Local History

Ask Eddie Boylan about the Portlaoise changes

Express Reporter


Express Reporter



Ask Eddie Boylan about the Portlaoise changes

Eddie Boylan's former shop on Main Street is now the home of the Leinster Express

Without Edward - or Eddie Boylan as he was better known - many of the tales would have been untold.

A grocer and feedstuff merchant, he himself was a resident of Main Street and was thus a participant in the story which he recorded. Over a period of about 80 years, he personally witnessed the change in the streets.

Not that his local historical knowledge was confined to Main Street it stretched as far as his bicycle could carry him on his Sunday spins. Portlaoise people seeking information on the past were invariably told, “ask Eddie Boylan.”

His shop was a landmark, old fashioned but scrupulously clean, wooden counter scrubbed to whiteness - a magic place with its tea and snuff canisters and brass scales. Among his first tasks each morning was to remove the window shutters, but, in the event of a local person’s death, he had a beautiful custom of leaving one shutter in place as a mark of respect.

Alas, the custom died with him - in February, 1986. Fortunately, though, much of his knowledge didn’t expire with him. His writings remain.

In the interests of authenticity and in so far as possible, we publish these evocative notes as Eddie wrote them, even though some of the information contained therein needs updating. Readers should bear in mind that the house numbering system in Main Street was changed at one stage.

No. 18 Main Street: Tom Keegan, schoolmaster, Heath, came from Mountrath area. Had retired. One son Bill, married a Mulhall. A daughter married a McCarthy. Both died early. They rear the only child Jerry. Mrs Meredith. Mrs McEvoy, a Railway Porter. Succeeded by Pat Mahon. Wife a Bowe from Clontyglass. Succeeded by Miss Deegan. Was occupied earlier by randon’s, harness-makers. After them by an ex-Brit soldier, Lynch, the Zulu-man who was our first barber.

No. 107 Main Street: Michael Boylan since 1904. Walls from about 1900. Before that by three Delaneys who were daughters of Michael Delaney, landlord. Before that by Mrs Byrne, aunt to John Moore, Kyle. In 1875 Micheal Bradshaw occupied the portion on Main Street and John Fitzpatrick, his brother-in-law the portion facing New Road. In 1850 G.V. these two houses formed one and they were then occupied by John Gallaher and numbered 63. A pub. Before this occupied by Morans.

No. 109: Flynns. Their father, Martin Flynn, had married Katie McDermott. Her mother’s maiden name was Mulhall, and she had lived there also.

No 110: Miss Connor, dress-maker. Before that for many years by the Lyons family who were nailers.

These last two houses were held by Matthew Farrell in 1850 G.V. Their number was 64.

No 111: Katie Whelan, nee Gavan. Before that by Frank Morrin. In 1875 held by Case. In 1850 G.V. was vacant. Then No. 65. This house was built by Higgins, a confectioner and hired car man who lived where he late J.P Bennett lived in Upper Main Street.

No. 112: Vacant in 1850 G.V. the No. 66. Also built by Higgins and then set to Tom Conroy, boot maker. His son sold it to James Whelan, pig and cattle dealer. Built shortly before 1900.

No. 113: Murray Plumbers. Before that by

NUMBER ONE was the home of Lalors, the renowned wheelwrights. The last member of family, Louis, died a few weeks ago.

Paddy Hanlon, cycle agent; by Dunne an Insurance man. It was built in 1902 and used as a butcher’s shop by Dan Kennedy, Abbeyleix. John McNeill worked for him. The previous house there was occupied by Nicholas Maher and earlier by his father Michael Maher, Ballymacken. G.V. 1850 Patrick Molloy the No. 67. No. 114: Now demolished. Occupied by Fox, painter. Earlier by Briens, carpenters. In 1850 G.V. Charles Jackson.

Then No. 68.

No. 115: Now demolished. In 1850 G.V. occupied by John Carty as an Iron Foundry, office and small garden. I remember to see it used by the Fox family who lived on Stradbally road as a work-shop. They were coach painters.

G.V No. 69.

