one of the McDonaghs. Herbert Taylor whose family owned Taylor’s Mill lived in this building. I remember Guard Walsh also there and the FCA, (you would never be short of a good pair of boots or trousers for ‘working’ once you joined) had an office there. Kinneens then took over the shop and have run a very successful business to this day. As far as I know it was part of a yard owned by McDonaghs before then. Then there was the Ulster Bank. It hasn’t changed much since then. Taylor’s Field, owned by the mill, or Castle Park as it is now known, which came next was the unofficial Town Park and it was to here the great entertainment shows came. Travelling Shows, Fun Fairs, Pongo, Bingo and Dance Marquees all came to Taylor’s Field – but that’s another story for another day.

Down towards Abbey Row, where Bridie Finn lives now, was a school residence owned by Mrs Woods. She taught next door in the old Boy’s School. I went to school there for a short length of time before it closed down. The teachers at the time were Martin Walshe, Sean Keane and Mrs Woods. Johnny Whelan lived on the other side of the school and he taught out in Newcastle National School. His house-keeper, May Connaughton, now Mrs Larry Kelly, still lives there.

Then came the Ball Alley, which was a very famous landmark in Athenry. It was the scene of many top class Handball Matches. Athenry became famous in the 40s and 50s for having many brilliant handballers namely: Berlo Walshe, Nailer Howley, the Barretts and others – I can’t think of all their names.

We now go into Abbey Row and the first house there was Aggie Qualter’s. She was a legend in her time. As a writer and historian she was acclaimed throughout the parish and area of Athenry. She has written many books. Her son, Murty, a teacher has recently retired.

Next was Joe Egan’s. He had two children named Jackie and Kathleen. He also had two people staying in his house. One was called Willie Farrell who had a small bicycle repair shop down where Rooneys have the Monument Works now. His workshop was a regular haunt for us at lunch time and Willie would tell us all the stories and tales of bygone days in Athenry. Willie was a well known and popular figure. Also living in Joe Egan’s was a man called Bartley Flanagan. I think Bartley worked for, a neighbour of his, Johnny Cleary who lived two doors away.

In between was Jimmy Cleary’s house. As far as I know Johnny’s wife was a district nurse. Tom Cleary who now resides here runs a very successful building business. Next came Tommy Howley who had a hackney business and his sister ‘Tackie’ later married John O’Dowd and lived in Park. After that came Joe ‘Nailer’ Howley. ‘Nailer’ was a famous handballer and it was from this game he derived his name. Paddy Lynskey lived with the ‘Nailer’.

The houses, where the two Murtagh families (of Delia and Bernie) lived, now belong to Clarkes and Ryans. I think Tommy Ryan’s parents lived there for a while and also, Jim Grennan. Jim worked in Higgins’ and he had two daughters Mini and Angela. Dan Taheny, teacher and historian who taught in the ‘Bish’ and now living in Woodquay, Galway, was born in Murtagh’s house.

Now, in Barrack Street, the first house was belonging to Tom Milmo, who worked for the County Council. His wife, I think, was a district nurse. He had two children Phyllis and Frank. Frank went to school with me. I think the next house was Monica Kenny’s. That was a small thatched house where Tully’s house is now. She had a shoe repair business and later married Hubert McInerney who worked in Mahons. On that side of the street there lived at various times the Reilly, Finnerty and McNamara families. The Finnertys later moved to Ballygurrane. The McNamaras later moved across the street to where Mattie and Joy now live. Then further up we come to the old Barrack, where Charlie King is now. On the other side of the street was Sweeney’s Garage which I mentioned before. The buildings after that changed a few times. Here was Paddy Murphy’s forge. Paddy lived where Finbarr Ryan now lives at the Arch. Jack Heffernan’s taxi was garaged here also. Later John Lawless and now his son Seán had a workshop here. In our day there was also a garage there belonging to Ned Kennedy. He’d be Derek Kennedy’s brother and now, I think, lives in Kilrush. He was our local taxi driver, and he often took us to Seapoint, Salthill, on a Thursday or Sunday night. The fare at that time was about 2s 6d each [a half crown]. I remember another little garage there run by PJ. Vaughan.

