After four generations of family business selling sports goods and uniforms, to customers as diverse as giant of the rugby world, the All Blacks Jonah Lomu, and to all-blues guitar legend Rory Gallagher, it's final whistle time at Cork city centre's famed Finn's Corner business.
The landmark shop, run by the Finn family for over 140 years and including former Irish rugby legend Moss Finn as a co-director jointly with his brother Will, last week put up its 'Closing Down' sale banners, having been in gear since 1878, in a business founded by Drinagh draper, William Thomas Finn.
The clothing and retail company has sold sports equipment, school uniforms, protective wear, leisure wear, safety uniforms and items for a variety of trades and professions, including chefs and nurses. It's due to shut its doors finally at the end of this month.
Among the sales recalled by Will Finn (he's the third William Finn of four generations there) was regularly selling denim jeans to 'local' Rory Gallagher, and they also had to supply and send rugby boots they had in stock to 6'5” and 260 lb rugby giant Jonah Lomu, after Adidas once ran out of pairs in his size.
Mr Finn doesn't recall the late, lamented rugby legend's boot size Mr Lomu, but recalls “they were something else,” and remarks “it's just as well he wasn't playing for the All Blacks in 1978 or Munster wouldn't have beaten them.”
Now set to retire after the shop sale, both Finn's Corner co-directors Will Finn and Moss Finn also have rugby in their blood, from 'Pres' school days, while the well-known Moss Finn was the youngest member of the Munster team which famously beat the All Blacks, to a score of 12-0, in 1978 in Thomond Park.
Ironically, a section of the shop's most popular stock, Munster Rugby jerseys and associated gear, came to an abrupt end a year or so ago, after the lucrative merchandising was brought solely 'in-house by Munster Rugby.
The independant small family-run business Finn's now prepares to wind up with a stock disposal in the same week that it was confirmed that international sports and leisure giant Sports Direct International (SDI) is coming to Cork city centre, having paid €6.5m for the Eason property on St Patrick Street, after Eason's decision to relocate.
Sports Direct are expected to open right next door to JD Sports on 'Pana' in two years time.
The Finn's Corner building was quietly marketed for sale via estate agents Cushman & Wakefield during the summer, marked 'price on application,” and was reported to have had a c €1.5 million price expectation, when offered to investors and possible owner occupiers.
It got both local and international inquiries and is understood to have been bought by an unidentified investor.
Finn’s Corner, set at the junction of Washington Street and the Grand Parade facing the Capitol which is home to Lifestyle Sports, along with Singer's Corner, is a high-profile and gateway building to Washington Street, and has nearly 6,000 sq ft over five levels. Parts date to the 19th century, and was once the Crystal Palace Ballroom, while Irish nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell once addressed a city rally from the upper floor of Finn's Corner.
One section was substantially rebuilt in the 1990s and “when we excavated on Washington Street, we unearthed parts of the old Cork medieval city walls,” said Will Finn yesterday, quipping “we were clearly built on good foundations.”