Irish Times Best Shops: the competition draws to a close

Breakfast cafes, a craft shop where you can sit and knit and a pharmacist who cares are nominated

It's the final week of the Best Shops in Ireland competition and we've logged more than 23,000 nominations for shops, with food and drink shops and cafes leading the nomination numbers.

Poffs in the Lane is a morning and lunch cafe in Kenmare, Co Kerry, run by a chef who used to work up the delectable breakfasts at the nearby Park Hotel. "It's a place you can go to while away the hours and nearly forget where you are," writes reader Fiona Doyle in her nomination. "On certain days of the week, you'll spot local farmer Billy Clifford delivering vegetables directly from his farm, located just outside of the town. All the cakes and pastries are baked on site, but you have to get in early to guarantee yourself a melt-in-the-mouth pear and almond tart or fruit scone."

In Limerick, Brian McMahon finds himself returning to Canteen on Mallow Street, week after week. "Judging by the huge number of regulars who can be seen whenever you visit, I'm not the only one." Canteen's slogan is 'honest fast food' and that's exactly what you get. "They do an amazing breakfast with items from French toast to breakfast sandwiches made with sourdough to yogurt pots."

In Dublin, there's a rave review from Laurie Schneider for Coffee to Get Her – a pop-up coffee shop located inside the George Bernard Shaw pub on Richmond Street, which operates Monday to Saturday from 8.30am to 5pm. "Everyone that walks in the door of Leo and Daria's cafe is made to feel like one of their extended Italian family, so much so that I and my extended family attended their wedding last year in Italy. "


According to Ryan Coyle, Dunnes of Donnybrook is a top class butchers shop "with carcasses hanging in the window". He likes it for the "melt in the mouth dry-aged beef, award-winning sausages and knowledgeable and friendly staff".

Sandra Gaffney says Doran's on the Pier in Howth has "the freshest fish on the pier – just off their own trawler".

Reader Fiona Lynott is moving to Perth soon and one of the things she will most miss about the Irish capital is the Bretzel Bakery in Portobello, Dublin 8. "The freshly baked breads and treats are the best in Dublin... The fact that you see the same old reliable faces there day in and day out speaks volumes. Many a weekend stroll along the canal starts with coffee and a cake from the Bretzel."

Rob Cedres says Thomas Woodberry is the best wine shop in Galway. "You can tell they love what they do. It has a wide variety of wines and ever changing and interesting promotions in the relaxed and atmospheric shop that is without pushy sales men." Meanwhile, in Clontarf, Kevin Hoy says his favourite shop is Clontarf Wines – a place that offers "interesting suggestions for presents, challenging usual choices, which is great".

For those who like working with their hands, reader Frances Dillon suggests Crafty in Wexford town, a family-run wool shop and haberdashery where you can sit down and pick up your needles. "And if something is not available in the shop it shall be got for you."

Sarah Leonard says that some of the best books she's read, "ones I would never have even picked myself in a million years, have been personally recommended by Gwen of The Company of Books in Ranelagh".

Tina de Burca's son bought his first BMX bike from Leo Coffey of C&C Cycles, who sells and repair bicycles, chainsaws, garden machinery and tractor parts, as well as work clothes, spray paints and bits and pieces, as she puts it. The service was unparalleled. "He rang his suppliers for all the options, ordered one for him specially, gave our son a discount and let him pay it off over eight weeks. Once when he couldn't order a part, he offered to bring in his own."

The salon section has garnered 21 per cent of all votes so far and all readers talk about the attention to detail their local salon gives. Robyn Kealy loves the fact that the staff at Roscrea Hair and Beauty "never leave you sitting waiting for longer than five minutes and are polite".

Audrey Hunter says the staff at Patrick Gildea, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, "listen to their customers and every customer is made feel like they are their only customer even when the salon is really busy". And when Kate Swift found herself on crutches, Trina, who runs her eponymous nail salon in Bailieborough, Co Cavan, "came to my home to make sure my nails looked fab ".

In the best fashion shop category Louise Gallagher loves Maven, an upstairs boutique on Wicklow Street, Dublin 2, that she says "is like being invited into a friend's living room. The owner, Sharon Beatty, is always on hand to help put an outfit together. Some of her own designs, Miss Beatty, are found on the rails."

In the home and design category Daniel Devine has nominated Twenty Six – an Eclectic Mix in Nenagh because it is "filled with really, truly nice things that you don't see anywhere else".

Laina Buckley has also given it her vote because as well as nice decor "it smells lovely".

Teresa Keegan cannot say enough good things about Olivia O'Regan, owner and pharmacist at Foody's Pharmacy in Ballina, Co Mayo. "She was a godsend to me when I became my dad's carer, always on hand with invaluable advice and a friendly ear. She was usually my first point of call whenever I needed advice and to be totally honest I don't think I could have managed to look after him without her. Olivia and her staff always went above and beyond whenever I needed advice or help including delivering medication when I couldn't get into town. She even cried with me when he passed away."

The Irish Times Best Shops in Ireland competition is backed by AIB. Nominations close at midnight on Wednesday, August 3rd.