No. 116: Now demolished. In 1850 G.V. occupied by Noble Cuffe. Then No. 70. Last occupant Arthur Laffan, painter. Before that Sheridan had married Neil Maguire. Maguire’s had been there for many years. They had a side-car for hire.

No. 117. Now demolished. In 1650 G.V. occupied by Denis Murray. Then No. 71. Kelleher’s were the last occupants. Kenna, the painter, earlier.

No. 118. Now demolished. In 1850 G.V. occupied by Eliza Craig. Last occupied by the McCullas.

HUMES, number 106, are probably the longest established business family in the town. They began trading in 1863.

No. 1 Main Street: Now occupied by Paddy and Louis Lalor. Earlier by their father James and first occupied by their grandfather. In 1850 it was No. 73. Vacant.

No. 2 Main Street: Now occupied by Miss Annie Dalton. Earlier by James Neill, shoe-marker. In 1850 was No. 74. Vacant.

No. 3 Main Street: (should by No. 4) Now Mrs George Dalton, widow. Earlier by Mrs Fanny Fennelly, nee Lalor, Ballydavis. Her son was a shoe-maker, now dead. He had married a Donohoe, Mountrath Rd., where his family now live. In 1850 was No. 74 Vacant. No. 4 Main Street (should be No. 3): Now mrs Owen Deegan, widow. Earlier by Delaney, Derryguile. Earlier by Murphy who worked for Odlums Mill. His wife was a Fleming, Kilminchy. In 1850 was No. 75. Vacant.

No. 5 Main Street: Now Mrs Owen Deegans, private house, widow. Earlier by Dan Carroll, keeper in asylum. 1850 No. 76, vacant.

No. 6 Main Street: Now Mrs Paddy Murphy, new Ging. Earlier by Paddy Murphy’s uncle, same name, shoe-maker. His wife nee Gorman. Her father a school-master in 1826. In 1850 no. 77 vacant.

No. 7 Main Street: Now Conroy’s. Earlier by Brady’s who kept a hearse and jarvey cars. In 1850 No. 78, vacant.

No. 8 Main Street: Now Keatings. Earlier by Mrs Hanlon. Earlier by Joe Bannon and earlier Brocks. No number in 1850. I think a lane went in on that and the next site.

No. 9 Main Street: Now Scully’s Pub. Earlier Tom Murphy. Earlier Patsy Whelan. No number in 1850.

No. 10 Main Street: Now Coss. Earlier Fox, painter. In 1850 William Lyons, nailer. No. 83.

No. 11: Young Men’s Society Club now. In 1850 John Robinson. Later by Blong Butcher. No. 83.

No. 12: Coogans now. Earlier by John Maher, timber man. In 1850 Patrick Salmon. Then one story, No. 85.

No. 13 Boylans. The part next Coogan was occupied by them since 1869.The other portion was occupied

KAVANAGH Tailor, “Late of London” - he was to be found at number 79.

by them since about 1900. This portion was earlier held by Bolger, manager of the gas-house, New road. In 1850, vacant, No. 86.

No. 14: Mrs Brown, widow. Earlier william Gavin. Earlier by Dora Brannock. Earlier Delanders. In 1850, Bridget Moran, the No. 87.

No. 15: Thomas Higgins, draper. They succeeded John Dowling, carpenter. In 1850 John Dowling, then one story, No. 88.

No. 16: Charlie Keegan, pub. Earlier Cushions, Patrick Kearney. Earlier Jack Whelan who succeeded his grandparents Brennan. In 1850 it consisted of two houses occupied by John Brennan and Patrick McEvoy. Then Nos. 89 and 90.

No. 17 Main Street: Now Munster & Leinster Bank. In 1850 it was occupied by two houses. John Gaze, plumber lived next Keegans now John Vass, baker,

NAILERS and harness-makers, like blacksmiths and wheelwrights, have faded from Portlaoise. The nailers were the Lyons family who resided at number 110. Harness- makers were at number 25 (Brandons) and 61 (Hunts) was in the other. Then Nos. 91 and 92.

