|The Streets of Limerick in the 40’s and 50’s… Do you remember? I know I will never forget.
How is your memory on the shops and offices that lined our streets in the 1940’s and 1950’s or maybe the owners and staff that ran these businesses?
Let me take you up one street that I remember and see if it jogs your memory.
I’m going to go up O’Connell Street from the corner of Sarsfield Street towards the Crescent.
I remember E.G.Fitts at the corner opposite Roches Stores, a great provisional store, where sawdust was thrown on the floor during the winter rainy months to avoid customers slipping. Your groceries were always delivered to your house by the messenger boy on his bicycle. Great big smoked and green hams hung in the windows and rashers were cut as you waited. The Sales Assistants who gave you personal service wore their stiffly starched white coats, while some of the other staff wore brown coats, maybe it was a distinction between job responsibilities.
Next was Burton’s Menswear, this building had a great facade, with full size billiard tables in the rooms upstairs. Many a good suit was bought there and paid for on the “never-never”. Five bob down and five bob a week for the rest of your life!!! Was the motto used. Later Cavendish’s furniture store.
I seem to remember Hartigans, was next, was this an exclusive grocery store or a bicycle shop?
I do know that Power & Mangan’s Chemist was next. Mr. Power a most imposing figure with a great mustache seemed such a big man from a child’s eye view.
Who could forget Dickie Quin’s bicycle shop, was there also some sport’s equipment sold? I know that D. Quin was very keen on tennis and was a member of the Limerick Lawn Tennis Club for as long as I can remember. He was great to teach the younger members and motivate them to succeed.
Dry Cleaning was very new but the Dartry Dye Works was next in line, as well as dyeing your clothes they also dry-cleaned them.
National City Bank or a similar named one stood at the corner of Bedford Row.?
Across the road was Mulligan’s Bicycle Shop, a great meeting place for boys and girls before going to the pictures in the Savoy. The Savoy now there’s a story of many memories.
Beside Mulligans was Egleston’s Photography Studio whose entrance hallway also led to Mullany’s Restaurant or Tea/Coffee Shop upstairs. This had seating both upstairs and downstairs. I remember being brought there by my eldest sister as a big treat. A glass of red lemonade and a pink iced bun. Drinking the red lemonade through a straw.
Next was British Railways Office, never knew what went on in there as I never saw anyone behind the counter.
O’Carrolls Stationers, I recall Mr. O’Carroll behind the glass topped counter where all sorts of treasures were laid out. Parker and Conway Stewart fountain pens, diaries, calendars, writing paper, blotting paper in all colours and playing cards are just a few of the items he had for sale that I can see in my mind’s eye.
Who remembers Moody’s exclusive grocery shop particularly at Christmas? The beautiful decorations hanging up around the shop and the big colourful boxes of Christmas crackers displayed in the window. Wooden boxes of candid peel and glaced cherries, raisins ,currants and sultanas also on show made the festive season something special.
Then you stepped up into O’ Mahoney’s Book Store, (Arthur O’Leary now retired & Joe Hayes R.I.P made a formidable pair) That’s where you got the new school book if there wasn’t enough being sold secondhand by your school pals. And the brown paper from O’Toole’s in Catherine Street to cover them with.
The Harrington family owned Cakes & Candies. This was originally the Augustinian priests’ house. There is or was a passage from the basement of this building to the Church for the priests to come and go. I never saw the passage way but, I did see mouth watering buns in a big white cardboard box that were brought home as a big treat.
Lairds Chemist was next with its tall glass entrance way.
Curran & McCarthy, Men Outfitters owned by Mr. McKenna from Crecora. This shop always had “the county” type clothing. Tweeds and cavalry twill with really nice wool scarves and leather gloves.
Eleven o’clock at the Stella Restaurant was not to be missed. Morning coffee for the ladies of leisure, not my expression that’s what they were called.
