FETHARD ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO
by Michael O’Donnell.
Each of us carry with us the impression that Fethard was always as we know it now. That this shop was giving such a service for generations past, or that supermarket was always there. Not so. What I have attempted here is to show what services and facilities were available in the town one hundred years ago, when it had a population of 1607 people. As is the case today, these would have existed to cater for more than the needs of the immediate town. The demands of the rural hinterland would also have to be met.
In 1890, Fethard was served y the railway system with a station on the Southern Railway line which ran between Clonmel and Thurles. Three trains passed daily through it and had a stationmaster and staff. Now, the train service is a thing of the past.
Another aid to travel was the posting establishment run by Andrew Duggan, Main St., where the traveller could obtain horses or cars for hire. Should all else fail, one could try hitching a lift on the mailcar, which ran from Clonmel to Fethard. It left the former place at 6.45a.m, and having spent the day in Fethard, returned there at seven in the evening. The last outward mail left Fethard on this car. This, a horse-drawn vehicle, served the town on seven days. Fethard received a second post from Clonmel at 5p.m. by train. This would have been delivered about the town sometime after this hour, so we can reckon that a postman worked twelve or thirteen hours a day for six days. As with the incoming, Fethard had two outward mails to Clonmel: at 10.30a.m., which was conveyed to Clonmel by train, and the second by the returning mailcar. The postmistress, in what was a sub-office of Clonmel’s, was Kate Smith, who I think, lived in Burke St.
Those were the days when a letter posted in Dublin at 9a.m. could be delivered in Fethard at 6p.m. that same evening. But, it should be noted, that then the gentry, the magistrates, the police and the military represented the bulk of the people receiving mail.
As with the postal, the religious needs of the population were met adequately. Holy Trinity Church was a well-attended protestant church with Rev. B.Castel de Boinville as rector. The town had, as well, a Presbyterian church with a minister, Rev. James Wilson. Neither had a curate. Nor was there a Methodist church in the town; though with a military detachment here, the need may have existed.
The catholics, as now, had two churches, the parish church and the Augustinian friary. The parish priest, Archdeacon Daniel Ryan, served with two curates, Rev. Edmund Scott and Rev. Daniel Kiely. However, the parish priest had the title of archdeacon in the Chapter of Cashel; an honour now lost to Fethard. The Father Prior in the Abbey was Rev. J. O’Brien with Rev. Stanislaus Frost as sub-prior.
Catholic education was in the hands of the Presentation nuns and the Patrician Brothers, both of whom were long in residence by 1890. Both those orders worked only in the junior grades; with Brother Thomas hunt serving as superior of the Brothers and Mother Agnes Ryan of the Presentation Sisters. While the nuns subscribed to the state National Schools system, the brothers did not. There is no reference to Fethard having either second level education, or a lay national school.
Law and order was under the control of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The Fethard station, which was in the Cashel district, was headed by Sergeant Francis Phillips. We are not told the number of constables then serving here. There was no Resident Magistrate, the nearest being in Cashel. There were, however, a number of unpaid, or honorary, magistrates in the district about: Lieut. Col. Richard Orlando Kellett at Clonacody House, Darby Scully at Silverfort, W. Walker Tennent at Ballinard Castle, and Francis Loftus Tottenham at Coolmore.
These were backed up by a detachment of the 10th Royal Hussars from Cahir, where the main group and the officers resided. As with the constabulary, the return does not detail the number of military serving in the town.
A Petty Sessions court, offshoot of the old Doyer Hundred court which had sat in the town since medieval times, was held on every second Monday. No other court was held in Fethard. This Petty court, which was qualified to hear only cases of petty crime, had as its clerk, Thomas Mockler: and its civil bill officers were, William Napier and Michael Donovan.
No solicitor was listed as being among the professional classes then practising in Fethard. There were two physicians, Dr. William Crean, who was the dispensary doctor, and Thomas O’Connell. The veterinary surgeon was Daniel Considine who resided I barrack Street. Robert Crilly was the manager of the only bank in the town the Munster and Leinster on the Main St..
Fethard, one hundred years ago, was served by two hotels. The Castle Hotel, which gave its address as Main Street, though it was situated in what was generally known as Watergate St.. The proprietors were two sisters, Mary and Catherine Mockler. The other was Stokes Hotel on the Main St., with Susan Stokes as the proprietor. This was on the Square, a house later owned by the O’Donnell family.
