OUR TOWN c. 1850 - 2000


According to Griffith's Valuation, William Murphy was the immediate lessor of this and the next two houses in 1850. At that time, John Reilly was a baker here and, for the remainder of the century, he was succeeded by Patrick Lalor, William Callanan (draper and tailor), Michael Tynan (husband of Mary, listed as boot & shoe maker/leather seller in a directory from 1881?), and Daniel Carthy, a publican. In August 1890, the latter's premises - in the best position for business in the town... in first-class repair and has at present a capital business connection and good trade - were auctioned and bought by Elzabeth O'Neill.

By the turn of the century, the Stinson family was running the public house. On the night of the census, Elizabeth (née O'Neill), widow of Francis Stinson1, was on the premises with her nieces Bridget and Mary Stapleton (shop assistant and scholar respectively) and Maggie Ryan, also a shop assistant. In 1911, Hugh Stinson, a stonemason and brother of the late Francis, is described as Head of Family. Also present on Census night were his wife Catherine, the abovementioned Elizabeth and Mary Stapleton. Elizabeth2 and Mary are both listed as a Hugh's 'relative'. Unless there's a massive coincidence here, it seems that the Stinson brothers had married the O'Neill sisters. All four are interred in the local Catholic cemetery.

In the 1930's, the pub became Campion's (Bovril, sandwiches etc. Iced lager. Civility a speciality ). When William Campion wasn't pulling pints, he was, in his own words, "auction crawling", collecting weapons from all parts of the world. His acquisitions included a knife once wielded by a Kikuyu tribesman in Kenya4, hand-held harpoons, and various 17th and 18th-century firearms. No wonder The Irish Times reported that he had sufficient ancient armaments to equip "a dozen or so highwaymen and a boat's crew desirious of hunting and killing whales". No problem getting them out at closing-time!

William Campion was succeeded by Eugene White in the 1960's and he, in turn, by his son Gerry who renamed the pub 'The Cloisters'- a name probably influenced by the ecclestiastical windows of the previously-mentioned Mass house at the rere of the building. Next came Peig's Teach Tábhairne and, in 2011, it was time to doff your caipín, don your stetson and say howdy to Silvers Saloon (The West just walked into town) whose delights, I believe, included a bucking bronco and staff in cowboy gear. But before you could say "I'm looking for the man that shot my pa", Silvers bit the dust to be replaced by de Brun's which, according to the Leinster Express in January 2014, had "plenty to keep the masses entertained this weekend with a host of karaoke and music". In October 2013, incidentally, the venue boasted The FIRST ever Silent Disco in Portlaoise! But.... See the last paragraph of the entry for No. 40, Main Street.

In October 2016, de Bruns relocated to Hume's premises on the corner of the New Road (de Brun's @ Humes) and this became Silvers Party Venue and, in no time at all, The Office Sports Bar & Venue.


1 The Stinson family came from Anahorish, near Castledawson in County Derry, names that will be familiar to admirers of Seamus Heaney. He attended Anahorish Primary School and in later life remembered:

My 'place of clear water',
the first hill in the world
where springs washed into
the shiny grass
and darkened cobbles
in the bed of the lane.

2 It's often surprising what people remember about people: one old lady told me that Mrs Stinson "was a great woman for pilgrimages".

4 Students of military history may recall that the tribe - the largest ethnic group in Kenya - was involved in both sides of the Mau Mau uprising which made world headlines in the late 1950's.