Longford town Christmas lights. This photo is from the 1980s.
Longford Auld Fellahs is a popular Longford town based nostalgia website, whilst its Facebook page, which features loveable oldies, Tom and Pat, has a loyal following.
We met them recently and asked the intrepid duo to relive some of their best memories in the town they love so well.
This is what they told us . . . .
For more than half a century the old Quinnsworth store on Longford’s Main Street was a Christmas institution for many local families.
Tom and herself went up the town on Friday evening for the turning on of the lights. Of course the lights are now looked after by the Council and they do a great job. But back in the day it was done by the Chamber of Commerce and a few hardy annuals including Pat Lynch, Pat Stenson and the late Hugh Shannon.
One of our photos is from the early eighties and it shows the then Chamber President, Pat Lynch, presiding over the official switching on of the lights. Fr Earley is doing the traditional blessing of the lights whilst a very young looking Cllr Christy Warnock and another former Chamber President, Pat Stenson, are also in the photo.
Our other photos from the 1980s show the old lights with one view from Donlon’s Corner back up Ballymahon St and you can see the old Durkin’s shop. The second photo then is the view back down Main St and would have been taken from the corner of John Joe Reilly’s bar, which sadly is no longer open.
Durkin’s for runners
Tom saw Joe Durkin out and about last week and is delighted to see him on the mend. Durkin’s was always a family favourite for Christmas down through the years. He reckons he has bought more than his fair share of football boots there.
He tipped in on Friday evening for old time's sake and was delighted to pick up great value in a new shirt and jumper. There’s a great range of men’s clothes there now as well whilst the younger generation are well catered for at the front of the house.
He was also delighted to see young Michael Cooney, who used to run the Men’s Shop at Lower Main Street, and which sadly closed early in the year, is now working in Durkin’s.
Salty chips in Caslin’s
The late Noel Caslin ran a famous chipper and restaurant on the corner of New Street and Earl Street for many years. He was a great GAA man and a founder member of the Slashers club. Longford families loved Caslin’s and it was a special treat to get in there. Usually after the Christmas shopping, Tom and herself liked to bring the children there on the way home.
The default choice on the menu was the old-style ham burger and you didn’t have to say 'hold the salad' because there was none. It didn’t matter whether you wanted salt and vinegar because it was mandatory in Caslin’s. These were special chips, special times and a great Christmas memory.
Farnagh Stores memories
Henry Vaughan now runs the popular Daybreak shop on the way to Farnagh, but to a generation it will always be known as Farnagh Stores. It was run by the Fallon family and Philomena and husband, Jerome, were great business people.
As families grew up in Farnagh and that side of the town, it was a great shop and nobody was ever found wanting.
They were a great family for draws and this is a great photo of Margaret Conroy collecting her prize, a portable TV, from Mrs Fallon and her daughter, Lorraine. Also in the photo are the Conway children, Elizabeth, Deirdre and John Paul. The photo was taken in 1984.
The Haydens on the Square
Tom was reading the Leader last week and saw that the young Hayden lad is doing very well over in New York. He remembers well his parents who ran a great fruit and veg business on the Market Square. Back in the day that was where everybody went to get their vegetables and there was a great buzz about at the Christmas.
Carmel and Sean were a wonderful couple and wasn’t Pat delighted to bump into Sean when he went into the Market Bar on Friday evening.
Tapes in the Music Centre
The closure of the Music Centre earlier this year was a sad day for Longford. Old Tom has fond memories of bringing the daughter and young lad into what was the original Music Centre and they getting tapes for the Christmas. Elizabeth regularly reminds him that the first one he ever bought for her was a Boney M classic!
The old Music Centre was located in what had been the Marian Shop before that on Ballymahon Street. The Marian Shiop sold religious goods. The premises is now home to the popular Unique Boutique, which made a welcome return to this location and Ballymahon Street earlier this year.
