The Man Behind the Window

Val Holmes, the man behind the window. That window being Brown Thomas’s ever changing front display windows. And that man being the display manager spanning over 3 decades. He has been the one to entertain Limerick city with scenes of the world, St Patrick’s Day pride, glamorous catwalks and of course, Christmas spirit.

For over 37 years now Val has been with brown Thomas and been working on their windows. A job that suits his talents so perfectly, it’s hard to imagine it’s a job which he got by chance. Thinking back to the start of his career, he remembers simply walking in to Brown Thomas looking for a job and getting landed on the windows. Even without a fancy degree, he made manager in under four years in 1978 – and has loved every day since.

33 years later and Limerick has seen one of the best Christmas display windows in a long time. Working in his team with two others, Anne and Marie who he speaks of fondly, he explains how every month their given a theme from the head Brown Thomas store in Dublin. This year the Christmas theme is “Windows from around the world” and the Limerick store has run with it. Walk down the street and you’ll see Russians hunting in their furs, the French eating expensive cakes, and the Chinese with their porcelain faces and china sets.

You’ll also see the usual arrangement of snow covered reindeer and wrapped up children. They put so much thought into the display that he modelled the French window on Marie Antoinette’s famous proclamation: “let them eat cake!” Hence the frosted pink cakes of grandeur in the window.

All Brown Thomas stores across Ireland synchronise their windows, and change them on a monthly basis. But being a Limerick man himself, Val sees no harm in making us stand out a little more and going that extra mile with the windows. It takes them 2 to 3 weeks to do the Christmas display alone. And not only do the windows entertain the city, they give back to the community too. Limerick’s Live 95 D.J lived in the window for 95 hours for charity in September of this year. In that amount of time, they raised €50,000 for charity, and it was their way in helping to give back to the city.

Val has spotted trends come in and out in his windows display, picking and choosing the Brown Thomas labels and merchandise to include. He was the man that brought the beloved animated Santa to Limerick back in the 80’s. However, having developed an eye for trends, he admitted it had run its term and the millennium meant new things for Limericks windows. Val has brought us a little bit of other worldly culture this Christmas. So far the response from the city has been great, with customers in the store frequently offering compliments on the display. So if you’re in the store this Christmas, don’t forget to thank Val and his team for the years they’ve spent making our city look beautiful.


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