Sunday, November 5, marked the closing of the last shop in Knockerra parish with Power’s Shop calling time on trading after an estimated 150 years in existence.
It was a sad day for the community because the shop was an asset to the locality and the personal service offered by the Power family over the years was much appreciated by their customers.
Killimer Local History Group spokesperson, Nora Madigan told The Clare Champion it was a “very sad and lonesome” day for Knockerra saying, “every child loved Power’s for the sweets and ice-creams.‘Twas more than a shop, ‘twas everything and like a social hub in the community”. She added it was the social aspect of the shop that was important and recalled how in the ‘Ballroom of Romance’ days, revellers from the Knockerra Hall would go in there for refreshments. Ms Madigan said generations of people were well served by the local family saying her own mother who was born in 1916, had memories of walking to the shop as a child to fetch messages.
Anne-Maria Power was the last member of the family to run the shop, following in the footsteps of her parents, Tessie and Tommie Power. Sadly, Tessie passed away in early September and Tommie died in May 2013. Tessie had stepped down from running the shop a couple of years ago as her health started to decline, and then Anne-Maria took it over. Her brother, Gerard Power works in the SuperValu supermarket in Kilrush.
Power’s Shop also had a petrol station and sold postage stamps for the letterbox outside so that people didn’t have to travel the seven kilometres into Kilrush to buy them. In recent years, fish was sold on Fridays with Anne-Maria posting tasty recipes on social media. And when the last proprietor of the shop got sick with Covid-19 earlier this year, she still thought to serve the local community by leaving the newspapers outside the door how her regular customers were not stuck and could pick one up from there.
The pandemic proved challenging for business as it did for retailers all around the country. Anne-Maria adapted by offering a window service, encouraging customers to phone ahead with their order and she would have it ready for collection when they arrived. She also offered a free home-delivery service.
Nolan-Power’s Shop, as it was often referred to, was one of the earliest shops in the parish and did a steady business throughout the years. Tim Nolan and his wife ran the very successful retail business before handing it over to their only daughter, Mary who later married Thomas Power in 1926. Thereafter, it was handed down to the next generation of Powers with Tommie and Tessie Power next running it.
Two articles included in 2016 and 2021 books written by the Killimer Local History Group described the wonderful array of produce for sale in Power’s in times past. The group this week shared photographs of old invoices, weighing scales and weights from the shop on their Facebook page. The yellowed invoices reveal how both the Nolan and Power families traded under the title ‘General Grocer, and Flour and Meal Merchant’.
The articles told of how, with Mary and Thomas Power at the helm, business flourished. The shop sold groceries and varied goods. Hardware items like shovels, forks, brushes, horseshoes, nails, pig rings, ropes and paraffin oil were sold.
Household goods included washboards, red lead paint, yellow ochre powder paints which had to be weighed. Animal food like maize meal, oatmeal and flour were also offered to customers at the premises.
And smokers were well catered for with a great choice. Mick McQuaid and Clarke’s brands of tobacco were sold by the half ounce, one oz and two oz quantities. Pipes, pipe covers and cleaners were sold, as was snuff. Candles too were a best seller in Power’s in the days before the Rural Electrification Scheme brought electricity to West Clare.
The articles record how Tom Power personally collected the lime for sale from Hegarty’s Lime Kiln, Ballynacally in his horse and cart returning with it to sell. Tom reared and killed his own pigs and sold the salt bacon. He also had a herd of cows selling the fresh milk in the shop.
From 1939, The Clare Champion was always sold and Tom collected The Irish Press and The Irish Independent at the main road to sell to his customers. Power’s customers were allotted a cash-book each and were allowed credit / tick, mainly on a monthly basis. When cattle were sold or the creamery cheque was paid, they settled their bills.
Last but not least, Nolan’s /Power’s was a very attractive shop to children with its great range of loose sweets like bulls’ eyes, cloves (five for 1d – one old pence), lollipops, sherbet dabs, and Geary’s penny cakes it was said, would make the teeth water. And biscuits which came in tins were sold loose in bags by their weight.
As for Power’s Shop ceasing business, as the Killimer Local History Group so aptly put it, “Níl in aon rud ach seal” – nothing lasts forever.
Sharon Dolan D'Arcy
Sharon Dolan D'Arcy is originally from Ennis. Her work as a print journalist has appeared in a number of regional publications. She worked as court reporter at The Sligo Weekender newspaper and is a former editor of The Athenry News and Views. She covers West Clare news.