Maggie Pat's Shop

Oughterard Newsletter April 2012

Michael O'Connor

I can see it today in my mind’s eye as clearly as I saw it when I entered it for the first time over seventy years ago. This very special cottage all covered with ivy was not only the home of Maggie Pat, but it was also the Parish Shop. People came to shop here from as far away as Doon, Gorthacanaun, Porridgetown, Collinamuck, Knockferry, Ower and the surrounding villages of Pollagh, Garnagry, Pribbaun, Rosscahill and our own village, Killannin.

More than just a Shop

As well as being a well stocked shop it was a meeting place where people came together, discussed current events and enjoyed the local “gossip”. It was wonderful for us youngsters, to be sent there to do the shopping as there were many attractions which appealed to us. I liked being sent as “an errand boy” for the local farmers, my neighbours in the village, to get their supplies. Buying their cigarettes was the most exciting of all as I had been given permission to take the cards in all the packets as I collected them. It became a hobby for me; the cards would eventually be put into an album that was also available. There were different series in operation; there was a series on Hollywood film stars,  flags of different nations, others on sporting events, flowers, animals, fish, insects and birds. They were all so colourful and were only in packets of Players Cigarettes – one card in boxes of ten and two cards in boxes of twenty. In Goldflake “cigs” there were miniature playing cards that could be collected. So I enjoyed being an “errand boy”.

Sweets and Treats

Maggie also sold all kinds of sweets in her shop, I remember bulls eyes, toffees, long strings of liquorice resembling bootlaces and everybody’s favourite – Peggy’s leg. There was a huge variety to choose from. Then she always had the favourite “Geary’s Biscuits” or as we called them – penny biscuits as they just cost one penny each! What a bargain! Maggie also sold tea, sugar, soap and lots of domestic goods. One of the most popular items of all was paraffin oil. This was just before the War began and before long we all would be feeling the pinch when eventually paraffin oil would not be available and when that did become the case Maggie did a brisk trade in candles for a few years.

Cards at Maggie’s House

Her house was a favourite place for card playing too, especially around Christmastime when we would play for different items from the shop. Sometimes we played with partners, other times singlehanded. Often I came home with two or three large Christmas candles under my arm! What an enjoyable time we had!

Maggie’s Special Armchair

One of the most interesting features of Maggie’s shop was for me as a child of six was a special armchair for children; I had never seen a chair so small. I was really amazed to see this small chair. When Maggie took me down and seated me in it I felt like a king – a lovely memory.

Maggie was really a wonderful lady who loved everybody and made everyone welcome. It was a home away from home for many who called in on their travels around Ireland, it’s sad to think that Maggie’s Shop is no more.


This page was added on 30/04/2012.

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