It was back to the future when Clerys in Dublin opened for business yesterday.
The 160-year-old store had been closed since a thunder storm caused major flood damage in July.
The designers working on the revamped store have exposed the old ceilings — giving the “old dame” a new lease of life with an old world feel.
Many shoppers remarked that the store was much brighter and felt more spacious.
It made some of the older shoppers smile in reminiscence.
However, Eugene McAdams from Clontarf in Dublin was disappointed that the front door of the old institution had not changed. “You still have to pull the glass doors. I was really hoping there would be automatic doors,” he said.
The restoration project was led by Brian Jennings of Jennings Design Studio who said they worked round the Clerys clock over 119 days to get the job done in time.
Jennings said special lighting had been installed to show off the ceilings.
“The height is nearly a metre-and-a-half higher than it used to be because of the opening up of the ceiling,” he said.
Among the 86 staff who returned to work after being temporarily laid off was Pat O’Rourke from Dunboyne, Co Meath, who has worked in the store for 15 years. “It’s just fantastic — a new birth for us,” he said.
Jimmy Deenihan, the arts and heritage minister, opened the store and presented Clerys with a copy of files held in the National Archives showing a claim for £78,557, one shilling, and eight pence made for the loss of stock, furniture, and fittings when the original store was destroyed during the 1916 Easter Rising — a significant sum at the time.
“This reminds us that Clerys has always persevered in times of challenge,” said Mr Deenihan, adding that the store could compare the recent repair and restoration costs with those incurred in 1916.
Clerys is owned by OCS Operations, a division of Gordon Brothers Europe, which has not disclosed the cost of the refurbishment nor the losses incurred during the four-month closure.
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