From the 1940s up until the late 1970s, the travelling shop was an important part of rural Ireland. For much of this period, people living on farms and villages travelled by foot or by wooden cart pulled by a horse, pony or donkey. It was the travelling shop, initially a horse drawn van and then the motorized vehicle, that brought animal feed, fuel supplies, non-homegrown foodstuffs and confectionary to country folk. In this episode, Paddy Dalton talks to the children of Milltown National School about his time as a travelling shopkeeper in south Mayo relating how in the early decades it was tea, sugar, flour and animal feed that were the most important commodities as farmers grew their own vegetables, fruits and had their own source of chicken, pork and beef. He also relates how the travelling shops also collected eggs from their customers so much so that they were known as egglers.
But with the growing use of the private car followed by the coming of the supermarkets to towns, the demise of the travelling shop was inevitable. The latter part of Paddy’s life in the retail sector reflected these changing times as he first established a supermarket and later a newsagency in the town of Claremorris.