Tag Archives: Meg Kirby

Sure, And Peggy’s Cottage Continues

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.

A few of the shelves at Peggy’s Cottage.

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.

Brian Ellard and Meg Kirby, in Peggy’s Cottage.

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 Melillo, at Peggy’s Cottage.

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.

Books and more, at Peggy’s Cottage.

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.

Marah invites customers to put a pin in this map, to show where they’re from.

(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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Roundup: New England & State Champs, Sherwood Island Friends …

One of Staples High School’s most accomplished athletes has gotten very little recognition this year.

Yesterday, junior Francine Stevens represented her girls track and field team at the New England Championship, in New Britain. She finished 4th at 400 meters, with a time of 57.85.

Francine holds 7 school record. Last week she broke her own, at the state open meet.

Next weekend she heads to Greensboro, North Carolina. She’ll compete against the nation’s best in 100, 200 and 400 meters, at the Adidas Nationals.

Francine Stevens, with her New England medal.


Congrats too to Luke Brodsky and Alex Gudarrama. They won the state invitational doubles tennis championship, with a 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 defeat of a Darien duo.

Tighe Brunetti reached the finals too, but fell to Tighe Brunetti fought hard but fell to Fairfield Warde 6-4, 6-2.

Luke Brodsky and Alex Guadarrama.

Staples has one more individual state champion: Anna Lemcke.

The senior broke 80 for the first time in her golfing career, and tied for first place in the state open tournament at the Black Hal Club in Old Lyme.

It’s a remarkable achievement: In last year’s open, she finished second to las.

Anna’s choice of college is perfect for a golfer: the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland. (Hat tip: Valerie Smith-Malin)


One final sports note: Yesterday, the Angels won the Little League championship.

But for Pell Schmeisser, that honor paled beside another: He was named the winner of the Perrin Delorey Sportsmanship Award. Perrin, a Little Leaguer, died in an automobile accident in 2018, after a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Previous winners include Jack Hanlon and Dylan Burdeshaw. (Hat tip: Lauren MacNeill)

The Little League champion Angels. Perrin Delorey Sportsmanship Award winner Pell Schmeiser is in the bottom row, far left.


In most homes, graduation is a big deal. For a few days at least, a boy or girl feels like the most important person in a family.

In one Country Road home though, the honor must be shared 3 ways. Movin’ on up, indeed!

(Photo/Mark Mathias)


Friends of Sherwood Island’s annual meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. today (Sunday, June 12), in the state park’s main pavilion. All are welcome.

Guest speaker Juliana Barrett will speak on “Climate Change and Connecticut’s Coastal Forests.” She is an educator with the Institute for Climate Resilience and Adaptation, part of the University of Connecticut’s Sea Grant program. 

The meeting includes a tribute to the Nature Center’s architect and benefactor, Westporter Peter Wormser.

Click here for more information.


Meg Kirby — co-owner and namesake of Peggy’s Cottage, the popular all-things-Irish store across from Stop & Shop — died Friday afternoon. She had battled illness, but passed peacefully.

Her husband, Brian Ellard, says: “She loved her little shop, and put her heart and soul into filling it with special things. Heading off to work every morning and looking forward to seeing everyone for a chat put a big smile on her face. I thank everyone for their love and support over the last few years, especially the last few months.”

Brian Ellard and Meg Kirby, in Peggy’s Cottage.


Chris Grimm spotted this white squirrel at MoCA.

It’s not an albino — the technical term is leucistic, for “reduced pigmentation” — but it’s a fascinating subject for “Westport … Naturally” nonetheless.

(Photo/Chris Grimm)


And finally … on this day in 1817, the earliest form of a bicycle was driven by Karl von Drais. It had no pedals; the rider straddled a wooden frame supported by two wheels, and pushed the vehicle along with his feet while steering the front wheel.

The bicycle’s original name: “dandy horse.”

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Peggy’s Cottage: A Long Way From Tipperary To Westport

Just about the only thing better than an Irish brogue is hearin’ it spoken — and seein’ the smiles on the faces — of the owners of Peggy’s Cottage.

That’s the all-Irish, all-the-time shop that opened a wee bit ago across from Stop & Shop.

Irish candy, chips, drinks, flour, clothes, books, scented candles, gifts — they’re all there, in a Westfair Shopping Center store that looks like a cottage from the old country. Irish music plays in the background.

Brian Ellard and Meg Kirby, in Peggy’s Cottage. Which, of course, looks like an Irish cottage.

Brian Ellard and Meg Kirby are the owners. The Irish are known for their storytelling, and the couple’s tale is a grand one.

They’re both from Tipperary. He worked in a bakery, she at the local factory. In 1994 they decided to “chase the American dream.”

Meg’s uncle — Jim Fahey — had done the same thing, from the same county, in the 1960s. He had nothing when he arrived, but found work in construction. He helped build the first World Trade Center. After relocating to Westport he started a moving company, and built it into a big, successful business.

Brian worked for him for a while, then founded his own firm: Arra Carpentry. After 15 years, he and Meg embarked on a new adventure.

Peggy’s Cottage is exactly what Irish expats — and those from the rest of the UK too — have been looking for.

Some of the treats at Peggy’s Cottage.

There are lots of them, too. Fairfield’s Gaelic-American Club is thriving. The area is filled with folks from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Throw in those who trace their ancestry there, those who have visited and love it, and those who are just curious, and the customer base is huge.

But the appeal is extra special for lads and lasses with brogues.

It wasn’t two minutes that I was talking with Brian and Meg when a young, red-headed guy walked in. He headed strait for the Alpen muesli.

Real Irish muesli is hard to find. In the States, anyway.

“I’ve been looking for this for years!” he said. He’d found something similar in a couple of stores, but it didn’t taste the way he remembered it.

“Sugar is different in Ireland,” Brian explains. “It comes from sugar beets. That’s why the flavors are different — cereal, candy, all of it.”

Cows are fed differently too. The food he and Meg sell is the real Irish deal. They carry what they like.

And when customers ask for something — like Scottish potato bread — they add it to the shelves.

Gifts galore at Peggy’s Cottage.

Customers tend to linger — and talk.

“Irish people like to socialize,” Brian says. “You know ‘the craic’ —  that’s news, gossip, fun, entertainment, enjoyable conversation.” There’s plenty of the craic at Peggy’s Cottage.

And you know “the luck of the Irish”?

Westport is lucky too — to have Peggy’s Cottage right here in town.

Brian and Meg invite customers to put a pin in this map, to show where they’re from. The owners are happy to order anything direct from any county.