Market forces: Historic Smithfield to close for refurbishments

It’s the end of the era for many at Smithfield as the fruit and vegetable market is closing its doors.

Traders at the corporation fruit market, in Dublin 7, were beginning to pack up their things yesterday and it is understood many will not be back to the premises.

It is closing from 3pm on August 23 and won’t reopen until refurbishments are completed.

It is expected that the Victorian building will be renovated as a retail market much like the English Market in Cork, in accordance with planning permission granted in 2014.

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

He told the Irish Independent he had never had to advertise the three-generational flower business, which once auctioned Christmas trees, and has since branched out into providing flower arrangements for weddings and even photo shoots.

“My family go back 120 years here. 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 70s, so that is three generations of Joseph Duffys in the market here,” he said.

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

“Initially they wanted us back, particularly the florists, but it is going to be a retail market. There are hotels going up in the area, there is 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,” he said.

“We are relocating to a warehouse on Mary’s Lane, number three and four because we have customers going back 30, 40 years,” he added. “We look after a lot of weddings, events, shops, flowers for hotels. Over the years we have never advertised ever – people have just come through word of mouth or 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 being auctioned there.

“I went to school here in St George’s School and we went through the market every day. The odd fella might throw you an apple which was handy,” said Monica.

“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 is an institution. Supermarkets [have] done away with the markets, I think.”

Robert, 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 pallets and cover it in white cloth. And then the traders would put flowers and potatoes in front of it for an altar.

“If it reopens again, which it is meant to, hopefully we can have that again and have an opening Mass.”

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