View Full Version : Thomas Read: Cutlers of Dublin (1675-1997)

10-03-2014, 04:40 PM
Regarding Dublin's oldest shop, the wonderful Thomas Read's cutlers at No.4 Parliament Street, which closed to the public approximately twenty years ago and has since fallen into terrible disrepair. The family business originally opened back in 1675, and at this location has been a landmark historical building in the eyes and minds of Dubliners ever since. As a person who regularly uses Dublin bus when at home in Ireland for work projects, I pass by this shop every morning I'm heading through the city center. From the upper decks of a regular bus, the signage and shop-front can be examined up quite close, and it's a terrible shame to see it continue it's slide into decay.

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/Reads1.jpg (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/Reads1.jpg.html)

On many occasions when home, I've also considered taking a ladder and removing the original signboard from it's overhang to bring it home to the workshop and renovate it before returning it to it's spot. Unfortunately, as a landmark building, this would be illegal, and instead the hand-painted signboard continues to rot away, much like the rest of the exterior of the old shop itself.

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/Reads2.jpg (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/Reads2.jpg.html)

Again, Dublin City Council utterly fails in it's remit of protecting sites of national historical importance, and the site owner - pub impressario Hugh O'Regan - went into liquidation back in 2011. This has resulted in the shop becoming both permanently shuttered and sadly derelict. Plans for either a hotel or apartments on the upper floors remained shelved gathering dust, as does most of the original stock, presently held in glass containers on-site.

Read himself was a renowned craftsman, and both his work as a cutler and as a maker of a variety of other devices and implements from swords, cutlasses, traditional knives and forks, through to his highly sought after and collectable classic bottle-openers including the famous 'Read's Coaxer' made this shop a treasure trove for any Dubliner with an interest in our collective local artisan history.

His main custom base was to the Anglo-Irish aristocracy.

But the shop was also friendly to passer's by with an interest in their excellent trade skills. My father took me there many times as a child, and even though he rarely bought anything of any great expense, the welcome inside was always something to behold. A trip to the city wasn't complete without a visit to the workshop, and the shop assistants always took the time to show you around and demonstrate the latest wares on offer.

I'll post two updated links here to illustrate the work of Dublin (South East Inner City) Councillor Gerard Mannix Flynn of Áosdana in highlighting the ongoing plans for a thorough revival of the location and the conservation works planned over the next eighteen months.



Related article:


Slim Buddha
10-03-2014, 05:50 PM
I was not aware of the history of Thomas Read's. Thanks for that, Mowl.

10-03-2014, 06:03 PM
Most welcome, Slim.

I'm in regular contact with Councillor Flynn, who does fantastic work in highlighting issues such as those affecting Dublin's oldest listed shop, so I'll update the thread as events transpire.

If any of our gentle readers are passing the shop with a camera, some additional photographic material would be most appreciated. I'm looking at you, Eamo. Ahem!

23-04-2014, 04:30 PM
A brief update on recent negative events connected to Thomas Read Cutlers, Dublin's oldest shop, on Parliament Street.

A group of unidentified vandals kicked in the rotting wooden structure of the severely crumbling shopfront at around midnight last night. Two bottom panels were very badly damaged, potentially allowing access to intruders to the interior where many original products of the Read family are still contained.

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/10171211_10201164721315244_9060815886339387053_n.j pg (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/10171211_10201164721315244_9060815886339387053_n.j pg.html)

As yet no assistance or investigation has taken place on behalf of An Garda Siochána or Dublin City Council. Thankfully, the damage was discovered soon after it had taken place by Councillor Mannix Flynn, local contender for the upcoming Local Elections on May 23rd, and on noting the extensive vandalism he graciously returned shortly after with basic tools and materials to secure the shop from further damage or intrusion.

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/10256827_10201164746075863_5478771096388334547_n.j pg (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/10256827_10201164746075863_5478771096388334547_n.j pg.html)

The situation remained as such until early this morning when the owners of the lease were contacted and told of the vandalism. Shopfront repairs were carried out and a night-time security guard has since been posted to protect the shop from any further vandalism.

