Cobbler Gerry Duffy has never seen a quiet day in the 42 years he has worked out of Castle Street, Enniskillen.

Gerry first “got the bug” for cobbling shoes when he visited his neighbour Mr. Bonner’s house, and he helped him out.

Gerry then took on an after-school job with the cobbler before taking on a full-time post when he left school.

“You have to be cut out for the job” he said. “I think, after 42 years, I am, but there are not many who are.”

He works in his premise, Castle Locksmiths, alongside his long-standing apprentice, Stephen Roche, who has worked for him for 28 years.

The business has changed since Gerry took over. When he trained as an apprentice, one of the first tasks, he undertook was making a leather school satchel from scratch.

He explained the process and said: “You cut the leather and then sew it up, and attach your buckles and your loops as an apprentice.”

There has been a change in the style of shoes and bags that Gerry has seen over the years.

“Leather school bags are long gone out the window and most young ones who go into work are carrying brief cases without straps.

“The quality of the shoes is just not the same any more. You do really see the difference,” says Gerry.

He also commented on the fluctuation of the prices of shoes. He said: “During the last recession, the prices of shoes went up – we might see it again.”

Today, the cobblers have diversified and also work as locksmiths when they are not repairing shoes.

Gerry and Stephen aim to have most shoe repairs done while you wait, but some jobs can take longer,

“Stitching on soles can be a longer process. But there are few [of those to do today]; maybe two or three a month, while before we’d have done 20 pairs of soles a day.”

When asked had there been any memorable moments or characters in his shop, Gerry said: “There are too many to even begin telling you. We would have the characters that come to visit us.”