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Loss of specialist shops shows writing is on the wall for urban diversity

Conor Skehan


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John FitzGerald of The Pen Corner, which last week closed its doors, helps loyal customer Tom McKeon from Dublin. Picture by Steve Humphreys

John FitzGerald of The Pen Corner, which last week closed its doors, helps loyal customer Tom McKeon from Dublin. Picture by Steve Humphreys

John FitzGerald of The Pen Corner, which last week closed its doors, helps loyal customer Tom McKeon from Dublin. Picture by Steve Humphreys

What can a pen shop teach a city? The answer is that the loss of a tiny specialist shop can be a warning that the planning and operation of a city has deep problems which, if unheeded, can lead to urban failure in a very short time. The Pen Corner in central Dublin closed last week after 94 years of trading.

Cities are surprisingly similar to natural habitats in that they can be stable, grow or shrink — depending on circumstances. Sadly, some cities can even fail and die.  


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