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Mary Casey, Shirley Benson, Nuala Maxwell and Shirley Benson of the Cahercalla Hospice Charity Shop who won first prize at the annual Clare Champion Christmas Shop Window Display competition in the Old Ground hotel, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly.

A vintage Christmas in Ennis

A real team effort has helped the staff of the Cahercalla Hospice charity shop scoop first prize in The Clare Champion’s annual Christmas Window Display Competition.

This year’s competition theme was A Vintage Christmas, with a particular emphasis on 1916 and the 100th anniversary of a changing Ireland.

Clare Champion managing director John Galvin presenting Ann Gavin and Shirley Benson of the Cahercalla Hospice Charity Shop with first prize at the announcement of the winners of the annual Clare Champion Christmas Shop Window Display competition. Photograph by John Kelly.
Clare Champion managing director John Galvin presenting Ann Gavin and Shirley Benson of the Cahercalla Hospice Charity Shop with first prize at the announcement of the winners of the annual Clare Champion Christmas Shop Window Display competition. Photograph by John Kelly.

The charity shop in Ennis’ Marketplace wowed the judges with its impressive array of authentic period pieces, including books covered in newsprint from the time.

Anne Gavin, who works in the shop, explained, “All of the staff came together and brought something in from home to decorate the window. It was a big team effort and we all had great craic doing it.”

Co-worker Mary Casey brought in an old book of Irish fireside songs which her father owned, while other items donated for the display include clay pipes, an old fashioned bottle of stout and glass, coins and an old teapot.

Ana and Dan Hassett of Wild Atlantic Wools and Gifts at the announcement of the winners of the annual Clare Champion Christmas Shop Window Display competition. Photograph by John Kelly.
Ana and Dan Hassett of Wild Atlantic Wools and Gifts at the announcement of the winners of the annual Clare Champion Christmas Shop Window Display competition. Photograph by John Kelly.

The staff say they were thrilled with the win. “We were just in awe over it, I never thought we would get first prize. When I saw the window completed and how great it looked, I had a feeling that we would win something but not first prize. Everybody working here in the shop all put in a bit of input and we’re just delighted with how it turned out,” Mary added.

They paid tribute to shop manager Shirley Benson for her work in bringing it all together. The shop has won €1,000 worth of advertising in The Clare Champion.

Second place in the competition went to Forget Me Not in the Market, who have won a €600 advertising voucher, while third was the Ennis Bakehouse, who will receive a €400 advertising voucher.

Shelly Galvin of The Clare Champion said they were “blown away” with the standard this year, with more than 40 businesses all over Ennis entering for a chance to win prizes courtesy of The Clare Champion.

Carol Buckley, Mairead Mannion and Martin Waldron at the announcement of the winners of the annual Clare Champion Christmas Shop Window Display competition. Photograph by John Kelly.
Carol Buckley, Mairead Mannion and Martin Waldron at the announcement of the winners of the annual Clare Champion Christmas Shop Window Display competition. Photograph by John Kelly.

“This is the 13th year of the window display competition and every year the entries get stronger and stronger. People did wonderful vintage windows and interpreted the theme in many different ways, helping to bring a bit of additional festive cheer to the town. And we are hoping that this will encourage more people to come into Ennis and shop local,” she said.

Regarding the overall winners, she said the Cahercalla Hospice charity shop stood out due to its attention to detail. “The window had the highest marks across all seven judges. It was really down to the little details, like the books wrapped in newspapers about Michael Collins, which made it so special.”

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