‘Cowtown’ and buying ‘loose’ milk


Sir, – Long before the introduction of the bottled variety, “loose” milk was sold from containers strung from the handlebars of bicycles in the area of Dublin where we grew up on the North Circular Road between the Phoenix Park gates and Hanlon’s Corner.

This was known as “Cowtown” because of the location of the cattle market which was held each Wednesday morning and which generated quite a deal of business, including the sale of this “loose” milk. (In his Memoir, John McGahern refers to a journey which, as a boy, he and a neighbour made – on foot! – from Leitrim to sell their few cows there before breakfasting in the City Arms Hotel in Prussia Street).

As a child, I well recall being sent out by my mother, milk jug and one or two old pence in hand, for our daily supply.

Sadly, two of my brothers died in quick succession of TB-related illnesses: Johnny (3) of meningitis in 1944 and Tommy (5) of a tumour on the brain (1945).

My distraught parents pleaded with the medical staff in the Richmond Hospital where they both died, what they could possibly do to save their two remaining children (me – aged 7) and brother (10).

“Change your milk supplier”, was the reply.

Our house became the first on the street to have bottles of pasteurised milk, with their distinctive blue tops, delivered to our door by the Lucan Dairies.

“Paddy the Lucan” , the driver of this motorised vehicle, became a popular figure in the area as the introduction of more stringent health regulations governing the sale of milk (thanks to Dr Noel Browne) and the cattle market and “loose” milk became part of Dublin history. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.