The street was always a hive of activity and we loved to delay there on our slow journey to school. There was nothing after that apart from Fred White’s (a postman who came from Kilskeagh) garden until you came to where Mattie McNamara lives now by the river. That house was owned by his father Tommy who was another famous taxi man and he also had a hearse.

See also “My Part of Town” by Helen Tully

I am working from memory, so if there are any mistakes I am open to correction. My first house, in Chapel Lane, now called Church Street, is now owned by Mick Sheehan formerly owned by the Fleming family, Maureen and her brother, Jackie. Maureen married John Stack and later moved up to Durkan’s where the Shopping Basket is now. Jackie went to school with me but he died a very young man. Next door,  where Joe Walsh lives now, was Plunketts. May Plunkett had a shop in Davis Street where Maurice O’Neill is now. Jim, her husband, was a clerk in Sweeney’s of Cross Street.

Where Albert Cummins office is now, I think, was a derelict site. Next door was Heffernans. Mrs. Heffeman had a small sweet shop and Jack her husband had a taxi service. There’s a story told that Jack went down to Higgins’s Garage for petrol. Sonny O’Grady was the pump attendant at the time, Jack asked him for five shillings worth, now twenty five pence, and said “Be careful and don’t spill any”.

Another story while I’m on about petrol pumps- an American with a big car pulled in and said “Fill her up”. At the time pumps were hand operated, the Yank did not switch off the engine and Sonny found the car was using more than he was putting in so he said to the American “Switch her off, she’s beating me”. Then came Qualters, Paddy and Ned were famous characters in the town. Their father worked in the railway. The Canton Hall which has not changed much since then was followed by Durkan’s, now the Shopping Basket. Durkan had a bar and grocery shop. He was a big jovial man with a big strong voice which he used to great advantage in the Church Choir. Tim O’Regan, Finbarr’s father, and himself were great friends and did a lot of parish work.

Fr. O’Malley, who kept greyhounds, lived in the Presbytery beside the Church.The old Church had big gates, railings and huge pillars outside. Of the three galleries inside, the one on the railway side was the choir gallery.

The Church Gates and Railings came from Tiaquin Estate

Then came the Convent, much the same as it is today except that it was an enclosed order at that time. The Nuns  rarely went out through the town but you could see them walking around their front garden part of which is now the carpark for the church. I went to school to the Nuns, stayed until first class and then went up to the Boy’s School. I remember Sport’s Day in the Convent on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Sister Dominic and Sister Baptist taught us, also a Miss Glynn who lived down in Ballygurraun. If Sister Dominic found you telling lies she rubbed carbolic soap on your tongue – not pleasant! The Parish Priest’s house, where Cannon McGough lived, was next. It has improved since then.

Down at the corner, towards the station, Glynn’s was the first of the houses, which, at that time were owned by the Railway Company. Frank worked in the Good’s Store. Next was Quentin’s. Momma Quentin, as she was called then had a little shop there – it is said she put a flat board, which acted as a counter, across the front door – and did a good business. She later opened another thriving shop in Old Church Street. The Station Master at that time was Mr Barry. His wife was a great singer and was a prominent member of the Choral Society. There was an Eason Bookshop on the platform, run by a Mrs Duffy, and later by Kitty Fahy. Nora Byrne was a clerk in the ticket office. Among those working in the station was Christy O’Grady, Matt Loughnane, Greg Rabbitte, John White, Redmond Carr, Roddy Dempsey, Matt Fitzpatrick and the two Gaughran brothers.

