Clonakilty shop once visited by Michael Collins to close

J MacCarthy’s in west Cork to shut down on Christmas Eve after 102 years in business

J MacCarthy newsagents on Pearse Street in Clonakilty, west Cork:  Michael Collins was one of its many customers. Photograph: Google Street Vsiew

J MacCarthy newsagents on Pearse Street in Clonakilty, west Cork: Michael Collins was one of its many customers. Photograph: Google Street Vsiew

 

A 102-year-old shop in Clonakilty, west Cork, is to close its doors for the last time on Christmas Eve.

J MacCarthy Newsagents on Pearse Street has had a long and distinguished history. Michael Collins called in to the shop on August 22nd, 1922, to buy newspapers. Just hours later, he was shot and died at Béal na Bláth.

Newsagent David MacCarthy says family lore is that Collins cut quite the striking figure when he popped into the shop in his last known sighting prior to his death.

“At the time there was a local seamstress in the shop and an O’Donovan lady and Collins came in to buy the paper. The ladies were gobsmacked. They thought he was beautiful.”

The shop was purchased in 1915 by David’s grandfather Flor for the princely sum of £450. David’s parents John and Kitty also ran the shop for many years with Mrs MacCarthy passing away in March of this year.

Many memories

David has had multiple careers and is All-Ireland medallist for football as well as a former science teacher. He is now 68 and says it will be a wrench for him and his wife Kay to give up the shop after so many years of memories.

“I put the shop on the market when I was 65, but nobody seems to want to do the hours. I was 23 when my father died. He died young. So I started working here then. My mother was great. She worked here for many years. We have had great times with lovely people and wonderful staff and many memories.”

David jokes that the shop hasn’t operated solely as a newsagents. It often moonlighted in the fields of medicine and tourism.

“We had one woman who used to give advice to people who came in coughing and spluttering and the local doctor came over and said ‘Are ye prescribing now?’ Or we would have people in looking for directions.

“I will miss the place hugely. I’m hoping that someone will come in and buy the premises and I would be open to leasing the premises if some party was interested.”