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*Jackie James pictured at DesJardins Florist in Gort. 

Two hours after opening her latest business on Thursday last, Jackie James was left shaken and “really scared” as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (FG) announced that schools, colleges, childcare facilities and cultural institutions were to close for the next two weeks, at least.

Gort welcomed its newest business on Thursday as Jackie James opened the doors of her florist on Bridge St to the public for the first time. “I’ve been in business for most of my life. I had a very successful wedding flower business in Co Mayo which also served Galway for seven years, things got so bad with the downturn that people weren’t spending the money so myself and my husband decided to go back to the UK”.

While in the UK, they ran a pub for five years but following the unexpected deaths of her two younger brothers last year, the wife and husband decided to return back to Ireland to be close to her parents. DesJardins Florist is named in memory of her late siblings, Des and Jarlath.

“From the moment I came home I was looking for a suitable premises which wasn’t an easy job, it was very hard to find any premises at all in Gort, there are loads of empty premises but unfortunately none of them are available. Eventually I found my shop and I got my keys to it a few weeks ago with the intention of opening on 12th March, it took me three or four weeks to get myself ready and get everything I needed. I opened on the 12th of March and two and a half hours after that, the Taoiseach made the announcement about closing schools and colleges, I got really scared and I decided it was safer to not deal with the public face to face,” Jackie told The Clare Echo.

Now the business is “in a difficult position” and the London native admitted that hundreds of euros had been spent on flowers which are now rotting. “I’ve said that I’m available to do door to door deliveries where I just drop flowers, I’ll be wearing gloves because I’m taking all the precautions. With everything going on, the last thing on people’s minds is ordering flowers, people who have lost jobs are worried about spending money and luxury items, it’s a really difficult position. I bought several hundred euros worth of flowers last week for the opening, they are just rotting away”.

She added, “I’m trying to get a few orders in for the Mothers Day, if I don’t have a fairly substantial number of orders for Mothers Day then I’m going to just wrap it up until everything returns to normal, however long that takes, I won’t be earning anything”.

Although she has earned next to nothing from DesJardins Florist, bills still have to be paid such as the credit card machine and telephone line from the shop. “It is heartbreaking. I’m just one of these people, I’m strong, I’ll keep going and I’ll keep positive. I’ve a very good product to offer and when things settle down with people going back to work and have the money to spend the good fortune will come in time but it will take a long time”.

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