Computers 4U premises is part of town’s storied history

It’s difficult to tell from the outside but the Computers 4U premises in Ballaghaderreen is a place where a dark period of Ballaghaderreen’s history meets the modern day.

The town was targeted by the Black and Tans in reprisals for the Rathra ambush of September 1st, 1920.

During the Rathra incident, a party of IRA men attempted to ambush an RIC patrol travelling from Ballaghaderreen to Frenchpark. Two RIC men, Constables Edward Murphy and Martin McCarthy, were killed along with IRA volunteer, Capt. Thomas McDonagh.

On September 2nd, a band of Black and Tans travelled from Boyle to Ballaghaderreen and set fire to a number of prominent premises in the town, including the building (formerly Flannery’s) where Computers 4U is located now.

Computers 4U owner, Susan Smyth, was always aware of the building’s links to that fateful night.

“We put an offer in for the building in March 2020, just after the pandemic started and we finally got the keys in August 2021,” she said.

  “We were fully aware that it had been burnt by the Black and Tans 100 years before. We bought it due to its great location and we were also aware that had been rebuilt with reinforced concrete with compensation from the British government.

“It’s a beautiful building as you can see and it was built to the standards of a London Department Store at the time. It’s a really high quality building and inside it’s very comfortable; there’s no dampness or anything like that. It’s rock solid,” Susan added.

The historical significance of the building was certainly something which attracted both Susan and her brother and business partner Martin Smyth.

“It’s believed that Tullamore Due once owned the building and there was a bottle house upstairs. There is still a lift in the building which was probably used to transport bottles in the past,” Susan said.

“At other times the building was home to a number of bars too, some of which were rather notorious! A lot of people who know its history also say that there was a beautiful mural of Ballaghaderreen Train Station which ran right across the walls. Sadly, the mural was painted over some time ago which is a real shame. When we were putting new floors in we also discovered traces of a stunning mosaic floor too”.

Few traces of the building’s rich history now remain but it is rather poignant that it has now been given a new, modern purpose 100 years on from the burning of Ballaghaderreen, at a time when local businesses were rising from the ashes of a global pandemic.