The beat finally stops as iconic Newry record shop closes doors for last time

IT has been an institution for more than half a century, but a Co Down music store is set to pull down its shutter for the final time today.

The iconic Carlin Records in Newry will close its door on decades of musical history in the city.

Opening on Hill Street in 1961, it is the place generations of music fans visited to build their up their folk and country collections.

In its heyday, queues of people also camped outside the store to get their hands on tickets for some of Ireland's biggest gigs.

But now, 53 years on, massive changes in music industry coupled with a general slump in the retail sector has been blamed for the end of an era in Newry.

Owner Darran Turtle said he was "very sad and reluctant" to close the shop, but "the glory days of music shops are over".

He took over the business from his uncle, Noel Griffin, almost 10 years ago, with the store previously owned by Micheal Carlin.

For decades it was a mecca for country and folk music fans, most-ly selling vinyl LPs, as well as the place to pick up concert tickets.

However, the digital take-over of the music industry in recent years has hit all music stores.

Mr Turtle said it was with a heavy heart that he had decided to shut the doors for good.

"It's a bitter sweet decision I've had to make to be honest," he said.

"It has been an institution for so long, but the glory days of music shops are over.

"There's various reasons for deciding to close, and obviously the changes to the music business is a major part.

"Downloading has affected business - there are so many children nowadays who have no concept of paying for music."

Customers of Carlin Records have been gathering on social media to describe their disappointment that the store is no more.

One said: "Just heard the news about Carlin Records closing. Used to go there (and Sounds Good) every week to buy singles and albums with my pocket money".

Another said: "It's actually really sad that Carlin Records is closing down, I'm gonna miss that shop".

Mr Turtle thanked customers for the loyalty over the five decades of business.

"Everyone has been brilliant. I inherited a lot of great customers and I really appreciate how much they have done for me over the years," he said.

"Ideally I would have liked to have been handing it over to someone, but the game has changed a lot, there was once a real culture for the individual music store business.

"Carlin Records is an institution in Newry but Saturday is the last day - it will be a sad day."

* END OF AN ERA: Carlin Records in Hill Street, Newry in the early 1980s and, below as it looks now. The shop, which has attracted country and folk music fans for more than half a century, closes today MAIN PICTURE: Columba O'Hare OTHER PICTURES: Mal McCann