Frank McDonagh & Co

Frank McDonagh and Company were wholesale and retail drapers and outfitters that opened in Williamsgate Street in 1883. In early advertisements, they described themselves as “Successors to M. Hennessy, the house for original Claddagh cloaks as supplied to the Royal family”.

They were always heavy advertisers, for Christmas at the turn of the last century, they were pushing ‘ladies chatelains and handkerchief bags, fur necklets at tempting prices, lace collars, ties, gloves, perfumes, cushions, tea cosies etc,, Irish poplin scarves a speciality’. In 1903 they had a major promotion of Irish made goods --- Irish-made suits and suitings, dress and costume cloths, umbrellas and waterproofs, hats and caps, shirts and collars, hosiery and underwear, ties in great variety, corsets and underclothing, rugs and shawls.

In 1915, fire completely destroyed the premises. At 4am, people coming to the monthly fair saw smoke coming from the second storey and they raised the alarm. Police under District Inspector Heard and Constable Killackey rendered excellent service as did the Urban District Fire Brigade under the supervision of Mr. Molloy, Town Steward.

At 5am, the Renmore Barracks fire brigade under the supervision of Sergeant Major Brennan and Sergeant Daly of the Connaught Rangers arrived with their engines and hoses. They gave valuable assistance in saving the adjoining premises of Mr. Michael Costelloe, butcher, and the Connacht Fruit Stores, both of which escaped much injury.

In 1922, they advertised a new drapery and outfitting warehouse in Mainguard Street in the former premises of Bartley Connolly.

In 1925, the local paper reported that the display of Wolsley underwear in Frank McDonagh’s was well worth seeing and a visit to their showrooms would prove very interesting.

In 1978, Seán Rothery published a book entitled “The Shops of Ireland”, a study of shopfronts which have or had a special place in the Irish landscape and which he illustrated himself. The only mention of a Galway shop in the book is this drawing of the frontage of Frank McDonagh’s. The author describes how the arrival of curved plate glass in the later part of the 19th century made the most significant change in shop planning and how, “This fine draper’s shop is a perfectly preserved early twentieth century example of the attractive stores of provincial towns.

The curved glass windows allow window shopping in shelter and a large display area. The lettering is very fine. The letters are carved into the background which is painted green, with gold for chamfered letters, and the fascia is then covered with plate glass”. This façade was built in the early 1940’s but it has been changed since. Readers may remember that Glynn’s in William Street had an entrance similar to this.

In 1954, McDonaghs bought the Eyre Square premises occupied by Joyce, Mackie & Lougheed and extended the back of the shop out there. In 1990, the business was taken over by Joe Hanley. Frank McDonagh continued doing business in the Eyre Square section until 1994 when the Ulster Bank bought them out.

Our photograph is of the staff of McDonaghs at the rear of the shop taken in spring 1930 by Bertie Simmons. They are, seated on the ground; John Shaughnessy, Joe Tummon, Martin Burke. Seated are Teenie Sloyan; Delia Higgins; Sal O’Connell (later Mrs. Sarsfield ); Mrs. Dillon’ Mrs. McDonagh’ Miss McCormack; Annie Gilligan; Julie Geraghty; Eileen Synott (Mrs. Shaughnessy ).

First row standing; Joe Hanley, Peter Donoghue; Patrick Gillan; Tim Linnane; John Collins; Michael Fallon; Tom Woods; Peter Brennan; Paddy Kitt.

Back Row; Vincent Judge; Bridie Forde (Mrs. Dolan ); Tommy Cannon; Kathleen Connaire; Patrick Duggan; Mary Moran; Michael Coughlan and Edward Fahy.

Finally, we made a mistake in naming the people in a photograph of Boys Club lifesavers last week when we inadvertently called ‘Sailor’ Folan ‘Sailor’ McDonagh. Apologies.


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