Last week Pricewatch in The Irish Times asked about the shops which have closed that people missed the most.
The response was reportedly “enormous” as people remembered book shops, supermarkets, corner-shop institutions, …. Reading the report I could not believe how many of them were my favourites and had featured very strongly in my life.
The hours I spent in Xtra-Vision with the lads choosing “our weekend movie” always age appropriate, costing £3 fbor 24 hours, risking a massive fine if late – gone forever.
Pat Quinn opened his first supermarket in Stillorgan in December 1966 and very shortly after 3 more stores were opened – leading to the above ad. Our Quinsworth was in the Crumlin Shopping Centre. As the nearest bank to my workplace was also there, at least once a month it provided for some retail therapy.
We also had Superquinn on the Walkinsyown Road, a bit more expensive than Quinsworth but with far better quality. Jim’s friend worked there – in the fruit and veg department I think. They had an amazing bakery and when I started to do my own household shopping – it was a great place to stock up for a party! Posh food!
Roches Stores was the shop for buying Wedding Presents – as you could bring almost anything back and exchange it for what you wanted. In an era when you might get 5 toasters and 6 kettles as presents, that was a great service. No wedding lists in those days.
Woolworth’s on Grafton Street – an array of sweets inside the door that was second to none! On a school tour to Limerick, Woolworth’s was the shop of choice – all sorts of souvenirs, goodies and impractical gifts could be purchased there!
OMG – the memories of our Christmas visit to town to see the lights! Switzers elaborate Christmas windows full of fairytale winter/snow scenes.
Peats World of Electronics
When we first started to go “into town” alone, we usually hit for Henry Street. Parallel to Henry Street was Parnell Street and any sort of odd electrical device that might be needed “was only available” in Peats. Later it was the shop of choice for TVs, stereos, cameras.
Boyers & Co
Boyers was the Arnotts of the working classes. It was the “sensible/reasonable” shop of our parents and the shop I dreaded; it became a war between fashion and sense, style and bargain. It was the shop where you bought “a good coat”.
Clerys & Co
Although I cannot remember shopping in Clerys as a child, I remember the romantic stories my mother told of the ballroom at Clerys which hosted dances every night of the week with a full-time orchestra” and she could name the many couples who had met there. In my teens “under the clock at Clery’s” was almost an institutional part of Dublin culture, a meeting place for couples. I can still remember arriving there and waiting with hoards of others, hoping that “he” would arrive and “not stand you up”.
Guineys & Co
Guineys and Boyers were two of a kind as far as I was concerned, one at the top, the other at the end of Earl Street- bargain basement for parents when money was tight. It’s only when you have to do your own budgeting and refusing your own kids luxuries that you realise the importance of such shops.
Greene’s book shop had to be my favourite book shop in Dublin. It was actually my yardstick for “good” bookshops and one that was almost impossible to better. Maybe I knew it had a special place in James Joyce’s heart because it was where Nora Barnacle worked, – but something made it old old school and wonderful.
There was the book-lined staircase, leading up to rooms crammed with old tomes. And the glass canopy and the tables of books left outside come rain or shine in summer and winter.
It started out as a book shop and lending library in 1843 and given its name by the then owner John Greene.
The Irish Yeast Company
My mother was a confectioner. She baked and decorated the most exquisite cakes for wedding, christenings, jubilees, Christmas. I can remember accompanying her to this shop for the many intricate decorations that were used to adorn the cakes. With a history stretching back to the 1750, this small building with a most memorable facade was one of the oldest shops in Dublin. It sold yeast – obviously – and all manner of cake-decorating paraphernalia and stepping through its doors was as close to time travel as anyone lucky enough to visit before the doors closed for the last time was likely to get.
I just have to write a bit of the history it was so special: The business first opened in 1894 in what had been the foyer of the George Hotel, which later became a bank and later still the Westin Hotel.
The Moreland family took over the business in the 1930s and John Moreland started work there when he left school at 16 in the early 1940s. He was still behind the counter, aged 91, in 2015. After he died, the shop closed and the building was eventually sold and is currently being redeveloped.