It is 33 years ago since Nicholas O Connor bought an old Gaeltarra Éireann knitting factory in his native Lettermore; it measured 800 square feet. From small beginnings he built a major outlet providing building materials, hardware, plumbing, electrical equipment, fridges, washing machine, TVs, furniture, garden centre and a large range of other goods.
With 12 people employed and ever increasing trade, Mr O’Connor purchased a building on the Industrial Estate in Casla in 2007. With a 15,000 square feet shop and 20,000 square feet storage area and three acres of yard space, he expanded the business to take in a further wide range of products and he now employs 30 people; both full time and part time.
With a focus on the future and the changing needs of customers, Nicholas also notes the long tradition of the O’ Connor business.
“Back in 1740,” Nicholas explains “my great, great grandfather Martin Farrell from Abbeyknockmoy married Sheila Coinnín from Salthill. Their daughter Margaret married Patsa McDonagh, a boatbuilder. They lived near the pier in Lettermore and started a shop.
“Their daughter Barbara married Nicholas O Connor from Moycullen, who had returned from the US and he was my grandfather. It was he who built Bayview House where I now live in Lettermore.
“Nicholas, my grandfather died in 1941 and my father – also Nicholas O Connor – took over the business. He married Lily Murphy from Co Down. The shop was moved to the main road in Lettermore in 1973 and my brother Ruairí runs it as a supermarket. I went into the building and hardware business in 1977.
“My late wife was Cathy Mullen and now our son Nicholas now works in the business. That is four Nicholas O Connors in succession. It’s a long time and we hope it continues another century or more.”