It’s hard to believe it now, but once upon a time we lived in a society which had no Lidls or Aldis or any other type of supermarkets.
As far as I remember, it was Pat Quinn with his bald head and distinctive glasses who first introduced us to the supermarket idea when he started off Quinnsworth somewhere up in Dublin.
His namesake (but no relation) Fergal then came up with the Superquinn model, and before we knew it we had several more. Now in almost every middling-sized town, we have Dunnes, SuperValu, Londis, Tesco, Centra, the two German stores and many, many more, all of whom have contributed to the decline of the local shop.
Back in those good old days we had the little country shop selling everything from the proverbial needle to the anchor, and villages like my own (Creggs) would have had seven or eight shops doing groceries, sweets, light hardware, etc. Some of them would sell animal feeds, fuel, and even coffins. However, back then the department store ruled the roost, and a department store was exactly what it said. Each shop had several departments, all with their own dedicated staff.
Pettit’s in Ballygar was known throughout the land, and customers came from all over to do their shopping there. Under the one roof you had giftware, drapery, hardware, footware, homewares, carpet and flooring sections, and out the back was the building supplies and fuel departments.
In Dublin, the big three were Clery’s, Brown Thomas and Arnotts. As a young lad, I can remember Mrs. B (my mother) talking about shopping in Brown Thomas. I don’t know if it was shopping or window shopping, but she was a big fan of that store. Time however passed on, and a lot of the big department stores – including Pettit’s – closed their doors, but Arnotts and Brown Thomas are still going strong and have become exclusive high-end shops.
Nowadays, if you are going to Arnotts to do your shopping, you would need a mini-bank behind you. Myself and Carol paid it a visit a little while ago, and I needed a stiff drink to recover from the shock at seeing the prices of clothes (thankfully it was a window shopping trip). So when our daughter rang us on Saturday evening to tell us that there was a massive Arnotts warehouse sale all last weekend near her (in Swords), we decided to head up there to check it out. And my God was it massive!
The sale was in a warehouse the size of a football pitch, with a marquee added on at the far end for the furniture and flooring, and there was everything from all kinds of electrical stuff to giftware, to bedding and bathroom stuff. You would need a full day to see it all.
Despite the rain which was pelting down there was a huge crowd coming and going, and the good news is that Carol was there long enough to grab a few (a good few) bargains, and, for the first time in my life I proudly carried bonafide Arnotts bags, with their own goods, to the car. I doubt if it will ever happen again, so I am saving the bags for posterity.
Then we called into the Airside Shopping Centre, and for me, the big excitement was in Harvey Norman’s, where the rain was literally pouring through the roof in bucketfuls. While they were doing their best to gather it up in dozens of buckets and barrels, eventually they gave up, and had to close the shop. I’d say there will be a fair insurance claim, as there was quite a bit of damage done as far as I could see.
Anyway, we hit for home some time around four pm and, just as we headed off, the snow came, and by the time we got near Enfield the motorway was white and traffic was down to almost a crawl. It stayed that way ‘till near Moate, and then, miraculously, the snow disappeared and it was back to the wind and rain. I was giving out about the rain on my way up, but I can honestly tell you I was never as glad to see it as I was on Sunday evening. Anyway, I was glad I went to see the warehouse sale, even though I normally hate that type of thing, but it was an education, and I certainly never saw as much stuff, of so many different types, under one roof before. If it happens again next year, I’ll find somewhere else to be.
Golfing in February
It’s Tuesday evening, February 26th, and if anyone had told me that I would be out playing golf on the beautiful parkland course that is Castlerea, I would have told them to go and have their head examined. But if they then said I would be playing in my shirt sleeves, I would have said they were beyond redemption and couldn’t be cured.
Every year, without fail, I have waited ‘till the month of May before coming out of my winter hibernation, but on that recent Tuesday I made a burst and played six or seven holes. The one thing that hadn’t changed – despite the wonderful weather – was the golf. As usual with me, the shots went in all directions – but seldom in the direction they should go.
Whenever people ask me as to how I played I always say that with me the score makes no difference. As long as I hit a decent whack on the ball I don’t really mind where it goes, provided it doesn’t hit any other unsuspecting golfer on a different fairway. Just the sheer enjoyment of following a ball around the lovely Castlerea course, and breathing clear fresh air – with an occasional visit to the woods to search for your own ball, or even someone else’s – makes it all so special, and I am fully intent on playing more often this year than in previous years. Hopefully I might even get a handicap, but that might be stretching it a bit.
Finally for this week…two big local social nights to tell you about. Firstly, don’t forget the big dance on this Friday night, 8th of March, in the Abbey Hotel. It’s in aid of the Lourdes Assisted Pilgrims Fund. There will be great music by The Lancers, Patsy McCaul, and the Frank Nelson Band. It’s all kicking off at 9 pm. There will be loads of spots and raffle prizes…it’s a great cause and will be great craic, so make sure you get there.
Meanwhile, Therese Kenny tells me that Cuisle are holding a St. Patrick’s fundraising party on Friday, 15th of March, in An Cuisle (starting at 9.30 pm). You are invited to turn up in green fancy dress, but that part is optional. There will be music, dancing, finger food, and spots (prizes, not pimples). Admission to both events is only €10, so in one throw of the dice there’s your next two Friday nights looked after! You can thank me later.
Till next week, Bye for now!