The Bolgers - Through the years
The Bolgers have resided in the Ferns area for many centuries and for a number of generations were employers in the iron and steel industry. Over the years their foundry moved from Tinnashrule (1700s), to Ballybeg (1803), to Ballintim(1820) to Milltown Mills(1870). They produced a full range of farm tools which included scythes, sickles, hay knives, reaping knives, mowing machine knives and turnip cutting machine knives, bill hooks, hoes, and patented hooks. In 1882 and 1883 Messrs. Bolger & Sons were awarded medals for being the best scythe and hook makers in the United Kingdom. Their products were far superior to any imports in both style and finish. They also exported their products to the USA, South Africa and Spain.
John Bolger left his brothers Thaddeus and Brian to run the foundry while he set about establishing an extensive retail and corn business in Ferns. In 1884 he built a number of buildings as part of his retail business on the Main Street and also built adjacent to the Railway Station in Milltown for his agricultural business. Some of those buildings are still standing today in both places. The premises were regarded as extensive and impressive by existing standards at the time. John Bolger's general merchant business included a bakery, coal, farm seeds, iron, timber and provisions. Bolgers became the store of choice for the population of Ferns and its vast hinterland.
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In 1904, John Bolger established a hotel in the two-storied five bay building that incorporated the general store. It was known as ‘Bolger’s Commercial Hotel’ and later ‘St.Aidan’s Hotel’. The hotel business closed down in February 1925.
In 1908 he acquired The Mill in Gorey, a hardware outlet in Church St., Gorey and a deposit on premises in Railway Road, which was purchased outright in 1965.
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