OUR TOWN C. 1850-2000


In the 1850's, the house on this site was leased by William Jessop from Matthew S. Cassan who has already featured in this project. [For more information on the Cassan family see No. 45, Main Street]. Jessop, a boot and shoemaker here since at least 1837, was succeeded by John and then Denis Lalor1. In 1894, the latter's daughter Mary married my great-granduncle Joseph Dunne, the butcher mentioned two doors back. The present building dates from c.1890 and was originally occupied by Robert Hunt's Maryborough Saddlery Warehouse (Stable requisites in endless variety), conveniently situated near a forge. (See next page).

On Census Night 1901, King's County native Robert and his wife Margaret from Dublin were present here with their young children, Thomasina and Robert. An apprentice saddler, Fenton Cullen, was also in the house. By the time of the next census, another daughter, Irene, had arrived, and it appears that Hunt's business was thriving as he now employed two saddlers - William Bergin and John Taylor - and a domestic servant, Molly Chester.

After Robert Hunt died in 1936, the premises were taken over by Clegg Bros' Grocery, Greengrocer and Meal Store. (First Class Goods at Competitive Prices. Yard and Stable available for Country Customers). Their business closed in 1938 and Christy O'Loughlin from Mountrath opened a shop here, followed in 1945 by James Brown's2 grocery, fruit and vegetable business (Agent for all the leading Chocolate Manufacturers) which stood here for half a century. There's no accounting, incidentally, for what lodges - accurately or otherwise - in people's memory: more than one of my interviewees fondly recalled being treated to broken biscuits in Brown's!

In 1992, James's son Gerry and his wife Emer née Blanchfield, opened their new greengrocery in Bull Lane (at the rear of these premises) and, for a time in the 1990's, Emer also ran Volumes, a gift, cards, book and music outlet (specialising in the popular classical label, Naxos) in the shop pictured above. Little Miracle Nursery Furniture was replaced by the gift-shop Smaointe (the Irish word for 'thoughts') which, after fourteen years, closed in November 2013, another victim of the recession. The premises lay vacant for a short while before being occupied (May 2014) by a nondescript, unnamed discount shoe outlet (Mix and Match. Buy one get one free) that looked more like a storeroom than a shop. In July 2016, BAGS N BOOTS went up over the door. A year later, it was replaced by a vape shop and in 2023 Dunamase Antiques opened here.

Since at least the 1940's, the second floor has housed a variety of hairdressing salons. In 1949, Betty Phelan took over from Nancy Neylon and she, in turn, was succeeded by Mary Cook's Ladies Hairdressing and Beauty Salon. (Specialist in Tinting, Scientific Cutting and Beauty Culture). More recently, those rooms were still - apologies to John Keats - a thing of beauty, trading as Elle, succeeded by Jeselle


1 According to Eddie Boylan, one of these gentlemen was known as 'The Bug'.

2 His father, James Brown Snr has already appeared in the entry for No. 14, Bridge Street.