This article first appeared in The Kilkenny Standard in 1980
As you walk down the very narrow High Street in Kilkenny these days, near the end of the street at its junction with James Street, you can see a small stone plaque on the wall where “The Gourmet Store” currently trades. The stone plaque reads;
By Geoff Rose
‘High Street founded AD 1200
Widened AD 1883. John Hogan Mayor.
As you stand reading this historical plaque, avert your eyes to the right and you will see where one of Kilkenny’s smallest shop was, up to recently, trading as “Cuts and Curls”, but for decades of Kilkenny people, it had the name BARRY over the door, as indeed it does to this day.
Barry’s Vegetable shop traded in its High Street premises for over 40 years. Originally, before the Barry family started to trade there, it was a butchers shop, run by the Doheny family, who had a slaughter house in St Kieran’s Street, behind the High Street shop/.
Kilkenny’s Smallest Shop
Walk down High Street any morning and as you approach the lower end, you cannot but help notice the bright and attractive display of vegetables outside what must surely be the smallest shop trading in Kilkenny, if not Ireland.
Next September, Barry’s Vegetable shop will have been selling fresh produce to the community for a staggering 35 years from their premises that measures 14 feet by a 7 feet in, width, by 8 foot high, and it was in this same shop that Patrick and Mary Barry started in 1945, with little or no capital, and a lot of determination, their son, Fananhan, is now in charge of the shop, and his friendly disposition towards all his custom ers makes shopping there a very pleasant chore. Despite its smallness, the walls of the shop carry an array of produce that is mouth watering and inviting at the same time, and the colours of the rainbow protrude from the shelves with crisp celery, ravishing radishes, mouth watering melon, cool cucumber, and the tempting tomatoes, all vying with crisp firm heads of red cabbage, snow white cauliflower, and a wide variety of household fruits, apples, oranges, pears, peaches, and even the occasional exotic pineapple, all waiting to be purchased. When the shop is packed, and as Fananhan says “our capacity is between 8 and 10, things can get a little hectic, but all our regular customers tend to help themselves, and every thing works out satisfactorily.” In some ways the shop is not unlike entering the confessional box, because of the intimate nature of the shop, with ‘Fr’ Fanahan dispensing vegetarian goods for the betterment of our ‘souls’. The shop has been featured in the very successful “Ballymaloe Cookbook” by Myrtle Allen, and was the subject of an article in a Swedish magazine a couple of years ago. Here’s to the next 35 years.
A postscript to the article.
When Barry’s Vegetable shop ceased trading it was converted into a Hairdressing salon by Ms Kay Barry, a daughter of Paddy & Mary Barry, and sister to Fanahan Barry, thus keeping the BARRY name on the High Street for more than 75 years, or more than three quarters of a century. (77 years approx)
What Mayor John Hogan would have made of the current state of High Street, is a matter of speculation and opinion.