The February meeting of the Bellaghy Historical Society was addressed by Mrs Pearl Hutchinson, Chairperson of the Kilrea Historical Group. Her topic was “My Father’s Country Shop in Donegal” – a nostalgic look back to life in a very rural area near Ballybofey fifty years ago. The family name was Kee and as there were so many of that name in the neighbourhood everyone had a distinguishing nick name and her father was known as “Charlie The Shop”.
Mrs Hutchinson, who illustrates her talks with many photographs on a computer presentation, gave a very real verbal description of the shop’s interior as there was no flash photography in the days of which she spoke. There was a long counter on each side with groceries on the left and hardware on the right. Her mother was very clever at woodwork and had constructed a bench on the left where customers invariably sat to exchange gossip and local news items before starting to make any purchases. The shop was a centre for the community and on Saturday nights many local farmers would come in and the talking went on until late.
The shop sold everything and men came with their horses and carts which could be backed into a space in front of the shop and bags of meal or heavy items were lowered on a pulley from a store door on the first floor of the building. Deliveries were made of other orders by the speaker’s father in his car – one of the few in the district – and she loved to accompany him on these trips along the winding roads and lanes of the district. Mrs Hutchinson had many very interesting photographs of her family and local characters and the whole ambience of the area was brought to life by her lively descriptions.
Mrs Mary Breslin (Chairperson) thanked Mrs Hutchinson for her fascinating insight into life in a happy country community of fifty years ago and remarked on the evident enjoyment it had given her audience. She also reminded members that the Speaker next month would be Ms Valerie Adams from P.R.O.N.I. whose topic would be “Making Sense of the Census of 1901” with special reference to Bellaghy.
Pearl Hutchinson from Kilrea Historical Society who was the guest speaker at the February meeting of Bellaghy Historical Society