No. 18: Now occupied by Whitford as boot shop. Earlier by Ellen Whelan. Earlier by her father “Pad the Bleach.” In 1850 occupied by Martha Stapleton, an aunt to Pad above. Then no. 93

No. 19: Now owned by Ned Farrell, but sat. Earlier by Tom Gray, cabinet-maker, whose wife, nee Quigley, was aunt to Farrell. In 1850 John Parks. Then No. 94

No. 20: Paul Delaney. Earlier by his father Paul and his grandfather Martin, a tailor. In 1850 Daniel O’Brien. Then No. 95

No. 21: Paul Delaney now. Earlier Martin Breen, baker. Earlier by a confection, Cusack. A daughter married Pat Doran, pub. In 1850 Patrick Brennan, Then No. 96

No. 22: Airds. Earlier Powers Hotel. In 1850 vacant. Then No. 97.

No 23: Now Shaws Drapers. Earlier Buckleys. The Main Street portion of these premises consisted of four houses in 1850. Occupied by James Boylan, pub. Then No. 98. Vacant, No. 99.

William Kelly, junior, No. 100

Vacant No. 101.

No. 24 Main Street: Now John Egan, Restaurant. Earlier by Delaney-Lalor and Miss Horan. In 1850 the portion occupied by the Pub was occupied by John Miller and he was the postmaster. Then No. 102.

No. 25: Now Scully, barber’s shop. Earlier by the Misses Fitzpatrick who sold papers, delph and groceries. In 1850 by Margaret Brandon whose sons where harness-makers.

Then No. 103

Nos. 26 and 27: Now Post Office. 1850 Miss Julia Clare. Then No. 104.

No. 28: Now Patrick Kavanagh pub. 1850 John Connor. Then No. 105.

No. 29: Kennedy Chemist. Former James Bolger Chemist. Earlier P.A. Meehan, Pub. 1850 John Murphy and Wm. Murphy. Then Nos. 106 and 107.

No. 30: Now Airds Hotel. 1850 Constabulary Barracks. Then No. 108.

No. 81: Mrs Bilbourne. Set. She is in England. Formerly her aunt Mrs McDonald nee Bradshaw. Before that by Mrs Katy Aird, nee Fitzpatrick, her aunt. 1850 Patrick McEvoy. Then No. 109.

No. 32: Now White, grocer. Formerly Freddie Hayes, grocer. Earlier Hughes, boot-maker. 1850 Micheal Delaney. Then No. 110.

No.33: Now Miss Fortune, newsagent. Formerly Mrs Keegan. 1850 Mrs Comfort Lucas. Then No. 111

No. 34: Now Lewis, earlier Pat McLogan. Earlier FitzPatricks. 1850: There were two numbers then, Nos. 112 and 113. They were occupied by John Matthews, Hotel. The second house would be on Hackett’s Lane then or Railway Street then. In 1850 Daniel Farrell was listed as No. 114. This was also Hackett’s Lane.

No. 35: Now Kelly’s new shop and house. 1850: No. 116. Then William Moore.

No. 37: Built by Kelly’s, now set to a Bookie. 1850: There were two houses here, No. 117 Mrs Anne White, No. 116 Daniel Farell.

No. 38: Mrs Meehan, draper, nee Burke. 1850: No. 119 James Bourke.

No. 40: Cole, earlier Kingston, Maguire, Tom Smyth, draper, Peppard, Nicky Corcoran, George Whelan. 1850: No. 121. John McGibbon, watchmaker, 1824.

No. 39: Rent-A-Set. Earlier Shaw’s Boot Mart. Earlier Miss Poynt’s bakery. 1850: No. 120, William Brennan.

No. 41: Courthouse. 1850: No. 122.

No. 42: Hipwells shop. 1850: No. 123, Thomas Pilsworth.

No. 43 Carroll’s Barber. Earlier Knaptons. Earlier the Continental Cafe. 1850: No. 124, James Fitzgerald.

