By Tom Aherne

The landmark pub in the Old Mill closed a month ago, (owners retired) casting an air of gloom around the locality that it served for over one hundred years. The Old Mill is a crossroads joining Newcastlewest, Carrigkerry, Ardagh and Rooskagh.  The pub always enjoyed a good trade with five roads converging at the bridge, and the Ballyine road  a short distance away.  The Old Mill Creamery was very beneficial  on a daily basis for the pub, with a lot of suppliers often stopping off before their homeward journey. People attending Paddy Byrnes forge close by also visited while waiting their turn to be served. The Handball Alley founded in the 1940s attracted a lot of players in the evenings, and the Alley was a great place to build up a thirst.

The patrons attending the dances in the Old Mill Hall on Sunday nights also called in for a drink before or during the dancing which was thirsty work. The Old Mill Sports Club was formed in 1992 and spectators attending matches and sports days were potential customers.  The Jehovah Witnesses erected a Kingdom Hall over a weekend in the Autumn of 1998. A number of new houses were built close by and new  business  was created by Shanid Mantels, Upton’s Garage and others.

I have no official date when the pub/shop first opened but it possibly commenced life as a Shebeen during the 1800s.  These venues  served the outlying areas, away from villages before later becoming official pubs. The Mulcahy family were the early owners, of the pub and shop and the older generation will recall their daughter Katie who was in charge for many years. She was a very good publican and got on very well with her customers. She died in 1970 aged 87 years old.

Moss Hurley and his wife Kathleen Gallagher, who was born and reared in America, and a niece of Katie took over the running of the business, as decimalisation was introduced in February 1971.  The next owners were Paddy and Maura O’Connor. Bill and Nora O’Connell were the next owners, followed by Eamon and Mary O’Neill (era of the Euro) from September 2000 until 2004. It was then  owned by John and  Amanda Kinsella, natives of Dublin, up to February 2019. A wide variety of entertainment was provided in the pub during its long history including card playing darts, pool, quizzes, music and private functions. It catered for festivals and threshing days, and a venue for the local Lottery draw.

The recession hit  Ireland over ten years ago, and the effects are still felt with the loss of our youth and local employment. Our way of life is changing so quickly and there will be very few country pubs left in Ireland due to lack of customers and transport. The City and large town pubs will survive, because of the larger populations and transport choices. In the past fifteen years or so the Ardagh (4) Carrigkerry (2) and the Old Mill area has seen seven pubs closed.  In Ardagh Longs, Curley’s O’Connell’s and Peadar’s, and O’Sullivan’s and The Carrig Inn in Carrigkerry. This is the kind of society that is being forced on people living in rural areas, with a great wealth divide between Dublin/East and the rest of the country.  When you lose a pub like your creamery shop and post office, you have lost a great part of Irish tradition.

The death has taken place of Tom Bustin Ardlaman, Newbridge, Rathkeale peacefully on Wednesday, March 13. He lay in repose at Magner’s Funeral Home Rathkeale on Thursday from 6pm to 8pm. His funeral Mass was celebrated at St Kyran’s Church, Coolcappa on Friday March 15 at 11am. Burial took place afterwards in the adjoining cemetery. We extend our sympathy to his wife Kathleen, daughter Marie, sons David, Kieran, Declan, Graham, grandchildren,  great grandchildren, daughters -in-law and extended family. May he rest in Peace.

The Carrigkerry Wren group held their presentation night at the Flag Floor Rambling House, Glensharrold on Friday, March 8. They made cheque  presentations to the Ardagh/Carrigkerry Tuesday Social Club, the Kilcolman senior citizen’s fund, the Bumbulance children’s ambulance service, and the Jack and Jill Foundation. The good attendance enjoyed a great night’s entertainment.

The following are the Lottery results from the Reen’s  Bar Ardagh on Monday March 11. The numbers drawn were 12,22,28, and 30 and there was no Jackpot winner. Congratulations to the five lucky dip winners who won €40 each: Jim Long, Feenagh, Johnny Mullane, Athea, Des Hanley, Coolcappa, Ann and Ann O’Connor, c/o Tom, and Big Gang, c/o Moore’s.  Next week’s Jackpot will be €15,600 and the draw will be held in Neary’s Bar Ardagh.

Congratulations to Peg Murphy and Joan Madigan who were prize winners at the Flag Floor card game held on Wednesday March 6.

The Stations of the Cross will be held in Calvary Cemetery each Sunday during Lent, commencing at 2.30pm. People who have relatives buried there are invited to attend and to participate.

Friday, March 22 has been announced as Daffodil Day when all the proceeds collected will go to the Irish Cancer Society. They need to collect four million to meet ongoing costs, so all support will be appreciated. Jackie Geoghegan, and Sharon Kinehan, are holding a Coffee morning in aid of the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day  on Saturday March 23 from 10am  to 2pm  at Jackie’s house Lisgordan Ardagh. Contact Sharon on 086-8106522 for more information, and support would be greatly appreciated.

Feale Crafters based in Abbeyfeale are holding a Craft Emporium in Saint Ita’s Hall Abbeyfeale on Saturday, March 23 from 11am to 3pm. On display will be a large range of goods from several crafters who have come together in recent months to promote handmade local items. It is an ideal time to call in and view what is on display with Mothers Day, Easter, Communion, Confirmation, and special occasions coming up. Tea and coffee are free, and all support will be  welcome.

St Kieran’s Heritage Association are holding a fundraising quiz in Neary’s Bar Ardagh on Saturday, March 23 at 9.30pm. All support will be greatly appreciated. The next meeting will be held on Thursday, April 4, at Coolcappa Hall at 8pm, and not at Ardagh Hall as previously advertised.

The West Limerick Set Dancing Club are holding a set Céilí in the Devon Inn Hotel on Sunday, March 24 at 4pm. Music by the Kingdom Céilí Band and all are welcome.

Congratulations to Margaret O’Keefe, Church View, Castlemahon, who won €190 in the West Limerick 102fm 50/50 draw, held on Friday, March 15. Tickets cost €2 and they are available from volunteers, in local shops, or from the radio station. All support is very much appreciated.