Irish Times Best Shops competition: Keeping it in the family

Best family-run shops competition draws a big response from readers

O’Connell’s Victuallers, Limerick city, opened in 1919 by Paddy O’Connell and taken over by Philip Craughan and run now by his son Paul, “has the friendliest and most genuine staff,” says Grace Sheridan.

O’Connell’s Victuallers, Limerick city, opened in 1919 by Paddy O’Connell and taken over by Philip Craughan and run now by his son Paul, “has the friendliest and most genuine staff,” says Grace Sheridan.

 

The family-run section of Best Shops competition has readers writing in their droves.

Ian McKenna loves Mullins in Donegal Town, run by Kieran and set up by his father Liam in 1969, for the sheer range of its stock. “Shamrocks in March, Donegal flags in June, monkey nuts in October and tinsel in December. This shop has today’s products delivered with yesterday’s service. If you’re looking for shoelaces, buckets or bread Kieran will have it. . . If you can’t get it anywhere else Kieran will have it and at half the price of the anonymous multiples.”

Helen Dolan is championing The Fish Man, on South Quay, in Wicklow town, opened by Alan Hegarty in 2012 who, she says, is much more than a retailer. Hegarty’s wife Liz and daughter Jessica regularly help out. “Through his blue and white doors Alan Hegarty has built an old fashioned hub for our fish and food loving community. The produce is fresh and displayed artistically and you can learn as you shop, expand your thinking and tastes and even attend cookery courses. On sunny days you can sit and chat with fellow customers as Sammy the Seal swims by.”

Everest Music, Bray, Co Wicklow, set up in 1986 by Shay Ryan and run by his son Paul, “has a great buzz about it with people coming and going from their lessons”, says Carol Darby while O’Connell’s Victuallers, Limerick city, opened in 1919 by Paddy O’Connell and taken over by Philip Craughan and run now by his son Paul, “has the friendliest and most genuine staff,” says Grace Sheridan.

Robert Flynn’s, on the main street in Castlerea, Co Roscommon is an old style shop that has everything, says Madeline O’Connell. Run by Robert’s son, Tom, since 1965 it has is “penny sweets, fishing rods, cups of coffee, plants for the garden, goldfish and pet accessories, groceries and hardware.”

PJ Duffy, boots and drapery, Tullow, Co Carlow, first opened in 1924 and taken over by Arnold Mahon in 1968 who retained the name, hasn’t changed in decades, writes John Casey. Proof, he says “that there is still a market for a more traditional approach, no music blaring or bright headache-inducing neon lights. No clueless staff, just a great shop.”

Bernie’s Supervalu, opened in 1968 by Bernie Colclough, is the best store in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, says Pauline Simmons. “They know all their customers on first name basis and have just introduced an autism evening where the lights are dimmed and the pa and radio is turned off so the parents can shop with their children.”

Allyson Prizeman loves the obliging owners of Glasnevin Appliances, husband and wife Pat and Patricia O’Connor in Dublin 9. “I bring my strimmer to him and he fits the plastic cording for me as I can never do it right myself. He’s really knowledgeable on hardware and gadgets. He can get small parts for anything that needs fixing and his prices are very reasonable. This kind of service just isn’t available in massive hardware/home supplies shops.”

Readers, you have 11 more days to make your voice heard, before the judges sit down to sift through the nominations and select this year’s shortlist. Irishtimes.com/best shops

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