40-year wait for Magoo’s shop
FOR over 40 years Ann McHugh was synonymous with the family-run Welcome Inn Hotel in Castlebar. Following the economic downturn the business was one of the many to suffer in the county town, writes Tom Gillespie.
However, for decades she had the ambition of opening her own shop, a dream that has finally come true. And naming the outlet Magoo’s, at Newantrim Street, was a no brainer.
Ann explained: "I have an Indian friend. He was a doctor here in St. Mary’s Hospital and he used to come to the hotel and ask was ‘Ann McGoo’ here - he couldn’t say McHugh. So since then a lot of friends call me nothing but McGoo."
Ann describes the shop as a ‘vintage, modern and quirky’ outlet. As a ‘casual’ photographer, she had hundreds of prints of local historic, religious and scenic areas mounted and ready for sale.
On a Christmas theme, she has a season’s greetings card of Lough Lannagh, Castlebar, which is proving popular.
Ann explained how the business come about: "Forty years ago there were shops built by my father, Tom McHugh, across the road in Newantrim Street, and I was going to open a shop, next to where Cafe Rua is now. It was to be a plus-size ladies shop with all the side accessories. But we got busy in the hotel and I never did it. It was put on the long finger. So it is nice to open it after all these years. I always liked china and vintage bits and pieces, going to places and car boot sales and looking for different things.
"I am also into photography. I would describe myself as a casual photographer, particularly going for nature and local locations around the county.
"I have all my own collection framed and on sale here. I have some of David Loftus’s work here and others are to put their stuff in here too."
So how did the framed cards come about?
"A family I had home from Canada were looking for cards with a local scene but we could not find any. So I decided to do a few cards," she explained.
"I have thousands of photographs. I did a load for Ballintubber Abbey. I have all local scenes as well as animals, cows sheep and donkeys.
"I started doing the pictures and there was a demand for them. They were available in Westport, the Foxford Woollen Mills and locally in Castlebar.
"Then someone said that I should open my own shop and this unit was vacant at the time so I went ahead. It was the end of July/early August that I decided to open the shop.
"I had loads of the photographs made up. I had a little factory going. I bought the cards in Mandel’s and the photographs were printed locally. I try and keep it all in Mayo."
Ann continued: "I did a nice Christmas card for Lough Lannagh during the snow (pictured) a couple of years ago and now I put ‘Season’s greetings’ on it. The are going well. A lot of people are looking for those for sending away. I did nice ones of the Mall but they are all gone already. They sell for €3 each.
"I have other scenes that are mounted and ready to go in a frame. I also have my own art work on sale. "I have started doing scarves and costume jewellery. I don’t want to clash with anyone local. We should all support each other. That is what it is all about."
Ann was overwhelmed with the welcome she has received. "I received loads of cards, good wishes and flowers," she admitted. "You would think it was a flower shop we had.
"The support from local business people was phenomenal. I never had a shop before. I was 44 years in the hotel and catering business.
"After I finished in the Welcome Inn it was important I did something else. Otherwise I would have cracked up. I said I was reinventing myself. Being in the hotel business I was always interacting with the public and I missed that.
"Originally it was to be a pop-up shop. Now I have to source more stuff and after the Christmas period I will have a look at how things are going. So far it has gone very well."
Magoo’s opening hours are Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and in the lead up to Christmas it will be open on Sundays from 2 to 6 p.m.
Magoo’s can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org of visit their Facebook page at Magoo’s Castlebar.