Grocery Shops in Portarlington


Slaters’ Commercial Dictionary of 1846 lists some of the shops supplying food in Portarlington at that time. There were six grocers listed, four butchers, six bakers and a spirit dealer, while Patrick Byrne, the confectioner, was undoubtedly popular with children of the area. These local businesses no doubt provided food to Emo Court at various times, while other products were brought in from Dublin and abroad. At a subscription ball given by the Countess of Portarlington in 1853, for example, the supper and wine were furnished from Dublin.


In later years, a well-known grocery was Matthews’, based in Market Square, Portarlington, which reportedly delivered bread to Emo. A 1911 advertisement for Matthews’ Grocers claimed to offer ‘perfection in bottled drinks’, with ‘nothing but best quality kept in stock (and) everything combined with strict cleanliness.’ George Matthews also offered a catering service: in September 1911, for example, he catered for the fete and tea party at Emo Park, which 400 people attended.


Another local grocer was John Hipwell, based in Maryborough, whose 1897 advertisements made the claim of being the sole agent for the ‘delicious Mazawattee Tea – the popular tea of today’. Hipwell’s sold a wide range of food and drink, including specialised teas and coffees, crystalised fruit, jars of preserves, rich fruit cakes with almond icing, plum puddings, cured ham and bacon from Limerick and Roscrea, imported cheese from Canada, France and Italy, and siphons of aerated water. With such gourmet fare on offer, they undoubtedly supplied the tables of the local gentry from time to time.




Advertisement from Hipwells’ from 1876

(Leinster Express)