In 2019, Brian Ellard and Meg Kirby opened Peggy’s Cottage.
The shop in Westfair Center quickly became the go-to spot for Irish ex-pats to buy everything they missed: Candy. Tea. Cable sweaters.
Meg’s warm smile, lovely personality — and classic brogue — drew customers from all around.
And not just the Irish.
English, Scottish and Welsh folks lost in America found Peggy’s Cottage. They told their friends. All came for something from home. All stayed for the conversation, the stories, the feeling of a home away from home.
Meg’s death last summer devastated her many loyal customers/friends.
With Brian working full time elsewhere, it also raised fears for Peggy’s Cottage’s survival.
But Irish eyes were smiling.
Shortly after the shop opened, Emma Melillo was looking for a job.
The Fairfield Ludlowe High School student walked into Peggy’s Cottage. She felt an immediate connection.
Brian and Meg were not looking for help. But the Christmas rush was on.
Emma soon became part of the couple’s — and the store’s — extended family.
She learned the business. She shared afternoon tea. She stayed long after Christmas.
So it was the luck of the Irish that Emma’s parents — Marah and Michael — decided to buy Peggy’s Cottage from Brian. The deal was finalized in September.
Marah — who notes that although her last name is Italian, her own roots are Irish (County Kerry) — is honored to continue the founders’ tradition.
“I’ll never change the name,” she says. “This is such a personal place. It’s nostalgic, and traditional. I love that.
“People come in just to chat. I love that too.”
She’s keeping everything that everyone loves. She’s adding gift items too, like books, brass blessings and handmade pewter.
As customers talk, Marah listens.
“I don’t pretend to know more than people who were born in Ireland,” she says.
Or England, Scotland, Wales — even Australia. “As long as it’s under the Celtic umbrella, it’s okay,” she says.
This is Michael and Marah’s first foray into owning and managing a store.
He’s in finance, which helps.
She spent 20 years in retail and customer service, with New York bridal shops.
There may be no group more stressed out than brides planning weddings.
And no group more relaxed than Irish folks shopping for food they missed, sharing craic, and putting pins in a big map showing where they’re from.
At Peggy’s Cottage, they — and Marah — feel right at home.
(Peggy’s Cottage is at 1773 Post Road East, across from Stop & Shop. Click here for the website — created by Peggy’s Cottage fan and former Staples High School student Dylan Beck — and more information.)
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