Tom Monaghan, understood to have been Ireland’s oldest retailer, has died just days before his 98th birthday.
He was a permanent fixture on the floor of Monaghan’s Cashmere, just off Dublin’s Grafton Street, from when he sold his first jumper in 1960 until days before he died on Tuesday evening.
Over his 63 years in business, he saw off at least three crippling recessions and a global pandemic and kept the lights while retaining a love for the business he built with his wife, Teresa, from nothing, according to his daughter Suzanne.
The shop opened in the same year the couple got married after they spotted a gap in the market to sell high-quality cashmere and lambswool sweaters. It was a gap most Irish people would not have been able to identify, Mr Monaghan once recalled.
At the time, Irish people “didn’t really know what cashmere was but the Americans loved it,” he told The Irish Times several years ago. “We sold mountains of cashmere jumpers for £5 and five shillings – that was $15.”
Among his customers over the years have been many of Ireland’s leading politicians and celebrities, as well as Maureen O’Hara, Maureen Potter, Ronnie Drew and Jamie Lee Curtis. But while some of the well known faces might have attracted attention, it was the day-to-day interactions Mr Monaghan had with his customers that he thrived on, he used to say.
Almost until the very end, Suzanne, who took over the running of the shop only last year, brought him in most mornings and then home again in the evenings and he would spend his time in the back office taking calls and occasionally popping out to the shop floor when long-standing customers and old friends came in.
“He was so involved and it is amazing that for such an elderly man, he had such a great relationship with everybody around him,” she told The Irish Times. “I know how much he loved the shop and how much it meant to him but it was his family that meant more. He had an amazing life after a tough start and was surrounded right to the very end by his whole family.”
She said that – as her father would have wanted – the shop would keep going. “Monaghan’s will always be there and his picture will be hanging inside the door. There’s always going to be people who want that really good quality cashmere.”
Funeral details are to be announced later.