Eason celebrates 125 years in business
INovelist Cecelia Ahern joined the celebrations for the landmark store that helped her become a besteller
IT'S a week of milestone birthdays for Cecelia Ahern. Yesterday, the novelist paid tribute on its 125th birthday to the landmark bookstore that helped her become a bestselling author.
The 'PS I Love You' writer posed for photos at Eason on O'Connell Street in Dublin, sporting her new cropped haircut, to mark the celebrations.
And tomorrow she will celebrate her own birthday when she turns 30.
Cecelia left before the start of a big party at the shop last night but other famous names who are regulars on its bookshelves joined the in-store event.
Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly, Paul Howard (aka Ross O'Carroll Kelly) and Sheila O'Flanagan were more than happy to reminisce about the bookstore where they whiled away many hours before they shot to fame.
During the day, customers took home their purchases in limited edition retro bags with the wide blue and green stripes that were the company's trademark for many years.
A table on the ground floor bears an inscription saying it had been given to Mr Eason by staff to replace one that was destroyed during a fire in 1916.
"Eason is 125 years old today but I haven't been here for all those 125 years," laughed Maeve Binchy. "Some people think I have. I have nothing but fond memories.
"It's the biggest wholesaler in the country and if Eason liked you, you were grand, and sometimes they took a risk on someone who was unknown.
"I was in that category. I was 42 when I was successful, but they were always very nice and welcoming. I have fond memories of booksignings.
"They were very posh here in Eason. I used to always, as I do now, write with a chewed biro and your man who was running Eason, Harold Clarke, was very posh. I could see a look of pain come across his face when he saw me and he said 'Could somebody get Ms Binchy a proper pen?'
"He was a very suave man."
Paul Howard, who was inspired by Ms Binchy to eavesdrop on conversations to help him write his books, recalled trying to dodge a security man who policed customers to prevent them having a free read of magazines in the shop.
Eason marketing head David Field said Charles Eason signed the lease for the first Eason store in 1886, and the company also ran libraries over the years.
Today, there are 60 stores in Ireland employing more than 1,000 staff in total.
The bookstore counted the playwright Sean O'Casey as an employee. He was sacked for refusing to remove his cap when collecting his wage packet.
Another memorable event took place in 2004, when Eason sold its most expensive book, Muhammad Ali's 'Greatest of All Time', for €2,980.
It has held numerous celebrity book signings but has only closed its doors for three -- U2, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.