Community takes ownership with first of its kind shop

Posted on: 8th February, 2016

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

Pictured above: Chrissie and Billy Murphy with their daughter Jane remember when there were many grocery shops in Courtmacsherry. They are looking forward to a shop opening again in the village.

“Twas like going to America,” says Billy Murphy smiling, as he recalls cycling down the road from Abbeymahon to the thriving coastal village of Courtmacsherry, which in Billy’s youth boasted nearly more shops than people!

This is the first time in the history of the village since the 1800s that Courtmacsherry has been without a convenience shop, but if the fortitude of the local community has anything to do with it, this won’t be the case for long. With the last shop closing in the village in August 2015, a determined group of local residents put a lot of effort into researching what was involved in opening a community-run shop.

The initiative, which from the start received overwhelming support from local residents, has now obtained approval from the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society.

With the continued support of the local community, who are being offered the opportunity to buy shares, the shop is set to open this summer.

The first of its kind in West Cork, this initiative is a shining example of how a small rural community can come together to achieve something extraordinary.

Campaign spokesman Dara Gannon stresses the importance of public support once the shares go on offer. “We are asking anyone who has an interest in Courtmacsherry, not just locals, to purchase shares and help make this project happen. A shop is a vital part of the village, particularly during the summer months when there is an influx of tourists.

“There is no limit to the amount of shares an individual can buy and when you buy shares in the co-operative, you can cast your vote at the AGM to elect the board and officers,” says Dara.

A public meeting will be held in late February to provide information about the proposed shop, which will also serve as a tourist information point, and to offer the shares in blocks of €50.

As well as convenience items, it is planned that the shop will sell produce from local producers and fishermen.

The shop will be housed in a temporary structure on the pier until a permanent location is found.

Billy Murphy, 92, and his wife Chrissie, 84, who have lived in Courtmacsherry since they married in 1959, really miss the convenience of having a shop in the village. “When we were growing up,” says Chrissie, whose homeplace of Ballyhutch was only over the road “Courtmacsherry had so many shops. There was Con Regan’s, Michael John Donovan’s, which was a grocery shop and a dairy (I remember he used to deliver cans of milk outside the doors of the houses), Pat Joe Deasy, the butcher shop…”

“…and John O’Donovan had a shop selling parts for bicycles,” Billy joins in, “and Mrs O’Mahony ran the local post office.”

“Tina Love had a shop and her brother used to sell potatoes,” recalls Chrissie. “Tina used to sell loose flour in big white bags.”

“There was a garage in the village that repaired cars and sold petrol. We had three dance halls, Ruddock’s, Holland’s and the hotel,” recalls Billy nostalgically. “We used to cycle down to the dances when we were young and the Regatta was always a big day out for us.”

“I remember O’Neill’s of Kinsale had a horse drawn van that used to deliver bread to the village.”

“Don’t forget Hodnett’s grocery shop,” says Chrissie.

“During the summer months, people used to come to the village on holidays lock, stock and barrel and rent out a house for a month. Sometimes the people who owned the house were still there; they had their own quarters and rented out the rest.

“And every Sunday visitors arrived on the train from Cork at 12pm, catching the last one back at eight that evening. I used to curse the train when our children were small,” recalls Chrissie “it used to wake them up.”

“There were quite a few coal stores in the village,” says Billy. “The coal was brought in on the boats.”

“Madge Barry used to sell paraffin oil,” remembers Chrissie. “At the time it was rationed so she used to give us crude oil for boats, which we were glad of, but it blackened the house.”

“There were a few pubs too,” says Billy smiling. “Parkers was where Pier House is now and John Murphy, who was in the navy, had a pub where The Lifeboat Inn is now.”

From the 1850s to the 1960s, stone and later slate was also quarried in the village.

Billy and Chrissie’s daughter Jane recalls that there was a golf links at one time in the village. “We also had a couple of tennis courts,” Born in 1960, the eldest of three, Jane remembers there were seven shops in the village when she was growing up. “On a Saturday, we’d always take a list and the shopping bag down to Annie Driscoll’s and then go and pay for the week’s milk at Michael John’s (twas always a rough estimate, as he never kept count of the pints). The kids were always sent down during the week with the empty can and Michael John always poured the measure and an extra pint in on top.”

Billy Murphy, with the support of his wife Chrissie, developed a successful insurance business from his home in Courtmacsherry, for many years travelling by bicycle to collect the weekly insurance premiums in the surrounding parishes. He also put his energy into developing Courtmacsherry and was involved in many local organisations and projects, namely the Courtmacsherry Sea Angling Club, which he was instrumental in setting up, the Courtmacsherry Development and Festival Association and many other worthwhile initiatives including the Community Centre. He was also the Deputy Launching Authority for the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat for many years.

In 2015, his friend and neighbour Diarmuid Begley recorded Billy’s life story and his many memories in a book entitled ‘I Remember, I Remember – The Billy Murphy Story’.

Billy and Chrissie are very proud of the next generation in the village taking on this community initiative and very much look forward to having a shop again in Courtmacsherry.

The date for the public meeting in February will be announced on the Courtmacsherry Community Shop facebook page.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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