The Tholsel or Market House
The Old Tholsel, Toll House, or Market House
The Tholsel once stood at the top of Ludlow St. near Market Square. It was described by Isaac Butler as "a low mean building" and it was demolished about 1800. In that year, Earl Ludlow and the Deputy Portreeve applied to the Grand Jury for funds to build the Sessions House, and in the following year Courts were held in Arthur Murphy's House, (Meath Grand Jury Records).
And we may perhaps assume that the Court House was built upon the same site, for high up on the south wall is a carved stone, which commemorates an earlier building. It states that "Edmund Maninge was overseer of this work in the year of Our Lord 1632. On whose soul the Lord have mercy." (below)
The Tholsel was the centre of the town's trade. In 1757 Patrick Rooney, the Deputy Portreeve, was given a lease for ever of the cellars under it, and liberty to erect butcher's stalls around it, the sale of meat elsewhere being forbidden.
Corporation Minutes, 1st November 1757.
The lease passed to his widow, and then to the Aylmer family, £5 per year compensation being paid when the building was demolished.
Corporation Minutes, 29th September 1802.
Patrick Rooney was evidently a zealous official, who was being rewarded for his services. The Corporation recorded its thanks to him on his retirement from office,
"for his constant attendance on the business of this Corporation, and for his prudent, wise, and active behaviour in his office,and for suppressing all kinds of riots and disorders."
Corporation Minutes 24th September 1760.
Previous to the establishment of this market, the streets had been obstructed by the numerous butchers' blocks,and bulks (stalls), and also by all the "idle carrs" found in the public street after sunset. Owners of these were to be fined 6 pence, or else the "carrs" were to be sold to pay the fine.
Corporation Minutes 5th February 1746.
Custom dies hard, and up to the beginning of the 1900s butchers' stalls were still erected in Market Square twice weekly, together with those of butter, fowl, eggs, clothing and quack medicines.