Harold’s Cross 70 Years Ago
See accompanying photos at this link
The recollections of Sally Scott (now sadly passed away)-and Sibéal Ní Dhubhláin, both residents of Harold’s Cross for many years, with some added information from Thom’s directories.
Although Harold’s Cross has a history going back several hundred years, we will describe here the village as it was in the 1940s and 1950s. Many of the businesses survived well into more recent years, and we hope all will strike a chord with those who grew up here, and those who live here now.
These notes were originally prepared for the Harold’s Cross website but have gotten very out of date. In addition, this version was written at the very worst part of the lockdown, in February 2021. Most of the premises are closed, and for many the outlook does not look promising. In addition, just before the pandemic, a large number of premises were bought for development as apartments – and schools!
The side of the road where the hospice and graveyard had few shops ever, but there are three businesses there now – 44, now closed, was Aaran Insurances, and before that were chemists (McCaul’s and Deery’s). Next door is HX46 and Life in Motion cycles, which follow a series of fast-food shops and, until the 1960s, the Harold’s Cross Post Office, and, more recently, McCarthy’s and Ann’s Florist.
Beside what is now Siopa Linn was the workshop of Leo Broe, one of Dublin’s best-known sculptors of the 1930s and 1940s. Perhaps his most famous work is the Irish Volunteer in Phibsboro, for, as various web sites say of him, “much of Broe’s time was taken up with ecclesiastical work for Dublin churches, along with many IRA memorials”. The site is now Bell Property Consultants. Siopa Linn itself was Balmer’s Confectionery for many years.
The sad line of now closed electrical shops beside Mount Jerome has a most interesting history. Two bootmakers, Mooney’s and Bourke’s, and Mrs Nolan’s grocery store were there 70 years ago. Indeed, Nolan’s had, until the 1950s, a horse-shoeing workshop there, which became the Park View shop for a few years until the electrical people moved in. But the big buildings in the middle were yeomanry barracks, known as The Big Bogie and The Little Bogie. The building at the end was, until the 1940s, the national school, and there are still a few ex-pupils about.
Across the cemetery entrance was, for a long time, Harold’s Cross Laundry. It is now The Works Hair Salon, but, hundreds of years ago, it was part of the farm of the Vicars Choral of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the church has a wonderful map of the land. Beside it is what may well be the second oldest family shop in Harold’s Cross, for, there, nearly 75 years ago, Desmond Flynn opened the flower shop which his son and daughter-in-law run to this day.
Next is McGowan’s, which many will remember as the Inn in the Park, or the Park Inn, but, before that, it was Marron’s. The Coco restaurant, which had been further up the road, has moved in here.
Now we start the village proper, at the big gate of the park, where Sally recalls a stump of a tree that was surrounded by cement “seating”, and which was known locally as the “Seat of Wisdom” as elderly gentlemen would meet there for a chat.
The first business is 192 & 194, the newly built OPES Finance building. Previously this was Walsh’s Bicycle shop, and before that Byrne’s bikes. Sally brings to mind “a cycle shop, which I think my late father bought most of our bikes from”. Back then it was two shops, for as Sibéal says, it used to be Dempsey’s small grocery. Next door (196) is now the Crown Dental Technician & Guess the Dress Charity Shop. Before it was Anne Murray’s, and before that again Albert Kelly, whom we will meet later on, was there. Then comes 198, now Reliance Property. Earlier it was the part of Murray’s next door, called the MFM Fruit Shop; before that it was a shoe repair shop – Kelly’s, and, as Sibéal tells, for many years, Behan’s coal.
In 200 is Mizzoni’s excellent take-away. Sibéal knew it as Mary Chapman’s house, but from the 1940s it was Mooney’s, another bootmaker & shoe repair shop. Its neighbour at 202 is Provider. Sally recollects Marguerite Drapers there, a shop that sold knitting wool, and suchlike. Sibéal recalls that the owner’s true name was Mary Lawlor.
