Hanging Heart at Kelly’s of Waterford ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 273

There is something absolutely heartbreaking about long-standing family businesses closing down due to the economic recession and unfortunately it has become an every day occurrence over the last four or five years.

Today, I paid a sad visit to Kelly’s Store on the Quay in Waterford which is due to close very shortly, having been in operation since 1847.

Kelly's, The Quay, Waterford. Photograph: Patrick Browne
Kelly’s,The Quay, Waterford.
Photograph: Patrick Browne (Irish Times)

Kelly’s was a leading ladies’ fashion house in Waterford City and also had a most attractive ‘gift’ department which stocked a wonderful array of Irish produce, including crystal, rugs, perfumes, jewelry, candles ….

I was introduced to Kelly’s by my late mother who had been a customer there from when she first came to Waterford in the 1940s. I associate it very much with what she and I called our ‘girl’s outings’ which invariably brought us to Kelly’s in search of ‘style.’ There was always a great range from which to choose and I don’t think there was ever a time that we didn’t leave with at least one of the highly distinguishable yellow Kelly’s bags with slim rope handles.

After Mother died in 2009, I continued to shop in Kelly’s, especially for handbags, scarves and charms for a bracelet which I use to mark important milestones.

Somehow, I just couldn’t let Kelly’s close without calling in to offer my sympathies and thanks for all the happy memories and great service. I met with Ian Doolan, the owner for the last thirty years, and my sadness paled into insignificance compared to his sense of loss of the business which has been his life and which he associates very much with his late father, Denis.

While we talked, the charm that pressed itself forward out of the display cabinet was one called ‘hanging heart.’

It seems that nothing can save Kelly’s from closure now but my fervent hope is that shoppers will make a determined effort to support local family businesses which have served us so well in towns and cities throughout Ireland for so many generations.