No. 44: Dowds, bootmaker. Earlier George and Arthur Wilkinson, Miss Kilbride senior. 1850: No. 125, Alicia Delaney

No. 45: Conroy, carpenter. Earlier his grandfather, Stephen Walsh, baker. 1850: No. 126, Mrs Harriett O’Brien.

No. 46: Demolished. Charlie Brandon Harness-Maker lived here about 60 years ago. 1850: No. 127 John Hensy.

No. 47: Conroy, hairdresser. Earlier Loghman. 1850: No. 128, Eleanor Nix.

No. 48: Was Loughman’s private house. They sold it in recent years to Jack Grant. Now McEvoy. 1850: John Byrne.

NUMBER 30, The Regency Hotel (formerly Airds) was a police barracks in 1850.

No. 49: Now Kate McEvoy, Formerly Jack Grant. 1850: Elizabeth Langton.

No. 50 Patrick Fitzgibbon. Earlier Scott. 1850: Thomas Malone.

No. 51: Hennessy Hogans. 1850: Miss Martha Knaggs.

Nos. 52 & 53: Now the DOS Supermarket. Earlier Joe Fitzpatrick and his father John, 1850: John Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth May, John O’Brien.

No. 54: Now Mary Brown. Earlier Darrig Walsh. 1850: Matthew Coss.

No. 55: Set by Walshes

PAWNBROKERS once operated in Portlaoise at number 56 (now O’Sullivan’s Miscellany) and 77 (Marshes) to Joe Dunne. Earlier Brennans. 1850: John O’Brien.

No. 56: O’Sullivan Patrick. Earlier Bill Fennelly, boot-maker.Earlier Carroll, pawnbroker. 1850: Thomas Lamb. 1850: No.1 was Patrick Finn. Later Farrell. Now Demolished.

No. 57: Margaret Haslam. Formerly public house. 1850: Vacant.

No. 58: O’Donovan Chemist. Formerly Mike Hogan. 1850: George Monks.

No. 59: Carey, Anne, nee Kilbride. 1850: David Healy.

No. 60: Kelly, Michael. Formerly Miss Fennelly. Earlier Bill Carroll and Mrs Bowe. 1850: Jane Guiot.

No. 61: James Brown. Earlier Hunt, harnessmaker. Earlier Bug Lalor. Earlier Jessop, boot-maker. 1850: William Jessop.

No. 62: James Whelan. Mrs Chivers earlier, nee Haslam. 1850: Henry Atkinson.

No. 63: Dunne Butcher. 1850: Mrs Francis Hill.

No. 64: & 65: Kellys Hibernian Hotel. Earlier Bolands. 1850: John McEvoy.

No. 66: The B&B Bar. A few years ago Paddy Bennett and James Bennett his father. Earlier by Higgins, confectionery. They also has jarvey cars for hire. 1850: Probably two houses. W Fleming and Jane Claxton.

No. 67: Ned Shelly. Earlier his father Dennis. Earlier Fintan Dunne, Derrygarron. 1850: Probably two houses. Peter Hinds and Miss Ince.

No. 68: Tynans. 1850: Then No. 21, Marianne Delaney.

No. 69: Was Miss Bowe recently sold to Miss Montgomery. Earlier McGurks, Gale Henry (Carter), Jerry Whelan. 1850: No. 22, Joseph Dowling.

No. 70: Dempseys. Formerly Miss Croke. Earlier Dan McCarthy. 1850: No. 23 Henry Talbot.

No. 71: Michael Whelan. Earlier Butchers from Cashel, Co. Tipp. Live at Down’s View. 1850: No. 24, Misses Ellen and Mary Fitzpatrick.

No. 72: Murrays. Earlier Walsh, butcher. 1850: No. 25, Thomas Young.

No. 73: Lynch. Earlier Ardill. Earlier Toby Bannon. 1850: No. 26, Paul Brady.

No. 74: Boran. Earlier Anne T. Phelan. 1850: No. 27 Mrs Jane Bull.

No. 75: Booth, butcher. Earlier Robinson. 1850: No. 28, Mrs Mary Moran.

