Skip to main content

When Edenderry was Ireland’s ‘Detroit’

Detroit is synonymous with being the Headquarters of the US Car manufacturing Industry. There was a time at the start of the 20th Century when it could be fairly said that Edenderry was the “Detroit”, or motor car manufacturing capital of Ireland.

The first motor car manufacturer was William Corrigan.  His gravestone at Castro Petre Cemetery records that he died on the 3rd January 1946 aged 83 years. 42 years earlier, in 1902, and at the age of 41 or so, he manufactured a 4 ½ hp car. Apparently there is a photograph of this car in the museum of the Royal Irish Automobile Club which has its headquarters in Kildare Street, Dublin. William Corrigan ran a very successful garage business. According to details recorded in one of the late Joe Reilly’s books, over 40 people were employed there and some of the principal customers were O’Brien’s which had 15 Lorries and 8 Vans and Williams’ Bakery.  The garage business was located at the rear of William Corrigan’s house on Main Street Edenderry. Joe Delaney succeeded him in the garage business. Later Martin Tuohy had his shop at the “front of house” and the late Paddy Abbott moved there in the early 1960’s where he and his family ran a very successful shop and petrol business.  The building is located to the left of Dr. Emerson’s house and today a mortgage broker conducts business there.


If you search the internet for “British Motor Manufacturers (1894-1960) you will find “Aylesbury – Alesbury Brothers, Edenderry, Kings County, 1907-1908 – one of the very few cars built in Ireland. A light car using an 8/10hp two-cylinder Stevens Engine. Exhibited at the 1907 Dublin Motor Show, this four-seater was constructed “entirely of Irish wood” and had solid rubber tyres. The “Leinster Leader” gave the following report – “Messrs. Alesbury Bros. are to be congratulated warmly upon the first product of their now motor-building enterprise. The first car turned out by these energetic manufacturers was exhibited at the Motor Show in Dublin during the week and received very flattering encomiums from experts and others for its appearance and excellence.  It is an 8/10 Horse Power, two-cylinder car, and with the exception of the engine and gear box was wholly constructed at the Edenderry Works.  In the design, accessibility was the chief aim of the manufacturers. It is fitted with exceptionally strong easy springs with rubber tyres on ends, the engine sub-frame resting on cross springs on the front axle, eliminating the vibration from the main frame which carries the body. It also possesses the specialty of having been designed for solid rubber tyres. The body of the car is splendidly built, Irish materials having been used throughout.”


At the same show Messrs. Alesbury exhibited specimens of wheel and bent timber work for coach and wagon building, and specimens of artillery motor wheels. The enterprise of the firm is worthy of every praise and encouragement, and we sincerely hope that in their new venture they will achieve the successes which they pre-eminently deserve.”  The motor registration letters for Kings County (County Offaly since 1920) was IR.  The following list of car numbers is a rough guide to the growing business successes of their owners:-

IR        Number                       Owner

8 & 9                           Daniel Alesbury

22                                M.P.O’Brien

33                                Samuel Clarke Kishawanny

43                                John J.Kinsella

61                                Alesbury Brothers.

70                                Edward B Smith

83                                Arthur Williams

95                                Judge Wakely, Ballyburley

98                                Charles C.Williams.


In conclusion it is fair to say that Edenderry, as a small provincial town, was exceptional in having two motor car manufacturers at the development of that industry.
                                                                                                                             Declan O’Connor



  1. Hi I am doing a project on the Mangans Coachbuilding in Edenderry.
    Would you have any information in your archives.
    Many thanks.
    Mary Costigan


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


From earliest times to the 13th Century.

About 120 AD Cathair Mór. King of Leinster, became powerful enough to be designated Ard-Rí Éireann by the four masters in the annals.He had ten sons, the eldest Ros Fáilghe (“of the rings”) was given the territory of North Offaly which became known as Uí Fáilighe in later times and from which the name Offaly derives.

The O’Connor sept is descended from Ros, they ruled all or part of Offaly up until the late 16th century.Offaly was divided into 7 “tríocha céad” or districts.Each district had it’s own sub-chief, the area that includes modern day Edenderry was called Tuatha-dá-Muighe, the territory of the two plains, which was the patrimonial inheritance of the O’Mulkenes.The name of the area gradually became corrupted until it was known as Tetmoy Ballykilleen Fort
This is the oldest structure extant in the Edenderry area. (To get to it head out of Edenderry on Tullamore road and turn left at Ballyfore crossroads towards the power station).

It is a tri…

Blundell Castle, Edenderry

BLUNDELL CASTLE: A BRIEF HISTORY The area around Edenderry is littered with castles, most of which were built in the Anglo- Norman period, such as Carrick, Kinnefad, Ballyleakin and Brackagh amongst others. Overlooking the town of Edenderry, BlundellCastle is located on a hill from which the town gets its name; Eadon Doire, meaning brow or hill-top of the oak trees. Today, the oak trees are long since gone, but the ruins of the castle remain, a testament to the days of De Bermingham and O’Connor feuding, and later Cooley (or Cowley) power, the family who were granted the lands of Edenderry after the Laois/Offaly Plantation in 1556. In their book, Edenderry through the ages[1], Evans and Whelan make no mention of a date of the building of BlundellCastle. The earliest mention they make of the castle is when referring to the 1550 survey taken prior to the plantation, which mentions “a path to the castell of Eadandyrre”[2]. The remains of the present castle, or tower house, can be traced t…