204 is Brew 204 and before that it was a flower shop – Les Fleurs Florist and it has a long history. It was the Town & Countrywear drapers and then as Sibéal says, Quirk’s bicycle shop, and before that it was O’Byrne’s, firstly a Gramophone shop, then, like Quirk’s, again a cycle shop, and many will recall Now We’re Talkin’ telephones. Next door (206) is the new soft furnishing shop, Plush, but it was Kilmartin’s Bookmaker for many years, and before that it was Gilbey’s Wine and the Wool Hut and Peter’s Hardware and, finally, Brereton’s Plumbing.
Craft, the new restaurant and what was Harold’s Bazaar come next, sharing number 208; this was for many, many years a series of butchers’ shops – Lowe’s, Murphy’s, Farren’s, Anthony Mockler’s and Gowran’s, and then a delicatessen – the Cross and, most recently, the Black Apple Café. The Bazaar, officially 208A, was originally a tiny pork butcher’s – Lowe’s.
Then we have 210, Ly’s Lashes, but, for years, it was the Magnet tobacconists, Morrin’s and then Gowran’s, the same family as the butchers in 208. Later the butchers themselves moved to this shop. 212 is the excellent Old Bakery Store, previously Dillon Mitchell Property but for half a century was again a bakery –Parkside Patisserie and, before that, Concannon’s Bakery, where Sally recalls they “sold bread and homemade cakes, etc.” Prior to that again it was Petey O’Connor’s dairy.
214 to 218 is Graham Walker Cars, but many will recall Harold Engineering, who demolished the three “private dwellings” that Sally recollects standing there. Sibéal has the names of the owners – O’Neill’s, Howard’s and Billy Prendergast.
220 is the Green Fox café and, behind it, a gym – Your Fitness Gym, but for over 50 years it was the Harold’s Cross Dispensary. At the end it was also part of Harold Engineering, but Graham Walker Cars did not take this building when they moved in.
Then there was a cut-through between 220 and 222, Mountain View Avenue/Shamrock Villas.
Infinity Bathrooms in 222 was Wynne’s grocery, where Mrs. Wynne sold flour, bran and loose sugar all from big container. As Sibéal recalls, it was sometimes called Norton’s – it was owned by two sisters. Next door 224 is part of Infinity Bathrooms but was City Homes. 226, is now N.J. Carroll Assessors, its neighbour, 228, is PKT Engineers, but before that Harmon’s, the panel beaters, were there. Then, in 230 was Michelle Prunty, Photographer. Apex Fire were there until quite recently.
In the time Sally and Sibéal hark back to, these four premises, 224 to 230 were “private houses”, Sibéal had the names – Currans, who later ran a building contractor firm from the address, Gleesons, Harmons – who later became the panel beaters at the same address, and Murrays.
Altona House (232) was headquarters of the charity Bóthar. It’s where the T.C. Scott and his family lived, whose pharmacy was next door. Their daughter Thelma Hall took over the practice and continued living there. People may remember her brother Percy, who lived for many years in Kenilworth Park with his wife Bertha – he was heavily involved in the Boy Scouts movement. Before Bóthar it was a chiropodist – Graham’s. The old pharmacy itself, (234) is now an Poonam’s Brows, but it was a bookies until recently. Before that, in the 80’s and 90’s, it was the Credit Union, and, before that again, when Mr Scott was there, it was the original Harold’s Cross Post Office. 236 is now the very pink Steven An Nail and Spa salon, but until recently it was a take-away. Before that it was McArdle’s Electrical, and before that again three different butchers, Murphy’s, Hipwell’s and Nolan’s. Sally knew the Hipwells; they lived over the shop and the children, all boys, went to Terenure College. Joe the eldest entered the Carmelites and worked on the missions where he died as a result of a fall from a motorbike. The tiny space was shared with Byrne’s fish shop.
238 is, and always has been, a pub. Now McGarry’s, for years it was Healy’s, run by Noggie (Noggy!) Healy. Next door in 240 was where the Healys lived, and is now apartments, Kieran House
242 Was a wedding clothes shop (Dress of Dreams) but is now Precision Pianos. It had been Dowling’s newsagent and O’Beirne’s for many years; it became Mr. Henry, a T.V. shop in the early 1980s.
