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01 Jul 2022

Community sadness as Laois shop shuts down

Community sadness as Laois shop shuts down

Sinéad Horan outside her family shop in Mountmellick, Laois. Photos: Kevin Byrne

There is great community sadness and a rush of fond memories in a Laois town at the closure of a family run local shop.

Ó Horáins in Mountmellick, a newsagents and gift shop has closed down after 63 years in business, with the loss of several jobs.

Proprietor Sinead Horan took the difficult decision to retire and close the shop her parents had first opened back in 1958.

She announced the news just before Christmas that it would close officially on New Year's Eve. The shop will briefly reopen for a closing down sale this Thursday and Friday, January 6 and 7 from 12 to 5pm.

Below: a final wave from Pauline, Sinéad, Breda, Aoife and Kitty. Photo: Kevin Byrne

"After coming home in the 1980’s to help my parents, Martin and Rose, to run the business, all these years later the counter has now become the basis for many long-standing friendships.

"This December 31st however, after being convinced by my family, I have made the tough decision to retire. My lifelong friends are all enjoying their retirement and maybe I’ve become a bit envious! So, the time has come to bite the bullet and join them. That means that I’m closing the doors on the shop for good.

"I want to thank everyone who has made Ó Hóráin’s what it is today. I will miss the chats, the laughs and all that comes with it. Thank you so much to the team of people who I consider to be more than colleagues- they are my family. A group of people upon whom I have relied on a daily basis- Breda, Kitty, Pauline, Dave, Nicole, Joanne and many more.

"I also want to thank my wonderful neighbours on the street, many of whom I’ve known for decades," she said.

Sinead was overwhelmed with the good wishes and memories shared by locals that followed her announcement.

"To everyone who called in to wish us well, the many cards, gifts, texts, calls and letters that came from near and far- really, the sentiment has been overwhelming. Thank you too for the kind words about my parents, and for sharing your recollections of them. I learned even more about how fabulous they were in the last week or two," she said. 

Geraldine Byrne thanked Sinéad on behalf of her daughter Aoife who has Down Syndrome and worked at O Horáins.

"You and your wonderful staff have given Aoife such a great experience of working in your shop. Aoife has truly enjoyed her time on a Saturday and truly looked forward to going in on a sat morning to work in your shop and enjoyed the chat and and laughs. I do have to say she was very upset when i told her but after all the tears were shed she said Sinead needs to do this for herself and her family. Its time for Sinead to get a break Best of luck Sinead and Thanks so much for giving Aoife a much loved job," she said. 

Annette Conroy was among many fondly recalling the lovely ice cream cones that O Horáins was famed for.

"Best wishes on your retirement Sinéad. Will always have good memories of the shop and fab cones after mass on Sunday's. It will be missed, it's a Mountmellick institution. Happy retirement," she said.

Hilary Donnelly recalled working in the shop.

"Aah Sinéad, I’m delighted for you and I wish you a very happy and healthy retirement. You so deserve it.  I also have a tear in my eye thinking that the shop is closing, it’s been a huge part of my life. It was my second home growing up. I learnt the best customer service skills from your Mam and Dad not to mention how to wrap gifts properly, and pull the best cones! It is more than a shop, an institution. Sending lots of love & hugs," she said.

Jimmy Johnson had the follow message.

"In the almost 20 years that I’ve known there was a place called Mountmellick, I’ve come to recognize this shop as an important part of this community. As with time, all good things must come to an end, but this shop will continue to live on in hearts and memories. My very first 99 happened right here!!! I wish everyone the very best and a most pleasant and happy retirement to you, Sinead!"

Local pharmacist Peter McElwee also wished her well.

"Wishing you the very best for your retirement Sinead - although I still think you’re too young!   Thank you and all your wonderful staff for your hard work and indeed service to the town. We will miss Ó Hóráin’s. From all of us at McElwees," he said.

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