M.J. Galligan Furnishing Fabrics is one of the longest established businesses on Oliver Plunkett Street. It has a presence on the street since its foundation in 1919, when Oliver Plunkett Street was still under its old name, George's Street. Today M.J. Galligan's operates from No. 132, and the business specialises in upholstery, furnishing, and fabrics. The shop stocks a large range of fabrics, imported from all continents. Along with fabrics, M.J. Galligan's sells Roman blinds, and it recommends upholstery specialists to its customers. This is now a family business run by Ann Galligan and her daughter Eleanor from the third generation to be involved in the shop.
The store was founded by Ann's father Michael Joseph Galligan and initially operated from 6 Oliver Plunkett Street. The business then moved to No. 8 and operated under the name Lee Cabinet Makers. Reference to this business can be found in the listings for George's Street in Guy’s Directory of 1925. As well as fabrics in these early days, M.J. Galligan’s also manufactured and sold their own furniture. Nowadays the store focuses on fabrics, since the business ceased selling and manufacturing furniture during the 1950s.
Eleanor attributes Galligan's endurance through the decades to its emphasis on providing quality service to customer needs — from materials and right through to upholstering if requested. Management asserts that much of the business results from customer referals and from word of mouth.
The business has also noticed a change in trends since 2007: "Since the recession people are going back to recycling and bringing new life to old furniture. People are less inclined to replace their old furniture which would have been dispensed with in less prudent times".
Eleanor, when contributing information for this webpage, asserted that today's environment is more challenging for business. 'Since the induction of pedestrianisation during the redevelopment of Oliver Plunkett Street in 2004 she reported a decline in footfall on the street. "There is a strong car culture in Ireland. People like to take their car into town, park and walk around the city at their ease". As Galligan's is a 'destination shop' this trend has not affected it so starkly, but for shops that rely on customers who call in for a day in town, pedestrianisation has a negative effect.
The effects of less footfall has meant that M.J. Galligan's had to become even more adept when meeting customer needs. The firm cannot depend on people just walking in from the street anymore. The shop is frequently contacted by email and telephone, and it sends out sample pieces to customers by post to help them to decide on purchases. Eleanor said that nowadays they must work a lot harder to secure sales in a more challenging environment. "As an example, we recently sent out a number of samples to a man from Sutton in Dublin. When he got them, he came down to Cork on the bus the next day to pick up his preferred choice". There have been many changes on Oliver Plunkett Street since M.J. Galligan's was established in 1919, but, management asserts that dedication to customer service remains one of its core values.