Produced by Aileen O’Meara of Twintrack Media with Tim Hastings, “Across the Counter in Connacht” brings the listeners on a journey through two Connacht towns: Westport in Co Mayo and Loughrea in Co Galway, hearing a myriad of local voices and stories that illustrate the impact of rapid social and economic change.
“Across the Counter” hears the story of the closure of the famous Shanleys shop in Westport, as its owner Peter Shanley laments the ending of a traditional drapery, against the background of the arrival of superstores owned by multinationals. The programme chronicles the closure of family-owned businesses, and local public houses, as shopping patterns change and small towns adapt to outside influences. Westport veteran Cecil Horkan, a well known face in Shanleys, guides the listener around Westport, meeting locals on the way, in a unique insight into the well-known town.
While in Loughrea, retired retailer Jackie Burke guides the listener through the changes in the Galway commuter town, from the rise of Supervalu to the arrival of foreign nationals and the impact of the new bypass The series covers the generation which bought goods on ‘appro’ – whereby goods were dispatched by bus or by bicycle for inspection – to the present day of shopping on line through less personal channels.
The series of programmes offers a unique insight into the changes underway in rural Irish towns including the loss of rural Irish pubs, the rise of the multiples and the parallel rise of the specialist farmers’ and town markets. In addition, it highlights that the businesses which survive are the ones which change fastest in the context of a rural Ireland which is now undergoing massive change. The arrival of immigrants and the emergence of ‘commuter towns’ has also hugely changed the mix and profile of these towns for ever.
Twintrack Media’s third documentary in the “Across the Counter” series takes the listener on a journey through two contrasting Ulster towns: Bundoran, in Co Donegal, and Clones, in Co Monaghan. Transmitted on Newstalk, and made with the support of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland’s Sound and Vision Scheme, the four-part series chronicles the sweeping changes taking place in small towns across the four provinces of Ireland.