Closure of Golden Discs leaves Dún Laoghaire without a record shop

Dún Laoghaire town and its immediate districts have a slightly larger population than Kilkenny city according to the 2016 census. On January 25, 2023, Golden Discs, which occupied Unit 214 of Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre on George’s Street Upper, permanently closed its doors, leaving one of the largest towns in Ireland without a record shop.

While this is an unfortunate development, it is hardly surprising and sadly inevitable. Up until relatively recently, Dún Laoghaire had two record shops. As well as Golden Discs, Vinyl was located on Georges Street Upper, which presumably became a victim of the pandemic. I believe they did a steady trade in selling turntables and other accessories in addition to vinyl records, and a barbershop had opened adjacent to the shop.

There have been quite a few outlets in Dún Laoghaire selling records, tapes and CDs over the years. Music City occupied the former Gasworks, where Elvery’s is now. There was also a branch of Music City in Rathmines that is currently Boot’s.

Meanwhile, Murray’s was a hallowed local institution, suppling an entire generation with Beatles and Stones LPs, and becoming the hang out of choice for a young Bob Geldof and his future bandmates in The Boomtown Rats.

In his autobiography, Is This It, Geldof wrote: “Some older guitar players and blues aficionados and us would spend afternoons in there listening to music. The Murray brothers never seemed to mind, though when the crowd in the shop grew so big it was bad for business, so they converted their basement into a small coffee bar. It was wonderful – a sort of shrine to new times, and it did its best to pretend that it could have been found in any of the great centres of the new culture: Hamburg, Liverpool or London… It was more of a club than a coffee bar and the place became the new focus of my life.

“Foley and I would go there in the afternoons to join the handful of Murray stalwarts who gathered to listen to music, talk and smoke. The girls were there from Dominican convent in Dún Laoghaire and the schools in Monkstown. Cigarettes were an essential prop, it was impossible to look stylish without them. I first bought hash there, but Murray’s wasn’t a nest of dope fiends, however. It was just part of the scene, like the jukebox, the pinball, the steaming coffee machine, and the music and the talk.”

Not only did Dún Laoghaire give the world Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats, but also Sinéad O’Connor, Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners, Conor O’Brien of Villagers, and Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig of My Bloody Valentine, to mention just a few.

While the loss of its last record store is regrettable, it is of greater importance for budding and established musicians for the town to have decent venues and good rehearsal spaces. The Pavilion theatre doubles as a world-class venue for live music and cinema. The Dún Laoghaire Folk Festival has breathed some sorely needed new life into the town’s cultural calendar and an inaugural comedy festival was held last November. The series of talks, readings and Q&As hosted under the Vinyl umbrella in the Lexicon last year, and other venues around town prior to the pandemic, is also to be warmly welcomed.

Of course, the closure of Golden Discs is symptomatic of other downward trends in retail. Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre is a black hole with a depressing proportion of its units lying empty. Efforts to secure an anchor tenant for its upper floors, or a business to occupy the basement floor premises where Lifestyle used to trade, have been unsuccessful.

The much-hyped vinyl revival was not enough to sustain Golden Discs as a viable business in Dún Laoghaire. Now, you have to go into Dublin city centre or Dundrum to buy music. Tesco in Bloomfield sells a few chart CDs and even some vinyl, but that doesn’t count. Dedicated music retail has left the town. Possibly forever.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s