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Dublin: -1°C Monday 25 January 2021

5 of Dublin's most iconic old-school shops - and where to find them*

*If they haven’t already been lost. Where else could you buy a pram and a plunger?

THERE ARE FEW places where you can buy a chocolate bar, can of Coke and toilet plunger all under the one roof – as well as getting a key cut while you’re at it – but Frank’s on Frederick Street North is one of them. 

One of Dublin’s remaining old-school convenience stores, Frank’s is one institution of many that Trevor Finnegan doesn’t want to be forgotten in the city’s ever-changing landscape.

To document “the once familiar face of Irish towns and villages”, Trevor began a personal photographic project called Our Type during the Celtic Tiger, whereby he shares the old buildings and shopfronts he comes across around the country. 

“Each one tells us a story, of a business still trading after generations or of one consigned to dusty history, alive only in the memories of the local families it served and the tradesmen and artists who worked together to create it,” he says. “Seeing one of these old, disused shopfronts gives us a unique insight into previous generations.”

Trevor shares his findings on Instagram (@our.type) and on ourtype.ie. Below, he rounded up five of his favourite old-school storefronts that he has come across – as well as where to find them.

1. Frank’s, 18 Frederick Street North, Dublin 1 

Franks North Frederick st Source: Trevor Finnegan/Our Type

This is one of my favourite shopfronts in Dublin city, although I think it may be closed down now or may just open sporadically. Frank’s Hardware and Fancy Goods is an absolute visual and typographic treat. The shop is adorned with hand-painted deals offering everything from reading glasses to tea lights to mops, bins and furniture. This, along with its limited colour palette of yellow, red and black, makes it a visually exciting landmark in Dublin’s north inner city.

2. Christy’s Hardware & Souvenirs, 8 Mary St, Dublin 1

Christys Source: Trevor Finnegan/Our Type

This is another little gem of a shop. Similar to Frank’s, Christy’s is one of those shops where you can get anything you need for your home. These were the types of shops that existed before the mundane chain stores and Euro shops started to take over our streetscapes. I was always amused when walking past this shop of the voice-over playing on a loop of all the things they sold in the shop. Bizarre but interesting!

3. AC Boles Chemist, 390 South Circular Road, Dolphin’s Barn, Dublin 8

AC Boles_2 Source: Trevor Finnegan/Our Type

This is another lovely example of a traditional shopfront. This is a really prominent building in the heart of Dublin on the South Circular road junction and makes a significant contribution to the streetscape. The use of red lettering really stands out alongside the bright yellow and blue shuttering. I wonder for how much longer it will stay like this, as this area of the city in particular is changing at a rapid pace with very little regard to its existing heritage and culture.

4. Frank’s Pork Shop, Camden St, Dublin 2

Franks Pork Shop Camden st Source: Trevor Finnegan/Our Type

Up until very recently this was one of the few remaining butchers on Camden St. I’ve heard that it’s now closed, but Frank’s butchers specialised in pork and bacon and had a very limited amount of other produce, which is extremely rare in today’s market. I loved how the signage of this place never changed over the years and kept a real gritty feel to it.

5. K Doyle, Fruiterer and Grocer, Drimnagh

K. Doyle Drimnagh Source: Trevor Finnegan/Our Type

This is a beautiful tiled shopfront on Errigal road in Drimnagh. The design is almost art deco in style and it sits alongside another beautiful shopfront called Conroy’s. I think they may be both closed now as the last time I passed they were both up for sale. 

More: 5 of Dublin’s hidden hand-painted ghost signs – and where to see them for yourself>

More: 9 places to take magical photos of Irish night skies, according to a photographer>

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