independent

Friday 19 September 2014

Caring Peter was a Dundalk man through and through

Published 01/01/2014 | 05:20

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PETER Hughes, Mount Avenue, Dundalk who died peacefully at his residence, was a member of one of Dundalk's oldest and most highly regarded families.

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For almost fifty years, Peter headed up the family confectionery business in Park Street.

Peter was the eldest son in a family of four of Peter and Sally Hughes from Mount Avenue. His father, also Peter was Minister for Defence in the W.T. Cosgrove led Government between 1924 and 1927 having been elected to Dail Eireann in the Louth-Meath constituency in the 1921 election that led to the formation of the State and at a very turbulent time in the history of the country.

Peter himself did not follow his father into politics, but took over the family's business in Park Street. At the time Peter was embarked on a career in pharmacy, but the illness of his father dramatically changed Peter's career choice, and he undertook with great enthusiasm and ingenuity the task of not only continuing the family business but of seeking new outlets for that business.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Peter realised that improving disposable incomes meant that people had a little more to spend on the luxuries of life and he radically altered the direction of the Park Street business, establishing the town's first really eye-catching confectionery shop which soon became an oasis in a sea of the gloom of the era for townspeople on their way to the cinema.

Boxes of chocolates that Peter sourced in outlets in Germany and Belgium were tempting the palate of townspeople for the first time, and in an era when a chocolate was considered a treat it was not unknown for willing suitors to join Peter Hughes' Christmas club to save for weeks for that special box of chocolates.

Confectionery was not the only choice for Peter's growing business, for he expanded into selling toys, jewellery and fancy goods. Again Peter displayed his aptitude for a business opportunity by stocking various tempting items.

Throughout his many years in business in Park Street, Peter was a loyal member of the progressive Park Street Traders Association that introduced many innovative projects that had community involvement and erected the town's first street Christmas lighting.

In his younger days Peter was a member of the renowned Genesian Players under the legendary producer, Tom Tynan and will be specially remembered for the leading role he played in the locally written play on the life of Oliver Plunkett. Peter himself often recalled the occasion when, at the direction of his producer, he was asked to call to the MacAnna home in Vincent Avenue and enquire if Frank MacAnna would be taking part in a production. His mother indicated that Frank wasn't at home, but that Tomas would be available. Tomas duly made his stage debut, encouraged by Peter, and of course went on to make his life in the theatre as a playwright and artistic director of the Abbey.

Peter admitted himself that he wasn't adept at football, but he loved the table tennis he played in Joe McEntee's club in Anne Street and before taking over the family business he was a regular attender at Oriel Park with his mother.

Above all else Peter was a Dundalk man through and through, and when his late brother, Brendan retired from PJ Carrolls their friendship grew closer and they could be seen taking their morning walk to town after Mass in St. Malachy's Church. Indeed the Friary was always at the heart of Peter's life and he had a great affection for the Dominicans.

His death, after a relatively short illness, has been deeply mourned for he was a kind and gentle soul, reserved in his ways, but always caring and considerate for others. He will be greatly missed by his son, Peter and surviving sister, Lucy.

Peter is survived by his son, Peter (Dundalk), sister, Lucy (Dundalk) and brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. He was predeceased by his wife, Alice (née Johnston) in 2007, brother, Brendan in 2010, sister, Patsy in 1989 and by a brother, Brian who died in infancy.

Having reposed at home, Peter's remains were taken to Church of the Holy Redeemer where Requiem Mass was offered by Very Rev. Paul Montague, Adm., who gave the eulogy.

The Readings were given by relatives Cillian McDonald and Paula Mahon and the Prayers of Intercession were led by relatives, Kate and Sarah Hughes, Aaron McDonald, and Isabel and Eva Mahon.

The Offertory Gifts were presented by family members and the beautiful music was provided by soloist, Susan Dixon and the organist was Anne King After Mass burial took place in St. Patrick's cemetery.

The Argus

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