skip to Main Content

Walter Francis Kent

by  Mary Flynn

From: The Bridge 2013-2023; The Journal of Kilbarron Terryglass Historical Society

In George Henry Bassetts Guide and Directory, 1889, Tipperary, Borrisokane is listed as having “a population of 673. The town has one broad principal street and several good-looking business houses.” Among the businesses named are Thomas Humphries, Oatmeal Mills; Hugh Delaney, Merchant and Post Office; Timothy Heenan, Tea, Wine & Spirit Merchant; E.J. Gaynor, Grocer, Draper, Druggist; Mary White, Family Grocer & Hardware Merchant.

Advertisment for Walter F. Kent, Corn and general merchant, Borrisokane in Bassets directory

Another establishment mentioned is that of Walter F. Kent, Corn & General Merchant. The premises had “several Departments, House Furnishings & Builders hardware, Iron & Coal, Arms & Ammunition, Groceries, Farm & Garden Seeds, Drugs & Patent Medicines.”

The proprietor was Walter F. Kent of Elmville, Terryglass, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. The shop was on the site of the present-day Lower Ormond Veterinary Practice.

Prior to opening the shop in Borrisokane, he had spent time as an apprentice in Fayle’s Hardware, Birr, Co. Offaly. As a young man, he walked from his home in Terryglass to the Ferry, outside Portumna, to catch the train to Birr on a Monday morning. He returned on Saturday evenings by train to the Ferry and walked home to Terryglass.

W.K. Fayle of Birr opened the shop in 1820. During the 1800’s, it passed through three generations of Fayle’s. In the early 1900’s it was taken over by the Eades family, until it was purchased by the current owner Leslie Draper in 1987. The company has continued to trade as W.K. Fayle since the 1800’s, making it a very well-known shop name in many households. Fayle’s was primarily an Ironmongery, Seed Merchant, Saddlery & Ammunition Warehouse.  It was in this shop that Walter F Kent was apprenticed, learning the trade, before going on to open his own premises on the Main Street, Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary. George Watkins compiled the history of Fayle’s which was kindly shared with us by the Draper family, Birr

Thanks to the generosity of Roland Dyer and Pauline Abbott, Lorrha, we have been given access to some of the shop ledgers from W.F. Kent. Roland is a great-grandson of Walter F. Kent. Roland’s mother was Iris Kent, formerly of Curraghmore House, Finnoe. Iris was a daughter of Roland Kent, son of Walter F. Kent.

Roland Kent, South Irish Horse, Cahir Barracks C.1916

One of the ledgers gives an index, in alphabetical order, of customers names, dating from 1896 to 1932. In total, 300 names are listed, 106 of which are from the parish of Terryglass, Kilbarron & Finnoe. Many of these 106 names are still familiar in the parish today, over 100 years later – Cahalan, Cloninaha; Donohoe, Ballyscanlon; Esmonde, Drominagh; Fox, Brocka; Fogarty, Drominagh; Guest, Sheelruddera; Heenan, Cloninaha; Hickie, Slevoyre; Leenane, Newlawn; Parkinson, Slevoyre; Ryan, Ryhill; Meara, Cappinismere. A large number of the customers are farmers in the locality, others are carpenters, blacksmiths, members of the clergy, shopkeepers.

Walter F. Kent’s grandparents were Thomas Kent of Lissduff and Ballyhough, Aglish, Co, Tipperary (born 1770) and Elizabeth Murray, Atholl, Scotland (born 1786)

His father, also Thomas, was born in 1805 at Ballyhough, Aglish and his mother Esther Guest (née Ralph) of Elmville, Terryglass, was born in 1809. They were married on the 28th November 1832 and lived in Elmville. Walter was one of 13 children, all of whom were born at Elmville,

Thomas Kent b.1770   Married   Elizabeth Murray b.   1786


Thomas Kent b.1805   married 28-11-1832   Esther Guest (nee Ralph)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 V

Rebecca, b. October 14th 1833; Eliza Jane, b. November 13th 1835; William Ralph, b. February 1837; Alexander, b. March 3rd 1839; Thomas, b. February 18th 1841; Francis James, b. August 1842; Jane Eliza, b. March 20th 1844; Matilda, b. February 9th 1846; Fanny Esther b. February 8th 1847; George Francis, b. April 26th 1849; Arthur James, b .June 30th 1850; Charlotte Rebecca, b. June 3rd 1853; Walter Francis b. 1856

In the Nenagh Guardian of December 3rd 1881, there is a notice announcing the marriage in St Peter’s Church, Dublin, November 30th, by the Rev. F.C. Trench, of Walter Francis Kent, Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary to Sarah Mary, fourth daughter of John Hickie, Scariff, Co. Clare.

