Under the Shadow Of Shandon Steeple In Cork You'll Find A Historic And Sweet Business Storyline
On Cork City’s northside a business trading since its 1928 foundation is Shandon Sweets (formerly Exchange Toffee Works) at 37A, John Redmond Street, Cork, and the business is now a father and son team of Danny and Brian Linehan.
Founded by Danny’s father, Patrick Linehan, the manufacturing unit is located in one of Cork’s oldest trading areas, an area where the Cork Butter Exchange was located and also the former Gorman’s Hat Factory.
Situated under the spiral of Shandon Steeple, John Redmond Street, was also the homeplace of a former Cork hospital that primarily served the northside community of Cork city but not exclusively. That medical centre was the old North Infirmary Hospital and just around the corner was the much feared North Infirmary Dental Hospital.
Two other educational establishments in close proximity were the famed North Monastery primary, technical and secondary schools whilst Farranferris Seminary College was only a puck of a ball away. Ireland had just gained independence from the British Empire when Patrick Linehan, founder of Exchange Toffee Works, set up his new business in 1928.
The current business is now the only sweet manufacturer remaining in Cork and serving his apprenticeship under his father, Danny had to wait many years for the hand over of the reins. For several decades Patrick Linehan senior employed several family members.
When acquiring a telephone for your business or home meant a long wait all through the 20th century, Patrick Linehan was of the opinion that he didn’t need a telephone to sell his sweets. The founder had his fair quota of loyal customers in wholesale and retail businesses and he often said “They know where I am if they want me”.
Amazingly the business traded without a phone for several decades.
On acquiring the much respected title of head of the business, Danny immediately installed a telephone for his customers and a new era dawned as the sweet industry around the globe constantly engaged in producing new sweet products reinforced with major TV and radio advertising campaigns. However the Linehan dynasty and tradition kept on producing old reliables but also were very aware of new trends in the marketplace.
Danny commented that they ran a tight ship, demand for their traditional sweets was holding firm, and yes, opportunities to expand were considered by the family. Away from sweet manufacturing Danny Linehan had another passion that required a great amount of his leisure hours.
His beloved St. Vincents Hurling & Football Club was his cradle entry to the Gaelic Athletic Association and despite the passing of seven decades since Danny first took a camán and sliothar in his hand, his zest for his boyhood club is still very vibrant.
A northside Cork City club, Danny has served the club as a hurler, footballer, administrator and coach and the storyline is still in the making.
Our Irish Heritage website, set up in 2006 by Derry JF Doody, www.scoreboardmemories.com is an expansive All Ireland Hall Of Fame, embracing Sport; Irish Culture, Irish Business and Famous Sons & Daughters Of Ireland
The Linehan business story stretches almost ninety years since foundation and the incorporation of this unique Cork business into our Historic Irish Businesses All Ireland Hall of Fame, is now available for our regular browsers and readers around the globe.
The Linehan family story is now 89 years old and remarkably the equipment used in 2017 is still based on the same theory adopted by the founder. The initial line up of sweets has changed little also and during my own school days at the North Mon. the Chocolate Marshmallow in a creamy biscuit cup was a wonderful lunch time treat (if we had the pennies) and pupils were big customers for this unique treat.
The Clover Rock with its sparking red/white colours needed a good mouthful of teeth and was not on the menu if you were recovering from a dose of tooth extractions under the gas mask at the nearby North Infirmary Dental Hospital.
Bulls Eyes were the magpie colour sweets and children and adults could chew on them for hours. Growing up in my native Passage West, Co. Cork, in the 1950’s, our local Parish Priest was Fr. Christy O’Flynn. He possessed a deep interest in matters of drama and speech therapy and set up “The Loft” overhead Linehan’s business premises.
The story of “The Loft” is for another time but as landlords of “The Loft” the Linehan family served Cork also in theatrical circles for several decades by providing a premises for budding Cork actors and actresses.