herald

Thursday 14 November 2019

Smithfield's traders set to move as fruit market shuts for major revamp

Dublin’s landmark Corporation Fruit Market closes next week for the building to be transformed into high-quality retail outlets
Dublin’s landmark Corporation Fruit Market closes next week for the building to be transformed into high-quality retail outlets

Many traders at Corporation Fruit Market in Smithfield packed up yesterday, knowing they would never return.

It is the end of the era in Dublin 7 as the fruit and vegetable traders have to move out by 3pm next Friday.

The Victorian building will be renovated and re-open as a retail market, much like the English Market in Cork and Borough Market in London.

The timeline for the work will not be known until the contract is awarded, Dublin City Council (DCC) said.

Flower-seller Joseph Duffy, from Goatstown, the director of Joseph M Duffy and Sons Ltd, said he would be moving his stall to a permanent new home on Mary's Lane.

Weddings

Third-generation trader Mr Duffy said he has never had to advertise for business for the flower stall that once auctioned Christmas trees.

It now provides arrangements for weddings and photo shoots.

"My family go back 120 years here," he said. "My grandparents would have met here.

"My grandfather was Joseph Duffy and my father started helping him out in 1957 and he stayed for 40 years.

"I came in in the 1970s, so that's three generations of Joseph Duffys in the market here."

Trader Joseph Duffy
Trader Joseph Duffy

He added that there had been talk of change in the market for more than a decade before they heard for sure four months ago that they would be moving on.

"Initially, they wanted us back, particularly the florists, but it's going to be a retail market," said Mr Duffy.

"There are hotels going up in the area, there's a new university, Grangegorman, and student accommodation, so it will be a big attraction like the English Market in Cork or the Borough Market in London. That is what they envision.

"We're relocating to a warehouse on Mary's Lane, number 3 and 4, because we have customers going back 30, 40 years.

"We look after a lot of weddings, events, shops, flowers for hotels.

"Over the years, we've never advertised ever - people have just come through word-of-mouth recommendations."

Local couple Monica and Robert O'Toole have lived in the area for 68 years and have fond memories of the market, even recalling how the Japanese embassy used to reserve the best tuna that was being auctioned there.

"I went to school here in St George's School and we went through the market every day," said Ms O'Toole.

"The odd fella might throw you an apple, which was always handy.

"My granny and mammy were both dealers in the market. A lot of cousins and the rest of the family all worked here as hauliers and things like that.

"It's an institution. Supermarkets have done away with the markets, I think."

Mr O'Toole, the local sacristan, said there was a great tradition of market mass in the area.

"The original mass was in the church, but that fell away and we decided to bring the mass into the market," he said.

"One year, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the mass. We would set up the palettes and cover it in white cloth.

''Then the traders would put flowers and potatoes in front of it for an altar.

"If it reopens again - which it's meant to - hopefully we can have that again and have an opening mass."

DCC told the Herald: "The Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market will close for refurbishment on August 23.

''The building must be vacated in order to carry out conservation work, upgrade facilities and deliver a modern food market in accordance with planning permission received in 2014.

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