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Changing Lanes

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Colm Hynes has transformed himself in the years since the family business closed in Castlebar

Edwin McGreal

IN the end there was no choice.
With the family business feeling the strain after the recession, Colm Hynes couldn’t go on trading. And so, in 2014, the curtain came down on one of Castlebar’s best-known retailers, Hynes Shoes.
In his mid-50s, and having worked in the family business all his life, Colm Hynes was at a crossroads. What would fill the void? Where to now?
Vaughan Shoes took over the business, he continued to work there, but he knew he needed another purpose, away from work.
He found it in an unexpected avenue – yoga.
Colm Hynes is now two years into a yoga-teacher training course and when we chat early on a Wednesday morning in Castlebar, he bounds into the coffee shop, a walking advertisement for the benefits of practising yoga.
Lean, happy and positive, he’s in a state of mind he did not think possible a few short years ago.
Truth be told, he’s a very different man to the one we interviewed in 2011 for a feature on retail in Castlebar. Then, the weight of the world was clearly on his shoulders.
Business was extremely tough, and would get tougher still.
The family business was under pressure for its very survival.
The end for Hynes Shoes came in March 2014 and in the weeks and months before then, Colm Hynes was at sea.
“From 2013 on the pressure was pyramiding on and my mind was absolutely nowhere. You were immersed in your troubles, you were immersed in financial issues, you still had to get on with your own personal life, you still had your wife and kids to look after.
“So you were just twisted. You could not see the wood from the trees,” Colm recalled.
The business was set up in the 1930s by his grandfather Johnny, and his father Stan grew and expanded the business from the 1950s on. Colm said he could not get his dad and his mother Olive (who passed away last month) out of his head during those troubled times.
His parents had kept the business afloat through tough times, but the challenges of the post-Celtic Tiger recession for a high street business in Castlebar were different. He knew that too from his involvement with the local Chamber of Commerce.
Hynes’s were not the first, nor the last, family business to fall by the wayside in the town centre.
While he was immersed in the stress of it all, Colm Hynes admits it was a ‘very dark time’ for him personally and he did not know which way he would turn.
Controlling the controllables
HOWEVER, once the decision to go into voluntary liquidation was made, the pressure and anxiety started to lift. He took control of one of the things within his control – his own outlook.
“I did make a vow to myself that what has happened in the past has happened, I can’t row back. Putting the business into liquidation wasn’t an easy thing to do at all. While it was hurtful I decided not to dwell on the past or what might have been.
“The past was the past. I vowed to myself ‘I ain’t looking back from this point, I’m looking forward once again’. I had to take control.
“There are, of course, times when I look back. It’s only natural and normal, but I’ve moved on. What else could I do?”
Another thing Colm Hynes was not interested in doing was sitting around and feeling sorry for himself. When Castlebar-based yoga instructor, Barry O’Neill, floated the idea of the yoga teacher’s course at the end of a class that Hynes had just taken part in, his timing was immaculate.
The student was ripe for a new opportunity, a new challenge.
“I needed to be reinvented. If I didn’t proceed with the yoga teacher’s course was I resigning myself to, with respect, going home every evening and watching Fair City, Eastenders and Ear to the Ground? That wasn’t me. I was always a guy who was immersed in the business.
“I was going from a very busy life to: ‘is this it now?’ My wife Jackie, and children Shane and Emma, were a great support and pushed me towards doing it. So I said I’d do the course.”

A changed man
Hynes played a lot of different sports in his time and was always interested in experimenting with different postures and stretches before he came across yoga in 2005. He did a lot of it on his own before going to classes in Barry O’Neill’s Bonco Wellness studio in 2013.
He admits that he was ‘in a limbo in my life’ when his teacher suggested the yoga teacher’s course in 2015.
“At the time I was in my mid 50s. I thought, ‘maybe I’m too old’ but I said, ‘no, just do it. Grasp it. Don’t be thinking about it’.”
He started a Level 1 teaching course in Dublin in September 2016 and is now in his second year. He goes up once a month for a complete weekend, 9am-6pm on Saturday and Sunday.
He takes three classes a week at Bonco Wellness and has his own Facebook page, ‘Yoga with Colm’.
Humbly, he is very quick to say he is not a yoga teacher just yet.
“I cannot say after completing a year that I am a proper yoga teacher. It takes decades. It’s a never ending story”
As well as taking classes, Hynes rises early three mornings a week to self-practice at home.
He’s a living example of always being open to new possibilities in your life.
“I’d say to anybody, do not be afraid of what the future is going to bring. Go with the change because change is inevitable. Did I think I’d be doing this in 2010? I did not.
“The business closing was a huge blow. But you move on, there’s nothing else you can do. “Yoga has reinvigorated me, transformed me. It has given me a new drive.
“Your age should not come into it. To say you are an old man or old woman at 60 is absolute nonsense. You’re not. Open up and don’t resign yourself to the couch and the pot of tea and the digestive biscuits and Ear to the Ground. Don’t. There’s so much to live for.”

Factfile

Name: Colm Hynes
Age: 58
Occupation: Vaughan Shoes/Yoga Instructor
Family: Married to Jackie with two children, Shane and Emma
Did you know? Colm Hynes was Chairman of Castlebar Celtic when they won the FAI Youth Cup in 2007.

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