Greystones institution prepares to bid a sweet farewell

Bridie Mooney is retiring on Christmas Eve after 60 years of running her sweet shop

Bridie Mooney (86) in her Greystones shop with her grandson Tadhg (11) and daughter Aine. Photograph: Peter Murtagh

Bridie Mooney (86) in her Greystones shop with her grandson Tadhg (11) and daughter Aine. Photograph: Peter Murtagh

 

Bridie Mooney stands outside her sweet shop in Greystones, smiles and gives a little V for victory sign.

And well she might.

At 86 years of age and some 60 years behind the counter, Mrs Mooney has decided to retire and on Christmas Eve will close the door to Mooney and Sons on Trafalgar Road, perhaps the best known and most loved shop in the north Wicklow seaside town.

“She’s done many, many years,” said a lady customer of a certain vintage who dropped by yesterday morning for a chat. “She’s a wonderful woman.”

“Ah you’ll still see her at Mass,” Aine, her daughter, reassured the woman who was genuinely saddened at the news.

Bridie Mooney’s is loved in the way small town institutions with personality invariably are – as is the sprightly, sparkling woman who has made Mooney’s what it is and herself remains in rude good health, a stiff left shoulder notwithstanding.

The shop with its original, China blue painted shopfront, is a Greystones institution, an old fashioned, higgledy-piggledy place selling everything from briquettes to loo rolls to cooking oil to tins of peas and bags of sugar, to newspapers and gobstopper sweeties.

It is full of community notices and photographs and non-commercial items for sale including, at present, a lovely painting of a golden Labrador.

There’s a leather armchair to one side where the weary can linger for a longer chat with Bridie who known everyone in the town and is a mine of information.

She broke the news of her imminent closure by posting an announcement on her Facebook page, Mrs Mooney’s shop.

“It is with great sadness that I have decided to close my beloved shop,” she wrote. “I am going to retire in my fine old age and take some time to myself. I have enjoyed all your company for so many years.

“A lot of hard thought has gone into my decision and it is with a heavy heart that this decision has been made. I want to thank all my loyal customers young, old, past, present for all your kind words and business throughout the years.”

There was an immediate outpouring of sadness mingled with gratitude and affection.

By yesterday afternoon, more than 1,500 townspeople had reacted on the page, many of them writing fond farewells.

Early life

Yesterday in the parlour of her home attached to the shop, Bridie reflected on her life and times.

She was born in Hackettstown, Co Carlow, and married Robert Mooney, a Greystones butcher and fuel merchant.

They had seven children – three girls and four boys, one of whom, Patrick, will continue to run the fuel yard behind the shop.

“There’s no one buying newspapers now,” said Bridie, noting changed purchasing habits. “We used to sell hundreds and had a delivery boy as well.”

Mooney’s is the last old-style newsagent in the town and Bridie laments the effects of shops like Lidl and Aldi.

When Bridie moved to Greystones 62 years ago, she was the only mother on Trafalgar Road with a pram – “a silver Princess and we thought we were millionaires!” she recalls. Now the town is “busy, busy, busy with cars”.

But some things don’t change – such as the appeal of sweet to children. Every day at 1.40pm when the nearby national school closes, children pile into Bridie for Fizzy Worms, Jelly Sharks, Yellow Belly Snakes, Camel Balls (“they love asking for those,” says Bridie), Pigs Mugs and Blue Bon Bons.

“The shop is mobbed!” she says. “The boys love this one,” she adds, reaching for a small yellow circular container emblazoned with the words “Toxic Waste” – a sherbet-style concoction, apparently.

“They’re all good,” she says fondly of the children.

Next year, she hopes that someone will lease the shop and breath new life to it while Bridie, meanwhile, enjoys her retirement.

She might go to Australia to see a nephew, she says.

And on Christmas Eve when she closes the door for the last time, what then?

“I’ll have to have a Jameson,” she says with a big smile and her eyes twinkling.