There was widespread sadness recently as news circulated of the death of the famed Hughie Doyle, formerly of Dublin Street, Longford town, where the 81 year old businessman and his wife, Bridie, ran a popular bar and grocery business.
The bar is now run by the Reynolds family but has lost none of its old charm and character and, probably in the greatest tribute of all to the genteel businessman, it will forever be simply known as Hughie's.
The late Hughie Doyle was a staunch Fine Gael man and enjoyed nothing better than the cut and thrust of an election and the banter and good natured humour that came with it.
His life was a testimony to hard work, self belief and a commitment to ensuring the best possible life for his family.
He was best known as a publican and shopkeeper but he was first and foremost a mechanic. As a teenager he first came in from Drumlish to take up an apprenticeship in the old Longford Arms Motor Works on Richmond St Over time he worked his way up through the ranks and was eventually a shareholder in the business.
A constant by his side for much of his life and a huge support to him in his business endeavours was his wife, Bridie. The couple were married in 1957 after a ten year courtship. A more loyal or committed pair you couldn't find and Bridie was Hughie's rock.
Initially the young couple ran a bar on Bridge Street before the opportunity came in the early sixties to purchase the premises on Dublin Street that has now become an institution.
Hughie was a master of the marketing game. He famously opened earlier and longer than most shops and that included Christmas Day. It would also be the first shop where you were guaranteed fresh bread the day after St Stephen's Day.
Work and family dominated Hughie's life and the other passion was vintage farm machinery and over the years he assembled an unrivalled collection. He wasn't a man for holidays but each summer himself and some of the children set off on a trip through England to purchase machinery that he would restore over the winter and then sell on. It seems the engine oil always ran through those famed north Longford veins.
He surprised many when he went to the States at eighty years of age. He wasn't the most sophisticated of travellers and wasn't going to take a debit or credit card at that stage of his life. Famously he decided to hide the dollars in his shoes and when the family pointed out that it might cause troubles at security, he was undeterred. "Sure I'll put it in my socks then", he told them.
Alas another chunk of old Longford has been lost with the passing of the grand auld man of Dublin Street.
The late Hughie Doyle passed away peacefully on April 15, 2017 at the Abbey Haven Nursing Home, Boyle. His passing is deeply regretted by his loving wife Bridie, son James, daughters Mary and Helen, daughter in law Lily, son in law Paul, grandchildren Brian, Peader, Megan, Ciaran, and Sean, nephews Aiden, Patsy, Vincent, Declan, and Raymond, cousins, relatives and friends.
His remains reposed at Saint Joseph's Hospital Chapel, before being brought to St Mel's Cathedral for funeral mass and Burial afterwards in Newtownforbes Cemetery.