Family business shuts up shop after 58 years

Tough call...proprietors Bernie and Paul Duffy behind the couner this week. Photos: Iain McDonald.

A family business in Headford is to close its doors after 58 years of selling hardware, garden and angling equipment to the public.

Father and son Paul and Kevin Duffy ran the shop, which had regular customers from as far away as Carraroe.

In 1946 and six months into a teacher-training course in Dublin, Kevin’s eyesight began to deteriorate rapidly and he was advised to discontinue his studies. He instead became a shop assistant.

When his mother sold the family farm, he bought a shop in Kilmaine and made his name in mainly agricultural equipment.

He then moved to Headford in 1959, opening K Duffy & Sons Ltd on the Main Street.

A keen angler, Kevin diversified into fishing equipment and boats to cater for the influx of anglers to the Corrib.

In latter years the business sold everything from a packing needle to a boat anchor, ride-on lawnmowers to outboards engines. On his retirement, Kevin wrote a book called 50 Years Behind the Counter, a chronicle of the life of a rural shopkeeper, topping the best sellers’ list for a few months in Kenny’s Bookshop.

In one anecdote, he recalled how housewives would use the recently arrived washing machines to churn butter as an example of rural ingenuity.

Kevin died in 2014 at the age of 86. His wife Jo recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

Paul, who has never worked elsewhere, said it was sad to close a family business after six decades.

But after receiving a new hiked insurance premium, he decided it was time to hang up his apron as the figures no longer made sense.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.