GregPheaseyGreg Pheasey has a larger than life, constantly cheerful and upbeat persona, in and out of Gregory’s Menswear on Patrick Street in Waterford city. He may not have wanted to take part in the somewhat crazy world of men’s fashion, but you get the impression that he has no regrets whatsoever, having done so.
During our chat last week, having warmly shaken my hand at exactly the appointed time, he had to deal with a number of customers who dropped into his shop. “Have you got a black trousers with a 30“ waist and 32“ leg’’, enquired customer number one. Shortly afterwards, as we resumed our conversation, a gentleman walked in and asked Greg if he could put a proper knot on his tie. “I’m going to a funeral and I can never knot my tie properly’’ stated the man. Greg duly obliged and after the funeral-bound gentleman departed, Greg smiled and remarked: “Sure it’s all part of the service’’.
We did eventually get some time together to talk about Greg’s love of fashion and football. “I was born in Rice Park, the son of Oscar and Kitty Pheasey. Kitty came from Newrath and her surname was Gleeson. I was one of five sons. Ken, Derek, Alleyn and Gary are my brothers. My father died in 1987, having worked in Goldcrust before moving to Cherry’s Brewery. To this day lots of people drop in here to the shop to talk about Oscar. They all tell me that he was a real gentleman and it is always lovely to hear that. I find that with Waterford people, they love talking about those who have left us, and when it is one of your own, well that is really pleasing.
“My mother Kitty is hale and hearty thank God and she has just returned from America with some of the family after attending her niece Aishling’s wedding in Philadelphia. Needless to say growing up in Rice Park I went to school in Mount Sion and I completed my ‘Leaving’ there in 1984. When I left school I wanted to become a Garda. It was something I always wanted to do but just like now there was a ban on recruitment so that plan went out the window.
Total turnaround
“I started working in Trevs menswear in Georges Street and I remained there for six years. I then linked up with Tony Roche Menswear and I enjoyed three years with Tony. After nine years in the rag trade I made a total turnaround in the retail business and moved into the music side of things with Rockaway Records, where the Book Centre is now. Unfortunately after two years the shop closed down and then it was time to think about setting up my own business. I took the bull by the horns and decided that I wanted to get back into the menswear trade and in 1992 I opened up Gregory’s Menswear. It is hard to believe that I am here now for almost 19 years.
“Needless to say there have been good times and bad during that period. Men’s fashion revolves and changes all the time so it is never boring. You have to keep on top of the changing trends, which means attending fashion shows in countries like Denmark, Germany and England. At the moment we source our clothes through Irish companies, which is ideal. I have a loyal customer base and I am eternally grateful to them. I have to pay a special tribute to Lisa, my sister-in-law, who has worked with me in the shop for the past 14 years. Lisa has a wonderful work ethic and I could not have made a success of the business without her. She is a major player with Gregory’s, believe me’’ stated Greg.
Family and football
Greg was born in November, 1966 and he married Jenny Doyle from Viewmount in Ballygunner Church in 1984. The happy couple, who reside in Ballinakill Downs, have three sons, Stuart, Scott and Jack.
“Jack just loves Waterford United. He travels to many of the away games with me and never misses a home game’’ beamed Greg. “Its funny really because it was my brother Ken who began taking me to watch the Blues when I was a child. I was born as the golden era of soccer in Waterford was beginning, but even though that period came to an end somewhat in 1972 I was bitten by the bug from the moment I was brought into Kilcohan Park. I lived from week to week just waiting to watch the team play on a Sunday.
“The club won the FAI Cup in 1980 and like everyone else I was overjoyed. During the early 90s, Sam White and myself formed the Waterford Supporters Association and I have been deeply involved in one way or another ever since. When Sam and myself started the Supporters Association all those years ago, little did we know we would get so involved with Waterford United. I have been on the Management Committee for a long time and was chairman for a while in 2005. I can say with hand on heart that the current committee is the best ever. They are really passionate about the club. Each and every one of them are supporters of the club, just like the faithful supporters. As you know we recently appointed Paul O’Brien, Alan Barry and Billy Hearne as manager and coaches of the team, and they have been wonderful. A player told me during the week that the training and the spirit has improved ten-fold since the lads took charge and his comment meant a lot to me and the rest of the committee’’.
Equestrian sports
Scott, another of Greg and Jenny’s sons is a lover of equestrian sports and loves to watch and get involved in showjumping. Stuart has many interests also and all three sons have the guidance of fine parents who make sure they respect and treat people with honour and dignity. “I suppose I am lucky in many respects’’ concludes Greg. “I enjoy opening the shop every day, something I can do with the support of Jenny and as I said earlier, Lisa. When the day is over it’s Waterford United. Of course both, from time to time, can set problems, but when you love something those difficulties can be overcome. I am looking forward to the future with the Blues and with the shop’’ said Greg as another person arrived to browse (and indeed buy) a stylish item of clothing from the well-stocked shelves.
The textile industry is known colloquially as the rag trade. It is a term used for those primarily concerned with the design, manufacture or selling of stylish clothes. Perhaps Greg Pheasey’s story is not a rags-to-riches tale, simply because he has always had his finger on the pulse of the industry. But if Waterford United were to win promotion this season, perhaps that could be so described, considering the team’s early season struggles.