Francis Street’s antique quarter branches out and revamps

Gerald Potter

Paris has the Left Bank, London has Portobello Road and Dublin ‘s Francis Street is home to its very own Antique Quarter.

Located just off Thomas Street from the north and Patrick Street from the south, Francis Street is in the heart of the Liberties and a walk down the it will take you back in time.

With a strong history in skilled craftsmanship dating back to the 18th century; Francis Street has in recent years become Dublin’s antique Mecca with antique shops lining both sides of the street. The street officially became Dublin’s Antique Quarter in 2003 when numerous well-established traders linked up.

This brought about the launch of a guide book to the street which lists the areas antique shops, art galleries and restaurants. Each shop also encourages its visitors to come in for a look regardless of whether they are buying or not.

Shops that are partners generally have linked up with those who sell similar products as themselves. One such partnership between Patrick Howard Antiques and Martin Fennelly Antiques both of whom specialise in “fine quality early furniture and related items…as well as exquisite English and French Porcelain and a variety of ormolu and bronze items”.

Both shops offer their customers shipping overseas by means of purchasing online and on the Patrick Howard website there is even a testimonials section where these customers can give feedback of their experiences.

In terms of branching out to other countries O’Sullivans Antiques which has been located in the Liberties since 1900 are also located in New York’s Antique District at 51 East 10th Street. These shops specialise in fine Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian furniture as well as numerous decorative objects.

Francis Street also gives you chance to support a good cause at the Oxfam Home one of the most popular shops on the street and also contains one of most diverse and reasonably priced products on the street. These include retro furniture, vinyl records from the 80s, second-hand books and DVD and all other sorts of bits and bobs that would add character and charm to any house.

The shop is also very welcoming to donations, says Steinunn living in Dublin but originally from Iceland. “If you have unwanted homeware, want to replace the lamps in the living-room or make space in the book-shelves, rather than throwing your stuff away, bring them to Oxfam Home. What you might not view as a treasure anymore can be valuable to somebody else. It’s always a great feeling to bring a piece of furniture to this shop. The staff is always so grateful, and you know the money will go to a good cause.”

Although prices are better than elsewhere Oxfam still has a reasonable idea of their worth, Aoife from Fairview says, “Prices are good, but not too good,” i.e. although most of their products are donated, the higher their prices the more money they raise to help fight poverty.

Francis Street also caters to art lovers namely with the Cross Gallery and Gallery Zozimus and the newly founded Iveagh Gallery.

Back to existing galleries Zozimus was opened in 2007 under the ownership of Vincent Kelly and Charlie Meehan both of whom have years of experience in retail. The gallery holds a collection of artifacts, including works by noted painters, ceramicists and also the work of-up-and-coming artists. The older Cross Gallery has a similar collection and also showcases the work of up-and-coming artists.

On the other hand the Iveagh Gallery prides itself on being one of the few galleries in Dublin showcasing Irish painters and sculptors of the 19th and 20th century.

On the surface the Antique Quarter appears to be in large part surviving the economic downturn and this is primarily due to how the traders liaise with each other proving that they are stronger together.

Last year the Quarter was re-branded in an effort to attract more visitors whether they are from Ireland or overseas.

This re-branding included the formation of a new group the Francis Street Association, which included the launch of a website containing links to all the shops taking part.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *