The markets area of Dublin is a hub of activity, smells, sounds and sights. It is where I work, and the inspiration for the first collection from Arran Street East, ‘The pots’. Trading began here in late 1892 and the Fruit and Vegetable Market building is decorated with representations of the goods being sold within. Clumps of onions and other fruit and vegetables are surrounded by terracotta detailing, and it was these pieces that were integral to the design and colours of the Arran Street East pots – which are named in corresponding tones of cabbage, potato, celery, lemon, pomegranate and pink grapefruit!
The sculptures around the granite entrance archways are by Charles Harrison and the whole ensemble of polychromic brickwork, ornate wrought iron grilles and sculptures gives the markets an ornateness and cheerfulness that is missing in many more recently buildings that are of similar purpose that surround the Fruit and Vegetable Market.
This covered market was built to house the Corporation Wholesale Markets and is still in use today, transforming the surrounding area with activity early each morning, and giving it the distinct character and energy that this part of town has become known for.
The original design, by City Engineer Parke Neville, was carried out after his death by his successor, Spencer Harty. The structural ironwork of the roof spans east to west in gabled ranges, with cool north-light glazing illuminating the interior market halls. The red brick facades are enlivened by the use of yellow brick to line arches and create patterned blocks, and make for a lovely geometric muse.
Little Green Street, which leads into the market area has been of particular interest to me due to its name change throughout the years. It was originally known as Bradogue Lane from the river that rises near Cabra and enters the River Liffey at Arran Street East. The same street was even known as Petticoat Lane in the past!
What fascinates me most about this building is not only its striking features and intricate detailing, but the relevance of both the building and its design in today’s Dublin. Buying and selling fruit and vegetables used to be a very social event, and although this is still held strong in many other European countries, it has somewhat faded in urban centres around Ireland. However, with the remaining presence of the fruit and vegetable building, it has recently sparked a network of cafés and businesses in the markets area which I believe can reignite the previous traditions of the markets area and connect them to the innovative Dublin of today.
Dublin Corporation Wholesale Markets, Mary’s Lane, Dublin 7
Words: Laura Magahy
Photos: Jamie Chavez (jamiechavez.com)
Laura Magahy is Managing Director of MCO, a design and project management company, Executive Chairman of the Irish Design 2015 campaign, and has recently started her own line of potted goods under the label Arran St. East.