Fr John Fitzgibbon’s Askeaton 1930-1950

The village extended from the top of Main Street to the end of Church street. The New Line and St Mary͛s terrace were built around the 1940͛s. Mussel Lane and the Quay out from the main line.

2. Employment:
Southern Chemicals started in the mid 1930͛s. Many were employed as farm
labourers and domestic servants. There were self employed carpenters,
blacksmiths, cobblers, butchers. There were about 12 publicans.

3. Shops:
There were 3 dress and shoe shops, one mens  suiting (Collins). The taylor was Harry Nesbitt. A number of small grocery shops plus a number of shops combining grocery and bar.
Fresh meat could be purchased in any of the 4 butchers stalls. As there were no fridges, perishables such as sausages and rashers could only be got at weekends.

The Walsh family, New Line had lorries coming at weekends with
Mc Carthy and Mulcahy bakeries had closed by mid ͚30͛s, so bread came by
vans from Keane͛s in Limerick and People͛s Bakery (Binchy͛s) in Rathkeale.
People in the village and adjacent to it who had space grew their own
vegetables and fruit. Milk could be purchased locally and if one wished, cream could be purchased directly from the creamery.
Fresh fish was available regularly, provided by John and Chris Nash

A. Farmers used donkey͛s and car or horse and car to take milk daily to the creamery
B. Very few cars were owned privately. The Sheehan͛s in East Square, Jack
Hogan and Tom Clancy, Church St had cars for hire. From 1939 to 1947,
private cars were off the road due to war and unavailability of petrol. A
limited number of petrol coupons were issued to Public transport
vehicles and people such as doctors and clergy etc.

C. A private bus, The Southern Cross, ran daily from Glin to Limerick. It͛s
time of arrival too and fro was an open book….e.g. If the owner/driver,
Jack Adams from Glin, saw a man running in a field, he would stop the
bus to check if the man was running for the bus or chasing a cow!!. The
subsequent change over to CIE was quite a culture shock to the people.

D. A train ran from Limerick to Foynes at least once daily. Most people walked to the station. The train was the Limerick to Tralee train-so you had to leave a nicely heated train in Ballingrane and complete your journey to Askeaton or Foynes in a cold train!

E. The bicycle was the most popular way to get around. During the war years, tyres were very difficult to obtain. On the black market, a bicycle tyre, a pound of tea or a gallon of petrol were interchangeable!!

5. Education
Primary only until 1940. 2 primary schools, senior and junior with a total of 6 teachers. Denis and Ann Jones, Mrs Sheehy, Martin Corby, Peg Moran and Mary Fitzgibbon. Some boys from Askeaton cycled to Jack O Connor secondary school in Rathkeale. A small few went to secondary boarding
schools- Limerick, Roscrea, Cashel (Rockwell).

6. Leisure and Entertainment

For obvious reasons, it was mainly local. The library was the indoor venue for plays and concerts. Askeaton had a very good drama group consisting of Dermot and Maureen O Riordan, Anne and Denis Jones, the Culhanes, Main Street, the Wallases,  Wallases’ Cross, Dominic Forde, Martin Corby and others. Travelling groups came and put on plays that were in vogue at the time ͞ Charlies aunt, Murder in the Old Red Barn, Arsenic and Old ??? Etc. The arrival of Duffy͛s or Fossetts circus were big occasions!!
Films in the ͚Tent on the the Green were run by Frank Dinnage, known as Gazettes pictures.
45 and whist drives were usually played in the school. Prizes were on display the week before in Fitzgibbon͛s shop in East Square

7. Sports

GAA:Hurling in Askeaton, and Football in Ballysteen. The players from both places were interchangeable. Askeaton won the County A junior Hurling Championship in 1935. Due to its location, a lot of GAA matches were played in Askeaton during the war years.
Rugby: Askeaton had a good team in 1940. They won the Transfield? Cup in 1940 competing at junior level against teams from Limerick – ( Bohemians, Richmond, Young Munsters), Newcastlewest, Tipperary and Nenagh etc. The rugby team was made up of Askeaton people, Blackwell͛s, John Kelly(Garda), George McNamara, Crowley, McCarthys, Michael Collins and personnel connected with the Flying Boats in Foynes. They did not have a playing pitch but my dad who had played rugby in Rockwell and for ????? In Dublin, provided a playing pitch for the home match at Cyril͛s or Celestine farm.

Swimming: Before the days of the swimming pool, the river Deel was the
swimming it is tidal to Desmond Castle when tide answered, agora
was the swimming place and alternative weeks The Round Weir and Leap pool and the canal. On a fine Sunday, half of Askeaton would be at either of those places- I remember Mary Moran of the New Quay have her son tow her up passed the crowds in Gort while she reclined listening to her gramophone which really sounded beautiful over the water….. Venice eat your heart out!!
Sports days and Gymkhanas: in the 30͛s and especially the 40͛s and 50͛s sports days and gymkhanas were very popular being held in Stonehall and Borrigone. The motor car changed the whole life of Askeaton. More and more people had places within reach for a day trip, such as Ballybunion or Kilkenny.  One Sunday evening in the mid 1950͛s, I went for a swim in the Leap-and I had the whole place to myself…. What a change!! A bicycle or pony and trap could no longer reach those exotic places!!