Memories of the Iveagh Market

Elizabeth Tyrrell of Forty One Butchers. Credit: Ana Novais

Memories can shape and define who we are. They provide us with a sense of nostalgia, making us feel happy when we look back at the past. Walking around the Liberties area, we can find stunning buildings and people that are quite happy to share their memories.

Sheila Flanagan, a fiction writer and journalist, looks back on the market with fondness and describes the Iveagh Market in the sixties as a big stone building with blue steel gates that “dominated the local area”. “Carved keystones stood out in the arches over the gates and around the building. The main source of light was through roof windows”, she tells me. “There was no internal heating so the food market, in particular, was always cold.”

The Iveagh Market was built by the Guinness family and first opened its doors in 1906. “One of the main things behind it was to take all the all the street sellers of Francis Street and in around the community, that was selling on the street and get them into an organised and safe environment,” says Richard Taplin, gardener at Bridgefoot Community Garden.

“In the years that I remember (the mid 1960s – 70s) it was always busy and was an important local resource,” Sheila says.

“The traders in the market knew their customers well and there was a lot of good-natured banter between them,” she added.

There were two markets: the clothes market and the food market. The clothes were mainly second-hand, or sometimes flawed stock that the manufacturer wanted to sell cheaply. “The food market had a fresh fish market as well as a number of vegetable stalls. My grandmother owned a vegetable stall – she also sold poultry and rabbits”, said Sheila. “There were also two butchers, a dairy shop and our shop, which was the main grocery store.”

“There was a wonderful community spirit in the market. Nobody ever came in just to buy things, there was always a lot of chat and banter too,” said Sheila. “My dad was great with the customers; they loved him! I don’t miss working there because it was hard, especially in the cold winters, but I regret the fact that it has been allowed to fall into disrepair.

“I remember playing hide and seek around the stalls with the daughter of one of the butchers. We used to duck down behind the sacks of potatoes or hide behind the fish counters – though if the fishmongers saw us they would turn their icy cold hoses on us. One day, her father accidentally cut off his finger in a meat slicer. My dad packed it in ice and brought it to the hospital so that they could reattach it.

“There were a lot of jokes made about the incident, the humour in the markets could be very dark sometimes.”

Elizabeth Tyrrell from the Forty One Butchers on Thomas Street recalls that “there was a man down there who sold second-hand books. He drove all the way from Cobh in Cork – he was there for a couple of days, but he loved it. So, that’s why I will never buy an iPad or a kindle. My husband loves the Kindle, but I love books.”

“I remember going in there and always looking at second-hand clothes before it became trendy,” says Yvonne Furlong, a vegetarian chef.

It is great to find a sense of community in The Liberties and that memories of this amazing place have not been forgotten.

Like nowhere else in Dublin, the Liberties has a sense of community that cannot be broken, despite the challenges that meet its people. The happy memories of a simpler time live on through those who tell their stories of a vibrant community in the Iveagh Market.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *