Seamus Griffith obituary: Shopkeeper who loyally served his community

Lives Lost to Covid-19: His shop, Thriftway in Raheny, was a warm and welcoming place

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Seamus Griffith 1938-2020

Seamus Griffith kept a small brown leather suitcase in the attic. It was tied with a butcher's knot and he delighted in telling his family they were not allowed to open it until he was gone.

That time came much sooner than everyone expected. Seamus contracted Covid-19 and died on April 16th. Weeks passed before his family could bring themselves to open the suitcase. When they did, they found the story of his life. Seamus was 13 when his mother Kitty helped him to pack the suitcase. One of seven children, he was leaving the family farm in Rathanna, Co Carlow to work in a general store in Graiguenamanagh. The case contained letters from his mother, handwritten job applications, religious pictures, Irish ballad songbooks and treasured family photos.

The suitcase accompanied him to Dublin when the young shopkeeper moved to East Wall and again when he arrived in Raheny in 1965. Any plans to return to Carlow were shelved when he met the love of his life, Ann Corr, in the Ierne Ballroom. After sharing a dance and a Club Orange with her, Dublin became his future. The couple married in 1967 and had five children.

He achieved his dream when he opened his own supermarket – Thriftway – in Raheny. His shop became a warm and welcoming place in a close-knit community and was fondly christened “Shamo’s”.

Many teenagers, including his own children, got their first jobs there and local people, charities and sports groups benefited from his many small kindnesses.

At 81 he was still sweeping up the leaves, planting the flower beds and chatting to passersby

He served on the Raheny Business Association for 32 years and was delighted to be crowned Raheny's first honorary lord mayor in 1984. Wearing a regal gown and chain of office, he was paraded through the village in a horse-drawn carriage with Ann by his side, loving every minute of it.

Seamus retired from the shop in 2004 but wasn’t idle for long. The Raheny Tidy Village group became his new passion, and his high-vis jacket was a constant presence on the streets of Raheny. At 81 he was still sweeping up the leaves, planting the flower beds and chatting to passersby.

His affection for Raheny was reflected back at him on the day of his funeral. Seamus Griffith had arrived in Raheny 55 years earlier as a stranger, but on his final journey through the village, hundreds of people lined the streets to applaud his contribution to their community.