Profile of ‘Dónall na Gealaí’, Kildare Town
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We are Anne, Nick and Lorcan and we run ‘Dónall na Gealaí’ in Kildare Town.
Nick and I met in a very small Irish pub in South London in 1993. When we met, Nick had been a vegetarian for 8 years and I had been vegetarian for about 1 year. The (many) reasons we had both chosen to become vegetarian were very similar and I’m sure you’re familiar with them – on a global scale arable farming just makes so much more sense environmentally when nutritional yield is taken into account and from a compassionate viewpoint the meat market and all it encompasses just seemed cruel and horrible.
To cut a long story short, following the birth of our son, Lorcan, in 2002 we took the decision to move back to Ireland and ended up living in Kildare Town where we had to decide what we were going to do to earn a living. Nick had an IT background and I had a science background but we wanted to use what resources we had to create a lifestyle where we could share childcare and be our own bosses. As we are both very spiritual (but not at all religious) people, we found that it was impossible outside of Dublin City to find the kind of things we liked have around (incense, books etc.) so someone (I think it may have been my sister, Geraldine) remarked ‘Why don’t you start selling it’ and ‘Dónall na Gealaí’ was born.
Why the name? Well, Lorcan was conceived and born at the new moon and during my pregnancy I noticed he was particularly active around the times of the new and full moon. We wanted to give him a name which reflected his lunar connections and it was during the course of our research that we discovered ‘Dónall na Gealaí’, which in Irish means ‘Dónall of the moon’ or, put simply, he is the man in the moon. Lorcan’s middle name is Dónall. We decide to use the name for the shop so we designed our logo to incorporate the moon, a little boy and the constellation of Libra which is Lorcan’s star sign. A lot of Irish people started to call us an ‘Angel Shop’ after we had opened – it was a term we had never heard before (I think it’s a very Irish concept) and it took us a while to get our heads around it!
Right from the start we were very keen to source our stock and trade as ethically as we could. At the moment I would guess that we can vouch for the origins of at least 75% of our stock. Hitting the tail end of the Celtic Tiger wasn’t the best time to start a business! We pride ourselves on our fair pricing policy and, initially, a lot of our customers were shocked (in a good way) at our prices – there was a lot of over-pricing going on at the time but people seemed to have the disposable income to support it. It’s funny, even when someone knows they are getting something at a fair price they sometimes feel obliged to ask for a discount. Our standard reply has always been ‘It’s easy to give a discount when you are overcharging in the first place’.
Being physically based in Kildare Town with an online shop (links below) is just lovely. Kildare Town is one of the oldest towns in Ireland and is steeped in medieval history – we are having our very first Medieval Fair on Sunday 23rd August as part of Irish Heritage Week. We are very close to The National Stud and Japanese Gardens, The Curragh Plains and Kildare Village Designer Retail Outlet (if that is your thing).
Being vegetarian is just how we live at this stage and we’re not evangelical about it. It sometimes comes as a surprise to people when they find out – you can see that ‘but you look and act so normal’ expression on their faces. I guess if you’re the kind of person to think about food, where it comes from and the ethics involved then that kind of thought process is also present in other aspects of your life so we try to ‘Live Lightly’ but we know we’re far from perfect.
We don’t advertise hugely (our Facebook page is where we run promotions, competitions etc.) – it’s mostly word of mouth which brings customers to our shop or to shop online.