The Old Holycross Post Office and Forge

The terrace of houses in Holycross

The terrace of houses in Holycross

Cross the bridge from the Abbey in Holycross you are in South Tipperary. The first scene to strike you is the lovely terrace of houses straight ahead. It was along this road that much of the life of the village happened in pre-war times. The post office, the forge for shoeing horses and the pump were where neighbour met neighbour to exchange news and gossip. Conversation was easy. Ghost stories, riddles and rhymes were the order of the day. There was an unhurried easy pace to life. People lived very simple, frugal lives.

Dr. Ml Russell RIP, former Bishop of Waterford (1965 - ’93) was reared in Holycross. Philip Moloney of the Green was his uncle. The bishop once described the village as it was almost 90 years ago. The post office was midway along the terrace on the Cashel Road. It was run by Con Hayes. He kept a ‘library’ of wild west novels. The young people of the village were introduced to the Blackfeet, the Pawnees, the Crow and of course the cowboys and rustlers.

By 1940 the postmistress was Maggie McKay. She was married to Paddy, a Scottish man. Her own name was Maggie Hayden of Ballinahow. They lived at the end of the terrace nearest the bridge. The first telephone service was installed in 1940. It was a 1 + 4. This meant that there was one trunk line to Thurles. There were just 4 subscribers. Only one at a time could be connected to the trunk line. You had to dial the P.O. first and ask the ‘operator’ to connect you to a particular number. She would dial the number and then connect your line to it. The operator worked until 10pm. It wasn’t until 1977 that a 24 hour service was provided. The service went automatic in 1983.

The forge was next Con Hayes’ PO in the 1920’s. Willie Riley was the blacksmith. Most of the farm work back then was done with the help of horses, ponies and donkeys. These had to have their hooves pared and be shod regularly. Willie also repaired the horse-ploughs and harrows. The children took turns at working the bellows for the fire that heated the iron. When the metal was red hot it could be hammered into shape on the anvil. There was a rhythm to the manner in which the hammer was wielded. The pleasant ringing beats must have carried quite a distance downstream along the River Suir. Computers, moblie phones, tablets or laptops had not even been imagined back then.

Any group that would like to take ʻA Village Walkʼ through Holycross or through the Abbey should contact 086 1665869 or email Tours of the Abbey continue every Wednesday and Sunday at 2pm.




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