Tom Murphy's in the 1920s

Tom Murphy’s in the 1920s

If you ever pay a visit to our store on Patrick street, you will see that we have a lot of memorabilia hanging on our walls. It all helps describe the history of our store’s colourful past, and how it evolved into what it is today. There’s all sorts of pictures from times past adorning the walls of the shop. The pictures alone can tell the story about the growth of Tom Murphys.

Tom Murphys over 100 years ago

Tom Murphys over 100 years ago

There was a  fashion related shop at number 58, Patrick Street as far back as 1857 (excluding a decade of a Music Warehouse phase). Originally wwned by Chabrel and called The French House. It was the place to go for, “best fashionable hats”, as well as the clerical kind.

In 1883, John O’Brien & Co. took over number 58 and it became the Cork Woollen & Hat Warehouse. It was then the place to go for, “West of England black and blue cloths”, and, “silk, felt and tweed hats”.

Then in 1907, the business went to one D Mullane, who sold ladies corsets and baby clothes until 1921, when the Rosehill family moved in and opened a music warehouse. Back in 1938, when the Rosehills sold up and moved on, Tom Murphy from North Main Street and his wife to be, Anne Welsh from Aherla, got engaged and bought the lease to the shop on the same day. Tom, roughly 30 at the time, had served his apprenticeship, in Heagarty on Castle Street, as a draper’s assistant had set himself up to sell menswear.

Michael, son of Tom, took over completely in 1960/61 and the next decade saw him selling, “Cheesecloth shirts and mohair suits”.  It was the 60s that saw the introduction of the dress hire side of the business, while the later 60’s school wear was also added. The popularity of Levis and Wranglers jeans, in the 70’s, caused Tom Murphys to focus most of thier attention to this latest trend, however in the 80’s they moved more into the suit, jacket and trouser industry.


When I asked Michael to reflect on some of his memories, he told me, “We had a great hat business and every Saturday morning you’d have to go to Lyon & Co on the South Main Street to collect them. You’d sell 2 or 3 dozen hats, either the ‘Set Shape’ or the ‘Fur Felt'”. One of Tom Murphy’s constant suppliers has been Magees. Michael remembers his father having, “hard times in the shop in the early 1950s when the polio epidemic hit and children were evacuated from the city and schools were shut down. Magees of Donegal were very good to us at the time and I still buy from them”.

He also recalls Jack Lynch as a Cork TD in the early 60s coming to buy Forest Hill shirts and Christy Ring buying suits and dress suits. Ring and Lynch were, “Great friends of my father’s, who used to play with Glen Roveers. They’d gather in the shop on Monday mornings to discuss sporting outcomes and results”.

2 (1)Maybe today’s blog might seem a bit irrelevant to the suit business. And it would have been irrelevant to Tom Murphy’s store, until Kev (that’s me, the 6-month intern) took some holiday leave to go to my 4th OXEGEN. I bought my 4-day camping ticket way back when the line up hadn’t been made official. I had mixed emotions about the line up as it was being announced though. I wasn’t overly happy to hear Eminem and Jay-Z were among the main stage acts. I remember when OXEGEN used to be a rock/Indie festival. But I drew comfort in hearing Kasabian, Florence + The Machine, Mumford & Sons and the Coronas (to name only a few) were also playing.

My friends and I decided to drive this year rather that rent a bus so I drove with 2 friends in the (bag, tent and alcohol filled) car on the Thursday. On the way the weather started to turn and the rain was pouring. Luckily, it took a brief break as we arrived and hurriedly pitched our tents. I was made return our mini marquee to my car as it was too unsafe with the winds, security explained. However, as the rain restarted, we snuck it in by breaking it into smaller pieces and hiding it among other friend’s tents to bypass security. When we did pitch it, we removed half of the poles, so to reduce the size, and decided to sit inside in it. Apparently this met security’s standards as no one made us remove it. The Thursday was spent exploring the campsites in our rain gear as no gigs were due to start until Friday. We wandered to the funfair where the Nokia stage was built. The Nokia stage was an all day disco/rave. So we stayed there till the early hours of Friday morning.

1-150x150On Friday, the first gig I attended was The Coronas on the Main Stage. They set the tone to a great weekend by playing with an upbeat and happy mood despite the rain. The rain only added to the banter being had as everyone sang and danced to their hits. The rest of the bands I saw that day included The Delorentos, Vampire Weekend, Jay-Z, Stereophonics and Fatboy Slim. Highlight of the day would have included Delorentos front man crawling into the crowd to finish their encore. The low point must have been loosing both keys to our locked tent and (drunkenly) attempting to rip the wet lock off. We eventually succeeded when cooler heads prevailed and a scissors was borrowed to cut a new entrance. Or else it was Tom getting someone to text me asking me a password for one of our blogging sites. Last thing I wanted was a reminder about work back home. Only joking, if anything it made the can in my left hand taste that much sweeter. 31-150x1503-150x150

2 Door Cinema Club kicked off the Saturday. Again their Indie genre and carefree attitudes made it simple to ignore the rain. Scot rockers, Biffy Clyro, really impressed by ignoring the rain and playing only in skinny jeans and leaving their upper bodies exposed to the pelting rain. They certainly gained a fan out of me as I (half) remember exposing my phone to the rain to remind myself to buy their albums when I returned home. It seemed a good idea at the time, but my phone was acting irregular for a few hours after. “At least Tom won’t be able to get a hold of me!!!”, I remember shouting to my friend. The day came to a perfect close as Florence + The Machine and Kasabian played right after one another. They truly were the highlights of the entire festival as they played their crowd-pleasing tracks to perfection. Muse also managed to please, but I found it hard to get too inspired after expending most of my energy previously and not knowing many of their songs. However I enjoyed the front man, Matt Bellamy, taking to the stage in a rain jacket. He eventually ditched it and weathered the storm as we all did.