(George Francis Kent, Walter’s brother married Anna Maria Hickie, a sister of Sarah, on the 23rd September 1885)

At this stage, Walter was living in Borrisokane, having established his business there.

In another notice taken from the Nenagh Guardian, September 21st 1885, Walter Kent “begs to inform the public that, at the request of several friends, he has taken a licence as an Auctioneer and Valuer. From his knowledge of the value of household furniture, stock, etc. he hopes to afford satisfaction to persons entrusting him with auctions.”

Walter and Sarah had eight children, four boys and four girls.

Elizabeth, b. March 18th 1883; Arthur, b. March 8th 1884; Hilda, b. February 27th 1887; Ernest, b. July 28th 1889;  Myra, b. December 12th 1890; Roland, b. July 7th 1893; Wilfred, b. July 26th 1895; Vera, b.1904

Sadly, Ernest died on 23rd January 1890, aged 6 months and Hilda died at 5 years of age on 21st February 1892

In the 1901 Census, taken on Sunday night, 31st March, the Kent household is listed as follows

In the Census of 1911, it reads thus

Walter F. Kent                           55                    Merchant/Grocer

Sarah Mary Kent                      49                    Wife

Elizabeth E. Kent                      28                    Daughter

Roland V. Kent                         17                    Son, Shop Assistant

Vera Mary Kent                          7                    Daughter, Scholar (born Dublin)

Elizabeth, seated & Vera


Sarah Kent, née Hickie; Myra, Wilfred, Roland and Walter Kent










As previously mentioned, the shop of Walter F. Kent offered a wide range of goods for sale, from builders supplies to farm and garden seeds, coal and groceries. Farm machinery was also offered for hire. From our study of the ledgers, we were able to see what was being purchased in the locality over a period of more than thirty years.

One such customer was Joseph Maxwell, of Kyle Park, Borrisokane. Joseph was a blacksmith so his purchases dating from 1899 to 1925 included coal on a yearly basis, nails, cement, shoe-iron, bolts, rasps. Also mentioned, in what was probably a work-related condition, are cough mixtures, bronchial cures, Friars Bolsam (used to relieve the symptoms of colds), Vaughan’s cure (a medicine for asthma and bronchial ailments)

Another customer was John Cahalan of Cloninaha, Ballinderry who was a carpenter. His purchases dating from 1896 to 1902 include coal, iron, bolts, hatchet, glass, hinges, crosscut saw, files, stakes, sandpaper, varnish can. The account of James Esmonde, Drominagh House, Ballinderry, gives an indication of the work involved in maintaining a large house – the purchases from 1885 to 1900 include staples, putty, paint, oak-stain, nails, bolts, iron, lathes, sash-cord, brick. Another item to feature frequently is tobacco. In 1887 and again in 1898, Hellebore is mentioned. Would some of their variety still be growing around Drominagh?

Walter F. Kent continued to trade in Borrisokane until his death at age 74 on 18th December 1930. His death notice appeared in the Nenagh Guardian of December 30th 1930, stating that the “deceased was a very popular and respected resident of Borrisokane.”

The family burial ground in Eglish (Aglish, Borrisokane)

There is another notice in the Nenagh Guardian 10th January 1931-  “having reached an advanced age, yet he enjoyed perfect health up to a few days before his death. Being a man that was widely known and being only a few days ill, his death came as a shock to everybody. On Saturday 20th the remains were taken, escorted by one of the largest corteges seen in Borrisokane for a long time, to the family burial ground in Eglish, where they were interred. The chief mourners were Mrs. Kent (wife); Elizabeth (daughter); Roland and Wilfred (sons)”                                         

Sarah, his wife died on the 24th October 1938, age 76 and is also buried in Eglish.


Back To Top
×Close search