Doran, Dublin 2 | Dublin Ghost Signs

Doran | Dublin Ghost Signs

Doran Tobaccos & Cigars, 58 Sth Great George’s Street, Dublin 2

updated 11 July 2017

This wonderful old Dublin shop sign was uncovered in June 2017. Soon after I initially published this post on 22 June 2017, one of the owners, Colin Baker, got in touch to clarify the story with me. You can read his comment below the post.

Colin and his brother, Wesley, are the joint owners of Back From the Future / Laptop Lab computer repair company. The brothers have a life-long connection with South Great George’s Street – their parents own Decwell’s Hardware shop (just two doors up from Dorans). They bought the premises at 58 South Great George’s Street two years ago. Work began on the building recently, after the last tenants moved out.

I visited Colin at the end of June and got a tour of the building. In addition to the sign and the shopfront, they’ve uncovered some original features inside which they will be keeping. These include sash windows and a wallpapered ceiling. Their plan is to keep the reception area open, restore the wallpaper on the ceiling and install a chandelier from the turn of the 20th century. Beyond the reception area, there will be a secure space for the laptop lab work.

Colin told me that he has spoken to architectural historians and conservationists to ensure that the shop and shopfront will stay as true to the original as possible. As the layers of the building are peeled back, more details are revealing themselves. When I visited, Colin pointed out a brass plaque below the sign, where the awning would have been:

MacGrath Bros. | Dublin Ghost Signs


A little bit of digging in the Irish Newspaper Archives found that MacGrath Bros. were blind makers, based just up the street from Dorans at 17 Aungier Street. A few days after, Colin posted on Twitter that they had found the awning behind the plaque and they are trying to get it back in working order.

Colin Baker Twitter
click to see original tweet


These are some notices I found related to Dorans sale in the Irish Independent in 1953 (23 November) along with some adverts for MacGrath Bros. Still on the look-out for anything related to D.P. Brunt (the name on the awning).

Click the image to see full size


In my initial tweet of the photo, I said “Bring back the old shopfronts!” and it seems many others feel the same. Luckily for Dorans (and arguably Dublin!) Colin and Wesley are aware of the significance of this find and have worked to integrate the sign into their refurbishment plans. This is a rare occurrence in Dublin these days (although not unheard of – Klaw Poké on Capel Street moved the Walsh’s sign inside the restaurant,  The Headline at Leonards Corner retain the ghost signs on their building and the owners of The Central Dairy on Stephen’s Street have ensured that their sign remains no matter who the buildings tenants are).

What do you think? Should there be more incentives for businesses to incorporate old signs and features into their designs?

7 thoughts on “Doran, Dublin 2 | Dublin Ghost Signs

  1. I wish people would read our original Facebook share! 😫😫😫
    Not only do we plan on uncovering it – we plan on resurrecting it carefully and preserving it for a very long time! We are Back from the Future on Aungier street (laptop repairs and tech support centre) and are leading it in situ and also revealing the marble pillars underneath it and any other historic features we can find- this is like finding buried treasure for us!! We’ve even drafted in local historians and solicited members of the community to help.
    We need to let the wonderful history of our great city shine. This is our little lamp light!

    Colin Baker
    Back from the Future

  2. I agree that incentives should be given to building owners to preserve any pieces of the original shopfront etc. – just to see those little hanging window openers above was wonderful! We cannot know where we are going, if we do not know what we have come from!

  3. … I passed the shop last Friday 09/09/17 and saw the sign. My thoughts were Great! another cigar shop which I was looking forward to visiting.

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