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TIMELESS…Roscommon’s Aladdin’s Cave

  • Written by Paul Healy
  • Published in Lifestyle
Featured Maura Fox, Agnes Cunniffe, Vincent, Mary and Lorna Brennan and Annmarie Beirne pictured at Time Pieces. Maura Fox, Agnes Cunniffe, Vincent, Mary and Lorna Brennan and Annmarie Beirne pictured at Time Pieces.

 

Time Pieces celebrates 25th anniversary!

 

Ryan Tubridy is enchanted by it. Tourists glow on discovering it. Strangers who encounter it think ‘next time I’ll call again.’

  It’s easy to fall in love with Time Pieces!

  The unique gift shop in the heart of Roscommon town – long referred to as an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ – is celebrating 25 years in business this year. A 10-day Anniversary Sale begins this Friday (10th of November), and there’s an open invitation for the public to call in for “complimentary drinks and a chat” this Sunday. 

  That milestone anniversary is the reason why I’m sitting in the beautiful Brennan home in Main Street, Roscommon, in the company of Time Pieces proprietors Mary and Vincent Brennan and their daughter Lorna.

  We all agree that the 25 years went by pretty quickly – but, normal business challenges notwithstanding, it’s been a very positive, fulfilling experience.

  When I ask about the origins of the business, Mary Brennan reveals that the inspiration for Time Pieces can be traced back to her late mother, Agnes Dowdall.

  Agnes had a shoe shop where Time Pieces now stands. Her husband, John, was an auctioneer. They had two children: Mary and Agnes. As Mary recalled this week, her mother Agnes “always had a little gift section” in her shop. After John’s untimely death, Agnes, now a young widow, took over the auctioneering business. When that business subsequently moved to Church Street, Dowdall’s shoe shop became vacant – and remained so – for a number of years. 

  Lorna Brennan takes up the story: “I had grown up in the business. Mam and I often talked about opening an antique shop – and in 1992 we took the big step.”

  It was Lorna’s father, Vincent, who came up with the name – Time Pieces.

  “It reflects dad’s great interest in clocks” Lorna explains, “and hopefully the gifts in the shop are timeless!”

 

From the very beginning, Time Pieces captured the hearts of the Roscommon public. It’s gloriously original, steeped in character, charming and irresistible. The new shop quickly established itself as a quirky and intimate ‘treasure trove’, the Brennan family passionately committed to sourcing unique, beautiful giftware.

  Mary Brennan and her sister, Agnes, have both worked in Time Pieces from the beginning. Vincent and Lorna are full of praise for Mary’s eye for unique products, her “eclectic taste.” It’s this taste and instinct that has been the foundation of the success of Time Pieces. “Mam buys what she likes” Lorna says admiringly. The philosophy is clear: buy in unusual products, stay unique, be distinctive, remain true to the glorious quirkiness of this place. A commitment to stocking as many Irish products as possible is also at the heart of their business approach.

  For many years now, Mary and Lorna have travelled far and near, sourcing products. They enjoy the diverse options, the challenges and the choices. Time Pieces is continuously being replenished with new delights. Jewellery, Lorna’s particular passion, has a big presence in Time Pieces. Again, the commitment is to different styles, to a wide range, to “staying ahead of the game all the time.”

  At Christmas, Time Pieces truly is timeless, and a visit there over the festive season is now a heartwarming tradition for families. But then Time Pieces is captivating all year around, with its intimate atmosphere, its colour and its undiscovered mysteries. Jewellery, gifts, clocks… many of them antiques. All types of gift options. Paintings. Pottery. Mirrors. Handbags. Big items, small items. Toys. Souvenirs. Reminders of our youth. Oh yes, and usually a spectacular doll’s house or two. Mary admits to a particular fondness for doll’s houses!

 

Central to the Time Pieces experience, for the customer and for the Brennan family, is the interaction between people. Customers have become friends. The public took this shop to their hearts many years ago, and it has remained there. Mary enthuses about the exchanges with people over the years. Often, people on the lookout for a special gift for a special person will open up in a quite emotional way.

  “We’ve had people laugh and cry” Lorna says of the rapport and exchanges. Over the 25 years, the shop has endeared itself to entire families and to new generations of the same family. Strangers who come upon it often return year after year. Tourists who’ve discovered Time Pieces have become lifelong fans, often ordering items to be sent to far-off places. Smitten from his first visit, RTE celebrity Ryan Tubridy has been a regular caller.

  “I think people find it relaxing here” Mary Brennan says when I ask about the shop’s vibrant and friendly atmosphere. Mary says much of the credit for that atmosphere must go to Agnes, Annmarie and Maura, who work in Time Pieces with Lorna, Mary and Vincent. Vincent, formerly Roscommon County Engineer, has a great passion for clocks, and he both appreciates and compliments the flair and passion that Mary and Lorna bring to Time Pieces. Lorna, also an artist, says it’s a special privilege to have worked for 25 years with her parents. There has been great support too from the other family members…Vincent and Mary’s other children – Karen,
Ann Marie, Vincent and Emma, and Lorna’s daughter, Rebecca.

  The Brennan family are very grateful to the people of Roscommon for the great support they’ve received over the past 25 years. They’d love to see as many of their friends and customers as possible this Sunday (12 noon-6 pm).

  “The support we’ve received from people has been tremendous” says Mary. “We can’t thank people enough.”  

  With that, it was back to work, for all of us! Leaving the Brennans’ kitchen, and passing through the shop, I paused briefly to savour its special atmosphere and to glance at the beautiful array of items currently on display. Christmas, always a special time at Time Pieces, is just around the corner. 25 years on, Roscommon’s famous Aladdin’s Cave – this unhidden treasure – is ready for a new season of goodwill, a New Year, and new chapters in its enchanting history.

 

 

 

 

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