Future Proof: Conefrey’s Pharmacy adapts to the community’s changing needs

Tomás Conefrey makes sure the family pharmacy is keeping up with the times

Conefrey's Pharmacy on Dublin's Pearse Street was founded in 1955 by the late Caillin 'Con' Conefrey, who ran the business until he passed away in 1988. Following Con's death, his widow Peggy took over, introducing computerised systems of payment and record-keeping until the couple's son Tomás qualified as a pharmacist in 1998.

Tomás Conefrey says that the shop was always part of the lives of the family. His brother, Caillin jnr, has also worked in the shop for years alongside several other members of staff.

“The pharmacy was always in our lives, almost like another family member really and we always just referred to it as the shop,” says Conefrey. “We were always in and out of it as children and it has been a constant in our lives and a topic of conversation for as long as I can remember.”

When they were children, Conefrey’s father worked seven days a week, even opening on Sundays until his death in 1988 when Tomás was in his Inter Cert year at school.


It seemed natural he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pharmacist.

“At the time, I wouldn’t have necessarily known why I was getting into pharmacy but looking back it was probably the best decision I ever made,” says Conefrey. “I genuinely love the job and the problem-solving aspect of the work, which is something not everyone can say about what they do.”


While the family had lived in Sandymount and Conefrey himself now lives with his family in Bray, he says the Conefreys have always been considered members of the community around the Pearse Street/ docklands area.

“The family has been in the community longer than some of the people that live around here. The pharmacy is 60 years old and my late uncle also had a hardware shop across the road until his retirement in 1999 so hopefully we have a good name in the area,” he says.

While the business has a good reputation, Conefrey says it has been necessary to get that good name and reputation out there in the public domain, particularly with the encroaching impact of the likes of Boots and with supermarkets stocking remedies that traditionally would be sourced in pharmacists, such as vitamins and pain relief products.

“My whole take on advertising has changed in the past three or four years with the impact of social media,” says Conefrey, who is active on Twitter and Facebook and does the Conefrey blog.

“I suppose I am quite an introvert but I have had to come out of my shell somewhat in order to get the word out about what we do, to get and to keep people interested and coming through the door. I’ve had to engage people more than I’ve ever had to before in my life.”

Technology and advances in medicine have affected the business too. While the types of medicine sold by pharmacists is controlled by the Government and the medical establishment, the range of services a pharmacist can offer has broadened over the years, something Conefrey is keen to offer to his customers and to capitalise on.

“The nature of our business is a personal business. We need to keep up with what is happening in technology – our role is changing and I have been trying to evolve the business over time,” he says.


Offering services such as the flu vaccination and emergency contraception has added a new dimension to the business, and Conefrey’s staff undergo regular training in areas such as the application of compression stockings and in cholesterol monitoring.

Widening the number of services at the front of shop as well as diversifying the retail offering allows Conefrey to engage with his customers and to offer services which ensure they return to him.

“I think I am quite forward-thinking and am delighted to be able to offer someone a new, more effective product as I want to drive the business on all the time. I try to bring as many cutting-edge solutions to my customers as I can,” he says.


The next step for the business is to tackle the 140-year-old building in which Conefrey’s is housed in the vicinity of Pearse Street Library.

“As well as updating the shopfloor, we have to address the building itself which is going to entail an estimated €500,000 investment,” says Conefrey. “We hope to create more storage space and to add two separate entrances in order to grow the business. We hope to adapt the building in order to house complementary therapies such as physiotherapy and nutritional therapy – services which will complement what we do in terms of product offering.”

The future of Conefrey’s Pharmacy will be based, he says, on his vision for the business and he intends to capitalise on the new population of the docklands with its apartment-dwellers and office workers as Google, Facebook, Airbnb and TripAdvisor provide a new customer base in the area. conefreyspharmacy.ie