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MCDONNELL'S PUBLIC HOUSE. A NEWBRIDGE LANDMARK

McDonnell’s Public House. A Newbridge landmark

James Durney

Recent renovation work on McDonnell’s public house on the corner of Edward Street revealed the remains of several earlier buildings in the rear yard. Speculation to what they might have contained engineered a search for the answers in the Kildare Library and Arts Services, based in Newbridge Library. A post card of Moorefield Terrace and Edward Street, from around 1905, clearly shows the name Farrell’s on the present building. In Issac Slater’s commercial trade directories of 1870 and 1881 John Farrell is listed as a ‘Grocer and spirit dealer,’ while an unrelated court case in September 1882 mentions ‘Mr. John Farrell’s public house’. A John Farrell bought the Standhouse Hotel around 1898, and while not confirmed, it is possible that it is the same John Farrell from Edward Street as Farrell’s public house is taken over by Patrick J. Doyle around this time. Another unrelated court case in December 1898 mentions ‘Patrick J. Doyle’s public house’. In the 1901 Census No. 6 Edward Street is listed as a public house with five rooms and seven out offices comprising: two stables, a coach house, a harness room, a turf house, a shed and store. The landholder was Miss Moore. Patrick J. Doyle was listed as the head of family. Born in 1862 in Yomanstown, Caragh, Patrick J. Doyle was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Doyle, Yomanstown Lodge. In his lifetime Patrick J. Doyle was a Justice of the Peace (J.P.), Chairman of the Naas Board of Guardians, a Newbridge Town Commissioner, farmer and spirit merchant.
The 1901 returns for No. 6 Edward Street are as follows: Patrick J. Doyle (36), Justice of the Peace for Co. Kildare, farmer, and married; his wife Margaret Doyle (33), grocer; John O’Neil (30), shop assistant or grocer’s shopman; Thomas Reilly (42), shop assistant; Anne Stapleton (17), barmaid; Margaret Delaney (67), servant and cook; Mary Brady (21), housemaid. All the residents were born in Co. Kildare; all could read and write and with the exception of the Mr. and Mrs. Doyle were all single. Patrick and Margaret Doyle had two children – one of which, Margaret, died aged two, in August 1904. The other daughter, Mary, married an army officer, but also died quite young, in February 1925, when she was twenty-four.
Porter’s Post Office Guide and Directory, 1910, listed P. J. Doyle, J.P., as ‘grocer, wine and spirit merchant, livery stables, Edward Street’. In the 1911 Census No. 6 Edward Street is listed as a public house with six rooms and twelve out offices comprising: seven stables, a coach house, a harness room, a turf house, a piggery and store. (Many British army officers stationed in Newbridge owned horses for hunting, but could not keep them in the barracks, so local businesses – for a fee – kept the hunters in their back yards.) The landholder was not listed, so Patrick J. Doyle was probably the owner. Patrick J. Doyle is listed as the head of family. The 1911 Census returns for 6 Edward Street are as follows: Patrick J. Doyle (48), head of family, J.P., farmer and grocer, married thirteen years; Margaret M. Doyle (45), his wife; Thomas O’Neil (19), grocer’s assistant, from King’s County; Jane Greville (19), grocer’s assistant, from Co. Meath; Julia Ellis (24), cook and general domestic servant, from Co. Wicklow. Thom’s Directory of 1914 has Patrick J. Doyle listed as a J.P., though the address is noted as 10 Edward Street.
In the Newbridge District Court in October 1925 a transfer of licence from Margaret M. Doyle to Hugh Neeson, Newbridge, was granted. Patrick Doyle retired to Yomanstown, his birthplace, where he died, aged sixty-nine, in February 1927, while Margaret died, in May 1937, aged seventy-four. Hugh Neeson had moved with his wife and family to Newbridge from Co. Fermanagh. Hugh and Jane Neeson had five children: Hubert, Gertrude known as Gertie, Eileen, Teresa or Teasie and Kathleen, or Carle. Gertie married Tom O’Rourke, whose family also had a licensed premises on Main Street; Eileen married Bob Whitton, an English businessman who was based in Newbridge, and moved to Northampton; Teasie went to the US when she was sixteen and later married and settled there; Carle, an army nurse on the Curragh, died in her early twenties in 1958. Carle had been in 'indifferent health for some time'. Her obituary said: 'She was a most efficient nurse and by her quiet and retiring disposition made many friends.' Hugh Neeson died in August 1946, aged sixty-eight. His obituary in the Leinster Leader said,

