Wednesday 26 October 2016

'This is Dublin 1, it should be the city's premier street'

Peter McDowell (Gerry Mooney)
Peter McDowell (Gerry Mooney)

Peter McDowell's family-run business is one of the few to have lasted decades on the northside.

McDowell's Jewellers has been located on O'Connell Street since 1902 and its current owner said it has seen many of its neighbouring businesses shut its doors over the years.

"As far as I understand it, I think we must be the longest trader in the one place, on this street," he said. "We have been open even longer than Clerys.


"There has been a lot of changes. The whole pattern of retail has changed a lot.

"Originally when I came here first there were five jewellers on O'Connell Street. We were down to one at one stage and now there are two, Breretons and ourselves."

Mr McDowell told the Herald that there is not enough being done at present to enhance what he thinks should be the prime shopping district.

"What is a pity is this should be regarded as the premier street of Dublin," he said. "This is Dublin 1, not Grafton Street.

"Grafton Street has evolved into the prime shopping centre but this was a very nice street in its time. It was one of the widest streets in Europe.

"Henry Street is quite buoyant. O'Connell Street is a good street but it's been sadly neglected by Dublin City Council and the planners for many years. For example, there's too many fast food joints on the street which shouldn't be allowed."

Signage for visitors is also a problem, he added.

"Basically, rather late in the day, DCC has now made this a heritage area," Mr McDowell said.

The jewellery business sees itself as catering for the northside.

"There is a distinct shopping difference between north and south of the Liffey and people tend to stay on one side or the other," Mr McDowell said.

"We get a lot of business from the IFSC because we are the nearest jewellers that offer a repair service.


"If you look at our address book for repairs, you see mostly Meath or North County Dublin so that is why we're here."

The jeweller now runs an online service to attract customers who may have otherwise shopped elsewhere.

"In the old days you would come up to Dublin by train, meet at The Pillar, buy your ring and maybe go to Wynn's Hotel and have dinner but that has all changed now as well.

"I think there is always going to be a place for a high street jeweller."

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