Jack O’Loughlin and his son Paddy looked after the Signal Box. There was then an all night service, for “Beet Specials” and “Goods Trains”. The points and signal were worked by hand as there was no electrical assistance. The Good’s Store was run by Frank Glynn and Jim Clarke, who lived in the house on the corner beside the Signal Box. It was part of my employment to go down to the Good’s Store and see if there was “anything in” for Mahons, where I worked at the time, and Jim Clarke would say “Here comes Somer in the middle of Winter”. There was a small office where Rosy Fitzpatrick’s (now Mrs Paddy Regan) father worked as clerk.

Next on the way up towards the town, as there was no Garda Station there at the time, came Miko Cronnolly’s house. He worked as a lorry driver for the Railway and his wife May later became the Church Sacristan and only died recently.

Where John Joe Brady lives now was Stack’s, Michael, Merrill and Claire Burke lived there with their mother and her sister Mrs Stack. Next then was Brady’s butcher shop, owned then by Eddie Brady, John Joe’s father. Where John Joe has his butcher shop now was a drapery shop owned by Johnny and Roddy Brady. Aggie Coffey, now Mrs Kilkelly, worked there.

Next was Clarkes shop. Mr Clarke was a water inspector for the County Council. Later it was taken over by Tony McLoughlin who called it “The Peoples Shop”. He was a famous character and was the first man to bring Santa Claus to the town, or even to the county. That first “Santa Claus” was Buster Walsh, another character. Nano Kennedy and Joe Rabbitte worked there. There is a story told that Tony asked Joe Rabbitte to go down to the station after 1.30 p.m. on a Thursday. Now Thursday was “Half-day” in the town at the time but Joe, who should be off duty, went to the station and did his job. When he came back it was after 2 p.m. and he was “fed up” so he said “Mr Mcloughlin, from now on one o’clock here is half past one and not half past two”.

Nellie Regan and her sister Bridie lived next door. Nellie was the Church Sacristan and I was one of the alter boys at this time. She was a hard taskmaster. If you did not do your job well you were sent home, but behind it all she had a heart of gold. Mary O’Neill has her Hairdressing Salon there now.

Next came Bane’s where Kathleen lives now. Her husband John, who died some years ago, and his four sisters lived there. Tom, their father, worked par-time down at the station. He pumped water into the engines. Tom was a great pipe smoker. I sold him a pipe once that turned out to be so good and suitable that from then on he told anyone who wanted a pipe to go to Jimmy Somers.

Mrs Bane’s father, Michael Shaughnessy, lived there also. I think he was the oldest man alive in the town at the time. He had a lovely character. Next came Sonny Glynn and his sister, now Bridgie Feeney. The house is still much the same. Next came O’Malley’s. Rudie, Annie and Eileen, now Mrs Qualter, lived there. Rudie died a young man. Greg, Frank and Joe Rabbitte lived next door. Their father Paddy worked in the Farmyard (Agricultural College). Greg now lives down the New Line. Frank lives in London. He helped to organise the recent London Reunion. Joe died about five years ago. Next came Miss Rabbitte. She had a dressmaking shop and was helped by Annie Carroll.

The next house belonged to Ned and Paddy Grealy. Ned was well known as he was the Church Door Collector and was there for every Mass. Paddy, who worked in Taylor’s Mill, got married late in life and lived the rest of his days in Swangate. Their house has been renovated recently and Joe Rooney has retired there now.

I will start this time in Cross Street and as before, because I am working from memory, I am open to correction. I will start where the Allied Irish Bank is now. It was then the Post Office. The Postmaster was Mr Delaney and the Postmen were Mick Fahy (well known as an actor with the Drama Society), Fred White, Watt Doherty, Michael Rooney, Jimmie McCormack, Michael Kilkelly, Bill Keating, and Tom Reilly. Tommy Ryan was the telegraph boy. Working at the counter were: Ursula Daly nee Kearney, Margaret Lyons nee Taylor, Kate Henegan, and there may have been more, but I don’t remember them all.

