13 Aug 2022

Sports and carnival highlights of year in Offaly village

Sports and carnival highlights of year in Offaly village

Rita O'Rourke

In the sixth part of the “People of Killeigh & Beyond” series Rita O'Rourke recalls her family's involvement in the village shop, then and now a central part of life in Killeigh.

“My mother Maura Buckley came to Killeigh village in 1924, aged two, with her brother Paddy, sister Kathleen and parents Andrew and Mary Buckley (Mary Hayes from Ogonnelloe in county Clare) They had bought a house in Killeigh village and they opened a small grocery shop there. The shop has continued to trade to this day almost a 100 years later.

In 1950 Maura took ownership of the premises and ran it until her retirement in 1972. During that time she married Jim Mahon and had four daughters, myself, Geraldine, Mary and Catriona all of whom worked in the shop intermittently and sometimes reluctantly!  

Being situated on the main road and having petrol pumps and an air compressor we had a passing trade as well as our regular customers. Most of the shopping was done with daily and weekly orders placed for groceries. Milk in particular was on order as we didn't have a fridge or cold room for storage. It was also only available in glass bottles.

Bread was delivered to the shop unwrapped and unsliced so had to be parcelled with brown paper and tied with twine for the customer. A big part of the shopkeepers work was the weighing and packing of loose goods for sale. Tea, sugar, biscuits and sweets to name but a few.

In the store room there were big wooden containers for storing bran, pollard, flour and pigmeal. These were also weighed and packed ready for the customer.

Each Thursday a full side of bacon was delivered by Midland Butter & Bacon Co. to be cut and divided into various pieces ready for existing customer orders.

Travelling salesmen called every few weeks, where products required were placed on order for delivery to the shop for sale. This was done prior to the opening of Cash & Carry and Wholesale Stores. Credit facilities were very much part of this era for both shopkeeper and customers, with very few cash sales.    

Even though shop life was busy there was a much slower pace of life with people congregating for chats. The busiest times in the shop were Sunday morning after both Masses. Also each evening after football and hurling on the green (opposite the shop) and handball in the ball alley with a big rush for sales of ice cream and minerals.

Occasionally Mammy had to treat some casualties of these games. Having been a former member of the Red Cross Organisation she was very capable of administering first aid to those in need of patching up!

Of course the highlight of the business calendar was the annual August Monday Sports and the Macra na Feirme Carnival with both of these occasions attracting people from all the surrounding areas and where many a romance began.........sales of petrol and fancy sweets bought in especially were very high. These occasions were known to us as "our harvest"!    

Now after almost 50 years since the shop was sold to Dan and Mary Coughlan and subsequently to the McEnroe family and the present owners Frank and Liz Gorman a lot of changes have occurred in the way people shop. There are many more choices for the shopper now with the opening of supermarkets and with the big increase of cars on the road, people have access to the various supermarkets.  

Fortunately for my family it is lovely to see, what was our home and business still up and running very successfully by the current owners.  

Long live the village shop!”

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