41-150x150The final day exploded with the Sun finally making an appearance. I’ve the farmer’s tan (burn) to prove how hot it truly was. Bad choice wearing my AFL Brisbane Lions jersey. However it provided me with some amusement as I convinced many I was Australian and travelled all this way for the festival. D12 started the day and kept me amused until Joshua Radin appeared. His laid back performance allowed me to finally get some sense of relaxation and this mood was continued by Paolo Nutini. However (but not unfortunately), when Faithless arrived, the tempo exploded as everyone sprang back into life. Eminem and Mumford & Sons were clashing and I was the only one willing to skip Eminem. So I made a compromise to watch Mumford & Sons and leave early to meet the lads for the last few Eminem songs. And I don’t regret it as I got the songs I really wanted and now I get to say I at least saw some of Eminem to people. Our Sunday finished with everyone discussing/arguing who was the best/worst of the weekend back at our campsites over the last of what (little) drink we had left.
Out of 10, I give the festival a 20. I enjoyed it immensely and am already looking forward to next year. I wouldn’t mind if the mud give it a skip though4 (1)

For some reason, the art of tying a cravat properly is problematic for even the most fastidious of grooms to be. Many is the Saturday morning that we have received panicky phone calls from palpitating grooms begging us to talk them through the elusive art while the bestman is screaming in the background for him to hurry up. It’s even gone as extreme as having a groom stop off in the shop, on the way to his wedding, sheepishly asking for our help in tying the, “damned piece of equipment”.

As an aid for all the grooms who don’t listen to us when we show them how to tie the cravat in the shop, we decided to record and post a clip that will guide them through the process effortlessly. For any of the lads who cannot tie a Windsor knot, we’ve also included something for you. Our resident suit hire expert and knot tying extraordinaire, Dermot Fagan, has kindly agreed to participate in this video. Enjoy and good luck



Tying a Windsor Knot:

Tulum Beautiful BeachWhen we touched down in the courtyard of Cancún airport, Grace and I warmed to the charm of the Mexican night sky. Having fretted before the holiday about the expected rain (we arrived in peak hurricane season), it was a huge relief to feel the balmy heat and see the stars twinkling above us.
Our journey from Cancún to Tulum was about 2 hours and when we arrived in our all inclusive dreams resort, I was immediately impressed. It wasn’t until the following morning that we were able to take in the full beauty of the place. On opening the curtains, we saw the most beautiful turquoise blue water and natural white sand. Green palm trees swaying gently in the breeze everywhere. ‘Welcome to paradise’, I said to Grace, and we gave each other a big, soppy honeymooner’s hug.
The resort itself was well run with a choice of 5 or 6 restaurants. The food wasn’t amazing if I am being really honest, but it is the type of place that doesn’t lend to negative thinking so we really enjoyed eating there. After a while, we got to know which restaurants were good and which were only average. Grace and I having a romantic beachside meal
The highlight of the trip for me was the trip to the amazing Mayan ruins of Tulum. This former bedrock of Mayan civilisation, without doubt, hosted the most amazing scenery I have ever witnessed. The beach there is truly amazing and I would urge anyone travelling to Mexico to visit it.
The one frustrating thing about our trip to the ruins was Grace’s determination to bypass the fantastic archaeological sights in favour of a good spot on the beach. She was focused on one thing and one thing only that day. Working on her tan! As a result, we had little time to appreciate the wonderful ruins. Women!!!…

On the 2nd of September 2009 I was lucky enough to tie the knot in the beautiful surroundings of Lake Garda in Northern Italy.
We arrived there late in the night of August 31st but I have to say I was disappointed at first. The darkness of our late arrival meant we couldn’t see any of the majestic scenery that we had been promised.

However, upon waking up the next morning and drawing the curtains, I let out a yelp of awe. Before me was the most stunning view imaginable. I immediately decided I was in the perfect spot to get married.

The wedding itself took place in Castelleto in a tiny church outside Riva Del Garda. The guys from Italian Weddings ensured everything went smoothly. The only discomfort I felt was my designer wedding suit, by Wilvorst, was making me swear profusely. A mocha coloured 3-piece suit with a 2-ply cotton shirt is probably not a sensible thing to wear on a sweltering September day in the Italian sun.

Nevertheless, everybody complimented me on my choice of wedding suit. I chose to have it made to measure because I wanted something different. I never wanted the wedding suit that everybody else wore. Having designed wedding suits for many customers before, I decided to treat myself to a similar experience. The fabric I chose was a silk blend and the style was 5/8 length, a little longer than a short jacket and a little shorter than a Prince Edward. Having submitted my measurements and choice of fabric, I only had to wait 6 weeks for it to arrive. It would have ended up retailing at €600 (well I won’t tell you what it really cost me – the joys of working in the suit business).

The rest of the wedding party wore Chocolate brown lightweight suits hired by (you guessed it) Tom Murphy’s in Patrick Street. The choice of brown suits was purposeful as it sat harmoniously alongside the bridesmaids coffee coloured dresses. And speaking of the bridesmaids, didn’t they look beautiful, oh and what about the bride. I better give her a mention or I’ll suffer the consequences when she reads this.