Beside the Post Office lived Jackie Hession who had a grocery shop. His wife Bridie is still there and enjoys good health. Next was Michael Whelan, He owned a pub and his wife had a drapery shop next door. She had an agency for IMCO Dry- cleaning. I think there were the only dry-cleaning company in the country at that time. Michael Whelan once had a shop, in Bridge Street, where Millie Brown is now. Michael was a great character and always good to make you laugh. Cigarettes were very scarce at the time and you would be lucky to get five loose cigarettes but Michael could appear out on the square on a Friday, Market Day, with two cigarettes in his mouth.

Next door was Peter Houlihan where Shields Solicitors had an office. Teresa Kenny worked there for years, also Mickey Hession. After that came Sweeney’s Hardware shop and pub. Jones Sweeney was the proprietor; Jim Plunkett was his clerk; shop boys who worked there were John O’Rourke and Joe Walsh who later married Patsy Murphy from Clarke Street. Jones had two sisters Louise and Bridgie. They owned a lovely Singer car when cars were scarce at the time and they looked very superior when they went for a drive, sitting in the back and being driven by Christy McNamara. Sweeneys had a fine hardware business with a paint store out in the yard. Pat Kearney worked in the paint store which was run by his son Malachy later. Mickey McNamara was the yard man.

The Gárda Barracks, once the RIC Barracks, later to become to become the FCA headquarters, is now owned by Charlie King and run as a hostel. Sergeant King, Prospect, was there in the early forties. The permanent guards were Pat Kearns, Jack Coffey and Frank O’Rourke while others came and went at various times. Jim Kelly (Ann Cullinane’s father) was the superintendent at that time.

Adjacent to the barracks was Sweeney’s Garage. The petrol pumps were under a roof when canopies were unheard of. It was run by Christy McNamara and petrol at that time was about 11d a gallon. Tony and Marie Waldron lived next door for a while. Then there was Bridgie White. Michael Higgins (known as John Ireland) lived there as well. He was a legend around town in his time. Next to him lived Fred White, a postman, who lived to be a very great age.

Christy Howley, next, was a famous character and a prolific actor. A carpenter by trade he formed a company called St. Bemadette’s Industries. He made chairs. He was a great man for psychology and his great claim to fame was that if psychology could not fix it then it was a lost cause.

After Howleys was Johnny Whelan’s house where Noreen Hynes now lives. Johnny owned a shop in Church Street in Kitty Lardner’s house, once Larry Lardner’s pub of 1916 fame. Christy and Ena O’Grady lived next door in a very neat thatched house. Later they built the present bungalow.

Next was Pat Quinn, where Shields Solicitors’ offices are now. Pat was a carpenter by trade and he also had a forge worked by his nephew Christy Flynn who was a great man for inventions.

Pat made and supplied coffins. There was an instance where a son came into his yard and bought a coffin for his father but some months later it transpired that the coffin had not been paid for. This being a delicate situation he had to bide his time. Later that year, one fair morning, Pat saw his man selling cattle on the street outside his window and he went out and passed a few words about the weather and such. He then said, “How is your father?” and the man said, “Sure my father is dead for the last six months”. Pat said, “I’m sorry to hear about that but I think I put a coffin on that man and it was never paid for.” How’s that for integrity?

Next door to where Anthony Quinn lived was Dr. Peadar Finnerty and before him the famous Jack Hoey. There was a story about Jack and turkeys but it would take too long to put it in print.

After this was Payne’s Hall and Yard, where Car Spares’ scrap yard is now. I can remember a show given there by the McFadden Touring Company. They had a serial picture followed by a live stage show. The admission was 4d, 8d and 1s. The name of the film was ‘Burn up Barns’.

Between this and Úna Hynes’ house are two houses built I think by Sean Broderick. Jimmy Corley lived in one and Ursula Daly lived in it before him, and Pakie Dooley who once had Sean Corbett’s farm lived in the other. Una Hynes’ father, Frank, started the scout movement in the town. Inside Taylors Gate there was a dispensary. I think Dr. Foley was the doctor at the time.

Across the road was Condron’s Guest House, later to become The Western Hotel and is now The Dunclarin Arms. I lived there for about fourteen years. Pat Kenny from Caheroyan, who had an oil business and drove an oil lorry, had his business in Condron’s yard.

