Particularly in the central business district, with an immense focus on Rundle Street and the Gawler Place surrounds, you could say that we have been a part of the original denizens of this great city, proudly South Australian.
Like most Australians, the McCabe’s came over on a wave of British migrants, keen for a chance to forge their own pathway and new life in foreign climes.
New beginnings and pioneering spirit dominated the hearts and minds of the people back in the day.
But it required courage and belief. Some lacked the resilience or determination to make the uncertain leap into the unknown. Lucky for us, our wayfaring forefather was not one for meekness.
Patrick McCabe (1833-1920)
On 9 May 1878, Patrick McCabe journeyed from Ireland to Australia aboard the “Camperdown”. Far from being an unencumbered and carefree youth, set on adventure, he came with his wife and five children.
Patrick was determined to find a better life, fortune and future for his brood. The passenger list notes Patrick as being an agricultural labourer, yet this was not meant to be. Being fiercely entrepreneurial in nature, within a week of his arrival in Adelaide, he had opened his own tailor shop on Hindley Street. That’s what you call drive!
Patrick “Paddy” McCabe (1865-1945)
Patrick’s son, Patrick (Junior), or Paddy as he was known, was an apprentice tailor to his father. Paddy McCabe was known as a clerical tailor, specialising in making robes for priests. Throughout his life, he opened tailor shops in Gawler Place, Grenfell Street, and Gresham Street. Popular and a well-established businessman he continued his father’s legacy. Passing on fine business acumen and a hard work ethic onto his own son, Frank.
The Home of Patrick and Edith McCabe (with baby Frank)
Frank McCabe (1900-1972)
Paddy’s son Frank McCabe, following the family career, also started as a tailor. However, the tide began to turn and cloth prices rocketed due to war rationing. As the demand for tailored clothing dried in the harsh oppression of wartime, Frank’s entrepreneurial genes came into play.
Frank and Mary McCabe
So it was during 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, Frank hedged his bets and turned his Pirie Street tailor shop into a jewellery store, Frank McCabe Jewellers. The profit to be made in buying and selling sovereigns was the main attraction of changing his profession. His inspiration was helped along by seeing the success of a fellow businessman. Frank had sub-leased a small section of his store to a man from Western Australia who was advertising for the (sovereign) coins and selling them back to the banks. When he moved on he suggested that Frank should give it a go and as it turns out- Frank was very successful.
Gerard recalls stories from his father, Patrick McCabe, of them racing out the back door to the bank to cash the sovereigns in so they could purchase more coins. To expand the business, Frank took on Eric Simmons (1908 - 1991) as a partner. Eric’s cash injection and owning a coveted gold buyers license soon saw the business flourishing.
Frank did have a side job as a bookmaker, but his true calling and talent was as a jeweller.
This lead to Frank focusing on the jewellery side and Eric handling the bookmaking. Frank went on to have seven sons and one daughter. The eldest son, Patrick, was to be the future caretaker of the business.
Patrick McCabe (1922 - 1989)
Patrick McCabe was to be the successor of his ancestors hard enterprise, one which he took up with relish. It was a difficult time to have a business. The lapse between the world wars was a period marked by feelings of relief; sharply marred by turmoil. The world economy dashed between buoyancy and plumbing the depths of the Great Depression. It was a precarious and unstable time, for any market or business, anywhere in the world.
Patrick McCabe (far left)
Frank’s son Patrick inherited this legacy. Indeed, he only joined and took on the family business after serving as an Australian soldier in WW2. No easy feat after experiencing the horror’s of war. Yet, the determination and entrepreneurship that seemed so destined in his bloodline did not let him down.
Patrick’s early years in the business were spent working on the bench. In 1966, when the business moved to its present location in Gawler Place, he became the opal buyer, valuer, and designer. The business thrived during these years as an exporter of opals, and as a supplier of stores and stock to the trade as a retail manufacturing outlet.
As you can see, the McCabe’s have a long and detailed association with Adelaide.
Our history and our future intertwine inexorably around the Rundle Mall, Gawler Place, and CBD areas. Adelaide is deeply etched into the bones of our ancestors, as is our business.
What does this mean for you? You are dealing with a family owned and run, local and historically rooted business. We wear our name and honour with pride, etched onto those little black boxes. You draw on over four generations of jewellers expertise. Which translates as quality, professionalism, and expert customer service.
Pop into our Adelaide Arcade or Rundle Mall boutiques to see what is on offer. Our friendly and welcoming staff are on hand to help you find your perfect diamond match.