How did a fishing tackle shop survive for 60 years in Temple Bar?

Rory’s was the only shop in what has become Dublin’s party district when it opened in 1960

Rory’s Tackle Shop, the oldest original shop based in Temple Bar, Dublin celebrates 60 years in business. The shop was opened by Rory Harkin in 1959 and is now run by his daughter Mary. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

Rory’s Fishing Tackle is not only the oldest shop in Dublin’s Temple Bar; it was the only shop in the area for a long time.

When it first opened, there was nothing else in Temple Bar other than warehouses and apartments.

The shop marked 60 years in operation at 17A Temple Bar this week, probably the choicest address in what is one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city.

The facade remains untouched since it first opened, only the windows have been changed.

When the eponymous Rory Harkin started out in the shop the rent and rates were a combined £16 a week. Luckily he had the foresight to buy the premises outright in 1989 just as Temple Bar was taking off as Dublin’s party district.

Rory Harkin examines some of his stock in his shop in Dublin’s Temple Bar. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.
Rory Harkin examines some of his stock in his shop in Dublin’s Temple Bar. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

“If we had to rent this premises, we wouldn’t be able to afford it,” he says.

Harkin has had numerous approaches about the building over the years, mostly from pub chains offering to buy him out, but he he has refused all advances.

Fishing was a hobby that became a passion for him over the years.

“From the time I could walk, all I wanted to do was go fishing. That’s why I carry on,” Harkin says.

Torch passed

The torch has been passed on to his daughter, Mary who is continuing on the family tradition.

“I’m lucky. My hobby is my job. What else would I be doing at this stage?” she says. “Like for any other business, it’s not getting any easier with businesses going online.”

If you can’t beat them, join them and their website does a brisk trade in specialist fishing equipment.

Famous visitors have come over the years including US president Bill Clinton, actor Tom Cruise, Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne and, of course, the fishing-mad former Republic of Ireland soccer manager Jack Charlton.

A photograph on one of the shop’s wall features the late singer Amy Winehouse wearing a a Rory’s ‘go fishing’ T-shirt, an unlikely fashion accessory that has been worn by many who would not know one end of a rod from the other.

Rory also sells archery equipment but gave up selling shotguns after a break-in 30 years ago. “Guns are too much hassle. When you go to bed at night, at least you can sleep,” he says.

More people have passed the shop than have entered it over the years. People visit Temple Bar for many reasons; fishing is not usually one of them.

“People do come in and say, ‘what the heck is a tackle fishing shop doing in Temple Bar’?” Rory says.

After 60 years in situ, he believes the correct question should be what the other businesses are doing in the area.