Next door to this, where Paddy Ryan lives now, lived Mrs. Kennedy. Later, it was a Mart office. Then Joe Pollard, who was a Superintendent’s Clerk, lived next door. I never saw him in uniform in my life. The Flynns, Christy, Philomena and May live there now. After this was Jack Molloy. His wife, a very industrious dressmaker was always called by her maiden name Nonie Connors. Next was Mary Keane. John Caulfield made shoes there and later Ryan’s had a shoe repair shop there.

Next, where Joseph Sweeney lives now, Fr. Concannon lived and also another priest, I think a Fr. Pendergast. After this came McGlades. There was Fr. Charlie Mc Glade, then Jackie and Eugene who had a pub in Galway. There were two sisters Eileen and Ena. Eileen died very young and Ena married Donal Kennedy. He was the Principal in the Boy’s National School. They now live in Dublin. Mr Curran who lived next door was an ex- R.I.C. Officer. He had two daughters – Masie and Josie. Josie married Joe Mahon. They were both talented musicians and formed the Athenry Choral Society which became famous around the country in later years.

Kathleen Curley who was a legend in her time ran a guest house and anybody who ever worked in Athenry started their stay in Kathleen’s.

Next door, where Noel Treacy has his office now, Jimmy Curran lived for a while as did Jimmy Farrell and later Brendan Melley. Next door was John Joe Glynn , he had a bicycle repair shop. When asked was he making money John Joe would say “How can I make money if I only charge half a crown to mend a puncture and the customer ‘swipes’ a spanner worth seven and six “.

Further up the street was Payne’s Pub, where the Fiddlers Green is now. Sean Coen had a pub there for a while as did the Ruane family. Jimmy Payne was a great actor and a great wit. He had two sons Ronnie and Norman who later became very famous in the music scene in America.

Next door was Leo Mahon’s house and shop. I worked there for seven or eight years. I could write a book about that place and, maybe, sometime later I will. Leo’s sister Katy was a character. After parcelling up a set of delph she would always say, “Don’t catch it by the string”. She censored the books in their library by cutting out terribly bad and rude words such as “damn” and “bloody” with a razor blade.

Jane Quinn and her sister had a hairdressing saloon farther up the street. After that was The Athenry Hotel run by Michael and Mary Jane Cannon – a famous establishment in its day. Albert Cummins had his office inside the door on the left. One of his secretary’s was Emily Jennings, nee Hemmings. She now has a shop in Tally-Ho. John Joe Glynn’s wife also worked for him. There was also Mr. Mills, a dentist, who practised came there every Friday.

Then came O’Neill’s. Mary O’Neill ran the chemist shop that Frank O’Neill now owns. She lived in the house to the left of the chemist shop. One fair day she came to the door to go to eight o’clock Mass and found she couldn’t open her door. Later, it transpired that some farmer had tied his sheep to the brass knocker. No wonder the fairs have left the streets.

I think that’s about all for now!

This part of the story covers Northgate Street and, as before, I’m speaking from memory and if there are any mistakes I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do about them.

The first shop in Northgate Street was Daly’s Drapery – a big shop – where Martin Burke’s is now. It was owned by Chris Daly, his sister Ida, and two brothers Eugene and Alo. Willy Scally, John Curran, Aggie Coffey (now Mrs Kilkelly, Galway) and Mary Duffy (now Mrs Kindregan, Mountpelier) worked there. As far as I know the ladies were called “milliners” in drapery shops at that time.

Next door lived the “Miss Dohertys, The Gables” Annie and Aggie Jo. They sold sweets and had an ice cream parlour which was a great meeting place for us young lads at that time. You got a bowl of ice cream and a raspberry for sixpence plus the attraction of nice staff. Margaret Clancy, Margaret Monaghan and Nora Joyce worked there. After that came Mattie Cunniffe the cobbler. He had four sons and one daughter called Lolo.

