Forty years after setting up his business on Letterkenny’s Lower Main Street, Eamon Harkin continues to put his best foot forward to ensure that others can as well.
The well known chiropodist became only the third in his craft to receive the prestigious Pat Mortell award from the Irish Chirodopist and Podiatrist Organisation along with a special Fellowship that marks him out as one of the country’s foremost practitioners.
“I love the work I do. It’s great to be able to alleviate people’s problems,” he says of a profession that may not always get the credit it deserves.
The first patients to step in for treatment did so on May 15th, 1972, in a premises owned by the Crumlish family at 62 Lower Main Street. Eamon eventually relocated to a building belonging to the Shanahan’s at 75 Lower Main Street before, in 1977, purchasing his own premises from the late Urban Councillor, Tony Gallagher.
“They were all terraced houses and it was at a time when nearly everybody had some sort of business operating from their home in this part of Letterkenny whether it was a shop or whatever,” Eamon recalls.
Indeed he reflects on a recent conversation with another businessman in the vicinity, Paddy Delap, who reckons that along with his own concern, Clarke’s Newsagents and Eamon’s business, only three others have survived the test of time from those four decades ago including the Drum Bar, Joe Gallagher’s self-service store, and Speers Drapers store.
For about a year and a half in the 1990’s, Eamon once again ran his business from the former Shanahan’s building after he took advantage of the Urban Renewal Scheme of the time to renovate his existing premises.
The award and Fellowship announced last October is one that underlines the steps both he and his business – not to mention those who have received treatment there – have made over the years.
“It’s a great accolade and I can only say I’m humbled,” he comments.
But he is quick to deflect much of the credit to his staff, daughters Kathryn Bradley and Jeanette Gallen who foot a lot of the work. “They’ve been wonderful. I had open heart surgery around 2002 and they ran the business and did it brilliantly,
“My wife Grace and all the family have been very supportive along the way,” he adds.
Eamon was unable to travel to Tullamore to receive the Pat Mortell Award due to a double bereavemen t that shattered the family.
In April of last year, his son Eamon died – he would have been 43 last Tuesday – and four months later, Kathryn’s husband, Mark, also suddenly passed away at the age of 43.
“Two pillars of the family gone in such a short space of time. It was absolutely devastating for everybody.”
And tomorrow, Friday, as those 40 years are officially marked, Eamon Jnr.and Mark will be fondly remembered and mourned. “It’s still so difficult to take in, that two young lives were taken from us but we’ll always remember them and miss them.”
Meanwhile, the celebrations of a quartet of decades in business will be marked at 100 Lower Main Street from where the Steven Lynch afternoon show on Highland Radio will be broadcast live (1.20pm-3.30pm) to share in the event.
Long may this healing service continue at the foot of the town.