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Abbey Street

Photographs focus on Abbey Street doctor

A SERIES of photographs has been rediscovered, providing an invaluable link to life in Abbey Street, Ennis from the late 19th Century.
Leonard Costello, who uncovered the photographs in his Dublin home recently, outlined his family background and details of the photographs, some of which feature his father, Robert, as well as Carmody’s Hotel, where a number of people were killed when a floor collapsed during an auction.
Leonard is trying jog people’s memories about stories or anecdotes in relation to Abbey Street and would also welcome old photographs. He is yet to confirm the names of some people in the photographs, while the photographer is also a mystery.
Leonard has a very special reason for piecing together all the details.
“The 100th anniversary of my father’s birth is coming up in two years time and I want to create a family book to commemorate his life. He contributed a great deal as a doctor, especially during his years working in missionary communities in Nigeria,” he said.
Members of the missionary orders he worked alongside will be contributing pieces for the book, Leonard added.
Leonard’s grandfather, Leonard J Costello came to Ennis about 1889 to set up business at 29 Church Street, later Abbey Street. He was a master plumber, sanitary engineer and gas-fitter. He married Catherine Lally of The Causeway, now Francis Street, in 1888. They had five children.
“Catherine died in 1909 and Leonard remarried in 1910 to Elizabeth Moloney of Bindon Street. They had one child, my father, Robert Costello, who was born in 1916,” Leonard Jnr explained.
His grandfather did contract work for The Lisdoonvarna Improvements Committee and Ennis Lunatic Asylum, as well as Clare County Council and many others. Some of his manhole covers, bearing the stamp ‘L Costello plumber’, are to be seen on the streets of Ennis to this day. He died in December 1927 and is buried with his family in Drumcliffe.
Since Leonard Costello’s death, businesses on the site have included Bow Bangles and Rose O’Shaughnessy’s chemists, while it is today a Chinese acupuncture shop.
Robert Costello worked in Bugler’s Chemist for a time after leaving school around 1934. He began studying medicine at NUI and became a doctor in 1947. After a brief stint at Our Lady’s Hospital up to January 1949, he sailed to Nigeria, where he worked for some years as a medical missionary. Following his return to Ireland in March 1957, he worked in St Dympna’s, Carlow and St Luke’s, Armagh and then returned to his home town to work at Our Lady’s from 1965 to 1967. He moved on promotion to St Fintan’s Hospital, Portlaoise, from where he retired in 1982.
Leonard visits Ennis on a fairly regular basis and would be happy to meet anybody who can help him. He can be contacted by email at abbeystreet29@yahoo.ie.

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