Article from the Grange Parish Book suggested for reading this week (week 26)
Remembering Joe Ahern
This week's (week 26) book article suggested for reading is about that larger than life and very popular man, Joe Ahern, RIP.
This engaging and often humorous account was written by Kieran Hourigan. Kieran worked in Joe's garage in Grange for a period, during which time he grew to know and appreciate Joe very well. The high regard and affection that Kieran had for Joe is obvious from the article. To this day, Kieran and others frequently recall Joe and his many remarkable personal qualities - his tremendous work ethic, his business acumen, his generosity, his humour and, of course, his dedication to his family are some of Joe's traits that stand out in the article. Of course, Joe and his wife, Joan (née Flavin) operated a shop in Grange for a number of years.
PJ Ahern, Joe Ahern, John Williams and Martin Ahern
The following are are just a few extracts that may encourage reading of the full article, which is relatively short but is a great account of Joe's life while he resided and worked in Grange:
"Joe Ahern, a native of Newport, Co Tipperary, located to Grange in the very early 1970s with his wife Joan (née Flavin), a native of Fedamore. They had one child, their daughter, Caroline. Joe and Joan acquired a property in Upper Grange from the Shinnors family, popularly known as 'The Shop'. The property comprised of living quarters, which they subsequently upgraded, a shop and adjacent land."
"Joe was a skilled mechanic, and local people began to bring their motor vehicles to him for repairs and upkeep. His skills extended to panel beating and paint-spraying, and he was adept at welding as well. As he was multi-skilled, and no job was too large, Joe soon built up a good and reputable garage business. His enthusiasm and energy for work knew no bounds, and he thrived on being busy."
"As he expanded from servicing and repairing motor cars to farm equipment and plant, word quickly spread that Joe was re-building tractor engines and hydraulic systems. His business experienced a massive increase, so much so that he had to build a much larger garage to cope with demand. Joe’s garage business went from strength to strength over a matter of a few years, all due to the combination of skill and commitment to hard work over very long hours. Customers liked Joe, not only for his work ethic but also because he was good-humoured and entertaining."
"I worked in Joe Ahern’s garage, and I still recall listening to him when a customer called on the phone or in person to order tractor or other machinery parts. All of the thousands of parts involved had a unique part number. Joe knew these parts and their part numbers ‘by heart’, and it was seldom, if ever, that he needed to consult a catalogue, book or slide. He was incredibly resourceful and efficient. Consequently, customers travelled from all over Ireland to purchase new and second-hand tractors and machinery from the Ahern Garage, which became one of the largest dealers, not only in Munster but country-wide. First-class customer care came naturally to Joe, and his staff were indoctrinated accordingly. Consequently, his client base was very loyal to him."
"A highlight of the year for the business was the Limerick Show in summer-time. Joe would have a large stall, displaying a great range of the most up-to-date machinery and equipment. Joe and his staff members drove tractors in convoy along the fifteen-mile route to the showgrounds in Limerick City. This was a spectacle to be experienced and enjoyed. The purr of turbocharged engines could be heard for miles away. The sweet noise coupled with the smell and heat from the exhausts of new tractors on a summer’s day would draw people to the road-side, especially young lads, to gaze first hand at the magnificent and pristine new machines, as they passed by on route to Limerick."
"Joe was a great friend of the local soccer club, Holycross AFC. Keeping grass cut in the playing fields, over summer months, was a time-consuming job for volunteers. Joe, in his generosity, permitted the club to borrow a tractor and mower, from time to time, over a number of years until the club elected to purchase a small tractor and mower. Club funds were scarce at the time, and so a tractor requiring refurbishment was bought at a reasonable price. I was nominated to ask Joe if I could use his garage to rebuild the tractor in my own time and, most importantly, if he would supply the parts and paint. Joe, as usual, was helpful, and the rebuild was completed within six weeks of commencement. Of course, Joe kept a keen eye on the upgrade work, and when the time came, he gave the tractor ‘a clean bill of health’. The tractor was looking like new."
Leyland 270 tractor sold to Holycross Football Club by Joe Ahern
"When time permitted, Joe liked to socialise over a brandy, whether at The Hamlet Bar or elsewhere, where he met neighbours and friends for a chat. Being a Tipperary man, hurling was his sport and with great pride in his county, he would sing Dear Old Newport Town if requested. His wit was never far from the surface and his turn of phrase, not always printable, endeared him to people. There are many stories!"
"Joe Ahern was a great neighbour, a great friend to our community and a loyal personal friend. He was a man who always saw the good in people. At a personal level, I enjoyed Joe the skilled man and Joe the individual and human being. I learned much about mechanics directly from him as I did about life itself."
Next Week (week 27) we will suggest another book article for reading.
Kind Regards to All.
Joe Ahern (far right) with family and friends. Old threshing machine at rear.