The story of Creeslough businessman, Danny Lafferty, has encapsulated for many the current horrific situation facing traders throughout Donegal - a long established, successful business now facing economic meltdown because of massive emigration, an influx of international chain supermarkets and a huge growth in internet shopping.
Danny’s Lafferty’s story could be repeated by every trader in every remote town and village in Donegal.
The good news is that since his story hit the media - when he reported he had 100 days to save his 100 yeard old businesses - the local community has responded in huge numbers.
“The public response has been very gratifying and wholehearted,” Danny said yesterday. He said there has been a boost in sales.Since Friday there’s a bounce,” he said.
The people of Creeslough and surrounding communities rallied around Danny and his family at a public meeting on Monday, which was attended by about 1,000 people, by some estimates. The meeting had been called in response to last week’s announcement that the two shops, pub and filling station he owns in the village had gone into examinership.
Public representatives and members of the public who attended the meeting pledged their support to the businesses and said their loss would be a critical blow to the village. People at the meeting were encouraged to do more shopping locally where possible.
“We understand that people go to the German discounters and the multinationals, but we’re trying to say if they can give us €20-30 a week per house extra it’s going to save the village,” Danny said. “And that’s all the village needs.”
Danny said he understood the financial pressures people face and the demands of the household charge, septic tank registration, the coming property tax and television charges.
“People are wary of where they stand and the public needs every penny in their pockets,” he said. “I personally understand that.”
However, he said, “I don’t want Creeslough to be seen as a drive-through village where there is nothing to stop for.”
Danny said he knows people realise they cannot compete with the discounters and multinationals on some items but said, “We are striving to maintain our dignity and ensure that the public gets a proper service.”
As well as that, he said, the local shops provide a personal service.
“We know everybody who is coming in here and we’re proud to be able to do that,” Danny said.