Dublin pharmacy witnessed history in the making

 

IT BORE WITNESS to one of the great events in Irish history and this year celebrates its centenary. Foley’s Pharmacy in Parnell Street, Dublin, is 100 years old this year. Founded in 1909 by Limerick native Michael John Foley, his grandson Michael is the third generation to own it. Michael’s son Eoin is training to be a pharmacist and will be a fourth generation chemist.

Michael’s cousin, the local TD Maureen O’Sullivan, cut the tape recently in Foley’s to celebrate the centenary.

The pharmacy has been renowned for generations for making its own remedies for skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. This is one of the reasons why Foley’s will always be an independent chemist, according to its owner. “There has been a lot of changes in pharmacy in recent years. It has become very standardised with everybody doing the same thing. That’s why we are different. We still have people coming from all over the country for our treatments,” he said.

Just seven years after being founded, Foley’s Medical Hall found itself in the middle of a war zone during the Easter Rising. An English officer named Montgomery insisted on commandeering the living quarters upstairs. He left his revolver behind him after the Rising was quelled.

A photograph of Michael John and his wife, which was found in the rubble after the Rising, is now displayed in the shop.

In recent years, the shop has witnessed the transformation of Ireland from one of the most homogenous countries in the world to a truly multicultural society. Foley’s is now in the heart of an area which includes Dublin’s unofficial Chinatown, along with Polish and Nigerian shops. There is even a Polish medical centre nearby.

In an age when the business is increasingly dominated by multinational chains, such as Boots and Superdrug, Michael believes there will always be a market for a family-owned chemist: “Older people in particular like to know who they are dealing with when they get their prescriptions. No Boots could ever recreate the relationship we have with our customers.”