Monday, August 12, 2013

Crowleys Music Centre, The end of an era.

If you are any way musically inclined, you will have heard that the amazing Crowleys Music Centre closed its doors for the last time last Saturday. 

Personally, I am absolutely gutted.  The owner and good friend of mine, Sheena Crowley, was the third generation to run the shop.  The store, known for selling Rory Gallagher his Sunburst Fender Stratocaster guitar, was recently producing handmade Irish instruments, made instore by hugely talented musicians and tradesman.  She is one of the most vibrant and caring people out there who loves to deal with people and loves all things musical.  She is unbelievably talented and goes above and beyond to support local musicians and businesses.  The closing of her store is a huge loss- not only because of what it was, but for what it stood for.  It makes me so, so very sad to think that, after almost 90 years of trading, the doors to her shop are simply closed forever.

This closing has honestly taken me by surprise.  I mean, is nothing safe anymore?  I had assumed Crowley's would be there forever- it was a part of what made up the city of Cork. 
For me, any visit into the city always included popping into the shop to say hi to Sheena and her friendly staff.  I had imagined going in to buy my two boys guitars when they were old enough (or god forbid the 'drum kit' request for Santa) but now that that option has been taken away, and now, well... now I kind of feel empty.   And angry.  And tired.

I love my country, but I hate what is happening to it. 
I hate that big companies and online stores are swooping in with low prices and wiping out local businesses who just cant compete. 
I hate that so many of us are struggling with mortgages that are double the value of our home and yet still getting taxed more and more. 
I hate that we have no option but to struggle on with very little opportunity to progress in sight.
I REALLY hate that I have to constantly watch to clock to make sure that I don't miss that tiny window of time that I have to talk to my family and friends around the world who have managed to find a better life for themselves outside Ireland.  I love that Skype and Facetime enable us to see each other, but I hate that I cant reach out and touch them.  As I read on an article somewhere on RTE before, 'you cant smell someone on Skype'.  Its so true.   

Life seems to be racing on too fast for us all to keep up.  Online shopping, Same day delivery, Bargain this, bargain that, buy one get two free, 50% off.  I mean... when does it stop?  Sometimes I feel like Sylvester Stallone in the film 'Demolition Man', waking up in a whole different century.  Gone are the local stores, friendly faces, knowledge and generosity.  In their place, are the cut price giant store that won in the franchise war.  Something like this for example: 

Its a vicious circle.  We have been taxed to our eyeballs (and they are still going), so we have to do the best with what we have left.  Of course, we will try get the best value we can to feed the mouths around the table, etc., but does that mean by-passing our local friendly market to go to the- not naming names here, but lets just say a four lettered store that has German influences?  
I know we are all guilty of it at one stage or another, but lets make the effort to support local as much as we can, can we? 

I always assumed that someone with their own business was 'loaded' and 'rolling in it'.  It is only in recent years that I have come to appreciate that most local businesses are there mainly for their love of their business.  They chose to open a shop (or whatever) because they love what they are doing and they will honestly do you the best deal that they can.  For them, one good day in business is outnumbered hugely by the bad days, so I can only imagine what their struggle to balance the year is like. 

I am so tired.  I really hope things turn around for our lovely little country. 

In saying all of this, I do know one thing.  For Sheena Crowley, the world as she knows is has taken a severe 180% turn, but she will power on and amaze us, as only someone like her can. 

Its the end of an era, but perhaps the beginning of something new and exciting.

Until next time, 

Jen :)


  1. Even I've heard of Crowley's and what a sad thing for Cork - and the musicians of Ireland. I mean, isn't music such a huge part of the Irish culture.

    I can hear the frustration in your post and I have to say I don't know how anyone can make it in Oirland these days - but I'm glad some of you are sticking with it!

    After 25 years away, I have the foreigner's mentality when I come home - I really feel like a tourist - and that's a bit sad....

    Best wishes to your friend, Sheena, and yeah, let's hope this is the beginning of something bigger and better for her :)

    PS. Go on ya good thing! (I have to leave with a smile :)

  2. Well said. Hope Sheena finds an answer to her troubles.


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