In the 1920s a family named Healy from College Road built three houses on Forster Street. The owner of the first house (next door to Harry Clare’s stonemason’s yard ) was a Jewish man named Isaac. He did piano repairs and his daughter was an opera singer. He worked from a shed at the back of the house. In the 1930s he sold the house to John McDonagh from Glann near Oughterard, who was married to Mary Anne Spellman from Fermoyle. They opened a grocery shop and a lending library.
In 1966/67, Helen Spellman inherited the shop from her maimeó. She continued the business until 1972 when she sold the shop to Larry and Nora Hynes who lived next door. Nora was keen on the purchase as she had shop experience having worked in Egan’s in Eyre Square. Larry, who worked for Noone and Cummins, was less keen but his boss advised him, “If you have to beg, steal, or borrow money, buy that shop.”
On October 15, 1972, the Hynes family took possession of the shop, and it was about that time this photograph was taken. We don’t know who the girl on the far left standing in the door is, but the girl on the right is Áine Spellman. The children are all members of the Hynes family, from the left, Laurence, Michael, Padraig, Oliver and Áine. Under the table are Brendan Hynes and a pal of his, John Wall.
In their early years, there was a fair in the Fairgreen every Saturday, the farmers and their helpers were very welcome additional customers, but their mucky wellingtons added to the cleaning time. There were five Masses in St Patrick’s Church every Sunday morning, which meant the shop was crowded with neighbours buying their papers and other odds and ends, treats for the children, etc. It was a kind of neighbourhood hub.
In their first few years there, they rarely saw the women from the Magdalen Laundry but gradually they began to appear and tentatively come into the shop. They would frequently request snuff or hair nets or some small treat, occasionally a few cigarettes. The staff who worked in the laundry also frequented the shop and were always very kind to the ‘Maggies’.
All of the above is taken from an article written by Oliver Hynes in the current edition of St Patrick’s Parish Magazine. It is edited by Willie Henry and, as always, it is full of local history, articles, parish information, etc, and is well illustrated. And where better to buy it than Hynes’ shop.
Finally, I must apologise for an error in this column two weeks ago. When writing about Father Griffin Road, I said the photograph dated from 1955. In fact it dated from 1935. Mea culpa.