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Gorey ; A personal nostalgic trip down memory lane

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

As we all advance up the chronological ladder there is a greater memory bank to look back on and I just love to occasionally travel back on bóithrín na smaointe.

In that memorable song “The Rare Ould Times” composed by Pete St John for the Dublin City Ramblers, we hear “The Pillar and The Met have gone, The Royal long since pulled down, As the grey unyielding concrete makes a city of my town, et cetera.

Likewise, Gorey is expanding rapidly and keeps on changing. It has lost its small-town intimate cosiness, but it retains a friendly charm of its own and still feels a lot like the same.

*I remember my stage days in the late sixties and early seventies with Arklow Parish Drama Group in Gorey and the Tara Ballroom in Courtown for ten years of my life. Before we went on stage in Gorey, we had a few bevvies in John French’s pub. The Premier House, now run by Jim French, which was and still is an institution in Gorey retaining its little unique seed and gardening section in addition to its primary function of selling gargle. It is a lovely, antiquated style bar with a unique character that only The Premier House French premises has, with music and philosophy of life chats being regular menu items.

*The haircut was another ritual going into Noel Halfords with Noel emerging from the kitchen after a brief respite for a cuppa and recommenced haircutting. He was the epitome of the true barber with ready chat line and totally knowledgeable about all local affairs. This family business, though changed to keep up with hairdressing trends, still has the Halford name over the door celebrating 100 years there since his father Leo started the business in 1923.In the intervening years after Noel died his son Sean and his wife Kay ran the business with Sean having left the business from 1972 till 1986 when he worked in Avoca Mines. Now a fourth generation is in charge with his daughter Maeve now running the studios since 2019.

* Jack and Bridie Whitmore started in business in 1957 as Whitmore’s Jewellers on 37 Main Street, Gorey. This well-maintained premises stands out in its preeminent location in Gorey town with its well-stocked family run jeweller’s shop. The family business started by their parents is a special place all the year round. They stock a huge range of quality jewellery and gifts. They also have a very nice presence in Gorey Shopping Centre with their friendly, bright, quality stocked jeweller’s shop.

*As we progress down Main Street, Gorey we see another institution in the form of Funges long established drapery business since 1937. This is a huge modern family run department store which stocks a huge range of brands. They set a standard in the area for the quality of their stock and the inspirational window arrangements with regular changes and some very special seasonal displays. They are very much part of traditional past and future of Gorey with their well-located store in its prime position on Gorey’s main Street. A browse around their shop is well worth a visit.

*Michael Redmond Snr ran a busy Electrical shop on Main Street since 1978 in the premises now occupied by Fifth Avenue. He ran a very successful store until his untimely death when the business was taken over by his son Michael and daughter Nicola who moved and expanded the business to the WFC business park off the Paul Funge Boulevard. Here they run a super electrical store and nursery products. They retain the same warm welcoming customer centred atmosphere that pervaded the Main Street smaller premises run by their father. They are another family run premises that makes people love to shop in friendly lovely Gorey with a dazzling array of stock on display.

*Mylie Doyle’s set up shop in 1966 at 67 Main Street and is another family run premises that continues to help make Gorey the great friendly welcoming business town that it is noted for. Mylie’s son John and his wife Breda now run a lovely well stocked artisan food and wine store. A visit here is a must for locals and tourists alike.

*A Byrne couple set up Byrne’s confectionery and florist shop in 60 Upper Main Street, Gorey in the late 1800’s. They passed it on to their daughter Molly who ran the shop while also rearing her nephew, John Gibbons. He took over running he shop with his wife Peig. John died in 2006. They changed the name Byrne to Gibbons in 1970 for the simple reason that delivery people could never find the Gibbons shop. Peig and her son Paul now run the business. It is another great Gorey institution continuing the family trade with flowers for all occasions.

*Another long-time institution in town is Laurence Murphy’s who have been trading since the 1940s on Main Street. Many people can remember the grocery store and petrol pumps with the undertaking business at the rear up Cullen’s Lane. When Aidan and his late wife Eileen took over running the complex, they transformed the place into a very nice restaurant. It is a favourite spot with town and country folk alike for welcome wholesome food.

The Murphy’s undertaking business is now located on The Avenue, Gorey.

*Gorey people are blessed that we have great family run institutions in town thus ensuring the continuation and linkage with the great Gorey tradition of homely shopping. They are synonymous with the town for many generations. We are also lucky that a new breed of entrepreneur is starting up new businesses and work hard at making them successful thus giving Gorey that great business buzz and a destination town for boutiques, jewellers, wines, household goods, gift and card shops, art and craft stores, bookstores, hardware, and general supplies. In addition, the town and its environs have some excellent award-winning garden centres. Two large scale business parks provide much needed employment.

Another great bonus for Gorey is its excellent bus and train service being on the busy Wexford /Dublin rail and bus line with hourly bus service to the capital.

Gorey is home to five large supermarkets and boasts of a busy friendly shopping centre.

The town is also blessed to have excellent hotels, pubs, cinema, theatre hall and many excellent eateries around town which can cater for all tastes and pockets.

Yes, friendly Gorey is the place to be for summer 2023 and beyond. Gorey is just the ideal model town. Whatever your needs the living, buzzing, active, energised Gorey will provide it for you.

Mick O Callaghan 10/06/2023

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