Celina Anderson has hundreds of Iveagh Market stories. She helped her mother who had a stall there, as did her grandmother and her great-grandmother! Celina has some great photographs too. Taken by her brother Adrian in the 1980s, she’s made good use of them in her new pop-up exhibition created to raise awareness for the Friends of the Iveagh Markets campaign. After a successful showing at the Bohemia Flea, where hundreds signed the petition, Celina talked me through her exhibition, and her own family connections with the market.
Her mother, Tess Ryan, worked at the Iveagh for over 60 years and ran her stall while rearing 14 children, including Celina who helped her at the market from an early age. Tess sold ladies and gents clothes, sourced mainly from auctions. “At that time, people would donate clothes to the likes of Vincent de Paul who would then sell the clothes in lots at auctions. A proper professional auctioneer would come into 27 Summerhill Place, and my mother and all the dealers would get there early and rummage through the lots before bidding started. The dealers never outbid each other because they weren’t all after the same thing. My mother would get the clothes cleaned, then sell them at the market. She had lots of regular customers, many who once lived in the inner city but had moved out to Ballyfermot or Drimnagh, and a lot of regulars came up from the country too.”
By the 1980s, new clothes became more affordable and customers stopped buying secondhand. Organisations like Vincent de Paul began to open their own charity shops, so they stopped selling at auctions. The Iveagh got quiet. Very quiet. But also around this time, vintage became a thing and new customers started buying secondhand clothes, no longer out of necessity, but for fashion and lifestyle reasons. The Iveagh, however, didn’t adapt to this change and failed to take advantage of the opportunity. “Vintage had arrived,” Celina told me,“ but at that time Dublin City Council weren’t interested in the market, they just wanted rid of it, they didn’t want to put anything into it, they wouldn’t do repairs, they wanted people to leave.”
Bit by bit, the market slowly closed. “The main market sold clothes and hardware (bric-brac), but at the back, down the steps, there was a huge area with a wet market, a fish market, vegetables, a butcher, and a grocery shop. The fish people didn’t just sell to the public, they worked down there and supplied the city restaurants and shops. These sections all gradually closed down, with the fish market the last to go before the main hall traders left in 1996.”
For almost thirty years now, the building has lain empty and neglected, but, last month, funding of €9m was approved under the Urban Generation and Development Fund allowing Dublin City Council to carry out its proposed programme of essential repair and maintenance works. Celina is delighted with this news but points out that the DCC say work won’t start until late 2024. As the future purpose and ownership of the building remain an issue, she will continue to support the Friends of the Iveagh campaign. The online petition is here.
Words: Brian McMahon, Brand New Retro
Feature Image: Tess Ryan (left) with other Iveagh traders circa 1983: photo Adrian Anderson.