Herber McMahon makes a “special presentation" to Leo Conway, Rathangan, at Leo’s farewell get-together to mark his retirement from business in Rathangan, pictured Friday, July 14. Pic: T Keane
It was the end of an era in Rathangan last Friday as Leo Conway hung up the bicycle pump, celebrated his retirement, and said farewell to the shop his father set up back in 1948.
“I suppose I took over officially back in 1961, but I was working there since I was about 12,” explained Leo.
The man, known locally as ‘Your Scribe’ for his role as the Leinster Leader Rathangan notes correspondent, received a cheerful send off as a group of friends gathered to wish him well.
“I was chuffed,” he said as he described his circle of comrades as “exquisite”. A few refreshments were had and no doubt some reminiscing took place.
Throughout the years, the bicycle shop also provided firearms and attracted customers from far and wide.
“I dealt with the best of people over the years. In the gun trade, you have to be an honourable person in the first place to get a licence. They were decent honest people, the cream of the country, honest to god, it was a nice experience to meet all these people.”
When asked how he felt about retiring, 'Your Scribe' said; “I am 76 now. I have to retire some bloody time. That's really about the size of it.”
Leo has seen huge changes over the years.
“I remember when people bought a HP (hire purchase) bike for 15 pounds and they paid it back over three years,
“It might not seem like a lot of money now, but it was the equivalent of three weeks wages back then.”
He said credit approval was hard to achieve, even back then.
“In those days you had to give a one pound deposit for the bike and fill in the form. We would send the form off and then they would say it was refused and you had some fella after going off with the bike already,” he laughed.
Situated in the heart of the town, Leo Conway's bicycle shop was an institution which will be sorely missed.
Leo Conway (centre) Rathangan, is joined by some friends (from left) Jimmy Earle, Declan Lee, Arthur Hutchenson, Eamon Henry, George Plant
Dermot Conlon, Victor Burrell, Paddy Dunne, pictured at Leo Conway’s farewell get-together to mark Leo’s retirement from business