On a side-street, spurring off a narrow lane in Dublin city centre, is Prospect Design.

It has been in operation since 1950 and is now one of the last flag-makers left in Ireland.

You might not be familiar with the company itself, but you’ve probably seen its work.

"We do a lot for Government offices and the county councils - they would not want the Chinese-type stuff because the material is very light and it doesn’t last in this weather," said Kenneth Cairns, managing director of Prospect Design for almost 49 years.

"We’d sell to a lot of the shopping centres, petrol companies, car companies… everybody that wants to fly a flag."

Prospect has also made flags that ended up on both the North and South Poles, Mount Everest and Kilimanjaro - while it produced the 'Angela Merkel Thinks We’re Working’ that became infamous during Euro 2012.

As you’d imagine, St Patrick’s Day is usually a busy time for a flag and bunting-maker - though this year things have been somewhat slower.


"This would have normally been the start [of our busy period] but with the coronavirus and all of the restrictions on sporting events, which is another big thing we’d do along with parades for Patricks’ Day; that all has a big knock-on effect for us," said Mr Cairns.

It’s been slow going too for one of Prospect Designs’ customers - Liberty Party Shop - based in The Liberties in Dublin city.

"We’ve an awful lot of corporate clients like pubs - and we look after them for everything from balloons, to bunting to flags," said Cormac Butler, owner of Liberty Party Shop. "We’re probably down 40% overall… maybe more.

"From our point of view, it’s scary. Being down this much means that everything gets pushed back."

And while the slow-down in St Patricks’ Day business is bad news for Cormac - it’s what comes next that he worries about most.

"It’s not just about the big events, it’s the smaller things," he said. "We’ve an awful lot of bookings for communions and confirmations in May; an awful lot of bookings.

"We’ve made a commitment to people by taking deposits so we’ll honour that, but what happens after that? I don’t know."

And looming large on the horizon is the European Championship - which could me make-or-break for businesses like his.

As things stand the final teams of Euro 2020 will not be known until the end of March, which will make it difficult for Chinese suppliers to produce and ship accurate flags and bunting in time for  its start date in June.

That means that companies like Liberty Party Shop and Prospect Design are in a strong position to capture the local market - assuming the tournament happens at all.

"We’re taking a chance," Mr Butler said. "Do we produce 1,000 lengths of bunting and then the Euros are cancelled? That’s a serious hit. It’s a lot of money.

"Worst case scenario the business will close. I can’t see that happening and god forbid I hope it doesn’t because we’ve put a lot of work into building it up… but that is the worst-case scenarion.

Kenneth in Prospect Designs is confident they can survive the worst-case-scenario - not least because of the lessons learned over his decades in the business.

"Well we survived the last one, just about," he said. "We’ve always tried to not owe anybody anything and keep our finances in order and our taxes paid to Revenue.

"That’s the secret to surviving!"