Goodbye to a great institution which leaves a gold-tinted legacy

Maybe some day someone will write ‘The confessions of a last-minute (male) shopper and their visits to MJ Farrell Jewellers’!

For many men – some of them flustered, some calm (even knowledgeable), all of them confident of the wisdom of their decision to call there – Christmas Eve will never be the same again!

Most People readers are probably aware by now that an era ended in Roscommon Town last Saturday with the lamented closing of the doors at MJ Farrell Jewellers.

To say it’s an institution in the town is to state the obvious. Much-loved by generations of families, Farrell’s has been at the heart of commercial life in Roscommon Town for over a century.

Its success over the decades – built on an ethos of friendliness and commitment to excellence – meant Farrell’s was central to the commercial life of our great county town, while growing into one of the most renowned jewellery stores in the country.

The landmark premises had a great ambience, a sense of character. The moment you walked into the building in Church Street you could feel a sense of history, of tradition.

What really made it so special and popular – well, along with the range of jewellery and assorted products – was the people behind the counter.

Customers were always made feel very welcome. There was expert advice, patience…the staff unfailingly friendly.

I have some experience of calling in during Christmas Week – maybe even on Christmas Eve – invariably the crowds of shoppers/browsers were effortlessly put at ease and catered for.

Overseeing it all was the genial Aidan Farrell, a gentleman to his fingertips (and wise in his job).

If anyone is looking for the definition of unruffled, they might do well to recall Aidan in his pomp on a busy, buzzing afternoon there.

When I moved to work in Roscommon in 1988, it was to Church Street, which was brimming with character and fun. The Roscommon Champion was then based there, a couple of doors up from Farrell’s.

Over the years, Aidan and Joan Farrell have been central to community life here. Back in the late 1990’s when we were launching the County Roscommon People of the Year Awards, I asked Aidan if he’d consider sponsoring the event. He responded positively and enthusiastically, his support of the annual Awards in subsequent years was marked by boundless generosity.

We thought MJ Farrell’s would be there forever. We might have thought the same about the Champion. The years passed, mercilessly! Fiona and I moved from the Champion and established the People. Bumping into Aidan, albeit a little less than before, has always been a pleasure.

For lots of men, coming to value the advice of Aidan when a special occasion was imminent became routine! The place is very, very special too for countless couples. MJ Farrell’s is synonymous with thousands of joyous occasions. Customers across many generations have returned time and time again.

Then last Saturday, the curtain came down – and suddenly a great era is at an end. A new start awaits for Aidan & Joan and their now grown-up family. Paddy Joe was on hand to mark the occasion with some wise words. Business colleagues, friends and local residents gathered to acknowledge the milestone, to pay tribute to what’s been.

The people of Roscommon will miss this great family business, which was so central to the ebb and flow of life in our town.

The memories of the joy it gave will remain, as will the image of Aidan at work there…an absolute gentleman with a friendly word for all. We wish Aidan and Joan and family every happiness in the future.

MJ Farrell’s served this town and county well, and leaves a gold/silver tinted legacy. The memories will remain.

But Christmas Eve will never quite be the same again!