Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Giant's Causeway - McConaghy's Souvenir Shop or National Trust Toilets

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The National Trust has applied for a change of use from a shop and an office to toilets adjacent to its Visitor Centre at the Giant's Causeway.

Tommy McConaghy and others have submitted objections to the Planning Service but as far as I know the proposal has yet to be considered by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. Tommy's shop was relocated after the fire in the previous visitor centre.

McConaghy's Shop
Est 1947

Brian Fillis compiled the following item for the BBC's Your Place and Mine; Dan McConaghy is Tommy's father:

When Dan McConaghy came out of the navy after the war, he and his wife ran one of the eight shops that were along the bottom of the cliffs at the Causeway. These were timber-framed little cabins covered in galvanised iron where visitors could buy postcards, china, rings, etc. Together, Dan and his wife built up a thriving business, but in those austere times souvenirs to sell in the shop were hard to come by, so Dan set to and made his own. Shillelaghs were always a much sought after gift and Dan traveled throughout County Antrim seeking out the high hedges from which to cut the thorns. Then it was back to his workshop at the Aird where he fashioned them into the souvenir we know so well.

One popular trinket which many of the Causeway entrepreneurs used to make, was a little hand carving of one of the local features - the "Wishing Chair". These went around the world in their hundreds as tourists took them home. They were fashioned, not from the Causeway stone, but from a softer rock (Lithomarge). This was found in a nearby area called the Loom but was usually covered by the sea. Dan would dig out this rock then carve it with a penknife. Perhaps you still have one of these ornaments on your mantlepiece? If so please tell us. These pieces are now rare as the National Trust stopped the removal of the rock when they took over the ownership of the area in 1962, The turnstiles and the shops were also removed at that time. The little Causeway shops were visited by many hundreds of tourists from around the world. as Dan reels off the list of coach parties that used to arrive on a daily basis from hotels throughout the province.

Planning Application LA01/2017/0730/F
Change of use from shop and office to ancillary W.C.facilities including blocking up internal access so thatfacilities are accessed externally only and alterationsto fa├žade to include the replacement of doors with afixed glazed screen with hardwood painted frame.
Causeway Hotel, 40 Causeway Road, Bushmills.
National Trust, Rowallane Stableyard, Saintfield BT24 7LH
Main signage for toilets points to the Visitor Centre 
main entrance. These toilets aren't free.

There is a sign for the three free toilets but it's well
 above eye level and the print is small.

Added July 28 - 11 am

So far there have been almost 1800 NALIL pageviews and 44 Facebook shares since this blog was posted at 10 pm on July 26. If you wish to make a representation to the Planning Service, either for or against the National Trust proposal, please do do so as soon as possible. It's important that the Planning Service is well informed about the public mood. You can also track the progress of this planning application via the Public Portal.

Added July 31 - 1.20 pm

There are now almost 3200 NALIL page views [9300+ October 17] as well as 67 shares on my Facebook timeline and I've just received a photo of a carved Causeway wishing chair:

Added September 27 and 28

Heather McLachlan
NT Director for NI. Thoughts, news and views about all things wildlife, heritage and environment related

Perhaps the thoughts and views of local people have not penetrated the walls of NT NI HQ

National Trust - "Playing our Part": "The need for new, innovative ways to look after local, everyday historic and beautiful places is a challenge that charities, government, business and communities need to address together." 

NT can play its part by allowing and encouraging local businesses to trade on NT premises.