LIMERICK City’s oldest independent jeweller Irwin Brothers has closed after more than 110 years operating in Patrick Street due to trading difficulties.
In a further blow to the city, the store - which was opened by Joseph Irwin in Patrick Street in 1897 - closed for the final time on Wednesday evening, bringing to an end three generations of jewellery-making in the city.
Store manager Eddie Irwin, who has worked for the family business since the mid-1980s, informed the five staff of the closure at the end of trading on Wednesday.
He told the Limerick Leader that regretfully, the time had come to “draw a line” under the company.
The former Junior Chamber president said that things could have been very different had the stalled Opera Centre development proceeded.
“We would definitely have benefited had the Opera Centre gone up. As with any business, you need passing trade in order to survive, and if that’s taken away or diminished outside of your control, your business will suffer as a result,” he said.
Mr Irwin did not rule out Irwin Brothers retaining some presence on Patrick Street, saying: “Let’s just see what the future brings.”
“Thankfully we have survived 113 years in Patrick Street. Limerick has been good to us, our customers have been loyal, and we thank them for that.”
Although Irwin Brothers opened in the city in 1897, the Irwin family name dates back to a previous jewellers business then trading in Roches Street.
Mr Irwin said when he pulled the shutters down for the last time, “there was an awful lot of sadness.”
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We might say we could have changed this and that. But I think we did what we thought was the best at most of the turns we have taken. We took steps over the last two years, and unfortunately they didn’t go through.”
Limerick model agent Celia Holman-Lee says she is “heartbroken” to see the closure of Irwin Brothers.
“Since I was a child, I had my nose stuck up against that window. It is a beautiful, beautiful premises, and a part of the heritage of the city, in the sense it has been there as long as I can remember. It was a landmark, like Brown Thomas, in our city. I am very saddened,” she said.