IN 2012, Avril Hogan from Carlow heard former employees of Clerys department store reminisce on radio about their years in the famous O’Connell Street store, a focal point on the capital’s main thoroughfare. Clerys, something of a commercial institution, went into receivership in June 2012.
The radio item sparked an idea with Avril, who is a daughter of the late Victor Hadden, that she should research her own family’s history in the drapery trade in the southeast with a view to producing some form of printed record. Haddens had traded in Tullow Street, Carlow as well as in Wexford and Dungarvan, Co Waterford.
Avril states: “For the first couple of years I just gathered any information (about Haddens) I could find in the newspapers and online. As time went on, more family records came my way. Then I decided to put the information together to see if, in fact, there was enough material for a book.”
The seed that was planted in Avril’s mind five years ago has now reached fruition and she is set to launch her book, simply called Haddens and sub-titled A social history. The book runs to 287 pages and will be launched by Dan Carbery, who had business connections with Victor Hadden in the 1960s through Carlow Chamber of Commerce.
The book launch, which will be hosted by Carlow County Council, will take place on Wednesday 8 November in Carlow Town Hall. Any former staff members of Haddens who haven’t received an invitation and would like to attend the launch should contact Avril by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Further launches will be held in Wexford and Dungarvan.
Haddens drapery store was founded in Wexford by George Hadden in 1848, predating Clerys by some seven years. Later that year, George married Frances Banks of Athy. Ten years later, in 1858, George Hadden died, leaving Frances to rear four small children. Frances kept the drapery business going for 17 years until 1875, when two of her sons, William and George, took it over. From then on, the business became known as W&G Hadden.
In 1906, the business of Merrick & Ruddell in Dungarvan was acquired by Haddens. Three years later, Haddens bought the business of Adam Ford at Tullow Street, Carlow, and it was Avril’s grandfather William H Hadden who came to Carlow to manage this end of the business.
In time, William’s two sons Victor and David joined the business. In 1972, David emigrated with his family to Canada and shortly afterwards Colin Hadden joined the firm, having trained in Harrods of London for three years. This brought the Hadden business into the fifth generation of the family,
In 1976, Victor Hadden retired through ill health and the business was sold to Shaw & Sons, bringing an end to the Hadden family connection with the business.
Avril says: “The book provides a social history of the business from 1848 to 1976 and includes many newspaper articles and advertisements, extracts from staff newsletters and booklets, staff photographs, both formal and informal, and fond memories of family and staff.”
Avril is at pains to point out that the book is a very personal rather than a commercial venture and while it was written primarily for family and former staff, it will also be of interest to former customers and anyone interested in local history. She has simply aimed to provide a broad outline of the Hadden family business embracing the five Hadden generations over a period of 128 years.