Saturday 25 May 2019

Clerys' chairwoman dies at the helm aged 103

Adrienne Sweeney

THE chairwoman of Clerys, Ireland's oldest deparment store, has died at the age of 103.

Mary Guiney died peacefully at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, early yesterday morning after a short illness.

Clerys on O'Connell Street has been owned by the Guiney family for more than 60 years and has become a national landmark. It was founded by Limerick businessman Michael Clery in 1853. In 1916, it burned down; but a new building rose in its place. Mrs Guiney's husband, Denis Guiney, bought the company in 1940 for a reputed £240,000.

Mrs Guiney took over as chairwoman after her husband passed away in 1967. Up until now, the centenarian held 52pc of the company and retained the title of chairwoman of the board. While she still had an input in running the company and received copies of board meetings, the management is led by chief executive PJ Timmins.

Clerys deputy chairman, Denis Ryan, paid tribute to the veteran businesswoman: "Mrs Guiney had a sharp keen mind for business and kept customer service and value central to any issues pertaining to the business of the day," he said. "She put her time and effort into continuing her husband's policy of developing the store, whilst also ensuring the tradition of Clerys continued as a leading department store and much-loved landmark in the city of Dublin."

Originally from Abbeyfeale in Limerick, she married Denis Guiney in 1938 and the couple bought Clerys while also running 'Guineys' on Talbot Street.

The Guineys lived in 'Auburn House' on the Howth Road and while they did not have any family of their own, both were very close to their nieces and nephews, instilling in them a business tradition which sees three of them on the board of directors.

A woman of many years experience in the retail trade, Mary Guiney was instrumental in Clerys becoming the success story that it is today. A spokesperson for the company reassured staff and public that business will continue as usual. The removal is today at 6pm in St Anthony's Church, Clontarf; with a funeral Mass being held tomorrow at 11am.

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