The Diamond in Donegal town loses another landmark shop

Siobhán McNamara


Siobhán McNamara

The recession is claiming another well-known Donegal Town business.

The recession is claiming another well-known Donegal Town business.

Melody Maker closes its doors on Saturday, February 25 after trading in various forms for nearly 30 years.

Locally there is concern at the rate of closures - some weeks ago Quinlans Newsagents closed its doors after 50 years of trading.

Mayor Tom Conaghan referring to the latest confirmed closure said: “This business has been a part of the town for a long time. It’s a great place for people to go, and has always been very popular with foreign visitors to the town.

“There is nowhere else that offers tourists such an extensive range of traditional music, and Gerry’s expertise and guidance has been greatly appreciated by locals and visitors alike.”

The shop opened in the Manhattan Arcade in 1983 when Drimarone man Gerry Meehan decided to pack in his job at Magee’s factory.

Video rental was just taking off as VCRs were becoming standard equipment in Irish homes. Gerry offered videos for rent alongside the records and cassettes that he sold in ‘Gerry’s Music & Video Centre.’

In 1988, when word got out that Gerry was closing the shop, Pat Ely stepped in and bought the business.

Pat is a former showband front-man and at that time was involved in music distribution from his base in Sligo.

He employed Gerry to set up and manage the new shop, Melody Maker, while he himself continued to supply shops all over the country.

As well as selling music, Melody Maker became a leading stockist of the popular games consoles of the day.

Gerry said “In those days, games were all in cassette form. The main consoles were Commodore 64, Amstrad and Spectrum. It’s hard to believe now, but it was ground-breaking stuff back then.”

In 1991 Pat moved Melody Maker to the Diamond, purchasing the former ‘McGroary’s Cafe.’ It has been in the same location since.

While one of the strengths of the business was the ability to keep up with changing times and technology, they simply could not compete with the growing trend towards music downloads.

On top of the massive drop in music sales, games are now being played on-line. Martina’s Video Shop in the Castle Centre closed late last year for similar reasons. And even the giants of the industry are not immune. UK chain Game Stop recently closed their retail outlets in Derry and across Northern Ireland.

The whole industry has changed beyond recognition.

Pat Ely said: “Independent music shops as we once knew them, stocking a decent range of all musical genres have become a thing of the past.

This is particularly sad for those of us who like to physically browse through the shelves of a music store in search of something you may never have thought about otherwise.

“There are still a few of these types of people around but unfortunately not enough to justify the continued existence of your local independent music store.”

On behalf of himself, Gerry and long-term employee Denise, Pat said: “To all those who have worked with us and the friends who have helped us in many different ways, we sincerely thank them all.

“Anyone who has gift vouchers can redeem them in Melody Maker’s final sale, which will run until closing day, February 25. All gift vouchers must be redeemed for goods on or before this date, otherwise they will be deemed invalid.

“Thanks again to everyone for their co-operation and support.”