Joan says farwell to Brown Thomas after 49 years

Staff at Brown Thomas department store said farewell to one of their longest serving employees last week after 49 years of service.

Staff at Brown Thomas department store said farewell to one of their longest serving employees last week after 49 years of service.

Joan Ryan from Murroe Co Limerick was surprised with a farewell reception by colleagues last Friday to mark the end of almost half a century with the O’Connell Street store.

“It’s been a long time but it’s been a great road and a great journey. I’m a bit lonely of course to be leaving but I’ve had a wonderful 49 years here so I’ve looked forward to this day with a bit of regret,” said Joan. Brown Thomas manager Liam Dwan said that staff and customers would be sad to see Joan leave however he added she is always welcome to call in for chat any time she passes.

“Joan has been here for 49 years which is absolutely tremendous service. She has been a very loyal and committed employee and we’re very sad to see her go. We wish her every success and health and happiness in her retirement,” he said.

Joan, who began working in the department store at 16 when it was known as Todds, says that the biggest change she has seen since beginning almost half a century ago is the way people shop.

“When I first started there were no shopping centres and everyone would come into the centre of town and go from shop to shop however that has changed dramatically over the years,” she explains.

Joan says that although there was a lot of “hard graft” in the early days, it was also “very satisfying” and she made lifelong friends with the customers and employees.

“If a customer was doing up a room or a house you didn’t just put some things into a bag and off with it. Instead you developed an interest in them and if you were helping to design the room you got to know them better and their interests and you struck up wonderful friendships that never waned,” says Joan.

“Even in the last few weeks I have had customers come in and say “oh you did my curtains 30 years ago” which is great but I don’t think that kind of service will happen again,” she adds.

However the Sliabh Felim choir singer says she is looking forward to the future and plans to spend more time with her family and friends.

“I have a lot of hobbies and I hope to visit a nephew of mine in Boston next year so I’ll be kept very busy,” laughs Joan.

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