The Gables, The Cobblers and Nolans (Stone-faced building) and Fahys Centra

Next came “Basty” Nolans, a pub and big shop. I remember fletches of bacon hanging from the ceiling there. He also sold “salted ling” which was specially in stock for the season of Lent. Nora Cahallan worked there. She is now living somewhere in the “States”. Next came Jim Fahy’s shop. He was the father of Tom and Seamus who now own the Centra Supermarket there. He had a nice grocery shop and was also famous for selling bicycles. Rita Gannon (now Mrs Greaney), Mary Dolan (now Mrs. Johnny Whelan) and Catherine Burke (now Mrs. Somers) worked there.

James Walshe’s pub is now Dan’s Bar and is run by Ann and Juno Barrett. James had one son who became a priest. He was called Bobby after Bobby Beggs a “Dub”, who was a good footballer and played for Galway. He always wore knickerbocker pants at school.

Mrs Ryan had a sweet shop next door and always displayed her goods in the window. On a sunny day the cat came out and lay in the window. Where Gerry Burke has now recently reopened there was a pub owned by Mrs Fallon. Afterwards it was run by the Houlihan family. Jackie was a great character.

Next was James Ruane’s. He sold Ferguson Tractors, threshing machines, ploughs and agricultural goods. It was a big shop with a huge yard. As far as I know he generated electricity for the town long before the ESB was heard of. I think he also had a mineral water factory. One of his clerks was a Mr Farrell, who had some connection with Pakie Dooley, Boyhill. Miss Brannelly also worked in the office. She still lives in Athenry. Jimmy Kerins also worked there. Next was Martin Glynn’s pub now run by his daughter, Rita. Martin came from Cappataggle.

Then came Corbetts, a large shop and yard. This was a branch of “Corbetts of Galway”. In the grocery department worked Jimmy Kilgarrif, Vincent Feeney, Jim Kelly and Paddy Callanan. In the hardware section were Willie Kenny, John Lohan, Gerry Bradley, Ita McGrath and Frank Kilkelly. In the office were Mrs Curley, Ger. Browne, Jim Doherty and Paddy Regan. John Corbett was a manager. He lived in Park. Even though the shop was officially closed he stood at the gate every Sunday morning to serve people. I recall the story of the lad (the editor of this journal) who asked him for a few rabbit snares and was delighted when he got sheep spancils by mistake. John wondered why the boy bought the lot instead of the few he had asked for. But then snares cost a few pence and spancils were worth half a crown and easily sold to local farmers. Tommy Reilly worked in the yard in charge of the potato section. Jimmy McCormack also worked there. Jimmy Burke and Willie Caulfield drove lorries.

Next came Hession’s butcher shop and grocery. They also bought wool and oats. It was a great countryman’s shop and old Mike Hession’s advice was sought far and wide. His sons Paddy, Owen and “Francheen” helped with the shop and farm. Paddy, a very popular man, was the butcher for years and it was only recently that his wife Meg (Curran) retired from business.

Frank O’Rourke had the house next door. He was a guard. Dominic and Patricia Parr live there now. John Donoghue came next. He had a shop and sold sweets and toys. There was a ladies’ hairdressers run by Kathleen Blade in this house also. Next came Mrs Reilly where Tommy Cheevers is now. She was a relative of Tommy Cheevers’ mother.

Pat Duffy had a pub and shop at the arch. His wife, who came from Crossmolina, owned The Railway Hotel. Pat was a well known figure in Athenry. After this came a butcher shop owned by a man called Eely Connors. Across the road was Pat Duffy’s store where P.J. Greaney’s supermarket was. Barbara and Gabriel Duffy have just taken over there now as well as the next shop which was Doherty’s. They sold sweets and ice cream. The Waldron family lived in the house beside them. This had a railing outside. I think Ned was born there.

