Conveniently located for both Antrim city and the M2 to Belfast, Randalstown has undergone a transformation in recent years that has put it on the map as a place to live, shop and explore .
Despite the hardships the pandemic has imposed on Northern Ireland’s high streets, independent businesses have continued to do all they can to support the community and keep spirits up.
With Shane’s Castle, the Viaduct and Lough Neigh as a backdrop, it’s not just the locals of Randalstown that the town welcomes, but locals and foreigners alike.
Belfast Live spoke to a number of businesses about what it means to live and work in the heart of the community and what makes Randalstown a city worth discovering.
Rebecca Bowyer is a familiar face at the popular Truffles Tea Room, serving delicious treats and hot coffees with a smile.
She said: “It’s a really nice little cafe to work in because you bring all your locals in and get to know them – we owned the restaurant across the road before they took over. relay here.
“Geraldine the owner is a pastry tutor at Belfast Met and she’s always wanted to have her own cafe to do tray baking and it’s really nice to be there as it’s a much slower pace than a restaurant I was used to.”
Rebecca has worked for the family for over six years and enjoys the local custom that runs through the High Street every day.
“It’s a great community – especially in a coffee shop because you meet people from all walks of life and you won’t meet many people you meet unless you work in a small coffee shop,” she said.
“Wherever I go I would miss it because you get a great social aspect, talking to all the locals and hearing their little life stories – we get a lot of older people and they always talk, so it’s really nice.
Rebecca added: “All businesses help each other out and there really is everything here.”
Rory Heffron is the manager of Heffron’s Bar, known for great pints and food seven days a week, while maintaining family values within the town.
“Our new building was built about 15 years ago and we’ve been moving around the community for a while – it’s owned by my dad Seamus and I manage it,” Rory said.
“My whole family has worked here at different stages and my little sister and brother still work here while they study at school and university.
“It’s a good community – it’s nice to see the same kind of faces coming back again and again.”
He continued: “We were also getting a fair amount of tourists, usually in the summer, even just people from all over Ireland and it’s nice to see these people stopping by in town.
“It’s nice to have those familiar faces and a bit of craziness when you’re working.”
Rory has ensured that there is always plenty going on for all ages in the area and with the number of bars and pubs in the small area, Randalstown lends itself to a great night out away from the city.
He added, “There are a few big independent retailers popping up like the bridal shop and the family-owned produce store, so it has some nice little conveniences.”
Anne has worked at Hurrells Electrical for 37 years and has seen the town grow into the bustling place it is today.
She said: “Hurrells Electrical has been a family business for over 50 years – it used to be a grocery store but switched to electric over 30 years ago.
“Randalstown is lovely and has always been a small community, but it’s getting bigger every year and it’s convenient for people traveling to Belfast as it’s right next to the motorway.
“There are a lot of housing estates now and people who aren’t even in or near town will choose Randalstown to live in because it’s so central.”
Anne hadn’t even heard of the town before working there and has now dedicated nearly four decades to community service.
“You get that kind of unique, personal touch here – we know people by name and we’d have a lot of great local and further afield exchanges,” she explained.
“We also have a great wedding center and great local grocery stores and we have everything you need.”
The Kandy Shop has been a landmark in the area for almost 40 years and owners Eileen and Bertie Warrick have kept Randaltown enjoyable since it opened.
“We’ve been in the shop for 37 years and we’ve kept it going with the traditional candy jars – a childhood and adult’s dream,” laughed Eileen.
“I love it. Every day is just something different, meeting different people and it’s a nice atmosphere in the store and we try to keep it that way and we work hard to do that.
“We have a good community where everyone looks out for each other and all businesses work together to help each other.”
She added: “We have the overpass feature which is our big winning point and we also have our ‘Tidy Randalstown’ group who work very hard to keep the town intact.
“It’s just an absolutely beautiful city.”
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