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New book on life in a Donegal country shop

Pearl Hutchinson looks over some of the ledgers from her father's shop in Glenfin.

Pearl Hutchinson looks over some of the ledgers from her father’s shop in Glenfin.

A LOCAL storyteller will tonight launch a fascinating new book regaling tales from her father’s country shop and reminiscing of times gone by in County Donegal.

Ms Pearl Hutchinson will launch ‘Behind The Wooden Counter’, in Kee’s Hotel, Stranorlar, at 7:30 pm.

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Going all the way back to 1890, when her father Charlie Kee’s shop was first opened in Glenfin, Ms Hutchinson details how her father’s uncle built the shop and called it ‘Paradise House’, as it was his dream come true.

She also has a penchant for local history having been involved in some way or other for over 30 years.

“Writing the book has been an incredibly nostalgic and emotional experience, I’m really happy I did it. I remember, when calling into our shop to get the groceries was a more social experience, like when local men gathered in the shop on a Saturday night, getting groceries for the week ahead for their families,” she explained.

“I give talks right across the country from Bangor, Dungannon, Derry to Donegal and regale to various groups about times gone by. We chat about their local country shop and the goings on. These occasions don’t happen anymore, we have lost the personal touch of the local shop now that large supermarkets dominate town centres.

“I wanted to hark back to days of old, when the local shop was a place to meet, talk and laugh. It has really taken me back to when I was a young girl. I just loved helping my father in the shop. I can still see him standing behind the wooden counter, behind him were rows and rows of sweetie jars and the bins that held the tea and sugar, in front of him stood the weighbridge on the counter. My father enjoyed talking and story telling but customer confidentiality was always paramount. I know he would be very happy to see this story being told today.
“It’s also amazing when I tell my story, how others decide to journey down memory lane and tell their story. They do so with a big smile on their face,” she added.

The book contains an incredible amount of detail about the locals, with a full list of the shop’s customers in the 1950s and 60s, which has been taken from the ledgers, which Pearl still owns. Pearl continues: “I’ve also included the list of shop suppliers, which ranges from Donegal, Sligo, Dublin, Derry to Limerick.”

“The book focuses on the shop as the social hub of the area. If you think about it, many people didn’t have cars, and our customers were all country folk. Everyone knew each other, so bumping into someone at the shop sometimes turned into an hour-long chinwag! In the book, I’ve even discussed the introduction of electricity into the local area, which I remember created quite a buzz, excuse the pun.”

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‘Behind The Wooden Counter’ launches this evening at 7:30pm at Kee’s Hotel Stranorlar.

To find out more information about ‘Behind The Wooden Counter’, search for the official Facebook page, which will contain more information about the Book Launch and where to buy the book.

You can also contact Pearl Hutchinson on 048 2954 0517 or email Pearl at pearlhutchy@gmail.com.

All profit from the sales of the book will be in aid of Helping Hands and Healing Hearts in the Philippines www.helpinghandsministries.com

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Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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