As a gentle and somewhat provactive aside, acclaimed local artist and sculptor Corban Walker also visited the scene this morning, and when the repairmen had finished their work, he decided to requisition and save Councillor Flynn's basic wooden latting for later creative use in his arts studio. A very nice gesture of solidarity and civic concern from Corban Walker, and I'm sure, a heartfelt moment for Mannix Flynn too.

The shopfront today, after this morning's emergency repairs.

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/1902992_10203796483974066_1146807268074800138_n.jp g (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/1902992_10203796483974066_1146807268074800138_n.jp g.html)

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/1661135_10201166955131088_2120412424406424184_n.jp g (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/1661135_10201166955131088_2120412424406424184_n.jp g.html)

And Thomas Reads Cutlers shopfront as it was in it's heyday.

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/10013546_10153941212590457_1617702792_n.jpg (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/10013546_10153941212590457_1617702792_n.jpg.html)

Once again we see the social disconnect between a small but significant faction of Dublin's undesirables and the treasures of their beautiful city. Thinking about it for a moment, one considers that these same mindless vandals likely wear their tricolours and GAA team colours with something approaching a semblance of misguided loyalty and pride on certain days - yet on others would happily and brainlessly destroy that which part of their collective heritage.

God only knows what they're thinking when they wear their Premier League jerseys and sing their Republican protest songs about certain men behind certain wire.

Some of us are, clearly, are a somewhat confused and misguided generation of Irishmen and women.

One feels a jolt of something approaching disgust to think that alcohol or drugs also may have played a significant role in this blatant and pointless destruction of Dublin's oldest shop and shopfront. These guys should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, and if video surveillance is available, one would also hope that it is used to secure a conviction resulting in a hefty dose of community service, as well as a financial penalty and permanent record.

In the meanwhile, commendations to both Councillor Flynn and to genial artist Corban Walker not just for their concern, but indeed for their civic activism in taking the situation into their own hands where the authorities clearly display once again that they don't give a damn.

23-04-2014, 04:52 PM
A lovely little piece of vintage video with historian Eamon Mac Thomais in conversation with John Read-Cowell at the site of Thomas Read Cutlers in Dublin's Parliament Street. The warmth of the interior and the welcome of the staff apparent in every word and gesture:


05-05-2014, 04:48 PM
From a recent blog by Councillor Mannix Flynn regarding a wonderful find of old 'in miniature' photos of the original shopfront of Thomas Read Cutlers by Tom Hudson from the seventies.

The genius of the visual literature of miniature. After years of vigilance regarding the protection and preservation of Thomas Reads, The Cutlers in Parliament Street, a building loved by Dubliners and the world over, of all the things to fall into my lap and hands, these photos of Tom Hudson’s miniature models of Thomas Reads in around the early 1970's are certainly the most wondrous and precious.

The shopfront in miniature:

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/reads-1.jpg (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/reads-1.jpg.html)

Left window detail:

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/reads-lh-window1.jpg (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/reads-lh-window1.jpg.html)

Customer entrance:

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/reads-door.jpg (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/reads-door.jpg.html)

Right window detail:

http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o521/TheMowl/reads-rh-window.jpg (http://s1146.photobucket.com/user/TheMowl/media/reads-rh-window.jpg.html)

Note the little hanging sign in the upper section of the window which reads:

'Weekly Half Holiday - From 1pm On Saturdays'

It just goes to show you the dedication and work ethic of the family behind this dynamic little local business. A friend back in Dublin wrote to me recently to recount a memory he had of being given a Swiss Army Knife as a birthday gift when he was just a boy. He somehow managed to lose the tweezers set from the knife, and so took it back to Thomas Read for a look at it. Thomas took it out back to the workshop, asking the young lad to wait a moment please and take a look around the store at the various other devices available. Read returned a few minutes later and handed the boy his repaired knife, with a new set of tweezers in place.

When the little boy asked the man in charge how much this would cost him, Thomas Read looked him in the eye and smiled, saying 'for you, Young Man, no charge at all'.