'Mr. Hugh Neeson, Edward Street, Droichead Nua, who died at his residence late on Monday evening last, August 12th, was one of the district’s most popular businessmen, and his death at the advanced age of seventy years occasioned sincere regret. Deceased, who had been in ill-health for some time past, first came to Droichead Nua in 1924, and his cheery disposition, warm-hearted generosity and deep sincerity soon won for him the friendship and admiration of all with whom he came in contact.'

On the death of his father Hubert took over the running of the family business. Hubert never married. From the 1940s to the 1970s the name H. Neeson was listed in the trade directories as a ‘grocer, wine and spirit merchant’. Occasionally, Hubert Neeson ran a bar at social events in the Town Hall. Moorefield GFC had their clubhouse on the Moorefield Road and as Neeson’s was the nearest public house it was to there members would retire for a drink. Neeson’s soon became the unofficial headquarters of Moorefield G.F.C. In 1983 Hubert died from the result of a car accident, which occurred between Trim and Navan as he drove to Fermanagh. He died from cardiac arrest after surgery on 14 September 1983. His obituary in the Leinster Leader said,
 
'Popular Newbridge publican, Hubert Neeson died last week following an accident in Co. Meath in which his car was in collision with a truck. Mr. Neeson, in his early seventies, was well known in sporting circles, particularly in his association with Moorefield G.F.C. He is survived by two sisters. The funeral took place to St. Conleth’s Cemetery, Newbridge, on Saturday.'

When Hugh died his nephew Brendan O’Rourke took over the running of Neeson’s for a short time. As Hubert Neeson was Brendan’s uncle he had served his time in the bar trade there. Brendan married Joan McCabe, granddaughter of Tom McCabe, who also had a licensed premises on Main Street and came from the same area of Ulster as the Neesons. However, Hubert’s will stated that the premises were to be sold. The premises went to auction in May 1984.

Substantial Residential Licensed Premises
Corner Site of C. 7,000 sq. ft.
“H. Neeson,” Edward St., Newbridge, Co. Kildare
For auction Wednesday, 6th June at Red House Inn, Newbridge, at 3 p.m.
(Unless previously sold)
(On the instructions of the Executor of Hubert Neeson, deceased)
Prominent and valuable corner trading position on the Main St. near commercial centre of the town and close to numerous large industrial concerns. The property offers considerable potential for expansion of the long established Lounge and Bar trade presently carried on.
Certified Turnover Figures available.
Accomodation: Lounge Bar c. 392 sq. ft.; Public Bar c. 675 sq. ft.; Large Kitchen; Store; Upper Floor Drawingroom; 4 Bedrooms, etc.
Outside: Range of Outoffices and stores.
Double gate entrance to large rear yard.
Tenure: 99 year lease from 1936at £8.25 p.a. Inventory of Furniture and Effects included in the sale available.
Viewing strictly by appointment
Co-agents: Daniel Morrissey & Sons Ltd. Phone (01) 765781.
Solicitors having Carriage of Sale: P. J. Farrell & Co. Charlotte St., Newbridge (045) 31542.

Two weeks after the auction the Leinster Leader of 23 June 1984 reported that “Neeson’s” was sold:

'The well known Newbridge licensed premises “Neeson’s” was sold recently at auction for £230,000. The sale, which was handled by local agents Brophy, Farrell & Co. and Morrissey’s of Dublin, represents the highest price ever paid for a Main Street property in Newbridge. The property was bought in trust by Newbridge solicitor, John Reidy for an undisclosed client.'

The licensed premises, in operation for over 100 hundred years, was bought by local bricklayer Eric McDonnell, from Pairc Mhuire, Newbridge. The property was later divided in two and the former Lounge area taken by Graham’s betting shop. The bar, now re-named McDonnell’s, continues to be a great sporting pub and a Moorefield club meeting place.

The history of McDonnell's public house on the corner of Edward Street, Newbridge, from the 1870s to the present


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