Nicholas Hyland, who was considerably older than Margaret, did not enjoy good health and the family moved back to Margaret's place in the early thirties. As well as the licensed premises which was part of the house, there was a certain amount of land and another house known as O'Connells House. The house, which was recently vacated and demolished by Canice and Olga Hyland to make way for their new home, was originally built in 1909 for the then schoolmaster Mr. O'Connell when Clough National School was then located in Byrne's house. The cost then at £98 and the contractors were Conroy's of Garryduff, the late Pascal's grandfather. Old Mary Whelan seems to have built the house for the teacher, charged him rent, and after he vacated it her daughter Margaret with Nicholas and children came over from Shanvaughey to live there. Nicholas died soon after and Margaret was left to rear the large family on her own, run the pub and organise the running of the farm. Happily the older children were now big enough to assist in the chores and Red Jack was learning the farming business fast and was to run that same farm for the next 60 years, while Mary Hyland who had helped her grandmother in the pub from time to time now acquired a more permanent role.
The history of the early years is vague so we will be concentrating mostly on Mary Hylands time. Mary was born back in 1913, the eldest daughter of Nicholas Hyland of Bordwell (where Frank Hyland and family live today) and Margaret Whelan of Clough. Nicholas had returned from America and married Margaret who was only 19 at the time and very involved in the family licensed business with her mother. Nicholas and Margaret lived for almost 20 years at Shanavaughey House (now occupied by Corby's) where their nine children were born. In brief these were Mary, the eldest, who ran the pub, Margaret, who lives in Mullingar where she raised her own family, Eilish, who worked in the drapery business in Castlecomer but sadly died young, Kate and Nonnie, who both went to England and Married but are also sadly no longer with us, the late John (Red Jack), who lived in Clough with his wife Mary, surrounded by many of his grown up family, Pat, who was a butcher in Mountrath before going to England, where he married and remained until his death, Nancy who lives in Abbeyleix, and Joe who worked in Dublin most of his life and is still going strong there with his wife and family.
The reason we say 120 years is that we know the last three proprietors before Sean and Marian Hyland took over recently and they were three remarkable ladies. The late Mary Hyland who only passed away in September of 1996, aged 83 and who ran the premises since she was 14, all of 69 years! Her mother Margaret Whelan, who died 25 years ago at the age of 94, ran the place, on and off, for nearly 80 years; and finally her mother again before her Mary Whelan who ran it for over 50 years. Of course these were not consecutively. Mary Hyland and her mother worked together for 55 years, Margaret Whelan and her mother worked together for possibly 45 years and Mary Whelan may run it alone or possibly with her mother or another family relative in the early days.
Men may come and men may go, but we go on forever…
This could easily be the motto of Hylands of Clough, the licensed premises at Clough, Ballacolla, that has served the people of the area for at least 120 years, and possibly more.
The History of the Foxrock Inn & Mary's Bar
Clough hurling club was also going strong in the post-war years alone, before becoming amalgamated with Ballacolla later and their pitch was behind Tom Delaneys. Pitch and toss was a regular activity at the cross, played by young and old. The dramatic society was another big attraction, as was another big attraction, as was the very prominent and well organised Pioneer and Total Abstinence Association. A strong Fianna Fail Cumann also existed in the locality. All these clubs and activities had there headquarters and meeting places at the hall in Clough, which was previously the school and many of their members and participants would be dying of the drought after their particular exertions, and in to Hylands they would come.
That is with the exception of one group, PTTA. But in fairness to all , the hurlers and boxers were young athletic men who took their sports seriously and would not be the ones to be supporting local hostelries, except maybe on the occasion of celebration of a big victory. The adult supporters of all these sports would be Hylands better customers. Sunday tended to be the busiest day due to the rather archaic licensing laws, for on a Sunday you couldn't drink in a pub unless you lived more than three miles away. As a result all the Ballacolla people and some from Rathdowney would pack the place on Sundays. Guard Frank McMahon, late of the Conoboro in Rathdowney, having lived to reach 96, was stationed in Ballacolla for many years and it was his job to enforce the crazy licensing laws.
Guard O'Riordan didn't have quite as difficult a job. There's many a story told of how poor Guard McMahon and other guards of the day had to hound the pubs on a Sunday and then to ascertain how far the drinkers were from their home. A man living at Dan Guiders place in Kyledellig was found to be living less than three miles from the kitchen of the house to Hyland s pub in Clough, but when the measurement was made to his bedroom, it was a yard over three miles. Many similar storys are told: like one of Paddy Kirwan of Kilbreedy, who changed bedrooms to qualify for the three mile limit, which stopped at the quarry.
