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The Mushatt Brothers: A Liberties Institution

“Mushatt’s Cream Of Emulsion,” “Black draft”, “Hippo Wine and Squills”; these were just some of the wonder cures people were once lining up for in the Liberties.  This would have been at a chemist shop at 3 Francis Street, run by Louis and Harry Mushatt. They created all kinds of medicines on site; hangover cures, skin and cosmetic treatments, and even their own soap. They catered to rich and poor, and the Mushatt name was a trusted institution in the Liberties.

Their Father was a credit draper who came from Lithuania and settled in Dublin in 1886. The Mushatts were part of a small Jewish community who came from Eastern Europe. The elder brother, Louis, apprenticed at a medical hall and became a chemist at the age of 21. Harry then apprenticed under his brother, and both eventually opened their own shop. They had learned to make their own preparations and compounds in those early years, and they continued this practice together in business.

Many of their customers came from the tenements; often people in need who could not afford to go to the doctors.

There were interviews conducted by RTE in 1981, for a documentary called “Fellas With Cures” about the Mushatt brothers. It showed how renowned they were by the community:

“From all over Dublin they came to see them” said one resident, “they had their own cure. They were even better than doctors at one time. As far as I could remember they could make up a bottle for you and it was as good as what you’d get off any doctor.”

These bottles would have been babies’ bottles, carried by poor people to get grams of the solution for ailments and infirmities.

One popular cure was “Black Draught”; a treatment for hangovers that was a mixture of Epson salts and Senna tea. This tea is known as a fantastic way to clean out the colon and detox the body.

Harold Mushatt himself was interviewed and he recounted some funny stories:

“I remember people queuing up for a teething powder, we had it ready; I made the teething powder. I folded up the wrappers, and all I had to do was to take it and hand it to the customer -but no, they’d want it to come out of my brother’s hands. And if it came out of my brother’s hands it was right”

There were women who would call Mushatt to help them in a state of anxiety or hangover, and all it would take was the hand on their forehead and they felt they were healed. In fact, there was quite a lot of people who used to come to them with drinking woes, and Mushatt explained how he tried to help:

“The right cure for a hangover was to put the so and so into bed and put the blankets up over him, and let him lie there till he slept it all off. But you see sometimes the fella who’s been on the beer, these men went on the beer and they’d spend their last penny, they’d pawn everything for drink, but sometimes you’d get them in and they’d want a draught, and you’d give them something that’s very bitter, and the next thing they’d go and have mostly stout or porter which they drank, and it would make the stuff more bitter so they wouldn’t want to drink it. And that’s how you straightened them out.”

Even in retirement Harry Mushatt kept the soap with the family name going as a product, feeling he owed gratitude to the people who supported him. He spoke of the great wit of the people. He was also proud to keep the Mushatt name in circulation as part of the institution they had built up.

You can still get some of their products today. And you can watch the video interviews with Harry Mushatt on the RTE archives at: RTÉ Archives | Health | Fellas With The Cures (

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