A retired shopkeeper by the name of Paddy O’Donovan put on his ol’ shop coat for the first time in over a decade and a half yesterday. Daily life in Ireland just fifteen years ago was far different than it is today.
His grocery shop, which was opened by his grandfather Simon Prenderville in 1922, was recreated as part of a nostalgic look back at the changing face of a town.
When Mr O’Donovan took over the family business on High Street, Killarney, Co Kerry, it was one of around 14 thriving grocery shops in the town.
Most have since ceased to be part of the streetscape, but were captured in watercolour by artist Patrick McCarthy, who grew up in the town.
A selection of these, painted over an 18-year period, now make up a new wall calendar, ‘Killarney 2013 past and present’ which was published yesterday to raise money for the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.
Nine of the 12 buildings featured in the calendar no longer exist. Others have been taken over by new owners, given a facelift and are virtually unrecognizable.
All the paintings are on permanent exhibition in Bricin Restaurant and Craft Shop, right next door to where Mr O’Donovan’s shop used to be on High Street, now a Mahers Sports outlet.
“We used to sell everything from butter to farming stuff, brushes, ropes, eggs, you name it,” Mr O’Donovan recalled.
“We had some great years but for the last couple of years before I sold up the supermarkets had taken over.”
Mr McCarthy says the town is a different place to the one he grew up in.
“There were very few houses outside the town. Everyone lived in the centre, over their shops or in the lanes, and were there for centuries,” he said.