The Ulster Bank was between the Stella and O’Sullivans Shoe Shop
McKern’s Printing was at the corner of Shannon Street. Later McGarrys Stationary
Starting the next block was: Leverett & Frye’s (Terry Wogan’s Dad was Manager) Savins Music Store (still there)
The George Hotel with its imposing building, the steps up and the ornate lamps along the front. Liston’s Chemist owned by Bill Hanley. He and his family lived overhead. Another beautiful wood fronted shop with wooden counters and fittings.
Munster & Leinster Bank (now the AIB) was also an imposing building, the Bank Manager and his family lived overhead the bank usually. The bank had big wide wooden counters and everyone feared the Manager, but, “The Bank” was a great job to get and every parent wanted their child to work there.
Lloyds Wine Store (at the corner of Lower Cecil Street) completed that block.
Going on up O’Connell Street towards Lower Glentworth Street I remember: Gaeltacht Cleaners at the corner Irish Sweepstake Office (who remembers when £50,000. 00 prize was a lotta lotta money) Mockler’s Furriers Lloyds was next – was this a flower shop – I cannot remember Brazenhead Bar
Next you had the row of offices much as it is to-day. Protestant Young Men’s Association, Chamber of Commerce and that great Bank of Ireland building on the corner of Glentworth Street.
Dundon Solicitors had the first building beside the Brazenhead bar.
Across the road I can remember Clancy’s, still there and going back down towards Todds you had Stewart’s the Chemist. Who remembers the two Stewart brothers. One of the brothers was a great optician. They also had the old style chemist furniture, shelving, fittings and equipment, great big bottles on the shelves containing green and red mysterious type liquid brews.
Collins Drapery Store was on the corner. Fine’s Jewellery (still there to-day with a new façade)
Next was the ESB office and showroom, then I think Woolworths; Woolworth’s now I can remember quite a number of stories about that store especially at Christmas. Going to shop with your 10/- shilling note to get presents for all your family. Purple bath salts in an ornate glass jar for a 1/- shilling, this was always for your Mother and 6d. hankies in a box for Dad. Counter loads of ‘sweets’ under the glass covers, biscuits lining the counter top from Jacob’s in their glass topped tins. You could buy a half pound of this kind and a half pound of another and you could also buy a pound of assorted broken biscuits for 3d.
Upstairs at Woolworth’s was always a winter wonderland at Christmas, at other times of the year this area held all the electrical and hardware goods for your home. But, Christmas was Santaland time, toys, decorations, christmas lights, sparklers and Christmas music playing are memories hard to forget. The boys chasing you to sprinkle you with ‘Jack Frost’. Do you remember?
Gibson’s now this was an exclusive ladies clothes store, most expensive. The Dublin Shoe Store owned by Mr. Doran was next in line. The Gas Works office and showroom came beside the Dublin House and I think there was a Public House on the corner.
Across the road was Nestor’s Tobacco Shop on the corner. Well known for the time Bertie? took to give you the right mix of tobacco. He really enjoyed talking to pipe smokers and was known to ignore customers who were prepared to buy a box of Cuban cigars for the customer eager to try a new mix. I remember Prince Rainier stopped there once for cigars, that was the talk of the town, traffic was held up in O’Connell Street. It was a big event then for traffic to be held up in O’Connell Street!!
Then came the APCK Bookshop, Christian reading.
Bennis’s high class grocery store. Mr. Bennis and his daughter ran the store. This is where you got the heavenly smell of ground coffee beans being percolated each time you passed the shop.
Coad’s Shoe Shop, where I remember buying a really nice pair of ‘high heeled shoes’ in the sale for 15/-. The higher the better.
Who remembers ‘Richard’s’ hairdressing saloon in the 50’s over Whelan’s Chemist which was Bennis’s in the 40’s.
Nestor’s the famous sports store, the joy of every child getting Dinky cars or a new bike, roller skates or fishing rods… The Nestor family, Lila, Joe, Gussy gave as much attention to the child with their 6d. to spend as the business man spending £100 on golf or tennis gear. This was a wonderous shop with a upstairs and downstairs where Derek Nestor worked on bicycle repairs.
