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Michael Moloney re-visits his Dalcassian supermarket, filling station and fuel merchant business in Ruan village which closed in the late 2000's. Photograph by John Kelly.

Recalling a lost ’empire’in Ruan

THE introduction of large foreign multinational retail outlets has resulted in the demise of rural Ireland, according to a retired businessman.

Michael Moloney, (72), who ran the Dalcassian Bar in Ruan, has outlined how he built a “business empire” in the small village, which attracted hundreds of shoppers from surrounding towns and villages for years.

In 1968, Mr Moloney re-opened McGann’s pub in Ruan, which had closed due to a bereavement. He had learned the trade from managing a licensed premises in Galway City for more than two years and working five and a half years in the Diamond Bar in Ennis.

At the time the Diamond Bar had a great grocery and retail business, which proved to be a great learning ground for him.

Fr Carmody called into the pub he was working in Galway City and told him he should buy a property in Ruan.

With the help of a loan from AIB in Galway, he purchased the pub, a two-and-a-half storey building and an acre of ground for 2,400 Irish pounds.

“There was nothing in Ruan when I came into the place. People in the other shops were elderly and had started to wind down, and trade had gone down.

“Labour was cheap at the time. When we opened the pub we couldn’t keep the drink out to patrons, because it was closed for 15 or 20 years.

“I gave a lot of employment to people at the time. Between part-time and full-time I was employing nine people, who were mostly locals.”

The success of the pub provided him with the finance to open a small supermarket and the first petrol station in the village.

He was one of the first publicans to pay musicians to play Irish traditional music, which attracted many patrons.

About seven years later, the Dublin City Ramblers performed at the official opening of a bigger supermarket.

Becoming a fuel merchant also proved a great business idea, and he quickly increased his transport trucks from one to five over the years.

His wife, Theresa Coughlan from Kilmihil, who died about 10 years ago, proved a great help in driving the major development of the business into agri-supplies, such as sand, gravel, animal feeds, concrete and fertiliser, which were needed by local farmers.

“There is no point in providing something there isn’t a market for. I knew if I provided goods for the farming community I would do well. We worked long hours and managed to put our four daughters through college.

“I did everything in business fairly fast. I left school after my Inter Certificate, but I was always business-orientated,” he said.

In the 1980s, he recalled agricultural co-operatives started to focus more on providing agri-supplies, which did affect his business.

When his wife died, Mr Moloney decided to retire in 2009, after 30 years in business as there was too much bookwork.

“Theresa was the main cog behind me and we were a very good partnership in life. She was a huge loss. She ran the post office and when it closed it was a big blow to locals because we were providing everything for their needs”.

Dan Danaher

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