While Hylands was always an official public house and fully licensed, it was not always the only drinking house in Clough. Back in the last century it was common for a proprietor to open up in the kitchen of a house. Hylands business was conducted in their kitchen up till the early 1930s when they built on the first extension which accommodated the new bar. But down the road, in premises now demolished, that used to stand on part of the cemetery, one Mag Bob used to run a shebeen in her kitchen. Mag had a famous jennet in the field nearby. After her death and that of the jennet, her house, which was in poor repair, was demolished to make way for the extension to the grave yard. Many staunch citizens in later years, who would have been anti-drink, refused to allow themselves or their relatives to be buried in the graveyard in case they were stuck in that part of the cemetery which was Mag Bob's kitchen.
Mary Hyland's pub was known far and wide and it did great business in the old days. During the post-war era, transport was difficult. Perry's ale and Jameson's whiskey were the two main drinks. It was said that Hyland's sold more Perry's Ale than all the pubs in Rathdowney put together. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, Hyland's won an award from Perry's in the 1950's for the pub in Ireland that sold the most Perry's Ale that year. The following year they only finished second, because one of their best customers from up the hill a bit got the flu and had he been available they would surely have won two in a row.
Coming into the 50's and 60's as communications improved other drinks were introduced and with Perry's Brewery closing in 1966 their drink declined as others prospered. It was widely acclaimed that Mary Hyland pulled a great pint, mind you, you wouldn't need to be in a big hurry! By a highly scientific process of pouring from one glass to another and back again a few times Mary produced the best possible drink and the pint was delicious. The customers loved her. She was a great businesswoman and well able to deal with the customers. If the possibility of a fight came about she would come between the participants very quietly and nip it in the bud, with a stiff rebuke. If a fella ordered a drink and she felt he was too well on, she'd give him a strong cup of tea instead and make him drink it!
She did not approve of women drinking, except in later years when a man and his wife was reasonably acceptable, as long as the women didn't drink a pint. Women unaccompanied by gentlemen were persona non grata. Not too long ago, out of devilment, two very well known girls from the parish went into Mary's without accompanying men, and ordered two pints of Smithwick's. The place was in shock for a few seconds the other customers aghast, wondering what was going to happen next. After initial hesitation Mary duly served the girls coolly, making the remark "what's the world coming too at all".
As Mary approached her 80's she invited her nephew Sean to take over the running of the business but she remained, helping out in the bar right up to early 1996. Her health, which had been unbelievably good all her life (nobody can remember a day when she was sick), deteriorated and she passed away quietly in her sleep that September. Her former customers, friends and neighbours paid their last respects in their hundreds. She never married, even though 99% of her customers were men. She was more than comfortable in the company of men but obviously never met one she wanted. The fact that she looked after her mother till her death at 94 tied her down a lot, so that she had little time for socialising, but her dedication to the business kept here so occupied that you could say she was married to her business.
Mary Hyland's mother Margaret Phelan-Hyland was a Trojan worker, wife, mother and businesswoman for eight decades. Born in 1894 she helped out in the family farm and her mother's pub from an early age. There were three girls in the family, Nora (later Nora Coss of Kyledellig), Margaret and Lizzy the youngest who tragically died while at boarding school in convent in Kilkenny. She reared her nine children after being widowed early and ran her own family business for 80 years. Her mother before her, May Whelan, was born in the 1860's and seems to have been the one who started the Publican business in her kitchen in the 1880's although some authorities feel it may have started a generation or two earlier because there was no other licensed premises around and people would have had to travel miles for a drink. In any case we can't be sure one way or the other.
Hylands has served the area well since it's beginning well back in the last century. The family have had good times and bad but have always conducted their business in a proper and proficient manner.
Sean and Marian Hyland have now taken over the business and will continue in the tradition of their illustrious predecessors.
At the cross lived two elderly ladies by the name of Dunne. A nephew of theirs, Tom Stenson, came to live with them during the war years, was to have a huge influence on the area. Tom organised the local security forces in the area during the time of The Emergency. He also started a boxing club in Clough, which was well supported by the local youths.
Bergins only acquired the Post Office branch of the business after the Kelly's left. Jack and Liz Kelly ran Clough Post Office for many years in premises only a few yards down the road from Hylands pub. Jack Kelly was also the local postman for many years and a highly popular figure. They were long dead and gone but not forgotten. Well known RTE personality Don Conroy of among others "The Den" is a nephew of Kellys. The Gunns too are not forgotten and one of their sons, Christy Gunn is big into the dance-hall business in Dublin and keeps in touch with his roots in Clough.
Clough in the 1930's was very different from what it is today, yet it bears many similarities. Over the years many different business premises came and went. The corner shop, where the Post Office is run by the Bergin family, was run by the Gunn Family, a highly popular and well respected clan. They had a mainly grocery and confectionery trade and were also very musical people. After they left Clough the Dunphy's of White park, Jim & Lar took over but soon after sold it. Spooners, who were renting premises across the road from Clough Church, bought the corner shop off Dunphy's and married their business there where it continued in later years under the Bergin name for obvious reasons.