I think there was another shop before the Augustinian Church but I cannot recall. I do remember going to 11.15am Sunday Mass in the Auga’s ( as it was called) where you could not get in past the standing crowd at the back of the church unless you where well on time for Mass.
Leonard’s exclusive menswear store, still there to-day with its exclusive range of men’s clothing apparel. Maurers the Jewellers was next and of course, still there to-day, Ferguson’s Chemist. I remember Smiths Cake Shop in Thomas Street, you went up three steps and was served by two ‘dear old ladies’. They also had ‘tea-rooms’, as they called it, where tea, in a tea-pot, and freshly baked scones and jam where served..
Later on in the late 50’s I remember the Orchad Rooms Restaurant also in Thomas Street, where they played music requests while you had your refreshments. This was particularly popular at night after the pictures. Those days you did not go pubs when on a ‘date’.
On the opposite corner was Signorina’s (ladies shop) later Gaywear and to-day the Body Shop. Then Cromer’s Jewellers , A TV Store, I think Murrays, then Todds
. Todds, you can forget the big wooden counters and cane chairs where you could sit while waiting to be served. Mr. Creany and Mr. Smith were the shop ‘Walkers’. They always dressed in morning clothes and walked around the store making sure customers were being attended to now where is that customer service to-day?
Todd’s Santa was always the best Santa, so much trouble was taken to make it a magical mystery tour to get to his house. The cash for goods was sent to a central cash office via a suction system, Spaights in Henry Streets had a ‘pulley system’
Lipton’s Provisional Store was next, I remember Mr. McMahon, whose son became head of the Irish Army and Dan Ryan who started his car-hire business while still working there. He started with one car all those years ago and built up a hughe business. He worked from the garage at Punch’s Cross.
Who remembers Sheehan’s field in the ‘good ould days’ and Punch’s in the same area. On the corner of O’Connell Street and William Street was Burtons
. I remember Hassetts Hardware Store where Eason’s is now and Cruise’s Hotel. Who remembers the fire in Cruise’s in the late 60’s.
Beside Cruise’s was McKenna’s Furniture Store, I remember buying a sofa and two chairs from Sammy Hall for £8.00 way back when!!!. That sofa which folded out into a bed and had lots of storage space as well lasted into the late 80’s.
There was a very exclusive jewellery store Moynihan’s I think, I recall the Golden Grill on the corner of Patrick Street and Denmark St.
On the way up to St. Michael’s Church there was a little sweet shop that I loved because they sold aniseed dates, 6 for a penny.
I also remember Troy’s Bakery further down Patrick St., and their almond slices.
Madame Dillon’s exclusive ladies store, Hartman Jewellers and Jack Ormston’s Supermarket at the corner of Ellen Street in the 70’s. That building I think was a bonded warehouse before that the family names of Egan and Quin come to mind.
Beechers was a shop were good sensible clothes could be purchased very reasonably, remember Dunne’s did not exist back then.
Another good value store was Moran’s in William St. Great for curtain material of all kinds, ladies, girls, men’s and boy’s wear. Mr. Moran was one of the founder organisers of the Rose of Tralee Festival, coming from Kerry. I also will never forget that man’s kindness and christian charity. Back in the 50’s I was involved in a Charity Organisation and we were trying to get children, whose families could not afford luxury buying, dressed for their First Communion. I always remember Mr. Moran asking me to bring in the boy and he dressed him from his vest to his very First Communion medal. I always remember him in my prayers because he got no publicity for that act of kindness and not many people knew about it.
There are loads of other shops, people, memories and stories that need to be recalled.
Dairina Raleigh was born and reared in Limerick in the 40’s and 50’s. Educated at Laurel Hill Convent she is currently Manager of Pery Square Staff Agency and Business College having worked in Central and North America for the past eight years.