Mementoes of Clery’s department store among items to be auctioned

Cheque shows Pearse was a customer before his 1916 Rising destroyed the shop

Portraits of 13 taoisigh, a cheque given by Patrick Pearse to Clerys in Dublin and fittings from various Dublin nightclubs will be among 3,500 items to be sold in an auction organised by Dublin antiques dealer Niall Mullen. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

A cheque for £10 given by Patrick Pearse to Clery’s in Dublin seven years before the 1916 Rising is among memorabilia from the former department store to be sold at auction next week. The cheque was signed by Pearse using the Irish language version of his name, Pádraig Mac Piarais, and is dated January 20th, 1909. The Hibernian Bank Ltd cheque, dated January 20th 1909, was made payable to Clery & Co Ltd and is stamped as having been cashed by Teller 9 at the National Bank, Dublin on February 1st, 1909. 

Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

It is not known what Pearse bought with the cheque but his financial records show that he was a regular customer of the department store over the years. The National Library of Ireland has his chequebook from the year 1912, which records a payment to Clery’s of £15 and, a receipt issued by Clery’s dated October 4th, 1913 acknowledging the receipt of “six shillings and two pence” from Mr PH Pearse.

The £10 cheque with a top estimate of €2,000 will go under the hammer in a two-day auction of the fixtures, fittings and contents of various Dublin venues, at The Heritage Hotel, Killenard near Portarlington, Co Laois which has been postponed due to the adverse weather conditions and will now take place on Monday and Tuesday, March 12th and 13th. Other items in the auction from Clery’s include framed photographs, newspaper cuttings, office journals and shop record books.

Clery’s was founded in 1853 in Dublin’s Sackville Street - as O’Connell Street was known under British rule. The shop – opposite the GPO – was destroyed during the 1916 Rising but Clery’s continued to trade from premises in Lower Abbey Street. The shop was re-built on the original site and re-opened on August 9th, 1922 with a live orchestra in the afternoons to serenade shoppers.

Clery’s went into receivership in 1941 and was bought by the businessman Denis Guiney for £250,000. The cheque written by Mr Guiney for £230,000 (he had already paid a deposit of £20,000) is also in the auction with a top estimate of £1,500. 

A piece of social history

Clery’s subsequently thrived for decades but in the 21st century business began to decline and the department store closed suddenly on June 12th, 2015 when the operating company went into liquidation and more than 400 jobs were lost.

Some of the items in the auction, while of little monetary value, shed light on social history. A ledger recording daily takings for the year 1989 shows that on Wednesday, May 31st customers spent a total of £66,569 in Clery’s. Not surprisingly for the time of year, the furs’ department sold nothing that day but the shirts’ department took in £5,194; cosmetics £3,584, lingerie and corsetry £2,668, the restaurant £1,435 and ladies’ shoes £1,115. Among numerous framed photographs is one of “The Clery’s Tug-of-War Team, Winner of Ringsend bazaar Championship, 1910 - Inter-Drapery Championship”.

Overall the auction features some 3,000 items from private and commercial properties that have been assembled by Dublin antiques dealer Niall Mullen including furniture, bar counters, light fittings, glassware and art from the private dining club, Residence on St Stephen’s Green (which is closed for refurbishment) and the former nightclub Howl at the Moon on Mount Street; furniture, chandeliers and curtains from the Shelbourne Hotel following the venue’s most recent refurbishment; and a large bronze sculpture by Sandra Bell formerly owned by the late Dr Tony Ryan (co-founder of Ryanair) at his Lyons Demesne estate with an estimate of £15,000.

The top lot is a suite of 13 portrait paintings of all 13 former taoisigh by “Johnny Wilson” which turns out to be a pseudonym for a Chinese artist, Zhang Yi who lived in Ireland from 2006 until 2014. They will be sold as one lot with an estimate of £30,000-£40,000.

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