Now there's service of a kind you rarely find these days.

Full article from Councillor Mannix Flynn here: http://mannixflynn.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/the-cutlers-thomas-reads-in-miniature-by-tom-hudson/

Saoirse go Deo
05-05-2014, 05:13 PM
Not to take away from your point but generally any Victorinox affiliated shop will replace tweezers, toothpicks and give you ink refills for free.

What do you want to see done with the shop Mowl?

05-05-2014, 05:27 PM
Not to take away from your point but generally any Victorinox affiliated shop will replace tweezers, toothpicks and give you ink refills for free.

Indeed, and I'm sure they would. I was merely recounting a sweet story from way back in seventies I heard from a friend which warmed the heart a little, Saoirse. And essentially, that's what the thread is about, the notion of preservation of that which holds a wealth of history of an older Dublin, a different way of life, and a different way of doing business.

There was a friendliness to behold in Reads which could change the mood of your day. The gentlemanly approach of the staff, the obvious concern for even the most minor of detail, and the decency showed to even those who didn't visit for custom, but for a taste of an older way of life which existed in few commercial premises around town.

In that way, Thomas Read Cutlers was a landmark shop in more ways than one.

What do you wan to see done with the shop Mowl?

Given its present dilapidated condition and repeated exposure to elements of vandalism, and realising that the interior still contains so many original items - both in-house designed and imported - that something more could be done to either properly preserve its security in the long term, or alternatively to see its ground floor shop restored to its former glory as a visitor spot or even as a small tourist information point. It could be like a miniature museum illustrating a different time in Dublin's heyday, and at the same time provide a service to visiting tourists touring Temple Bar in general, rather than what it is right now: a dilapidated and rotting edifice showcasing Dublin County Councils complete lack of care for it's most important historic landmarks and locations.

25-05-2014, 04:15 PM
A brief word of congratulations to Councillor Mannix Flynn on his re-election this weekend.

Hopefully his continuance in position will maintain his attempts at aiding the crumbling edifice of this wonderful little piece of Dublin/Irish history that is Thomas Read - Cutlers.


I would like to thank all those who supported, canvassed, financed, postered, climbed ladders, supplied sandwiches, and helped this campaign in any way...and most importantly those of you who voted for me and placed your trust in me. It is an honor to continue to serve in your name.

Progress rather than perfection.

Go raibh míle maith agat go léir.

Councillor Gerard Mannix Flynn

Sunday, 25.5.2014, 4pm

Saoirse go Deo
23-04-2015, 08:38 PM
Flynn is only a psrt time conservationist it seems, he supported the aims of developers to destroy Moore Street despite babble to the contrary. From the Save Moore Street Campaign:

Supporters have been asking about Cllr Manic Flynn and his vote at the Nov 2014 DCC meeting. We can sadly confirm that Mr Flynn did in fact abstain when it came to the vote for disposal and the destruction of the 1916 Moore Street Terrace. And this despite a typically dramatic oration at the previous briefing session for DCC cllrs at which he enacted a monologue worthy of The Abbey with all sorts of Joycean flourishes. At one stage he spoke of been able to ' eat the character of Moore Street' ' the dust, the grime and and on and on he went.. After the meeting he gave an impromptu and unwanted lecture to campaigners and relatives as to how they should be running the campaign..... predominantly with him in charge. Despite all oft his self obsessed raving we naturally counted on this ' Man of the Streets' to vote against disposal with perhaps a fiery Pearsian speech thrown in. But when push came to shove for whatever reason Manic bottled it and supported the developer. You know what to do when he comes knocking for your vote....

Saoirse go Deo
27-12-2016, 05:09 PM
This charlatan made a show of himself with comments about Apollo House on Joe Duffy. As did the other talking heads, same old rubbish from RTE

27-12-2016, 05:14 PM
I didn't hear the discussion as I boycott RTE (although, like a stooge, continue to dutifully pay my tv license each year), but to go back to the thread subject, does anyone know who owns the building?