Shopping Spraoi: Ennis
Listed buildings, independent shops and a vibrant arts and music scene draw in visitors
Zest is a sinfully good café chain that was opened in Ennis in 2010 by Ean Malone, a former general manager at Aer Rianta’s catering division
Ennis is a pretty town with lots of listed buildings, independent shopping and a thriving arts and music scene. The statue of Daniel O’Connell on a pillar looks down on its many festivals, including the Fleadh which returns in July for the first time since 1977.
The town has many family run businesses and is noted for being a bit of a western fashion hub with shops like the new Brass joining established boutiques County Boutique, Cornucopia, Chez Marie and Willow offering well-priced fashion. At Brass a dark denim Neon Rose kimono jacket costs just €60.
Ennis is in a hurling heartland and many of the Clare county team shop at Bourke’s Menswear, on High Street, including All-Ireland medal winner and Sky Sports GAA pundit Jamesie O’Connor.
His sister Sheila runs O’Connor’s newsagents on Lower Market Street, which has a great range of speciality magazines. The shop has changed since her parents took it over in 1981. It is no longer a corner shop and seasonal items such as Easter eggs are not viable given the competition from grocery chains. She sells Lotto tickets and the premises has had three winners.
On the same street Scéal Eile sells new, used and rare books.
When you’re done browsing take in the vibrant live music scene at either Cruise’s or Brogans.
Less than €20: Who says airline food is rubbish? Zest is a sinfully good café chain that was opened in Ennis in 2010 by Ean Malone, a former general manager at Aer Rianta’s catering division, who, with his one-time colleague Fiona Barry, set up a purpose-built kitchen and bakery at Shannon Airport where they have just opened their fifth café. Order a Monterey ranch panini, €4.95, and dine in a contemporary space designed by Denise Ryan of Luxembourg-based Fineline Design. Zest Food, Market Place, Ennis; 065-6821014; zestfood.ie
Less than €50: O’Connell’s Medical Hall has a gorgeous glass front that dates to the 1940s. Now run by Murt O’Connell, the pharmacy deals mainly in prescription medicines but stocks some interesting cosmetics including Nia, an Irish skincare brand made in Newcastle- west, Co Limerick, by Celia O’Grady. O’Grady is from Kilnaboy, about 10 miles from Ennis. The range is made with natural ingredients. Its vitality supervitamin facial serum, €49.95, is a hit with women and with men susceptible to shaving rash. O’Connell’s Medical Hall, 19 Abbey Street, Ennis, 065-6820373
Less than €100: The Ennis Cash Co is one of the oldest houses in Ireland still selling Irish linen on the roll. Oliver Moylan (81), who still works six days a week, runs the shop in what was once the shoe division of his department store, a vast space he expanded into in the 1960s having returned from America. His family have been merchants in the town since 1880. The department store closed in 1995 but he retained a part, to sell bed linen, including Egyptian cotton sheets, Foxford blankets and household linen by Fergusons of Banbridge. A metre of damask linen costs €79.99 and tablecloths can be made to measure. Ennis Cash Co, 3 Arthur’s Row; 065-6828575
Less than €500: Ten years ago when Jean McCabe opened Willow, Ireland was booming and she thought nothing of stocking Rock & Republic jeans at €900 a pop. A decade later she’s more circumspect. Prices now range from €30 to €300, she says, and include brands such as Ted Baker and new for 2016 Danish brand, Karen by Simonsen and Italian label Silvian Heach. She opened a second premises in Galway last year that now accounts for 15 per cent of the business. There is a formal wear department upstairs and casualwear on the ground floor. This high-neck black jumpsuit by Ted Baker costs €210. Willow, 4 O’Connell Street, 065-6891342, willow.ie
€500 and over: Tony Honan Antiques is an old-fashioned establishment where grandfather clocks, a big speciality, line an entire wall and cost upwards of €1,500. Honan, who has been in business for 45 years, also sells furniture and jewellery and his shop draws loved-up couples who are at the proposal stage of life to try on his old cut diamonds.
The antiquated interior has garnered him an A-list following. Actress Julia Roberts dropped in some years back and bought a biscuit barrel and several items of jewellery from him but he won’t reveal what she paid for her pieces of Irish history. 12 Abbey Street, Ennis; 065-682 8137, tonyhonanantiques.com
DOWN TIME: Grab a coffee and a cake at Zest (Market Place, Ennis; Zestfood.ie) and go via the tourist office to pick up a map and tour the sculpture trail starting with the bronze of De Valera near the courthouse. It goes on to take in sculptures along the river and in town.