Thursday 14 December 2017


Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

* Clerys was a trendsetter not just in Ireland but across Europe when it opened as the Palatial Mart in 1853. It became a major social centre for women, who were enjoying greater freedom in the late 19th Century.

* The shop was renamed 30 years later when it was taken over by MJ Clery of Limerick.

* In the early 20th Century, the controversial business magnate William Martin Murphy had a major financial stake in the business. His great adversary in the 1913 Lockout, Jim Larkin, emerged on to a Clerys balcony to make his most famous speech, until he was removed by a burly policeman.

* The store was destroyed during the Easter Rising of 1916. "I had the extraordinary experience of seeing the plate-glass windows of Clerys run molten into the channel from the terrific heat," rebel Oscar Traynor wrote about seeing the store in flames.

* Denis Guiney, a small farmer's son from Killorglin, Co Kerry, bought Clerys in 1941 with a downpayment of just £25,000.

* The Clerys clock has achieved iconic status, but it is not the original art-deco timepiece, which was replaced in 1990.

* Mary Guiney took over the business on the death of her husband in 1967, and was still signing cheques at the age of 103. She rebuffed approaches to buy the shops in the 1980s: "Why would I want to sell the best business and building in Ireland?"

* Clerys was eventually sold for €14m to Boston-based firm Gordon Brothers last year.

Irish Independent

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