Best specialist shop 2015: Cloon Keen Atelier
Cloon Keen Atelier has reclaimed the scented candle as something special
Margaret Mangan at Cloon Keen Atelier at 21a High Street in Galway city. Photograph: Joe O'Shaughnessy
A shop selling own-brand scented candles and fragrances that are made in Spiddal doesn’t sound like a business proposal any bank manager would jump at. But when you walk through the doors of Cloon Keen Atelier in Galway, it’s an instant hit.
Owner Margaret Mangan has reclaimed the scented candle as something special and it is her mix of international polish and local charm that makes this jewel-box sized space a super browsable place. “The service is informed yet you never under compliment to buy”, as reader Ann St. Ledger puts it.
Mangan first set up shop on Kirwan’s Lane in 2007 and earlier this year she moved to a more visible space with a higher footfall on High Street, in a premises that dates back to 1625.
Three fragrances and a candle have been shortlisted for Fragrance Foundation Awards (FIFI), the Oscars of the scent industry.
It was while working in a small perfume shop in Newfoundland that Mangan got her olfactory education. The owner, a Hitchcock blonde former model epitomised old school glamour and stocked small perfume houses that, until then, Mangan had never heard of.
For years she worked in film getting her first break as a lead in a Roger Corman production, Trained To Kill but she soon realised that the real alchemy happens behind the scenes and she began working as a production artist.
Later, she met her husband Julian Checkley, a special effects artist, on a film set. Together they created the interior of the atelier paying the same attention to the shop’s fit-out as they would any set design.
The range is small, just eight eau de parfums, 11 candles, three body creams and one linen spray, all macerated, bottled and poured in their perfume lab in Spiddal.
All are scented souvenirs of the shop experience, and we defy you to leave without buying something.
Cloon Keen Atelier, 21a High Street, Galway, 091 565 736, cloonkeenatelier.com