Then there was Corbett’s coal yard and a yard owned by Hessions. Next lived Peter Scahill and Mick Goode in two small houses across from Corbett’s gate. Behind these houses was the Protestant Church. This is to be “converted” into a Heritage Centre. Josie Curran then lived where Tommy Coppinger owns a shop now beside Fitzsimmon’s drapery shop. Eddie Somers worked there and later married Rhoda their daughter. Jane Kilkelly, Joy McGuiness, Gerry McNamara and Bridie Bane worked there.

Across the lane was Annie Kelly’s pub. You went down steps to the bar. She had three sons, Michael, Timmy and John. One of them was a great handballer. After that came a saddler and a tailor. The tailor, I think, was Willie Curtain and the saddler’s name, as far as I know, was Bane. Next came Bradley’s shop where John Staunton lived until recently. Then there was the “famous” Joey McCabe, a well known character in the town. All these buildings have changed since then. After that is the present “Paper Shop” now owned by the Neary family, who also own “The Shopping Basket” in Church Street. This shop was owned by Willie Higgins, Prospect, for years.

Feature Photo: Corbett’s shop on the left with Glynn’s pub in the corner!

I will start in Old Church Street and am open to correction. My first port of call is the Credit Union. This site was owned by Sweeney’s and used as a coal yard and was then taken over by Lucan Ice Cream as their depot for Co. Galway.  The van drivers were Michael Kindregan; Mt.  Pelier, Eamon Cummins;  Kilskeagh, and Michael Russell of Monivea.

Next door to this is Farrells Insurance. This house was owned by the Murray Family.  The two sons Dermot and Michael are living in Galway.  Michael J. Rooney the court clerk next lived there.  His daughter Maeve is now a nun in Newport. Joe Burke’s house was in fact two houses in the forties.  Garda Tom O’Keefe lived in one and he had a son a priest.  The O’Regan’s lived in it before my time. Peter O’Regan was in the RIC.  The other was a little sweet shop owned by Maggie Hynes.  She never had a paper bag but she made her own cone shape out of a piece of newspaper.  You got ten sweets to a penny.

The little house to the left of Farrell’s Insurance once was in fact two houses in the forties               Peter O’Regan’s and Maggie Hynes’ shop

Next to her where Michael Healy now lives there was a postman named Tomo Reilly, who lived with his sister Essie and brother Pat.  He always said ‘Fine Day’ in a long drawn out manner no matter what the weather was like. Micheal Quinn’s comes after this.  His father had a carpentry shop and forge.  He wheeled the newly made horse carts onto the street in front of his house each morning.

Tommy Fox lived where Paul Thompson is now and carried on much the same business. Kavanagh’s private house was on the corner beside Joey O’Flynns radio shop – the only radio shop in Athenry.  Radios or Wirelesses at that time had two batteries one which had to be charged and the other a dry battery which lasted about six months.  There was no electric or transistor radio at that time. In the next house, where May Wilson is now, lived two old ladies – Miss Kellys. Then, there was John Joe White in what is now Mrs Howley’s house. John Joe had his bakery across the street from here. I think Batty Cunniffe had the house next to that, but I’m not sure. Next was and still is Duddy’s house after that is Maloney’s shop which hasn’t changed much over the years.

Norah and Hubert McInerney who both worked in Mahon’s of Cross Street lived in the next house.  They had a sister Mary, who was physically handicapped who had great difficulty walking but was a great character. After the McInerney’s comes Jimmy Nolan’s shop which was at one time owned by Miss Julia Mary Morrissey, who was great with Liam Mellows of 1916 fame.  Joey O’Flynn’s sisters – ‘We haven’t white thread but would black thread do’? had a shop and library there.

Dempsey’s house and butcher shop, now owned by Barney Carroll, was built on the site of a grain store, I believe. At the top of the street the houses were owned by the Brodericks. The Fields of Athenry pub and shop, now Melia’s, was owned by Sean Broderick, a Fine Gael T.D. for this area. This man built the row of houses in Prospect.  His brother Christy, lived next door. Jim Kelly,. the chemist, is the owner now.

