Castleknock College Union

Murtagh & Sons 125th Anniversary

Where are they now

Mar 31, 2012
Murtagh & Sons 125th Anniversary -

the first premises in Middle Abbey Street

Congratulations to Colin Murtagh as his family business, Murtagh & Sons, of Ashbourne, County Meath celebrates its 125th year in business this Saturday. Colin attended the College from 1977-83 alongside his brother Stephen (1980-84). Ever since, he has been a great supporter of Castleknock and provides unstinting time and support to the Union and College fund-raising committees. Colin is also chief organiser for the '83 year group whose 30th reunion next year will no doubt continue the autopsy into how Colin and co. construed to lose the '83 cup final. His son Patrick currently attends the College and by all accounts is showing great promise and perhaps may even surpass his Dad. No mean feat when one considers Colin's post Knock career at Lansdowne Rugby club.


Stephen Murtagh and Sons was established in 1887 by Stephen Murtagh, Colin's great-grandfather, as Provender Millers/Grain merchants, and was originally situated on Middle Abbey St, Dublin. Rather remarkably we have a copy of the lease (commercials redacted) where, in 1909 Stephen helped out the much younger Irish Independent, which was formed in 1905, by sub-letting them some office space.

In 1912 Stephen Murtagh left the business to his two sons, Stephen and Patrick and in 1930 the company moved to Blackhall Street, close to the Law Society, in the Smithfield area. In 1941 the business passed to the third generation, when Brendan and Donal, sons of Stephen Jnr. took charge. They were joined some ten years later by their younger brother Joseph, Colin’s father.

In 1955 they purchased a second premises in Ashbourne, on the site of an old cattle mart, in Frederick Street. At that time there were only three other business’s on this main street, a chemist and two publican houses which are still in existence and trading to this day. The three brothers continued to develop the business predominantly from Blackhall Street with Brendan travelling each afternoon to Ashbourne. Between 1887 and 1965 the predominant focus was on Animal Feed and Agriculture. In 1967 Paddy Gorman was hired to develop the hardware end of the business, which by 1972 accounted for 20% of sales.

Sadly, in 1994 and 1995 respectively, Donal and Brendan passed away leaving Joe at the helm of the family business. In the late 1990’s Joe was joined by Colin, who up until then had been working in the print business. At that time the building industry had started to take off and trade was good it was an ideal opportunity to develop and modernize the business. In 2000 Joe retired and Colin became the 4th generation of the Murtagh family to take charge of the business. That he did very successfully for by 2002, full planning permission had been approved and by 2003 a brand new, purpose built hardware business was opened in Ashbourne.


Murtagh's is a family business but recognises it would not be here today but for the loyalty of their long serving staff who to name but a few include Brendan Barry (38 years of service and still counting), Eamonn Connolly (1963 – 2002), Damien Whyte (1973-2006) and Paddy Gorman (1967-2009).


The 125th birthday party kicks off this Saturday, 31st March 2012 with a host of activities planned to keep young and old amused, including a food & craft market with over 30 stalls confirmed, celebrity horticulturists on site, a visit from the Dulux dog, children's competitions and FM 104 on site from 11am onwards. It should be a great day so if the Ashbourne region, pop in and say hello to Colin.

Well done Colin and best wishes to Murtagh & Sons for the next 125 years.