Home » Regional » Ennis » Eric says goodbye after 47 years

Eric says goodbye after 47 years

Eric Hanrahan with the staff at Sheils garage on the Gort Road. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

WELL-known Ennis man Eric Hanrahan celebrates not one, but two, very special occasions this week. As well as turning 65 on Tuesday, Eric is set to retire on Friday after working at Sheils for 47 years.

 

 

Eric Hanrahan with the staff at Sheils garage on the Gort Road. Photograph by Declan Monaghan
WELL-known Ennis man Eric Hanrahan celebrates not one, but two, very special occasions this week. As well as turning 65 on Tuesday, Eric is set to retire on Friday after working at Sheils for 47 years.

“I certainly didn’t think I’d be here that long. But I got on great here and they were always good to work for. Sure, you wouldn’t stay in a place 47 years unless you were well treated,” he said. Over the years Eric has made many friendships with generations of car owners availing of the service department.

Eric and his wife Patsy will be joined by family, friends and colleagues on Friday evening for a retirement party in the Old Ground Hotel.

As he looks forward to this new stage of his life, Eric recalled his years at Sheils and the many changes he has seen.

He first began working for T Sheils & Co in Limerick in 1966, taking the bus into Limerick from Ennis every day.

At the time, the owner and managing director of the company was the late Ted Sheils, who was later succeeded by his son, Thomas. In Limerick for a year, Eric worked in the main office and service office under Oliver Keating, general manager, who he described as a “lovely man to work for”.

He recalled, “It was a big operation, when I started off they used to do a lot of cars for the likes of SPS in Shannon and DeBeers. Sometimes when I would be going down on the bus I’d get off in Shannon at SPS or somewhere and collect a car there and bring it in for a service and bring it back out again for the evening.”

He added, “Then my father, lord have mercy on him, met Ted Sheils and just said to him that I was nearly spending my week on a bus ticket. He said is there any hope you can get in up to Ennis.”

He later moved to T Sheils & Co, on New Road in Ennis beside Rice College, where he worked in the stores with stores manager Sean Horgan. Eric worked alongside Martin Rynne, the late Paddy Coughlin and the late Joe Fenwick.

After a while, Eric moved into the service area, working with the late Peader O’Sullivan. At that time, Paddy Stapleton was the service manager and was assisted by the late Tony Kinnavane, service reception. After that, the late Paddy Hough replaced Paddy Stapleton as service manager, with Eric substituting for Tony on Saturdays.

“At that time, people wouldn’t be buying as many new cars, it would be more second-hands. There would be a lot of mechanics and bodywork being done, there were 10 or 12 mechanics there at that time.
He remembered, “At that time, all the body work repairs were carried out in the Gas House, situated in Francis Street. Michael Clancy was foreman and also working there was the late Jimmy Devitt and Michael McEnery.

All new cars were stored in the Gas House, where many trips over and back were made daily. Mechanics working in the service department included the late Tony Strand, the late Josie Arthur and the late Mickey Keane. Also working in service were Henry Neylon, Johnny Hogan, Jimmy Clancy, while, today, mechanics Andy Clohessy and Tom Vaughan are still with us.”

In the late ’60s and ’70s Eric frequently travelled to Ford in Cork collecting new cars from the assembly line. “I remember one occasion, on a day just before a new budget was coming out, where the price of new cars was expected to increase. I got five new cars released from the Ford company in Cork before the budget deadline and parked them in the car park across the road to take them to Ennis later,” he said.

Eric also took cars from the salesmen to many parts of rural Clare and had to get hire purchase papers signed for the final sale of the car for the salesmen. The salesmen in Sheils at that time were Tom Hogan, the late Michael O’Donoghue and Pat Fitzpatrick, James Hehir, Paddy O’Connor and James Kearney.

T Sheils later moved to the Gort Road and in the early ’80s Eric was promoted to the position of service manager. His father, Paddy Hanrahan, also worked in the administration office of the company following his retirement from the CIE in 1982. The late Bill Hensey worked in Sheils and also Joe McDonnell in finance.

Eric worked for a brief but successful time in the sales department but returned to the service department after three months, where he remained in his position until his retirement.

“I never had any inclination to go anywhere else, I was always happy here. I was in lots of different sections and the lads are all sound to work with. It’s been a great place to work,” he said.

He said he has had a life-long love of cars, recalling his first company car, a Fiesta, which he got when he was in his early 20s.

“Every year, the cars improved. I remember I got an escort with a vinyl roof in the ’70s. I can even remember the number of it, 646EIE, because it was the best car I’d say I ever had. It was a gorgeous car,” he said.

The motor industry has seen many changes over the years. “Modern cars have changed completely. With the older cars, there wasn’t fuel injection or anything like that. Now, there is turbo charging engines and reduced emissions with people looking for more eco-friendly cars and more people today, which they weren’t years ago, are going for diesel due to the price of fuel.”

Eric concluded, “I will miss working here, there’s no doubt of that after 47 years. I come in and I’m used to meeting people so it will be a big change but, hopefully, I’ll be able to go on more holidays and play more golf.”

About News Editor

Check Also

Youth Service and Ezra push positive mental health through calisthenics

FOR many years, Clare Youth Service has been using the ‘Natural Highs’ approach to promote …