The expansion of a town beyond old boundaries often obscures the historical reality that even within old walls large populations once lived.
Whilst the contour marking out the shape of Cashel by its peripheral habitations as seen by a hypothetical visitor from another planet has expanded over the past hundred years, its population is only now returning to its pre-famine size after repeated depletions as a result of that catastrophe and emigration particularly in the 1950’s.
Within the circumscribing border of olden days, Cashel’s population had greater density but also there were many streets which have since disappeared totally or fallen into disuse. In the case of the old city of Cashel a web of lanes existed, the courses of which in many cases are still evident, though not as in their hayday, others have been consigned to oblivion by the construction of newer streets or pushed aside by metal monsters at the behest of progress.
One lane very much extant and still used by all kinds of traffic is Moor Lane, the link between Dominic Street (formerly Chapel Lane) and Main Street, its name like many others almost forgotten until the renaming of the Moor Lane Tavern (formerly Mai Cliffords) brought it back into public conscious use.
Not so fortunate was Corcoran’s Lane which travelled from opposite St Dominics Abbey to Powers Tobacco and Snuff Factory which was located behind the present day Mikey Ryan’s Bar and Kennedy’s Pharmacy on Main Street.
Another lane, which for years was obscured from public view, was Hatters Lane at the end of Bohermore, which was incorporated into the entrance of the Nagle Centre. Hatters Lane housed a number of artisans and skilled tradesmen including the antecedents of the well known Holmes family ,who were nailers and nailmakers, one of the numerous occupations overtaken by modern factory production methods.
Dunnes Lane flattened in the 1970’s to facilitate the widening of Canopy Street, was home to a number of prosperous blacksmiths amongst other inhabitants.
Gormans Lane traversed an interesting route, overshadowed by St. Dominics Abbey commencing from Noonans Butchers (now Pearl Garden Chinese Restaurant) running behind what was Delaney’s Drapery and Going and Smith Bakery (both now swallowed up in the Dominics Court Development) and ending up in Dominics Street beside the abbey. Catherine’s Lane, joined Friar Street at O’Briens Grocer Shop (now Cian O’Carroll’s, Solicitor) it also was home to a busy blacksmithing family.
Joining Main Street are (now just walkways rather than the microcosms they use to be) are Mahers Lane between ‘The Bake House’ and ‘The Pound Shop,’ Haddens Lane running into Greenhouse Lane between Campion’s Bar and Joan Connolly’s and Quirk’s Lane between Kearney Castle Hotel and ‘Wonkas’ Sweet Shop. All three run parallel to each other.
Further down the Main Street between Tom Hayes’ office and the Credit Union was the interestingly named Stone Cutters Lane. The Best family carried on a monumental stone works there hence I suspect the name. Colliers Lane running from Dominic Street to Ladyswell Street, Long Lane from John Street to William Street ( locally know as little Britain, due to the proliferation of Great War veterans living there). At the end of the town joining Lowergate at Quirks Drapery is Gas House Lane which culminated at the chimney and building of the long since defunct Cashel Gas Works. The Dr. Diarmuid Ó Hurley Pipe Band Hall now stands on part of the site.
On the outer fringes of the town there were also numerous lanes.
Bohereenglas which runs from Ladyswell Street to Bohermore at the entrance to which stood the dwelling house and work shop of Tom and Bill Nugent, wheelwrights and carpenters. Crokes Bohereen beyond Palmers Hill, turns to the right off the historic Old Dualla Road and now forms the roadway to a modern dwelling. On the same side of town Crottys Lane is familiar to football enthusiasts who traipse along it to watch the exploits of Cashel Town F.C.
O’Keeffe’s Bohereen ran at the back of the Rock, while Pump Lane (entrance beside Judy Hickey’s house, Moor Lane) got its name by virtue of the fact that there was a water pump there another of the afore mentioned nail making Holmes family lived there. On the Green Featherbed Lane ran from the location of the present day Imelda’s Hairdressing Salon around the rear of Treacy Villas, exiting at Dean Ryan Terrace, it nestled under the wary limestone gaze of the Bridewell and Sessions House which was destroyed during the War of Independence. In the same part of town was Blind Lane near the old National School. Not far away from it was the Mall, a distinctively named road that linked the old Fever Hospital and the Cashel Infirmary both of which were ultimately replaced by Our Lady’s Hospital.
Not to be forgotten among Cashel’s Lanes is Agars Lane (named after Archbishop Charles Agar 1735-1809 who built it to provide access to the newly built catholic church in Friar Street) which links two of the towns main arteries Friar Street and John Street.
For those interested in the former functions of a number of present day Cashel shops and houses; McInerneys TV Shop was Fox’s Public House. The private resident on Main Street of Cashel business-man Mr. Michael Buckley was the Post Office. Not surprisingly Chez Hans Restaurant was a chapel (non conformist) Paddy Powers with Rajput India Restaurant overhead was a Wesleyan Church.
O’Dwyer’s Pharmacy on Main Street was once a prosperous Drapery Shop who employed a team of tailors who made suits in house. Daverns of Cashel was formerly William Mullins Hardware, Noel Fahy Footwear, was formerly Suttons, which sold animal feeds, flour, coal etc.