Next Sally remembers more “private houses”. The families were the O’Briens (in two), and Doyles – Sibéal remembers Jim Doyle. 244, now the Harold’s Cross Credit Union, but many will know it as Dr. Barnardo’s, and, even before that, Regan Motors. 246 was also part of Barnardo’s. 248 is now closed, but it had been Podology, and, before that, the Cbay Charity shop. Moore Fitted Kitchens were there for a long time, and before them it was Dooley’s drapery, and, before that again, Doyle’s, then Fitzsimons. Doyle Engineers are in 250, but Bouquet Flowers and the Surgisales Teaching Aids shop (moved from down the road) were there previously, and Bouquet were also next door in 252, where Burns Kelly Corrigan Solicitors are today. Finally, 254 is Harold’s Cross Surgery, where Mrs Costello lived.
Number 256 Harold’s Cross Road is no longer there. But Sally remembers “at the corner just at Tivoli Ave. was a tiny dark shop run by a woman, who sold oil for lamps, etc. It was quite scary for a child as she didn’t have electricity”. Sibéal was also impressed. It was owned by Mrs O’Connor, and, in the absence of electricity, she would light matches to find things – in a shop full of paraffin! She was the mother of Petey O’Connor who lived in 212.
Then, where PLM is in Tivoli Avenue, was a field where gypsies lived, including a family of “Princess Gypsy Lee” who was a fortune teller.” PLM is, of course the location of the small factory where Joe “Spud” Murphy made the product, invented by himself, which must be one of Ireland’s greatest contributions to world cuisine – “Tayto Cheese and Onion Crisps”!
258 to 264 has been a car sales outlet for many years, it’s now Tivoli Motors. Many years ago it was Robin’s Sculptors.
266 is Auburn House – Sally tells us “which a then famous female Red Cross Doctor got it I think the Corpo (Dublin City Council) and turned into accommodation for I think homeless elderly females.” Sibéal remembered the doctor as well. She was Dr Margaret Merrick, who pioneered the provision of services for the elderly in Dublin in the 1950s, and after whom the old people’s home in Terenure is named. It used to be Hugh Byrne tailors – Hugh lived there with his daughter Jo, a teacher. Next door, in 268, (now in flats) was, as Sally tells, “Matt Dwyer, a large newsagent’s, who lived over the shop, and now is turned into a family home by Mrs. – can’t think of her surname just now”. And then, in 270, what is now the Hoover Centre, “was McGrane’s, decorators who sold wallpaper, etc.”. The Hoover Centre is where Glen Hansard worked in the film Once. 272 (CGC Accountants) “was Prescott’s Cleaners”. Before Prescott’s it was Kinsella’s shop, and after Prescott’s it was Kinsella’s Bookmakers. It’s not clear if it was the same Kinselas
In 274 Sally reminisces “there was a well-known character, Charlie Byrne who had a dairy, now a Chinese shop (Poppadom Take-away), and he kept his pony and trap next door which is now a spray company”, (Designer Spray Interior Design). Next door, in 276, “was Hopewell House, a retirement home for elderly protestant ladies “now the eyesore flats opposite my (Sally’s) house”, until recently fronted by the Kamikaze Fight Club. Next was Eastman’s (278), another butcher – they had branches (brothers) in Rathmines, etc.” and what is today Kubrick House apartments and The Depot.