There were two auctioneer’s, Michael Coffey in Abbey St., and John H. Sadlier in the Main St.. The former may also have been owner of the Abbey Mill. The latter was, as well, a land agent, and Barony Cess, or tax, collector for the South Riding.
The agricultural implements agent was Henry B. Sayers, Main St.. Incidentally, when the Fenian Thomas Francis Bourke returned to Fethard in Feb. 1867 one of the few he visited was his old friend, Henry B. Sayers
Others who offered services were the bootmakers, Edward Devlin, Main St., Charles McCarthy, Moore St. (now Bourke St. named after Thomas Francis Bourke), Patrick McCarthy, Moore St., Moore St., Richard McCarthy, Moore St., and Thomas Shea, Moore St.. And the bakers, all of whom lived on the Main St., Patrick Coffey, Patrick Doheny, John McCarthy, Richard McCarthy, John Mockler and John Teahan.
There were four drapers selling women’s clothes or whatever may have been required in the home. All had their premises on the Main St., and were, Sarah Landers, Mary Maher, Thomas Mockler and Thomas O’ Donnell.
The woman of Fethard had, also, the services of five milliners or dressmakers. Mary Bowse, Moore St., Catherine Candy, Green St., Mary Maher, Main St., Johanna Murphy, Moore St., Kattie Ryan, Main St. and Mary St. John, Moore St..
The men had a choice of four trailors and outfitters. John Bowse, Moore St., Edward Kendrick, Main St., James Mara and Michael Mara, The Green.
Two saddlers and harness makers lived on the Main ST., John Fitzgerald and Denis Shea, while Walter O’Donnell of the Main St. sold leather. And the two iron mongers lived on the same street, Thomas A. Kendrick, who doubled as an emigration agent, and Henry B. Sayers. A building service was provided by John Harrington, Main St..
One hundred years ago, butter came in timber firkins and bacon was cured in barrels. To serve these, and other like needs, Fethard had five coopers, Patrick Guilfoyle, Moore St., W.D. Heffernan and Son, Chapel lane, John Hickey, Watergate, Richard Lonergan, Green St., and Lawrence Parker, Chapel lane.
There was one miller in the town, Michael Coffey, of the Abbey Mills. A Michael Coffey of Moore St. was listed as a corn merchant and was probably the same as the miller. There was another corn merchant and was probably the same as the miller. There was another corn merchant, John McCarthy, Main St.. three shops dealt in flour and meal, al of whom had their businesses in Moore St., Catherine Byrne, Mrs. Michael Walsh and William Walsh.
Other needs catered for were hairdressing by M. Heffernan, Main St.; though no record was made of any barbers. John O’ Donnell was a horse dealer in Kerry St.. There was a painter and glazier in Abbey St. named James Hackett. Two shops on the Main St. sold stationary items, Henry B. Sayers and Kate Smith.
The vital needs of the population were well attended to by two victuallers, ten grocers and fifteen vintners. The butchers were, James Daniel, Main St., and Patrick Maher, Main St.. The grocers: David Cunnigham, Moore St., Jeremiah O’Brien, Green St., Michael Landers, Main St., P.J. Lonergan, Main St., Jeremiah McCarthy, Moore St., John McCarthy, Main St, Henry B. Sayers, John Shea, Moore St., James Smith, Main St. and Susan Stokes, Main St..
The fifteen vintners who supplied the needs of thirsty souls were, Mrs. Mary Curran, Main St., Mary Dwane, Main St., Patrick Guerin, Moore St., Margaret Hogan, Main St., Jeremiah McCarthy, Moore St., R.McCarthy, Main St., James O’Connell, Main St., Henry B. Sayers, John Schofield, Main St., John Shea, Moore St., James Smith, Main St., Susan Stokes, Main St., John Wall, Main St..
And in such an essay as this, it is best not to forget the body of men whose task it was to oversee the governance of Fethard: the Town Commissioners. The chairman was John McCarthy and the members were: Michael Coffey, Patrick Coffey, James Curran , John Flynn, Thomas A. Kendrick, Jeremiah McCarthy, Patrick Maher, John O’Donnell, Thomas O’Donnell, Henry B. Sayers, John Teahan and John Wall.
The Town Clerk to the Commissioners was Michael Murphy, the Receiver of Rents, Michael Bowe, and the Town Sergeant, Michael Dunivan.
Thus was Fethard served as it entered the final decade of the last century.