The Central Shop – Wicklow, Ireland - Atlas Obscura
Our new kids' book is on sale! Shop now.

Wicklow, Ireland

The Central Shop

Not actually a shop, but one fan's passionate show of support for a rival county's Gaelic football team.  

In the small town of Rathdrum, County Wicklow, amid the mountainous rural countryside, lies an array of decent pubs and small shops, some with a unique, almost “Royston Vasey” grotesque charm. 

Contrary to the appearance, however, the bright red and green Central Shop in Rathdrum is not a shop. It may once have been, but it is currently a private house. Its owner, Tony Battle, has selflessly turned its exterior into a public spectacle. It is a temple to his pride in being not from Wicklow, but from the reasonably distant rival county of Mayo, and in particular, his support for the local Gaelic football team.

The Gaelic Athletics Association, or GAA, which governs amateur football and hurling, has a devoted local fandom not unlike cricket or hockey. GAA fandom can be incredibly hostile, so it is nice to see some eccentrics harmlessly expressing their passion for their team. 

Mayo in particular has quite a notorious pedigree. The team has not won an All-Ireland since 1951, blamed on an alleged curse started when the team passed a funeral in the town of Foxford without stopping or paying respects. The story goes that an angry local priest cast a curse in revenge that Mayo would never win the All-Ireland again until all members of the 1951 winning team were dead. There have been numerous close shaves, but never a win to disprove this. An out-of-county battlement like Tony Battle’s “shop” serves almost as a defense against the curse.

Know Before You Go

Don't go in. It is a private property. It is the exterior that is the attraction.