Next, John Whelan had a shop where Kitty Lardiner lives now.  The Widow Lardiner’s Pub was there long ago. On the corner was Sonny Glynn’s Pub. His sister Bridgie Feeney continues the business. Where Finese Hair Salon is now was Professor Margaret Heavey’s house. Know affectionately as ‘Ma’ she was a great help to the Athenry students in U.C.G

After this comes Dan Reynolds House where Keane’s Pub is now.  Pakie Fallon wrote the poem ‘Duddy’s Yard’ about this place. It was said of Dan Reynolds – a very tall man – that he could take a bottle off the top shelf without getting out of his chair and, during his courting days, his height who was also an advantage as the town wall was no hindrance when he kissed his girl friend goodnight, while she was in her garden on the other side of the wall.  He had a son Joe and a daughter Mildred. Where Mary Ruane is now I saw a bank there. I think it was a Munster and Leinster branch. Next was Mrs ‘Momma’ Quintons.  She had the sweet shop at the station moved up was to Old Church Street and did a thriving business. Then came Peter Connolly’s Chemist shop.  This house was Nolan’s before that, I think.  John Joe White’s Bakery was the next place. John Joe was Kathleen Bane’s father. The bakers were Tommy Kelly and Buster Walsh (a brother of Berla Walsh) who lived, in Fox’s Lane, where Christy Archer has his barber shop.  John Joe had an old clock hanging inside the front door. This clock was not working and had a sign across its face: “NO TICK HERE. Kelly’s auctioneers now in this place probably have a new clock.

The next premises was Mrs Brennan’s tea house.  Nowadays it would be called a cafe.  She was Paddy Brennan’s (Northgate Street) mother and J.J.Brennan’s grandmother.  Gerry Atkinson’s butcher shop is here. Next was Higgins Garage and Petrol Pumps.  That time pumps were worked by hand. Over the garage was the Court House.  If anybody threatened you with the law, you would be told ‘I’ll bring you up the stairs’. Margaret O’Halloran has a dressmaking shop there now.

After this came Christy Broderick’s first Chemist Shop or Medical Hall where Mary and Kathleen Gardner have a B & B nowadays.  He had a chemist named Jim Ward working for him for many years.  Christy owned a pack of Beagles and it was a big occasion every Sunday to follow the hounds around the countryside. Joe Shaughnessy lived in the following house where Eileen’s hairdressing salon is now.  He worked for the County Council on the roads and I think he was the first fireman in Athenry. Malachy Kearney in the next house worked in Sweeney’s of Cross Street, in the paint store.  His wife Ursulla (Daly) worked in the Post Office when it was in the Square.

The Pine Tree was once Sweeney’s shop and bar.  Eddie Delaney an artist/sculptor of fame worked there as a shop boy.

Jimmy Cannon’s diner was owned by the McNamara family who ran a hackney business. I knew a Miss Heffernan who had a shop there, also two Miss McLoughlins and later John Kennedy of Boyhill.
Then there was the O’Grady’s, Sonny, Michael and Kitty Wilson.  Sonny owned a bit of land outside the town as did many other householders.  Guard Coffey lived in the next house – his wife Elizabeth died just a few weeks ago.  May she rest in peace.  These two houses are now the Flower Shop. After this came Michael Walsh, where Michael Morrissey is now.  He did a bit of carpentry work.  His workshop is still there. After a derelict site came a shop owned by Sweeney’s.  They called it “the Sunday Shop”. That’s where I started business first.  It was run by a Jim Bransfield, who sold bicycles.

Jimmy’s sister Jane (Sr Kieran) outside “The Sunday Shop” – Photo Mary Lowe Walsh published in The Local Heritages of Athenry, Esker and Tiaquin. | Facebook

The next house was Sweeney’s private house.  When owned by the Kenny family it was the Ivy Hotel who had a hotel in Dublin also.  Patrick Fallon the poet also lived in this house and the yard next to it, behind our last shop, was always called ‘Fallon’s Yard’.  Tommy Whelan now lives here.