Another disappeared house was 280 Harold’s Cross Road, “what is now entrance to the car park” (to Rosie O’Grady’s pub) ,; it was a tiny cottage and I (Sally) remember there was (to me a young girl) an elderly couple (Cullinans), the man used to be standing at his gate, and Mrs. Langan, who owned the pub (at 282, which became Rosie O’Grady’s) said she wouldn’t knock the cottage until the couple died – she had a large garden out the back and my mother would get cooking apples, etc. from her, the two windows over the pub was her sitting room.” It’s now yet another apartment block
There were 3 shops beside the pub that were once a single unit – 282 to 286. They became the CoCo takeaway (282), now beside McGowan’s, the Beauty Shop (284) and for a while, in June 2016, a small Art Gallery. But Sally can describe that “where the three shops are was a garage, with two petrol pumps and a service area. This was owned and run by George Langan, who lived with his mother Mrs, Langan (née Doherty) who owned the pub and I think two brothers. Then was Mr. Harper (288) a butcher -now the Five Points, but previously the Brick House Restaurant, and before that The Happy Valley take away”
Number 290 has always been a chemist’s, firstly Walsh’s, then Hickey’s, who moved down there from 310. The chemist now takes in number 292, which was then Keogh’s Grocery
Fitzpatrick’s Cottages runs between 292 and 294.
At 294 & 296 was the off-licence. This belonged to Michael Deveney who was part of a family who had off-licence premises in Dolphin’s Barn and Rathmines. The building was demolished, and the new premises built. It is now the HomeStreetHome restored furniture shop.
No 298 was in the lane, a very old house called Cruz del Campo; it was demolished with Deveney’s
Then Belamine Dry Cleaners were at 300. This was Moloney’s, the Mill Stores, and before that Seán Hayes’ hardware shop. The little gate leads to the new apartments behind – the main reason for the demolition of 294 to 300. Then comes 302, and indeed 304. These were part of the Garage. 302 however was the tiny computer shop, PC Direct, and, before that it was O’Hanlon’s grocery. Sally remembers “a small shop which stocked biscuits, (loose in big tins) and other products. I remember my late mother would bring our dog Mickey, a cocker, when she was shopping and he would stop outside Mrs Hanlon shop waiting for my mother to catch up with him as he always got a biscuit from Mrs. Hanlon.” And beside it, in 304, was the Vincent de Paul shop WAFFA. Previously this was Quaile’s – “Mrs. Quaile, who had a ‘dairy type’ shop, sold, butter off a big block, also cheese, and a small freezer that sold 2d, 4d, and 6d slices of ice-cream, between 2 wafers, I used to work there an odd day and my pay was a large ice cream!!, late 1944s; she also sold milk – loose.” Sibéal remembers that, when she had washed the floor, she would not let children in until it was completely dry.
Ryan’s Cottages is the little row before the Turkish Barber. In it is number 306 Harold’s Cross Road – the Garage. There has been a garage here since 1946, making it one of the oldest business in continuous use in the village, although it has changed hands several times. It is now Paul Manion Motors.
Number 308 is now the Turkish Barbers, and before that the flooring specialists. However, Sally recalls it was the home and attached shop of Mrs Arigho, who had a well-stocked newsagent’s shop, she also had a small shop in Lourdes in France! In later years it was Paula’s Newsagents. Down the row of cottages is Asian Ancient Body Massage.
Beside the barber in 310 was Hickey’s chemist who moved to 290 down the road, and this fine building is now Esmer’s Hair Studio. It was a chemist’s before Hickey’s – named in turn Kelly’s and O’Connell’s. The next shop (312, and now joined with 310) was, Sally remember, “Mr. Brady who had a men’s hairdresser, and my late father (for one shilling) and subsequently my brother Tony when he was old enough to have his hair cut (6 pence for boys).”
Then we have numbers 314 to 318, where the much-lamented Classic Cinema was, previously the Kenilworth, and home for many years to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which brought joy to all Harold’s Cross, both young and old. The cinema was previously owned by the Sundrive Cinemas group, and it opened its doors in 1953 under the name the Kenilworth. In 1976, Sundrive decided to close both it and its sister cinema, the Classic in Terenure, where Albert Kelly was manager. Albert stepped in and bought the lease on the Harold’s Cross property and renamed it the Classic. The Classic site in Terenure is now Enterprise Outlet. On doctor’s orders Albert “retired”, and his beloved cinema closed its doors for the final time on Thursday, August 21st, 2003. Albert Kelly passed away in July 2005. He was unmarried. Sally and Sibéal both recall that he lived in the first house just as you turn into Kenilworth Park, and he later lived with his sister Rita’s family.
