Groceteria

Shop

In the 1890s the concept of a self-service restaurant developed in the USA.  Based on the Scandinavian model of the smorgasbord it was given the Spanish name “Cafeteria” by John Kruger when he was serving food at the World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago Worlds Fair).  Perhaps it was the association of Columbus with Latin America that inspired Kruger to call his format the Spanish for Coffee Shop.

On this day in 1916 the first self-service grocery store opened in Memphis Tennessee.  The Piggly Wiggly opened by Clarence Saunders was originally marketed as a grocery version of the cafeteria and was called a “Groceteria”.  You entered through a turnstile.  You were offered a basket or a grocery cart for convenience.  It offered self service, price marked goods and a customer checkout.  The supermarket was born.

I have seen the rise and fall of many groceterias over the years, including the Ballymun Cash Stores (which was in Finglas), H. Williams, Superquinn, Quinnsworth, Crazy Prices, Super Crazy Prices, Roches Stores.  The rise and survival of Iceland, JC Savages in Swords, Nolans in Clontarf, Musgraves/Supervalu, Dunnes Stores, Tesco and most recently the German invasion of Aldi and Lidl.

As a kid growing up in Dublin I was always exposed to supermarkets.  On the other hand my summers were spent in Kilkee in the West of Clare.  There were no supermarkets in 1960’s Clare.  I have vivid memories of my mothers frustration, on her holidays, having to queue at the butchers and at the grocers to be served one at a time with a long line of other mothers.  I always had the enjoyable job of going to the bakery.  Picking up fresh loaves, hot from the oven and bringing them back to the house for breakfast time.

Travelling to the continent in 1976 was an eye opening revelation.  The French Hypermarche was a decade ahead of Ireland.  All those wooden barrels full of olives, who knew olives were so popular?  Those were the days when you bought Olive oil in a pharmacy in Ireland to treat an ear infection. Very different days.

Scatterings

Scattery.jpg

Scattery Island lies in the Shannon Estuary between Clare and Kerry, just off the coast near Kilrush in Co. Clare.  It was here that one of the “12 Apostles” of Ireland, St. Senan, founded his monastery.

Senan is reputed to have driven a great monster from the island.  His monastery was for men only and women were forbidden from the island.  To this day it is considered unlucky for single girls to tread on St. Senans Bed, the reputed burial place of the saint.

Senan is well regarded by the nautical community in the area.  A pebble from the island is said to be protection from drowning.  Many local sailors have a pebble fashioned into an amulet to wear around their neck.

A boat builder is said to gain luck for his vessel if he sails it round the island in a path opposite to the sun.

There are many holy wells in the area named for Senan, I know there is one on the island, and another in Kilkee.  Holy water from these wells is often carried by local fishermen on board, and is used by local priests in the annual blessing of the boats.

 

blessing the boats; by Lucille Clifton

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that