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Tar Isteach ... the kettle is always on!

June 6th, 2023 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

Above: anniversary celebrations at Tar Isteach where donations were handed out to local charities. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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Dunmanway’s fundraising shop Tar Isteach is celebrating its 15th anniversary, and is more committed than ever to donating funds to a whole range of local worthy causes, as well as to invididuals who are in need of a helping hand

A FUNDRAISING shop in Dunmanway could not be more aptly named. 

The doors are always open at Tar Isteach – or Come In – located on the town’s main street and where the kettle is always on the boil. 

It’s run by a volunteer group comprising mainly grannies, who have graduated from the college of life, and between them, there’s nothing that they can’t solve. And if they can’t do it, they know someone who can!

The shop has just recently celebrated its 15th anniversary which provided the perfect moment to pause and reflect on what has been an incredible and heart-warming success story. Rose Kelly has been involved since the very start, in 2009, a time when she remembers black bags were routinely ‘abandoned’ overnight in doorways of shops in the town.

Rev Kingsley Sutton and Fr Pat O'Donovan blessing the shop. (Photo: Andy Gibson)


A group of like-minded individuals came together, including Rose and co-founder Seamus O’Sullivan, as well as Ind Cllr Declan Hurley, and others, to provide a place to accept such bags and, more crucially, to generate income for local, worthy causes. 

‘Once we got the idea, a suitable premises was quickly found on Main Street, across the way from St Mary’s Church, and to start with we raided our own homes and attics to stock it!’ said Rose. 

‘I remember taking suits belonging to my husband that he hadn’t worn in a while, for the shop!’ she said. 

A cohort of around 12 volunteers, mainly local women, banded together to work in the shop, which is open six days a week, and prides itself in not closing for lunch. 

Rose, who previously worked in The Parkway Hotel, said she’s always loved working outside the home. 

‘I always say that there’s never really a perfect day, but if you come in here, we’ll put the kettle on and it’s a form of therapy,’ she said. ‘We all get on so well, and work really well together. 

‘We get so much from it. You can get so tied up in your own life that it’s good to give back.’

Since the fundraising shop’s first year trading, it has donated significant sums of money to a huge range of local causes, including frontline workers in hospitals during the pandemic. Everyone involved works on a volunteer basis, except for their accountant. They are different to a charity shop and pay rent, rates and insurance, but outside of that, all money raised stays in the area. 

Beneficiaries include Rapid Response, CoAction, the town’s hospital and day care centre, Mercy Hospital Foundation, local sporting groups and clubs, local schools, meals and wheels – the list is endless, and applications continue to pour in.  

Bernie O'Sullivan; Mary Walsh; Geraldine Duggan; Dolo McCarthy and Margaret O'Dwyer. (Photos: Andy Gibson)


Tar Isteach also sponsor jerseys for mixed ability team, The West Cork Jesters.

Co-founder Seamus opened a second-hand furniture shop next door called ‘Fáilte Isteach’ and the two outlets work well together. 

‘We’re just motivated to give something back. An awful lot of the work we do is off the public radar completely. We’re very discreet in our dealings, helping people for a whole variety of reasons. It could be someone who has lost a job, has a sick child and needs help with travel costs to Crumlin, or whose relationship has broken down. 

‘Demand for our help is as great as ever with so many people struggling to make ends meet.’

West Cork Jesters Christine Colgan, Claire Downey, Emily Cotter, Willie Shubart, Paul Colgan and Susie Nicholson proudly showing off their Tar Isteach sponsored shirts. (Photo: Andy Gibson)


The only issue on their radar is the fact that the town’s recycling centre remains shut. 

‘It’s a really big loss to the area and to the business, and it often results in bags of things dumped outside our doors,’ said Rose. 

Cllr Declan Hurley said the onus was on the Council to restore the service. 

‘We’re hopeful that through our budget stream later this year, the revenue will be found for the service. As it is, people have to travel to Bandon, Clon, Macroom or Skibbereen to recycle. The town can’t be left without this for much longer,’ he said. 

More positively, Rose is happy to report that business is booming, and they see absolutely no stigma from the public in shopping in a fundraising shop. 

Co-founders Rose Kelly and Seamus O’Sullivan. (Photo: Andy Gibson)


‘We have great support locally, and from people who have left Dunmanway who don’t forget us either. 

‘When they’re back visiting relatives, they always pop in with bags of things for us, which we’re very grateful for.’

She recalled a recent customer from Macroom who hadn’t felt that well while in the shop. 

‘We made a cup of tea for her and she came back a short while later with eight bags for us. That’s the sort of thing that we see happening,’ she said. 

People that came in as children are now returning as adults, she said, and added that along with the shop’s other ‘fairy godmothers’ they were looking forward to the next 15 years at Tar Isteach. 

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