320 was the Car Pound and many will know it as Thorn Lighting. Before Thorn it was empty and derelict for many years, but, over 100 years ago, it was Elmville, a fine mansion, the drive of which became the beginning of Kenilworth Park. In spite of the name of the new apartments, Tivoli was a different, and equally sumptuous, house.
Sally says “I could go on but that is enough I think of the opposite side of Harold’s Cross Road. My parents, my late sister and myself moved in circa. 1937, and my brother Tony (who is responsible for the Young Scientist Exhibition) was born in 1939.”
We now move to the Sally’s side of Harold’s Cross Road.
At the top are the accountants PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes in Century House, previously the Harold’s Cross Parochial Hall. The petrol station across the road is quite modern, although space was left there for 3 houses. It’s now Maxol, but was Melia’s and used to be the Bellevue.
Sally again: “On my home side of Harold’s Cross there was a tin church just inside the gate, where my brother was christened, and I remember. as a young child cycling my small bike around where the men were working on building the present church; I might add – for useless information – that my father told the foreman or whoever that it was facing the wrong way round and was built on a part of the river Swan, the result of which to date, the houses on Mount Harold Terrace are flooded every year there is very heavy rain. The ground had been owned by Doyle’s”. This was the famous South Dublin tin church, which moved from new parish to new parish, and each served each congregation until their permanent church was built – ours had previously served Foxrock. The original house on the site was called Mount Harold house at the end of the 19th century. Original floor tiles of the house can still be seen on the floor to this day. The Welds owned Mount Harold House, and Tuesday Weld, the actress, was a distant cousin.
The next building, 207 was Gowran’s (brothers of Gowran’s butcher across the road in 208) who had a vegetable shop. It’s now a laundry– the Washboard, and 205 was a private house which then became Kilmartin’s, Jose’s drapery a paint shop, and a little shop selling Celtic giftware, it is now Liam’s Barber Shop. Sibéal remembers that Cecil Sheridan, the actor, lived there. In 203 Mrs. Wynne (of 222 above) had her other shop where she sold general food products. Before her it was Mooney’s, and then Monica’s Hairstylist, but now, like so many others, closed.
In 201 was the Protestant Girls’ Orphanage, with an unhappy past, now closed and sadly derelict but being developed, Now perhaps the oldest house in the village, it was the house where the Quaker slavery abolitionist Richard Allen was born. A large red brick building dating from the mid-18th century, it appears on Rocque’s 1756 map .and still has a fine, though blocked up, original front doorway.
Then Mr. Healy (199) had a small grocery shop – now closed. Before him it was Matthew’s. Next we have Cooney’s in 197, a large grocery shop “with Mrs. Cooney sitting at the back of the shop in a tiny office to take payments”. Now the Centra is there.
There are private houses up to Park View Ave. Sally remembers that the English hangman (Pierpoint) who came over to Dublin to do his “work” stayed in either the first or second house after the intersection of Park View Ave.
181 was H. Samuel’s Ever Right clockmakers. The house had a ballroom.
Private houses continued until O’Dwyer’s Pub, (161 – 163), which became Flanagan’s and is now Peggy Kelly’s. However, in one of those houses, 165, Sibéal remembers a bank on the ground floor. Next door, 163 is the DSix off-licence.
Two houses, 157 and 159, and McFarlan’s bookies, were demolished to make the car park for the pub.
155 was Corrigan’s Grocery, demolished in the 1960s and combined with its neighbour, 153, to make Harold’s Cross Garage, owned first by Reillys, then for a long period by Ned Murphy, father of Mike Murphy of RTÉ. It was completely rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1992, and is now TR Motor Services, a major Mercedes stockist.
