OUR TOWN c. 1850 - 2000


MAIN STREET, NORTH SIDE

This picture was taken in 1996 prior to the development of Hinds Square1.

In 1850, the immediate lessor of this property was Mrs Harriet O'Brien, evidently a lady of some means as she also had four other properties in this terrace. Between the 1850's and 1880, the house on this site was occupied by John Hensy and also a Daniel Delaney (probably the tailor of that name listed in a directory from 1870). From at least 1884, Stephen Brandon - whose family had been in business in the town since at least 1837 - had a harness-making business here. In 1901, his son Charles, a saddler, lived here with his wife Margaret (a native of Castlecomer), his mother Martha and brother George. The business employed two apprentices; Andrew Carter and Joseph Haslam, both Maryborough natives.

Sometime after the taking of the Census, the Brandon house was demolished and Michael Coffey - in business in Ballyragget since 1872 - set up Maryborough Monumental Works on the site (Celtic crosses, headstones, monuments in marble, limestone or granite). The family eventually left the town to set up business in Dublin and were succeeded here by James LLoyd (Largest stock of memorials in the Midlands.) and Harrison and Co. Some years after their departure, members of the Coffey family returned to carry out mosaic and terrazza work on the sanctuary and aisles of the old SS. Peter and Paul's Church.

The gateway in the picture once led into Hinds' farmyard. More than one of my informants recalled Frank Cullen driving cattle to be milked from Hinds' land on the Old Knockmay Road - the area around what is today KeaLew Business Park and Eircom (formerly the Irish Worsted Mills building) - out on to Grattan Square, through the Square, down Main Street, into that farmyard. (For a similar story, see entry on Kelly's further down the street).

In the 50's and 60's, on the gable on the left, there used to be a hoarding advertising coming attractions in the Coliseum Cinema in Bull Lane (also known as Coliseum Lane) straight across the street. New posters - large colourful lettering only, no images - went up each week and I can still see the man climbing the ladder, armed with a bucket of paste and a sweeping brush....

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1 As revealed by a quick internet browse, this is generally written as Hynds Square. I don't know who came up with this spelling, but the family being commemorated was (as is clearly printed on the nameplate at the entrance to the Square) always Hinds. Elsewhere, on the subject of nomenclature in the town, the Bull family name has been 'dehumanised' into Lána an tairbh, Rev Thomas Harpur became - until someone changed the signpost - Harper, and God knows where the Irish translation of Pepper's and Lyster's Lane came from. Maybe I'm being a bit pedantic, but why Gaelicize surnames that are clearly English? Sráid Coote, for instance, is perfectly valid, but if the Council employed the logic they applied to the Bull name, it should be the preposterous Sráid na Circe Cheannann and thus the name of another family (prominent in the town's history) would be expunged from public awareness. In the proverbial nutshell, I think that some consistency is called for.

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