Eddie marks 70 years as village grocer
While small shops around the country are closing their doors, Louth Food Store is defying the trend as Eddie Murphy celebrated a remarkable 70 years as village shop-keeper at the weekend.
Originally from Rathmore, Kilkerley, Eddie says he first went to work with his uncle Tommy Murphy who ran a general store in the village in 1949, when he was 'a young garsún'. 'It was a general store and bar selling everything including groceries and hardware,' recalls Eddie.
After 25 years working with his uncle, Eddie moved to his own premises the Louth Foodstore, where he now runs the family business with the help of his sons Brendan and Colm. Business has changed down the years but the core principals of looking after the customers and 'sheer hard work' has resulted in the Louth Foodstore continuing to be at the heart of the village.
'When I started out there was no such thing as a supermarket, there was hardly a car on the road and everyone shopped at home,' he recalls. 'Things have changed and we have to tried to change with it and to provide the service our customers want. The shop, which sells groceries, haberdashery, fuel and petrol, is open from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week, 364 days a year. 'The only day we close is Christmas Day,' remarks Eddie. Running the shop involves a huge level of commitment and Eddie jokes that 'it's a form of slavery'. And unlike many local shops which have become part of national franchaises, Murphy's is still a family-run business. 'We're a completely independent store, not tied to any group or organisation, we trade on our own,' says Eddie. He appreciates the support of their loyal customers who continue to shop there. 'We wouldn't be where we are without our customers and for elderly people or those without a car, the local shop is very important.' Eddie and his wife Bernadette raised a family of six, all but one of whom live locally.
Their eldest son Michael lives in Westport, while Colm and Brendan are following the family tradition of working in the shop. Daughters Patricia, Ann and Mary all live nearby. And while there's plenty of grandchildren, Eddie says none of them are showing any interest in becoming shop keepers. But he doesn't mind as he enjoys his work and meeting with customers. 'I have absolutely no intention of calling it a day. Thanks to be God, I'm in good health and am fit to work. It's sheer hard work that has managed to keep us going so long. As well as running the shop, Eddie has been very much involved in the local community, leading projects such as the building of the village community centre.