Lunch in the Market Bar
No Christmas shopping trip was ever complete without the mandatory lunch in the Market Bar. Tom remembers days when it was jammed with people from all across the county in for the shopping. Kevin and his beautiful wife, Teresa, would have been flat out serving the food whilst Sean Lynch would have been serving up the pints as quick as you could drink them.
Tom always liked to time the lunch so that he got to meet his buddy Pat in the Market and they usually managed to get through a good three pints anyway.
This is a great photo taken by Dublin based photographer, Barry Delaney, and it features Sisters Immaculata and Enda, who have both sadly passed away. After the nuns retired they used to come into the Market Bar every Saturday early in the day for what the Yanks would call brunch.
Sister Immaculata had a great affection for the bar and the patrons. Some time after her death, a relative stopped off in the bar and left a few bob with the owner and instructions from the late nun, to buy the regulars a drink. It was a lovely gesture.
A pint of plain in PV’s
A landmark on Ballymahon Street and a favourite stopping-off point for all families in town for the Christmas shopping was PV Fallon’s bar, which is now sadly closed. There, you invariably found Pat Fallon himself on duty and it was always a delight for the children as Pat was quick to dispense the Taytos and minerals.
There was a real old world charm about the bar with the blazing fires and the place packed to capacity. Now it seems a world away and there isn’t a Christmas that Tom doesn’t wish he could wind the clock back.
Turkeys on the Square
If you were to tell young people now that many families used to buy their turkeys on the Market Square, well they would laugh at you. You could buy them alive or dead and plucked. Whatever way you wanted them, you could get them! This is a great photo of turkeys for sale on the Square and the farmer is displaying his wares on the back of his trusted IX registered Anglia.
Tom smiles to himself as he remembers how he was getting ready to go to bed one Christmas Eve and he heard a bit of commotion outside. He looked outside and, looking back at it now, wasn’t one bit surprised at what he saw. There was a man - who will remain nameless, but who would have been well known in the local hostelries - walking home with a turkey on a lead and singing 'Silent Night'!
New clobber in Aidan Shannon’s
Tom and the missus went into Matt O’Brien’s shop on Ballymahon Street, as she wanted to pick up something for their son over in Brussels. She’ll post it off to him next week and he will have it for the Christmas. When they were in the shop Tom was thinking to himself about the time that the young lad came home for a family wedding. He had just started in his first proper job and was flush with money.
He insisted on bringing his father down to Aidan Shannon’s menswear, which was then very popular on Dublin Street. All the young dandies used to get their clobber there and the young fellah fitted auld Tom out in this bright grey suit. He hadn’t the heart to tell him that it might have been a little loud for him. It was an expensive suit though, and it's still at the back of the wardrobe, though it was only worn once! Anybody stuck for a good suit this Christmas, text or call Auld Tom!
Trip to the cinema
For Tom and the family no Christmas was ever complete without a trip to the cinema. Back then it was the old Odeon cinema where the late Paul Trimble was the man in charge for 43 years. Tom has fond memories of some of the classics that he saw there with the children over the years, and the ones that spring to mind include the original Star Wars, ET and Ghostbusters.
Then there was the lovable Kitty who ran the shop and always made sure that if a child didn’t have money they still got sweets. The drinks came in bottles and it was a magical experience.
Our second photo, which was taken by Tiernan Dolan, is from 1987, and shows the local Boy Scouts’ Beavers troop on their annual Christmas outing to the cinema. The Scout Leaders include Bernie Sweeney and Catherine Connaire whilst the group of youngsters includes Eddie Kearney, Emmet Kearney, Cathal Cox, Martin Carberry and Sean Conaty, Brian Donnelly, Shane McGuckian, Declan and Michael Gill, Niall Seagrave, Robert Warnock, Ciaran and Keith McDermottroe, Ray Dann, Peter Madigan and Diarmuid Connaire. Unfortunately, we don’t have a full list of names for the Beavers!
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