No. 76: Now John Bolger. Earlier Larry Ging. Earlier John Mulhall and his father Edward. 1850: No. 29, Mrs Catherine Mulhall.

No. 77: Mrs Marsh. Earlier Mrs Keegan. Earlier a second-hand clothes shop. 1850: William Lewis, pawn office. No. 30.

No. 78: Patrick Clear. Earlier Paddy Delaney. Earlier Arthus Cantwell. 1850: Archibold Fitzpatrick. Then two houses, 31 and 32.

No. 79: Jacobs. Before them Carthy, Cashel, Ballyroan. Earlier Kavanagh, talor, “late of London”. 1850: No. 33 Patrick Dunne.

No. 80: Anthony Delaney. Earlier Mrs Farrell. Earlier Mrs Farrell. Earlier Mrs Kane and her aunt and uncle and Tom Doran. 1850: No. 34 Andrew Malone.

No. 81: White, earlier Campion, Mrs Stinson, McCarthy. 1850: No. 35 John Reilly, baker.

No. 82: Crokes. Had been idle before that. 1850: No. 36, James McCrea.

No. 83: Frank Gowing. Earlier Mrs Kane and her father Peter Fitzpatrick. 1850: No. 37, vacant.

No. 84: Fitzgibbons. Earlier Grattans, boot shop. 1850: No. 38 , Edward Hannigan.

No. 85: Flynns, earlier Robinsons. Then Nolans. Before that Grattan’s private house. 1850: Then No. 39, John Delaney.

No. 86: Gannons, earlier Diamonds. 1850: Nos 40&41, Mary Phillips and Bridget Sweetman.

No. 87: Hughes Chemist. Earlier Cushion Delaney. 1850: No. 42, Patrick Delaney.

Nos. 88 & 89: Arthur Black. He occupied No. 89 and earlier, his grandfather Sydes, No. 88 occupied by Danny Gray and his father Peter. 1850: No. 43, Henry Meyers. No. 44, Gideon Mulvey.

No. 90 & 91: Cole’s Supermarket. No. 91 earlier by Mary Kelly and No. 90 occupied by her brother Bill Kelly. 1850: No. 45, Margaret Whelan. No. 46, Patrick Kelly.

No. 92: Mrs John Egan. Earlier Hamiltons. 1850: No. 47, Arthur Molloy.

No. 93: Michael Dunne. Earlier Joe Whelan. 1850:

The “Zulu-man” was the town’s first barber. Lynch was his name and he was an ex British soldier. His shop was at number 108.

No. 48, William Dunne, no relation.

No. 94 & 95: F. Meehan now. In 1850, No. 94 was held by Wm. Butler. In 1850, No. 95 was held by Thomas Dwyer. It was later than this by Mrs Walsh nee Drennan and by her nephew Patrick Drenan who went to the U.S.A.

No. 96: Now held by Mrs Cushion. Earlier by Quigley. In 1850, No. 51, Judith Brophy.

No. 97, 98, 99: Now held by Miss Walsh. No.99, her father William. Nos. 98 and 99 were held before that by Thomas Grattan. In 1850 No. 52, held by Michael Byrne and Peter Gray. In 1850, No. 53, held by Mary Galvan.

No. 100: Held by Mrs Downey, Formerly Mrs McAuliffe, Before that by Bergin, Mrs Clear, McCarthy and Rody Delaney. In 1850: Held by Peter Loughman and James Kinsella.

No. 101: Liam Ryan. Earlier Ramsbottom. Earlier Pat Doran. In 1850: Held by Eliza Ard, No. 56, and Daniel Hyland, No. 57.

No. 102: Bracken. Earlier by Charlie Delaney, Butler and earlier by Pat Doran. In 1850: Patrick Quigley, No. 58.

No. 103: Miss Dalton. Earlier Kate Holohan. In 1850: Held by Mary Fleming, No. 60.

No. 105: Lizzie Fitzgerald. Earlier Brady. In 1850: No. 1, Lawrence Brady.

No. 106: Now Arthur Hume: In 1850: Held by Matthew Farrell, No. 62.