End of an era as Clogher shop closes after 124 years

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

End of an era as Clogher shop closes after 124 years thumbnailMcGirr’s shop at Kilnahushogue Road Clogher.

A LITTLE piece of the fabric of the Clogher Valley will be consigned to history as a country shop closes its doors for the last time after 124 years in business.

John McGirr & Son, on the Kilnahushogue Road three miles outside Clogher, will shut up shop for the final time on New Year's Eve.

The general merchant shop opened its doors on the 6th of August 1892 and has been a mainstay of the rural community there ever since.

Customers came to the shop from miles around, from Fintona, Ballygawley, Eskra and as far away as Trillick.

For good reason, too, as you could find almost anything in McGirr's.

From bootlaces to tilley lamps, bread to tobacco tins, if you couldn't find something elsewhere, there was a good chance of finding it up the Kilnahushogue Road.

In fact, the store is a positive treasure trove of information and items, with a number being taken recently by a local historian hoping to create a museum in the village of Clogher.

And Ethna McGirr, who has been running the shop on her own for the past 12 years, and her sister Ita, are inviting all past and current customers, friends and neighbours to come out to a special event at the shop this Saturday, 31st December.

John McGirr opened his shop in 1892, passing the reins on to his son, Willie, Ethna and Ita's father.

Their older brother, John, then took over the reins alongside Ethna, before he passed away, at which time Ethna took over full time.

As Ita says, the shop was at one time the hub of the small rural community.

"Our van used to be the taxi service and people hopped in if they needed to go to Belfast or Derry," she says.

"We had one of the first phones in the area and it meant all the messages would have come through here.

"A lot of the men in the area would have congregated around here in the evening as well, which daddy always enjoyed."

With the emergence of the massive chains of supermarkets, the shop isn't as busy as it once was.

And Ethna admits she has mixed feelings.

"I'll miss the customers coming in and out, but we think it's a good time to close,"she says.

"There'll be a part of it, no doubt, that will be relief," adds Ita, "that we have closed at the time of our choosing, rather than anyone else's.

"But it'll be sad and it will probably take a couple of weeks for the impact to hit home."

And Ethna and her sister have issued a heartfelt thank you to all who have played a major part in helping their family over the years.

"We just want to say thank you to the customers and our neighbours, in particular Paddy Connolly and Gerard McGlone and all the previous staff, in particular Jim Donnelly, who was with us for over 40 years.

"We have contacted as many people as we can and have invited them here on New Year's Eve."

The shop remains open until this Saturday, with the shutters coming down at 5.30pm to mark the end of an era.


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