Header image via Instagram/storefronts.dublin
Curran’s Shoe Repairs was in business for over three generations, repairing the shoes of nearly every Taoiseach from Eamon de Valera to Enda Kenny.
The Baggot Street shop which closed its doors for the final time on Wednesday of this week was the only one of its kind, still working with machinery and equipment dating back to the 1930s.
The decline of footfall in the area, as well as the continuation of working from home for many post-pandemic left owner John Miley with no option but to close. Describing business during the pandemic on RTÉ's Liveline earlier this week, John said - "In the middle of lockdown I stood here for 16 working days, and I did not speak to one customer". He also attributed the rise in "smart casual" attire for many workplaces as a factor in the closure.
Curran's was opened in 1937 by Michael Curran, who learned his trade during his time at the Artane Industrial School. The shop was taken over by Hugh Miley in the 1960s, and then by Hugh's son, John.
Speaking to the Irish Times about life in the shop, John said:
Life here was brilliant. The customers were fantastic and I came to really love my trade. Then the other gentlemen died one by one. My dad was the last to go 13 years ago. I was left in there on my own.
The equipment at Curran's, most of which has been there since the shop opened in 1935 will find a safe home at the Moynalty Steam Threshing Museum in Meath. On Liveline, John appealed for help to move the machines to the museum, most of them weighing about a tonne and a half each.
Following the appeal, Cronin Movers sent out a truck and staff to move the machinery, with Tommy Claffey, a flower seller at Palmerstown Cemetery and Richie Lawler, a farrier at the National Stud coming out to assist too.
John described the machines as "lethal" - recalling the many times he'd stitched his hands to a shoe - "You’re day dreaming.. it’s (the stitch) just gone through your thumb... If you went down to Vincents, you lost a days wages, or if you got a bit of Sellotape and put it over it, you got a days pay".