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Leinster Leader December 11 2008
New enterprise brings optimistic economic prospects for Maynooth
The late 1950s were a challenging time in Ireland marking the beginnings of a transition from a poor economy to the first glimmers of a better future. Ireland had been going through difficult times every since the Emergency years with emigration rampant as a stagnant economy failed to produce jobs to any extent. However this picture began to change in the late 1950s and a more entrepreneurial spirit began to pervade the country with numbers of local businessmen investing in new ventures. In many situations such new enterprises were giving added value to the agricultural output of the country. Developments such as the new Farrington grain-drying plant in Rathcoffey (described in a previous column) were typical of such new agricultural based ventures. Another such development brought celebration to Maynooth in December 1958 with the opening of what was described as ‘ Messrs. Michael Reilly and Sons Ltd magnificent new garage and engineering works’. And if anybody was in any doubt about the significance of the new engineering business to the locality the Leader report gushes ‘ The entire population of Maynooth …’ was present at the official opening! The business firm was owned by six brothers – John J., Oliver, Frank, Michael, Patrick and William Reilly. Their enterprise certainly made an impact in the locality as, according to the report ‘ Maynooth was en fete for the occasion and the new works were garlanded and beautified for the opening.’
The formal opening was performed by Dr. Juan Greene, then President of the National Farmers’ Association (later known as the Irish Farmers’ Association or IFA). In his opening speech he remarked ‘ this edifice that stands before us is a magnificent structure by any standard and must certainly be a happy sight and a credit to the inhabitants of this district: apart from any influence that it may have in the ramifications of its business throughout the country.’ Dr Greene touched on the rising tide of investment and confidence emerging in Ireland from 1958 when he commented: ‘ More than anything perhaps this latest of the Reilly pioneering ventures is a symbol of belief and confidence in the future of our own country.’
His remarks were echoed by Very Rev Fr. O’Riordan, PP of Maynooth who said that it often struck him that people were inclined to take things too easily and that a lot of people allow themselves to be affected by this lackadaisical spirit. He hoped that more people in the parish would follow the example of the Reilly brothers.
Another guest and speaker Mr. P.T. Donnelly, president of Macra na Feirme, also touched on the spirit of the times when referring to Maynooth’s new engineering business. He said he had noticed of late a new breeze, a new spirit of enthusiasm abroad throughout the country and this new spirit had even permeated as far as Merrion St. (Dept. of Finance) and the Government Departments as evidence by the White Paper issued recently ( a reference, perhaps, to the groundbreaking Programme for Economic Development for which Sean Lemass and Dr. Ken Whittaker were the chief authors).
Adding to the praise for the Reilly initiative was Mr. Con Donoghue of Maynooth, a prominent member of the NFA. He said that as a local he had witnessed the hard work and energy of the Reilly family over a number of years and their rise from a small beginning to the big undertaking that they had now opened that day, which was of such consequence to the people of Maynooth and which had set a headline for the whole country.
The object of all this praise was a new garage, showrooms and workshop built on the most modern lines and staffed by mechanics capable of repairing everything ‘ from a Simca to a combine harvester.’   It was reported that the ‘magnificent new premises stand in an ideal site on the Dublin Road, Maynooth, just outside the town and the building project was entirely under the control of Mr. Oliver Reilly who was ably assisted by Mr. Robert Costelloe.’ The joinery work, including teak windows, was made by Leixlip joiner Mr. Jack Donovan. Floors throughout the building were tiled by CPI of Lucan and the electrical work done by Mr. D.J. O’Leary, also of Lucan. Mr. Pat Hand, foreman mechanic of the engineering works, lent his valuable aid.
And so the last month of the year 1958 brought news of investment and employment to one North Kildare town, part of a trend which would see an improvement in Ireland’s prospects which continued into the following decade.
 – series No. 98.

In his regular Leinster Leader feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun' Liam Kenny finds that a more entrepreneurial spirit began to pervade the country in the late 1950s, with a number of local businessmen investing in new ventures.

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