Louise Byrne

Selling off the Silverware

Dublin's Oldest Shop

McEvoy said she was "aghast" seeing photos of the shop's current facade. "I was so upset, I really was.

"It seems to me incredibly short sighted from a financial point of view to not keep a place like this the way it should be kept."
Behind rotting signs and shutters regularly daubed with graffiti is one of Dublin's true hidden histories. The city's oldest shop, Thomas Read's Cutlers has lain vacant and unused since 1997.

The property, which is considered one of the finest examples of an 18th century merchant shop in the UK and Ireland, was bought by businessman Hugh O'Regan and later acquired by the National Asset Management Agency. Despite the efforts of conservationists including Dublin Civic Trust to preserve the building for public use, Nama sold the property in 2011 to developer Clem Kenny.

The shop, which was established in 1670, sold swords, knives and surgical instruments from its location in the shadow of Dublin Castle on Parliament Street.

An online campaign is now under way to have the store conserved and reopened for public use. Amateur historian John Lee is using his OldDublinTown website and twitter account to highlight the issue.

"Why is it so important to save Thomas Read's? It is part of our history. People pass this building every day and don't know the history attached to the premises. The original signage is rotting away and in another few years it won't exist. This is going to vanish."
Dublin Civic Trust has expressed its disappointment at the decision to sell the property into private hands. Conservation Research Officer Graham Hickey said the trust had proposed restoring the building and opening it as a museum.

"Once we heard Nama was in possession of the building, following on from the wider failure of the Thomas Read's business, we immediately approached the senior people in Nama with a view to acquiring the building."

"Unfortunately Nama deferred pretty much to the receiver that was selling the property. They said they had a fiduciary obligation to the receiver and the taxpayer to reclaim the outstanding debts against the business and they did not sell to us."
In 1983, cutler John Read Cowle was featured in an RTÈ documentary, Dublin - A Personal View. He recounted one of his favourite memories of the store.

Video courtesy of David Shaw Smith.

Video footage in this multimedia presentation was filmed using an iPhone 4S, AKG microphone, iRig and FiLMiC Pro software.

Archive video does not illustrate the current contents and fixtures of the store.
The owner of the premises, businessman Clem Kenny plans on restoring the cutler's shop but it will be a private property, owned by a private individual.

Mr Kenny has said conservation research is under way along with maintenance to address the decay. He hasn't said what access the public will have to one of the city's most significant historical buildings, or when restoration work will be complete.
Musician Eleanor McEvoy filmed the video for her single Precious Little in Thomas Read's in 1996. She has described her shock and disappointment at the shop's current state.

McEvoy said the US film crew which worked on the video was extremely taken by the property's history and atmosphere.

"I remember walking into the shop first and the gasps from the crew. They said: 'oh my god this is amazing'. The excitement." In recent months an executive from her former record label Columbia even enquired about the "cool little shop" where the shoot took place.

"It felt as if you walked into a previous century," she explained. "You felt like hundreds of years ago people were in this exact same space, seeing exactly what I'm seeing. The thrill of that."