Connaught Street in the 1930s

By Jean Farrell

This is a recent piece by Jean Farrell in Jean's Journal, her weekly column in our print edition.

Connaught Street was a busy bustling place when I was young. Lest we forget, today I am sharing Paddy Galvin’s memories of this street, in the 1930s.

No. 1 – 3. Grenham’s bar, grocery and travel agency was established in 1911 by John Grenham. They were agents for the Cunard Line and sold tickets for the Titanic. Emigrant families used to have American wakes in the bar.

No. 5. Broderick’s bakery sold lovely fresh bread on the right hand side of the shop and iced buns and confectionary on the left. The famous author John Broderick came from this establishment.

No. 7. Gray’s sold sweets, ice cream and biscuits in tins with glass tops.

No. 9. Galvin’s sold papers, copies, pencils and pens. They had cows out in the yard and sold milk in cans. In the 20th century, a brother and two sisters lived there. James, a contemporary of John McCormack, died in 1975 aged 91 years.

No. 11. Galvin’s sold sweets, ice cream, groceries and they also had cows in the yard and sold milk. The Galvins are reputed to be the oldest family in Connaught Street and can trace the family back to their great-grandfather, born there in the seventeenth century. There was a laneway from the street between Galvins and Murrays and the cobblestones were there until very recently.

No. 13. Martin Murray’s Grocery and Bar, sold paraffin oil, wheat, oats and crushed barley for cows. All had to be brought through the shop, crushed in the back yard and brought back out again. They eventually sold to Sloans. Martin Murray’s shop bought Shine’s on the other side of the street. They moved their business to there.

No. 15. Gill’s Garage had two petrol pumps out on the front path.

No. 17. Jones' Drapery, sold children’s clothing. Mrs. Broderick bought it later and started a Ladies Fashion Shop, managed by Miss Mulvihill. When it closed, Paddy McKevitt moved in and sold shoes.

No. 19. Private house.

No. 21. Walter Walsh, sold guns, firearms and fishing tackle. Later, it became Freeburne’s and sold radios and TVs. Then it became Kevin Dooley’s flower shop. Now demolished.

No. 23. Two Walsh ladies, sisters of Walter, sold newspapers, school books and requisites. They had a large gramophone in the centre of the shop and always played records, particularly of John McCormack.

No. 25. Creavin’s small sweet shop, everything for a penny. It had a wooden floor and you were terrified walking on it.

No. 27. Kevin Broderick, no relation to the baker. His wife was a ladies dressmaker.

No. 29. Mr James Egan Bar and grocery. There was always a pig’s head in the window. The famous writer, Nuala O’Faolain, was their niece and used to come here on her summer holidays as a teenager.

No.31. Monahan’s bar, later Kileens. Joe Monahan played on the Athlone Town team when they won the Free State Cup in 1924. Later this premises became Keane’s and then Lucy Touhy’s.

No. 33. Reggie Timon’s butcher shop, later Naughton’s small grocery and butcher shop.

No. 35. Bridie Woods – private house. Her brother Gerard served with distinction in the Diplomatic Corps, as Ambassador to Australia and later the Holy See.

No. 37. Mattie and Paddy Lennon. Bar and large yard at the rear

No. 39. Murphy’s Guest House.

No. 43 – 45. Bigley’s sold Peggy’s legs and later bought by Tom Egan who sold Hercules bicycles during the war. He kept a bicycle on display in the shop with a slight fault and whoever could diagnose what was wrong with the bicycle got it as a prize. No. 47. John Lennon’s Bar. He bought the premises from Christie Caulfield.

No 49. Tommie Caulfield’s. It was burned down but Tommy built it up again and sold it to Dean Crowe. His niece and her husband Frank Moran ran a successful chemist shop for many years. Now Brett’s chemist.

No. 51. Ada Brennan, private house, but later set as a barber shop.

No. 53. Harkins. Dressmaker.

No. 55 Garricks. Newsagents, sweets and souvenirs.

No. 57 Dennis (Dinny) Hannon, private house. A solicitor and celebrated soccer player who played for Bohemians and Athlone Town. He scored the only goal in the final when Athlone Town won the Free State Cup in 1924. He also played for the Irish Free State team which competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

No. 59. Hannon's bar, grocery and hardware. No 61. W.J. Byrne had a house on the street and a shed at the back where he ran a blacksmith's forge. Some of his iron gates can be still seen around Athlone with his name on them. Behind his house was Pipe Lane where there were a few dwelling houses and stores and sheds belonging to the McNeills. They had an egg business and Cissy McManus kept pigs there.

No. 63. Healion’s had a sweet shop and private entrance.

No. 67. Cissy McManus and her brother Michael. She served dinners.

No. 69. The Noggin Inn, owned by Owen J. Dolan, a distinguished member of The Town Council. Later, it became Flynns.

No. 71 At the end of the street were Harry and Peg Murray, tailors. Many a young boy had his first suit made there for First Holy Communion or Confirmation.

At the top of Magazine Road was Heaton’s Woollen Mills. There was talk that boxing matches were held upstairs over the shop.”

More next week about the other side of Connaught Street.

jeanfarrell@live.ie

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