CLONAKILTY’S only sports shop, O’Neill’s Sport and Leisure, is to close after 41 years of serving the sporting needs of the town.
It will be a sad day for the sport-loving brothers, Con and Pat O’Neill, when they close the shop for the very last time on September 1st having opened the business in 1977. They started initially at a premises on Ashe Street before moving to the more spacious current location on Wolfe Tone Street in 1995.
Selling brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma, it was a first port of call for many sport lovers, not just in Clonakilty but across West Cork.
‘We will miss the friendships of course and the relationships that we’ve built up with both people and numerous sports clubs over the years,’ Con told The Southern Star.
‘We sponsored many events, including the Man of the Match awards for Junior A football and hurling West Cork finals, as well as for the Beamish Cup Final.’
Pat said he made a lot of friends, both in Clonakilty and in Macroom, where they operated a second shop, which closed last year. He will also miss the friendships and the loyal customers who graced their doors down through the years.
‘We want to thank all the staff who worked here over the past 41 years, and also our families and of course our customers,’ said Pat.
Both brothers were heavily involved in sport in Clonakilty in their younger days and in June 1977 they spotted the opportunity to set up a sports shop in the town.
Eager to expand the business they decided to go down the road of selling sports products to clubs and schools.
‘In 1984, we set up O’Neill’s Bros Sport Supplies and Pat looked after the shop while I was on the road three days a week in a six-week cycle, calling to clubs and schools,’ said Con. ‘This side of the business took off very well and we introduced new products to our ranges, which included wholesaling sports products to retail shops.’
By 1989, the brothers linked up with O’Neill’s Irish International Sports company and received agency work from them, which gave them more new customers and increased sales.
‘The Wolfe Tone Street shop followed the opening of shop in Macroom in 1992, and our business grew as people bought into sports shoes and clothing during those years,’ added Con.
However, they have now decided to close the shop due to changes in retail over the years and to allow their family members to pursue other interests.
‘We will rent out the premises and see what happens, but as from September we will be closing,’ said Pat.
Ahead of the shop’s closure, Con and Pat will be holding a charity event on Friday August 24th whereby 20% of sales that day will go to the Clonakilty Community Hospital Fund.
‘There will spot prizes, a raffle and goodie bags on the day, and Mary Nolan, the new matron of Clonakilty Hospital is delighted for this event to be held to help with their new extension and hospital upgrade,’ said Pat.