O’Mahony & Ennis Pharmacy, sitting at the junction with Marine Road, has a symmetrical shopfront with a recessed entrance. The front windows are narrow, sacrificing width to create the display-case effect of the panes angled towards the door. It’s quite pretty, with stained glass on the upper lights and paired curves sitting like brackets at the top of the displays, while the glazing bars are slim to maximise the glazed area.

On the ground, there’s a mosaic (like a welcome mat) with the plain tiles laid like a series of fan shapes. The symbol in the centre is the bowl of Hygieia. Hygieia was the Greek goddess of hygiene, and the serpent represents Asclepius (her father) and the healing power of medicine while the bowl represents medicine being given. The bowl of Hygieia is used to represent pharmacy, much like the Rod of Asclepius is used in medicine and healthcare.

I’ve often wondered why the recessed entrance in shopfronts went out of fashion in Ireland, given the climate and how grand it makes a fairly simple door. My best guess is that it’s the symbol of importance in one era becomes the symbol of old-fashionedness in the next, or a change away from using shop windows as a visual list of items available. It would be nice to see more of them, modern takes on the form.

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