End of an era as family-run Limerick shop to serve last customer

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery

Sheahan’s shop and butchers in Askeaton is set to close Picture: Patrick Comerford

Sheahan’s shop and butchers in Askeaton is set to close Picture: Patrick Comerford

IT will be the ‘end of an era’ in one County Limerick town this spring when a popular family business, which has been in operation for more than 50 years, serves its final customer.

Sheahan’s Korner Shop and Butcher, Askeaton, will be closing up at the end of March. The brightly-coloured shop, in the town’s West Square, holds a special place in the hearts of locals. Generations of young people have memories of walking down the town after school to buy penny sweets and ice-cream.

Dozens of tributes have been paid on social media to the longstanding shop and its owners, Bridget Sheahan and her son Kevin, who took over as butcher after the death of Bridget’s husband Michael.

“It will be a sad day when the key turns for the last time. Can't remember a time without Bridget and Michael RIP, and then Kevin. It’s definitely the end of an era in Askeaton and one place that all will miss,” wrote one person.

“So sad to see such a major piece of Askeaton’s history go,” said another. “So many memories, Mr Freezes on the way home from the pool, and the best ‘penny’ mixture around.”

“I’m devastated,” posted another local. “Always got a lovely welcome in Sheahan’s shop – best 99s in Ireland!”

Another tribute read: “So sad to see ye go, a lot of memories for generations.”

“End of an era. The memories I have of moving to Askeaton and getting all my meat here, Michael was always so helpful, followed by Kevin. Enjoy your retirement Bridget, and thanks for the memories,” wrote another.

Nearly 100 wellwishers posted on the shop’s Facebook page to thank the family – and to tell Bridget to “put the feet up!”

Bridget said that she had Michael had worked the shop for around 40 years, and he had been there, butchering, for at least another 15 before that.

“He was there his whole life,” she said, adding that there’ll be no independent butcher in the town after they close.

Kevin has taken up a new job, while his mother will retire. “She is here every day – she deserves a break now,” he said.

The shop was competing with some chain stores in the town, such as SuperValu and Centra.

But “there’s not many other shops that sell the sweets for 2 cent anymore, other places are mostly weighing them”, said Kevin. “People can’t understand how we still have the patience to do it.”

“You get that phrase every day, ‘what can I get for 50c’...”

The premises is now being advertised for sale or to let, and there are houses on either side that will go with it.

Askeaton has faced other small business closures. The town once had “eight or nine pubs”, but several have closed in recent years.