OUR TOWN c. 1850 - 2000

21 MAIN STREET (THE LOWER SQUARE)

This, and the premises in the next picture - both owned by the Delany family - are under the same roof today, but, according to the Architectural Survey, "a pair of modest dwellings" once stood here. In 1850, the one here was leased by Patrick Brennan1 from Joseph Leeson, the 4th Earl of Milltown. In 1728, incidentally, Suesey Street in Dublin was renamed Leeson Street after the earl's ancestors who were prominent brewers and later, landowners, in the city.

Patrick Brennan was succeeded by Deborah Brady and then Patrick McEvoy in the early 1860's. (The latter is possibly the carpenter of that name who appears in a directory from 1870). The same directory lists a William Cusack as a publican and confectioner (an unlikely combination?) and, while no address is given, Eddie Boylan places him in these premises. There is no mention of Cusack in the Cancellation Books, but it is quite possible that he had replaced Patrick McEvoy in the 1870's. One of my informants believed that Annie Maher, a dressmaker, also lived in a portion of the house, but I have been unable to corroborate this. According to Eddie Boylan again, these premises were once a public house known as 'The Hive' and owned by Charlie Reilly. There is some confusion though: he places the pub "where Martin Breen now lives", but also gives No. 20 (the next picture) as its location. Probably just a simple slip of his pen....

The building in the picture has undergone extensive renovations since it was built circa 1880 and, from early in that decade into the mid-20th century, it was occupied by the Breen family. In 1901, Fintan, a master baker - Only first-class materials used - his wife Johanna and son Martin, also a baker, were living here. He employed John Kenna who is described as a 'working baker'. On Census Night a decade later, a grandson, Edward, was also present, as were Michael Tisdal, a baker, Stephen Kelly, apprentice baker, and Mary Bergin, a domestic servant. After Fintan Breen's death in 1916, the business was continued by his son Martin. [One of my informants recalled buying penny currant buns from him as his school lunch]. Mrs Johanna Breen died in 1932, predeceased two years earlier by her grandson Edward who was only 26.

I have been told that, in the 1950's, a Mick - or Jimmy? - Doyle, a son-in-law of the Breens, had a small shop here with slot machines and what was described to me as "one of the first jukes-boxes in the town". While she was unsure of the date, other informant was certain that Mrs Maguire, wife of Detective Denis Maguire, also had a sweet shop here. The Maguires previously lived over Paddy Scully's barber shop. (See Part Two of this project). 19 LOWER MAIN STREET, NORTH SIDE

In the 1960's, Paul Delany, long-established as a draper next door, opened a shop here, selling everything from sweets and luxury confectionery to pipes, silverware and china.

The office in the picture above was replaced by Streetwise Fashions in 2004, and it, in turn, by the Laser Derma Clinic which offered everything from Botox and Lipolysis to hair and tattoo removal. That business closed in 2013 and, in a case of 'the tats strike back', one part of the next shop here (2013) was Star Tattoo. The portion on your left housed a Turkish barber (the same proprietor as in No. 19).

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1 In an advertisement from 1775, his exact namesake - and possible ancestor in the town - begs Leave to acquaint the Public that he has furnished himself with Cloaks, Palls, and every other Article for Funerals, entirely new; Coffins made and full Mounted at the shortest Notice; with Linens, Cambricks, and every other Article supplied on the most reasonable terms.

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