The Grandfather of Irish Indie Bookshops Celebrates its 120th Anniversary

  • Celebrating the 120 year anniversary of O'Mahony's Booksellers trading at 120 O’Connell Street, Limerick was Peter O'Mahony, Claire O'Mahony & Frank O'Mahony, managing director Pic. Brian Arthur 810x456
Celebrating the 120 year anniversary of O'Mahony's Booksellers trading at 120 O’Connell Street, Limerick was Peter O'Mahony, Claire O'Mahony & Frank O'Mahony, managing director Pic. Brian Arthur

O'Mahony's Booksellers is celebrating 120 years trading at 120 O’Connell Street, Limerick. Founded in 1902 on O'Connell Street by JP O'Mahony, grandfather of the current owner Frank, O’Mahony’s Booksellers is one of the largest and oldest indigenous bookstores in the country. 

The family business has seen the original store of 450 square feet extend to 16,000 square feet over 3 floors and expand its reach with branches in University of Limerick, University of Galway, Tralee and Ennis as well as an online store. Once the recipient of an RIAI award, O’Mahony’s has a very broad customer base across Ireland thanks to the diversity of books stocked, from children’s books to serious non-fiction and specialist genres.

As part of its celebrations, O’Mahony’s are inviting primary school children to design a birthday card for the store. Packs are being sent to Limerick primary schools this week (packs are also available in-store) and children have until 31 December to submit their creations. The pupil who designs the winning card and their teacher will each receive a €120 gift card. Runner up prizes of €10 gift cards will be awarded to 50 students.

Running an independent bookshop is no small feat given the challenges of running a business and competing against online giants like Amazon, as Frank O’Mahony acknowledges:

Despite digitisation, Irish people still love books – browsing, choosing, buying, gifting and reading them. The retail experience is very important and is a constant focus for us. We are more than just a bookstore and it has been one of our main distinguishing factors. In saying that, our online store is performing really well and allows us to cater for our customer base right across Ireland.”

“Our ongoing success can also be attributed to our unrivalled customer range and our wonderful staff. We are proud to stock the largest selection of serious non-fiction and specialist books outside of Dublin which is backed-up by the wealth of knowledge of our staff. I would like to thank them and our loyal customers for their support throughout the years. We look forward to being around for the next few hundred years,” he continued.

Over the years the family business has welcomed many esteemed authors for book launches, signings and author visits. The photo gallery on the stores website is like a who’s who of the literary and celebrity world and can be viewed here.

Economist Jim Power once wrote in a report for the Irish Booksellers Association: "The benefits of local booksellers to Irish communities extend beyond the standard contributions to turnover, GDP, employment . . . These less tangible 'spillover' benefits are . . . important in the context of the overall social, cultural and economic contribution that bookshops make to the Irish economy."

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