Situated at the crossroads of Munster, Mallow, Co Cork is one of the Golden Vale's main market towns. The Vale's rich grasslands are home to Ireland's most extensive dairy farming and that is reflected in its shoppingscape.
From about 1730 to 1810 visitors came to the town to take the waters and traces of that fashionable period remain in its place names. Spa House, a landmark mock Tudor property built in 1828, was constructed over a well.
Young Irelander Thomas Davis was born here and last year the town erected a statue in front of the Clock House (right) to commemorate the bicentenary of his death.
Like every other town in Ireland, Mallow was badly hit by the recession. Trading remains difficult but the destination shops work hard to communicate with their customers on social media in order to get them (literally) across the threshold.
And there are positive signs. On the main street alone three new premises are about to open. Liam O'Boylehas been operating Yourprint.ie, an online printing business, out of his home but needs to expand the operation so he's opening a premises. Barry Enright, a personal trainer at the Hibernian Leisure Club, is also opening on the street. His shop, Fitness Solutions, will sell specialist sportswear. Shooz, the third new retail space, will sell footwear.
Less than €20: Ian Lucey is the fifth generation of his family to work in their butcher- cum-deli. The Luceys rear outdoor pigs on their farm during the summer. They grow vegetables and use the apples from the orchard to make their own juice, which costs €4 per 750ml. They also do outside catering and for €65 they will deliver a supply of meals to first-time parents anywhere in Ireland, to be there when you get home from the hospital with the baby. It works well as a gift. Lucey Good Food Shop, 57 Main Street; 022-21130; luceysgoodfood.com
Less than €50: The Lime House is a gem of a gift and interiors shop set up by chartered accountant Catriona Cregan almost a year ago, in what used to be a dry cleaners. Ever the bean counter, she kept the dry cleaner's rails and has cleverly used them to display her lighting range. She stocks furniture from Kelston House, cute French Djeco toys and sells loads of Churchill china. A Savanna print teapot costs €65, a tea-for- one pot is €50 and a teacup and saucer €20. The Lime House, 64 Main Street, Mallow; 022-21791
Less than €100: Aoife Myler Herlihy took over Moda in 2011 having worked in the shop for six years prior to that. As she was pregnant with her first child, her sister Eadaoin moved down from Dublin to help her. Eadaoin now works for Avoca but still helps with the buying and is great at finding new labels, including Danish brands Just Female and Samsoe & Samsoe. Herlihy likes to stock clothes that will take her customers from desk to dinner effortlessly – she calls them workhorse clothes. Stylish and affordable Selected Femme, pictured, is one of her strongest selling brands. This linen/viscose, sand-coloured summer coat costs €159.95; the off-white top is €49.95; and black trousers, €89.95. The yellow suede sneakers cost €99.95. Moda Mallow, 143 Bank Place, Mallow; 022-42737
Less than €500: Co-Op Superstores is the retail division of Dairygold Co-Operative Society Limited and it has been serving the people of Munster for more than 100 years. It now has a chain of 39 shops, ranging from one-man operations to superstores like the one in Mallow. In addition to being an agri store, it sells lots of goods for the home including paint, flooring, power tools, stoves and pet care. (This chicken coop, €258.75, should help keep foxes at bay.) It also hosts a farmers' market on Friday mornings. Dairygold Co-Op Superstores, Park Road, Mallow; 022-21204; coopsuperstores.ie
Over €500: Paul Birchall has been cycling all his life. It's also in his kids' DNA. His 17-year-old daughter Emily Birchall is now racing for Ireland on the Irish squad and training with Nicholas Roche's development squad. Birchall opened specialist shop Pi Cycles two years ago. Every staff member is a cyclist so you can expect good advice. The big thing, he says, is to get a bike that fits properly. If you don't live locally you can call and take advice over the phone and he can arrange to get your two wheels delivered to you anywhere in the country. Focus bikes, pictured, range from €475 to €525. Pi Cycles, 152 W End, Mallow; 022-31717; picycles.ie
Down Time: Stroll to Mallow Castle, which overlooks the Blackwater, one of the country's finest salmon rivers. It is home to a herd of white fallow deer, descendants of a pair gifted to the castle by Queen Elizabeth I.