OUR TOWN c. 1850 - 2000


The Patrick Dunne living here in 1850, was more than likely the Patrick Dunn listed as a provision dealer in directories from 1837 to 1856. He was succeeded by shopkeeper Catherine Kenna until, at the latest, 1881 when Thomas Cavanagh, a tailor originally from Borris-in Ossory, was in possession here. On Census Night 1901 he was here with his wife Jane from County Armagh. Unlike most residents of Maryborough, she was proficient in English and Irish. He had two shop assistants; teenage sisters Annie and Bridget Mornan from Tipperary. In 1911, Thomas Cavanagh was described as a licensed trader, and his household had expanded to include three young children, a shop assistant and two lodgers, both tailors. According to Eddie Boylan, Thomas Cavanagh rejoiced in the nickname 'Late of London'. The story goes that someone from the town was on holiday in Paris when, above a shop door, he saw 'Cavanagh, Tailor, Late of London, Maryborough, Borris-in-Ossory'!

In the early years of the last century, Robert McCarthy from Cashel, Ballyroan was the occupier, followed by Ellen Jacob's shop which stocked everything from snuff, crubeens, and pigs' heads to vegetables and sweets. Ellen 'Elsie' Jacob, née Gray, opened the shop after the death of her husband Patrick in 19231. There were four Jacob children; Michael, who grew up to be a civil servant and eventually retired as assistant Comptroller and Auditor General; Matt who worked in the local Post Office. They were both skilful GAA players. The third brother Patrick moved to Limerick while Mary Anne ran the family shop and is still fondly remembered in the town.

After Jacob's closed, the premises housed a variety of businesses. Blossom Time Boutique was here until it moved to Lyster Square in 1982; Portlaoise Pet Shop in the late '80's, followed by Reflections Card and Gift shop and Portlaoise Print. The present century has seen an even more rapid turnover: Monkey Business clothes shop (2002), Cowen, Kelly Stephenson Real Estate (2005-2008); New Faze (Jewellery, fashion accessories, alternative clothing, tattoo studio, ear piercing, body piercing); and Rudaí (2012). The premises were vacant for much of 2013 and now (May 2014) house the Midlands Simon Community Shop.


1 Patrick was only 44. Ellen lived until 1963, her life almost twice as long as her husband's.