From the Sacred Heart Down …

In fairness, the title betrays my preference or prejudice, depending which way you look at it!  I’d like to think Faith, but you can decide ….

On Friday I went to St Nathy’s College Hall to visit a Trade Exhibition of local businesses. Part of the #LetsConnect initiative, it was organised by the local branch of the Bank of Ireland and was, it has to be said, a very impressive display.  Everything, almost without exception, under the roof was the work of local businesses and the goods and services displayed were all within easy access.  The array was vast – sports from GAA to Cricket, electronics from light bulbs to high end technology, food, builders’ suppliers, fitted kitchens, car service and sales (I could go for a plug there but I won’t!!!), dress-making, model building, security, community services and much, much more.  As I say, a very impressive display and I was glad to be there.

Mickey Harte, the Tyrone Manager, was the guest speaker and spoke of the need to support the local and recognise the gifts within our own community.  He spoke too of there being no point getting too caught up in the rat-race of life and concluded, the problem with “rat-races” is that a rat always wins!!  Good one Mickey:)

Anyway, back to the Sacred Heart.  On Thursday last I went into one of those local shops and its from there I take these few lines.

It was Padraig Mulligan’s Shop, though the name over the door, like the shop itself, belongs to another generation, J Mulligan.  Jimmy and his brother Paddy had two hardware shops in town and I remember both from my own childhood.  There wasn’t much you could want that would not be found in either or both. I remember their funerals as well, the two brothers died within a day of each other, may they rest in peace.

Back to Padraig’s.  I went in to pay for paint.  Padraig was dealing with some customers – a man and his wife whose little boy ran round the shop with a wild abandon that I admired and envied at the same time.  I’m not sure where he was in the world of imagination but Disney World would have had to work hard and pull out all the stops to compete.  He ran past me several times, his speed and tone suggesting that my presence was of little if any relevance in his world.  I couldn’t blame him for that.  His mother’s call to come back was heard, responded to but short lived.  As soon as she and her husband spoke again with Padraig, his circuit recommenced.  He was enthralled by the place.

I decided to do the circuit too but at a slower pace.  I’m not suggesting the boy and I saw the same things or at least saw them in the same way but I could see where his sense of adventure found its roots.

The first thing I saw was a new Circle Saw.  The blade was thankfully covered with its safety shield but I thought how weary I’d be of using a Circle Saw.  Another’s tool for sure.  I thought nonetheless isn’t it great you could get that here.  I saw a variety of lamps, some solar powered, others rechargeable, more for decoration and others for the day to day living of life.  There were lovely galvanised buckets and I thought of getting one – and will – but not that day.  There was cutlery, dinner services, cups, mugs, travel adapters, USB charges, bluetooth headphones, speakers, smartphone cases, there were paints for indoors and outdoors and all you’d need for their application. fireguards, fire sets, telephones, radios and countless more items.  In the middle of them all, minding its own business you could say, was a new picture of The Sacred Heart.  I smiled and thought you must feel at home here. More than smile, I rejoiced that in the midst of all that was on sale and considered necessary to stock was “the little bit of religion”.  As necessary as any item in the shop.  Of course if you bought it, the tools needed for hanging it could be found there too.

There’s also a bar in the shop.  It sits quietly to the back and those who sit in it tend towards quietness as well.  The man that serves the drink is now giving advice on paint and his advice is momentarily interrupted.  There’s a man at the door who looks the worse of having had a bit too much to drink.  I hear Padraig telling him; “The supplier didn’t come yet and I’m not sure he’ll be here this evening”.  What could the man want that was not available in this shop?  He wanted what the man behind the counter felt he did not need – a bottle of vodka.  Again, I thought of the Sacred Heart in the midst of circle saws and clocks and felt He’d be happy to hear that response “insofar as you did it for one of these, you did it for me”.

The man left the shop, I’m sure, more than a little disappointed but likely to a safer place and in time to an appreciation that the bottle and he were better kept apart.  I left the shop, glad of the local that is community and grateful that faith, like tradition, is handed through the generations.


  1. You bring me back to a childhood visit there over fifty years ago when on holiday from England (we lived there then) I went with my grandmother to that very shop. Whilst she purchased her long list of essentials, I wandered in awe at the fine array of treasures. Used to the single purpose “paint shops” and “electrical” shops of industrial Lancashire, I marvelled at the alladins cave of treasures and amongst them the sacred heart, the child of Prague and the queen of peace. Repairing to the bar my gran joined my grandad for her milky coffee with a half one and armed with a bottle of Monica duffs red lemonade and a straw, I explored the place for ages. Much like life really, God is everywhere if you take the time to look…

  2. Love that shop and all its little treasures , lovely post .

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