THE community of Swords has been saddened by news that one of the town's last remaining Main Street residents has passed away at the great age of 93.
Margaret Thorpe, known to everybody in Swords through her outstanding work in the community for many years, passed away peacefully last Tuesday at Beaumont Hospital. She is survived by her daughters Doris and Phyllis, son David, son-in-law Ken, daughter-in-law Patricia and her grandchildren Michele, Mark, Johnjoe, Alan, Gary and Jilie, her great grandchildren and her great-great grandchildren, many relatives and friends. Mrs. Thorpe (nee Kearney), who lived on Main Street for over 63 years, witnessed the town undergo many changes over the years as the population grew and grew in the last few decades.
She was a stalwart of many groups in the town, including the Tidy Towns association, Fingal Horticultural Society, Swords Heritage Group and many other voluntary groups. Born in 1918, Margaret was originally from Balbriggan and only moved into Main Street when she married her husband, the late John Thorpe. At that time, the street was lined with family homes. In an interview with the Fingal Independent in 2001, when the Main Street was undergoing an extensive overhaul, she said: 'Main Street was once very beautiful. There were no cars, front doors were always open, children played on the street. There was a sense of community.
Of course, we were living in the middle of the country then.' She continued: 'In those days there were few shops on Main Street. Margaret lived near Peter Galvin's premises – one of two forges in Swords. 'Next door was the premises of the Old Borough School. On the same side of the street was the Dispensary, a red bricked building erected in 1898. 'A few doors down was the Post Office, with Matthew Keane, an ex-RIC man as the post master. Below the post office was the premises of Mrs. Savage, dealer, sweet shop, car hire and general vendor. 'On the east side of the street was Tom Fagan's, the harness maker. Chapel Lane was narrow at this stage, and the Star wasn't on the corner.
' This public house was originally owned by Foleys, but the Taylor family from Rush came to Swords about 1898. 'Next door was the RIC barracks (now the Amusement Hall), and beside this was a shop owned by Knowds (now the Bank of Ireland). 'Main Street really began to change in the 1960s when the factories were built. As the factories grew, so did the workers and new houses were built to house the influx. 'Of course, the airport is vitally important to Swords as well,' said Margaret. She remembered the dark days of the 1980s when unemployment was rife. ' The airport really saved Swords. I remember men standing at McGowans corner with nothing to do and no hope of getting a job. It was a terrible time.' Margaret reared three children on the street and said she would 'never move'.