Numbers 149 & 151 were pulled down for the stadium, now, in 2016, now Harold’s Cross ET schools. It was also the home pitch of five League of Ireland football teams. Brideville in the 1930s and 40s, with Dolphins there a few of those years in the 30s. Transport played there for eleven seasons, then came Shelbourne who played until the end of the 1980s before moving to Tolka Park and finally “Pats” -. St Patrick’s Athletic until 1993, before moving back to their Richmond Park home. That same year it hosted the League of Ireland Cup Final when Limerick City beat Pats 2-0. Now one for the table quiz – who were the ‘home team’ in the last League of Ireland match ever played in Harold’s Cross? Answer – Galway United. On the final weekend of the 1993/94 season, there was no available pitch in Galway due to persistent torrential rain for their match with Shelbourne so the game was switched to Harold’s Cross. Shels won the match 5-2 with Barry O’Connor grabbing a hat-trick.
130 is now the Leinster Park Montessori, but, for many, many years it was the home of the Kellys. Dublin Opinion was an Irish satirical magazine, published monthly from 1922 to 1968. It was founded by cartoonists Arthur Booth and Charles E. Kelly, and here was the Kelly home in which Charles grew up; Frank Kelly, the actor so sadly missed, was his son.
In 133 was O’Connor’s Jewellers, famously robbed by the General, Martin Cahill, but before that it was a builder’s yard – for Walsh’s. And Sibéal remembers its old name – Hell’s Lane! It is now Dublin Hampers.
There were three sad shops at 115 to 119, all closed for many years, and once vibrant businesses. 115 was Byrne’s Dairy, then J&M Cabinet Makers and after Lynch’s hardware shop, Next door was a Greengrocers – Jim Doyle’s, which became O’Riordan’s, Mulcahy’s, and finally Harold’s Cross Hire. And 119 was Burke’s, specialising in flowers and floral tributes for the cemetery opposite. However, many years before, Sibéal remembers the Social Welfare Milk Depot there, and a chipper that went on fire. And Glenside Confections were there – and Fitzpatrick’s and O’Donoghue’s. Now the site is also being developed as apartments.
At the bottom of the road is the terrace of shops that go back over 100 years. Number 1 is now a bookie’s, and it has been extended to numbers 3 and 5. 60 years ago it was, like many other shops in Harold’s Cross, a series of groceries – Deasy’s and Moore’s, and many will remember the Reliance TV shop there. Next door was, again like many others in the village, bootmakers and shoe repairs – O’Carroll’s and Dunwell’s, and, again, many some may recall the small florists shop there. In number 5, just on the corner, was the Galtee Dairy.
Delaney’s Bikes, in number 7, is the oldest shop in Harold’s Cross, and was 100 years old in 2017. Next door, in number 9 (and now 11), is the Website shop – a premises with a marvellous history. It was owned for many years by the Robinson sisters – Eilís Robinson Norris & Sinéad Robinson Keeley, a pair of republican activists throughout the struggle for independence. The name over the shop for many years was Ó Cadhla, Sinéad’s married name. However, when it was considered not particularly safe for the sisters to be managing the place (particularly when both were imprisoned!) their aunt, Úna O’Daly (a sister of Cearbhaill Ó Dálaigh, the president) ran it on their behalf, and older residents still call it “Mrs Daly’s”. Sinéad ran it until 1971. She died in 1993. In later years it became the Gem, and, indeed, there was a piano shop there for some time.
The tiny shop next door was the Cuala Dairy. And next door to that were two small establishments that seem perpetually hairdressers. Today they are Miss World Hair and the Bridge Barbers but was for many, many years it was Maison Salmon, where Miss Salmon was the ladies’ hairdresser. Subsequently, it was Harold’s Cross Hardware and a take-away. While the other had been butchers (Coyne’s and Millington’s) both are now looking after our hair!
The Daybreak Convenience Store (Marian’s) next door in 15 was Sweeney’s Grocery, and then the Woodworkers’ builders’ supplies shop.
And a final link to the far past. Well over 200 years ago the land where the Poor Clares built their school was known as Buckley’s Farm. Sibéal knew that ground as Buckley’s Orchard, and her uncle remembered the apple and pear trees growing there, and he also remembered the practice of helping himself to that fruit – an exercise known as “Boxing the Fox”!