Sunday 11 December 2016

Still standing after last season's storms

Fiona O'Connell

Published 07/02/2016 | 02:30

Photo: Paul Mealey
Photo: Paul Mealey

The spring cleaning associated with this new season began early (and way too enthusiastically) for many in this country town, thanks to the winter floods.

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For those storms cleared out a lot more than clutter and cobwebs. After all, most folk don't decide to randomly rip up their floors or to destroy all their precious belongings.

In some cases, the storms didn't have to clear out a business in order for the owners themselves to clear out. Like the antiques store that is located near the river that miraculously escaped unscathed. Nevertheless, the experience prompted the panicked owner to pull the plug on her old world trade. Last weekend, I saw her packing her stock onto a trailer before driving away.

Businesses that were actually flooded and failed to get back on their feet include the second-hand bookshop on Market Street. Only the facade remains, along with a few sad sprigs of holly around the window. The Indian restaurant on the aptly named Marsh Street has also packed up its poppadoms and left.

The library across the road from it is likewise still a closed book - despite its impressive-looking storm doors. It seems a long time since I was checking out books before the Christmas holidays. There is talk of it reopening this month, but no sign of literary life so far.

But some premises have proven to be more than just a pretty face, like the make-up shop on Market Street that had just opened its doors when the floods smashed them shut.

Many locals felt huge sympathy for the owner, who had finally realised her dream after much gutsy grafting. But for this determined dame beauty is not just skin deep - because she is back in business, giving this town a touch of glamour.

Proving that you can't keep a good woman down, especially when it comes to the energetic proprietor of the clothes-cum-barbers next door. Ill health hit this formidable female over Christmas, for the first time since her daughter was born - and just before the storms decided to throw their tuppence worth into the mix. This madam (with a sign on the wall proclaiming 'Grow your own dope: plant a man') reckons she was too under the weather to worry about her business being sunk by it too. More likely this lively lady wouldn't know how to be laid low.

Happily, the health food store continues to bring balance to a country town with its typically plentiful supply of pubs, having likewise survived the storms. Now it only has to deal with the supermarkets encroaching on its turf.

Apparently some of the forms that these businesses have to complete in order to apply for compensation have no name or contact details - making it impossible for the owners to communicate, let alone complain.

Reminding us that it's not only the weather that likes to play dirty.

Sunday Independent

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