Hennessy’s Garage has been situated in the heart of Kilmeaden for six decades and last Friday, April 14th, it proudly celebrated 60 years in business.

The family purchased the premises from the late Jerry O’Callaghan in 1963 and proprietor Pat Hennessy took over the business from his late father, Paddy, five years later. Pat had previously worked at Scrahan Motors near Kilmacthomas where he received great help and guidance and when he took over the family business, he received fantastic help and support from Hughie and Helen Mulhearne.

So much has changed over the intervening decades and Pat has seen so many shifts. In the beginning, he recalls that the fuel pumps provided a great opportunity to meet and chat with customers and remembers when petrol cost just 5 shillings a gallon. In the days long before mobile phones, a callout to a breakdown could result in a long night often in bad weather. Equipment was limited and there wasn’t any of the modern gadgets that we have now.

Clockwise from top left: Hennessy’s Garage, Kilmeaden and (inset) what was Jerry O’Callaghan’s garage in the late fifties before the late Paddy and Ita Hennessy took it over; their son Pat in the workshop and “the original apprentice” filling up at Scrahan Motors c. 1958 – the car was an Opel Olympia and petrol cost “2 and 6 per gallon, fill up for a pound”; following the Waterford hurlers with friends in 2007; and with Fintan Walsh at the 30th running of the Butlerstown 10k in 2012.

Pat still remembers his first call to a breakdown – namely Paddy Foran, Knockaderry, who needed a new petrol pump fitted to a Morris Oxford. Some breakdowns remain in your mind, he explained.

He recalls on the return from a Munster Final how he and Declan Veale were called out to a breakdown in Gaultier where a Co-op lorry had broken down. Working on it until 10pm they returned to the garage to charge the battery and then back to Gaultier until 2am working in the rain.

Hennessy’s garage always had a great working relationship with the Co-op lorries and Pat recalls getting a callout to Noel Larkin’s milk lorry which had broken down in the snow on Croughataggart hill near Portlaw.

Each year there were changes which made the job a bit easier but Pat smiles as he remembers the days of the horse and cart travelling to the creamery and all the old characters who would gather for the chat.

Pat has been blessed with many loyal workers over the years, such as Jimmy Kirwan who helped him greatly starting out, Declan Veale, Michael Power(Mowler) and of course Sean Morrissey who has been with Pat for over 40 years.

Pat’s wife Kathleen has looked after the books and paperwork since day one and without her support and loyalty, none of it would have been possible, he says.

Pat’s daughter Claire spoke to me about the great pride the family has for Pat and Kathleen and she remembers when she and her sister Audrey would be summoned to go help on the petrol pumps. There would often be confusion about how to open different petrol caps. Their brother David would be given the job of moving cars around the yard.

Sixty years of business is a wonderful achievement and I asked Pat what had kept him going all this time. His immediate answer was “loyalty” to your customer and from your customer. He has enjoyed the variety of the job over the years and meeting so many different people.

Pat was long synonymous with athletics, being organiser-in-chief of the Butlerstown 10k, which he was instrumental in starting up exactly 40 years ago. He had just taken up running at the time and quickly became a marathon specialist.

To relax, Pat likes to follow the GAA, have a drink with friends, and of course spending time with his beloved grandchildren Shane, Lauren, Aoife, Jonah, Annabelle, and Evie Rose.

Sixty years on, Hennessy’s Garage still takes pride of place in Kilmeaden and you are always guaranteed a warm welcome and a chat.

We wish Pat, Kathleen and the family continued success and thank them for all they have done for Kilmeaden and the surrounding area.

Linda Spillane