A Taste of Tierneys in Older Times

Clare Champion, Friday, July 13, 2001

The Riches of Clare Museum has recently added documents to its collection from one of Ennis' oldest business. The documents relate to some famous names - names like Eamon de Valera, the Hillery clan in Miltown and the Bianconis in Kildysart. The documents belong to M.F. Tierney Cycle Centre on Abbey Street - a retail outlet in the town since about 1910. Up until the mid 1920s the family had the Ford dealership for the Ennis area and they sold cars to the Hillerys and John Bianconi.

Traditionally a staunch Fianna Fail supporting family, the premises on Abbey Street was on more than one occasion used by Eamon de Valera for meetings when he visited his constituency in Clare. Indeed, it was a Tierney Taxi that took de Valera to the town centre from the train station on his first visit to the county.

The documents, which have been given on long-term loan to the Riches of Clare will be an important primary source to historians in the future. They include business related items such as ledgers, invoices and brochures, but as M.F. Tierney was also the Assistant County Surveyor in the 1930s and 1940s, there are many documents relating to the County Council.

Museum Curator, John Rattigan said, "the collection fills three cardboard boxes and will take many months to catalogue to museum standards but we estimate there may be up to 800 documents in the collection. People could be excused for thinking that these three boxes contain rubbish that should have been thrown our long ago but to historians such bits of paper provide a window into our past, providing us with information on the social and commercial activities in the town in years gone by. For example, in one of the Ledgers it is recorded that on March 11, 1919, J.W. Scott of Ennis hired a car from Tierneys to travel to Sixmilebridge for the cost of £2", revealed Mr. Rattigan.

Also included in the collection are many documents pertaining to the civil engineering section of the County Council. Included are many letters and memoranda approving improvement works to council houses all over the county, and one from April 1946 giving the go-ahead on improvement works to the Branch Library at Ennistymon. Miscellaneous documents include a copy of the Franciscan Directory, a guide to the Devotions of the Franciscan Churches in Ireland for 1930 and "How to Cook for One" - a booklet issued during the Emergency when food was rationed.

"Not only do these documents show us what the local economy and society was like in the days before the Celtic Tiger, but they also show us how a Republican family like the Tierneys fully integrated itself into the fabric of local society after the Civil War, as many other families did throughout Ireland at that time. This is especially interesting in the context of the Northern Ireland peace process", said Mr. Rattigan.

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