Mary’s sadness as Blackthorn Shop to close

Mrs Mary O'Hagan at the Blackthorn Gift Shop. INLM45-114gc
Mrs Mary O'Hagan at the Blackthorn Gift Shop. INLM45-114gc

It’s been part of Lurgan for more than 50 years but sadly the famous Blackthorn Gift Shop in William Street is set to close its doors for the last time.

Famed for its souvenirs of Lurgan, Armagh and Ireland as well as jewellery and gifts, owner Mrs Mary O’Hagan and her son Turlough have decided to close down.

The premises was first opened in 1962 by Mary O’Hagan, formerly Mary Totten from Aghagallon.

Mary had just married Donald O’Hagan, who worked for his family’s poultry exporting company Harry O’Hagan and Sons who were very well known throughout the country.

A small but dynamic woman, Mary said she started up the business as she always fancied working in a shop.

“At that time those premises just happened to be closing down. At first we started selling newspapers, sweets and cigarettes,” said Mary.

“It was very hard in those days,” she said, adding there were no tills. “Just a drawer,” she said, and all the maths was done in her head.

Mrs O’Hagan recalled living at Lurgan’s Belfast Road, near Dollingstown with her four children when she first started the shop. “We were all sitting around the fire one night and all the children put forward potential names. Somehow The Blackthorn emerged and that is what we decided on,” she said.

Mrs O’Hagan’s husband Donald died 36 years ago and Mary was left to rear her four children, Roisin, Dwyer, Turlough and Fergal and run the shop. “I never found it that difficult,” she said.

Mary, who is now over 80 years old, said she loved the challenge of buying. “I loved to see how right or wrong I was,” she said, adding that she often went on buying trips to London, Manchester and Dublin.

In recent years her son Turlough had been running the shop but after almost 52 years it was decided to close due to illness.

Mary said she feels very sad that it is closing. “It was my baby. It was my life and I loved it.”