Giant’s Causeway souvenir shop ‘pushed aside’ for public toilets after 70 years

Picture courtesy of Tommy McConaghy
Picture courtesy of Tommy McConaghy
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A small, family business popular with visitors to the Giant’s Causeway says it is being pushed aside by an uncaring National Trust.

The family who run the small but popular McConaghy’s Souvenir Shop has been told they must vacate the premises to make way for public toilets.

Tommy McConaghy, who runs the shop, said it has been a family business for 70 years and that his family’s connection with the Giant’s Causeway goes back even farther.

“The business has always been in the family,” Mr McConaghy told the News Letter. “My grandfather was caretaker-manager at the stones from 1912 and my father built the first store in 1947.

“It is not right the way we’re being treated.”

He added: “They have plenty of room here for toilets. I don’t know how they can say they can’t build toilets anywhere else. We’re just being pushed to one side.

“We gave them (the National Trust) a lot of information about the site and we supplied them with old photographs, and this is how they treat us.”

A spokesperson for the National Trust said: “The current lease on McConaghy’s shop expired in November 2017 and the National Trust advised the leaseholder that due to current and future visitor needs they were not in a position to renew the lease.

“The National Trust submitted a planning application for change of use of the space adjacent to the Causeway Hotel, in order to provide baby changing facilities and additional male, female and accessible WCs.

“This is in response to growing visitor numbers and requests for facilities to be available outside visitor centre opening hours.

“The National Trust acknowledges the contribution that the McConaghy family has made at the site and confirms the decision to submit the planning application was not taken lightly, but with good intent to address increasing visitor pressures.”