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9 August 1922: The reopening of Clery’s department store

Read Fionnuala Walsh’s essay on ordinary life in extraordinary times on Century Ireland.

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, features 50 essays from leading international scholars that explore a turning point in history, one whose legacy remains controversial a century on. Building on their own expertise, and on the wealth of recent scholarship provoked by the Decade of Centenaries, each contributor focuses on one event that illuminates a key aspect of revolutionary Ireland, demonstrating how the events of this year would shape the new states established in 1922. Together, these essays explore many of the key issues and debates of a year that transformed Ireland.

In collaboration with Century Ireland(link is external), we are making the 50 essays freely available online. Today’s essay is by Fionnuala Walsh and it covers the reopening of Clery’s department store six years after the original store had been damaged in the Easter Rising.

On Wednesday, 9 August 1922, an advertisement for Clery’s department store adorned the full front page of the Irish Independent, announcing the store’s reopening in Dublin. ‘New Clery’s’ was in the same location on lower O’Connell street as the earlier store, which had been built in 1853 but suffered extensive damage in the Easter Rising. A British shell hit a barricade on Lower Abbey Street causing a fire, which spread to Clery & Co. and destroyed the entire building. After six years’ occupation of a temporary warehouse during the ‘many trials and difficulties that have beset us since 1916’, the largest department store in Ireland was ready to open its doors again. Clery’s sold all the luxury items one might want—hosiery, silk, ribbon and flowers, millinery, carpets, tailoring and much more. The original shop had been the first of Dublin’s larger stores to fit electric lights, installing them in 1892 to support evening shopping. ‘New Clery’s’ continued this trend, advertising its modern facilities—electric passenger lifts and ‘beautifully appointed toilet rooms for both lady and gentlemen customers’. Clery’s had also led the way with the introduction of its internal phone system and switchboard some years previously, and an earlier advert on 5 August noted they now had a new telephone number with five separate lines.The principal owner of Clery & Co. in 1922 was Dr Lombard Murphy, the son of William Martin Murphy, and the family retained ownership of the Irish Independent newspaper, hence its prominent placing of adverts for the store. Continue reading (you will be redirected to the website of Century Ireland)

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, is published by the Royal Irish Academy with support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.


Ireland 1922