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Iveagh Market memories with Sheila O’Flanagan

By Heather Harte

Sheila O’ Flanagan, well-known Irish author and journalist, recalls fond memories of her father’s shop in the heart of one of the Liberties’ most renowned markets during the sixties and seventies.

“My dad grew up in Park terrace and had a green grocers in the Iveagh markets during most of my childhood. His mother had a vegetable stall in the market and informed him that there was a spot available for a shop so he took the opportunity and opened the only grocers there in the early fifties”, says Sheila.

Growing up in Walkinstown, the Liberties was a home away from home for young Sheila. She spent most of her childhood soaking up the “vibrant” market atmosphere while her father made a living for the family.

“I used to love being in the market with my dad, running around and talking to all the locals and getting to know some very memorable characters. Once I turned 13 I worked in the shop every summer so I was always involved in some way. Even when we sold the shop in 1977 it was always a big part of my life and who I am, and now I find myself writing a lot about communities and how people relate to one another in my books”

 

Sheila describes the Liberties during the sixties and seventies as a “very close knit community, who always helped each other out when needed, and this created a great sense of togetherness and camaraderie”. “It was like one support system where everybody chipped in and gave a hand to benefit the community as a whole” she explains.

Unlike Dublin today where multinational supermarkets and larger shops dominate over smaller grocers and corner shops, Sheila remembers uniquely how “there was a real local ethos in the sixties and seventies and people did their whole weeks shopping in the butchers, dairy shop and green grocers, all under one roof”. “It was heart-warming to be part of a locality like this”

It is no surprise then that the closure of the Iveagh markets in the early eighties, and the inevitable neglect of the building is a tender issue with Sheila.

“It’s absolutely tragic to see such a beautiful building go to waste. It has so much potential and it’s just been abandoned and left to fall apart. I’m grateful though that my last memories of the market are of a bustling and animated setting where I had an exciting and memorable upbringing” “The only thing though, it was always very cold in there, even when it was warm!”

 

 

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