Mick Conroy at his fish/poultry shop in Irishtown, Kilkenny
When Conroy’s fish, poultry and rabbit shop closed in Irishtown a few months ago, the city lost a landmark; a magical place run by a larger-than-life man who was adored by his customers and revered by everyone in Kilkenny city and environs.
Mick Conroy is made from the stuff of legends. A huge framed man with hands the size of spades, sideburns and a face full of life and a smile and warmth that would disarm Donald Trump.
Here under one roof, you could get fish, (from the river or the sea), eggs (duck or hen), all sorts of fowl (including pheasants), duck fat, lard, goose fat and dripping.
Milliners called into Mick for feathers to adorn hats they made.
The shop which was started by Mick’s father, Michael many years ago was the place to buy your turkey for Christmas.
Outside of the shop, Mick was a familiar figure on his bike going to and from his home on Rothe Terrace. He loved shooting, fishing and the outdoor life.
In his youth, he was a great sportsman and won the Nore Swim a few times. He hurled for Dicksboro and had many a blood curling story to tell about games when; ‘They’d take your life.’
Tourists would make their way to the shop and ask to come in and photograph Mick. He was always obliging, ever the gentleman.
He was a great man for greyhounds and always had runners in the local track where his nephew, Mark Dowling, would parade the dogs before the races.
Mark’s mother Frances worked in the shop for many years and the Conroys were considered family by those who called into them.
They were genuine and had the welfare of their customers at heart.
In keeping with his quiet manner, Mick wanted no fuss when he finally closed the door a short while ago.
He simply put the lock on one Saturday evening and walked away from the only life he ever knew.
He is a hero to many, an example of how to live life and how to treat people.
He and his wife Eileen, have had to face heartbreak with the untimely death of his lovely daughter, Jean, back in 2014.
Mick worked hard in tough conditions where fish had to be kept in cold water. He and his sister Frances are what makes Kilkenny such a wonderful place, populated by marvellous ordinary people who are extraordinary.