Joinery specialists to close after almost 40 years in business

Brothers Ivan and Carl Crowe call time on specialist joinery business based in Ballymun

One of Dublin’s leading specialists in period joinery, Advance Joinery based in the Ballymun Industrial Estate, has been put up for sale as brothers Ivan and Carl Crowe, hang up their tools after nearly 40 years in business.

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years and I have had enough; the effect of heavy lifting wears the body out. It’s not physically possible any more,” said Carl (65). “It is also hard to get apprentices because young lads these days don’t want to do physical work and apprentice rates are only €250 a week.”

The family tradition of craftsmanship dates back nearly a century to the 1920s when some cousins made coffins. Their father, Joseph, established his own business in 1974 in Harold’s Cross where the brothers would have learned their trade. The current business was formed in 1984 by the brothers and their father.

Over the years, the Crowes and their team of highly skilled craftsmen have built up a reputation within the conservation community for the quality of their work and their expertise with timber sash windows. They have featured in TV programmes such as Duncan Stewart’s About the House on RTÉ, and were also mentioned in Peter Pearson’s book The Heart of Dublin.


They have carried out innumerable private and public projects including the windows of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House, the GPO in Dublin, Harcourt Street Children’s Hospital, Leinster House, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre in Co Wicklow, the Goethe Institute in Dublin, the headquarters of Na Píobarí Uilleann in Henrietta Street and numerous period houses around the country.

“Windows are the eyes of a building – if you change them you completely alter the look of it,” Ivan said, explaining that sash windows are composed of more than 50 individual pieces including sash cords and pulleys that all have to knit together perfectly. What they enjoyed most was replacing PVC windows with timber sashes.

According to Carl, Dublin has some very beautiful windows. He remembers in particular a house on St Stephen’s Green near University Church with a couple of arched windows and a bow-fronted window. “I had to make special tooling to get the glazing bars right, a special cutter to make the moulding for the angle. It was the most difficult thing to do but I loved doing it,” he said.

Ideally the brothers would like to be able to sell the building as a going concern, allowing the name and the reputation “and the excellent work carried out by our team to continue”, said Ivan. “Skills such as ours are disappearing and we are very conscious of the fact that the team we have may be lost to other sectors of construction if the name disappears.”

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author