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Friday 19 September 2014

Moore Street Mollies’ sour grapes over Aldi’s cut-price apples ‘n’ oranges

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

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Moore Street trader Margaret Buckley
Catherine Kennedy

The 59c kilo of supermarket fruit and veg is slowly killing the gutsy woman of Moore Street.

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And with many of the grand old dames of the stalls now gone to their eternal reward, there is no queue of young Molly Malones prepared for the long hours and hard work.

A dwindling customer base is the real problem.

Increased bus fares, now €2.35 for four to seven stages, and the high cost of car parking in the city centre is driving customers out to the suburban shopping centres.

But it is heavily discounted supermarket fruit and veg, introduced by the German discounters Aldi and Lidl

and copied with gusto by Tesco, Dunnes Stores and SuperValu, that is doing the most damage.

Last week alone various supermarkets had offers of eight apples, seven oranges, a six-pack of tomatoes or three mixed peppers, all at 59c.

And a bunch of scallions, half a kilo of rhubarb and a half kilo pack of beetroot cost as little as 49c in one outlet.

For families, such discounts on fruit and veg are a godsend and make it remarkably cheap for mothers to make sure the family get the “five-a-day” recommended by nutritionists.

Moore Street on Tuesday and Wednesday last week was quiet and there were plenty of “gaps” among the pitches on the historic street, where the rebels of the Easter Rising made their last stand.

Spokeswoman for the Moore Street traders Margaret Buckley is convinced that the supermarkets are to blame and accuses them of selling “below cost”.

“We all know it’s a tactic. They get people in for bargain fruit and veg but then add euros to the price of everything else,” she said.

She also worries where the next generation of Moore Street traders are going to come from.

“It’s a hard ’oul game this and now there is also an awful lot of regulation, insurance and tax clearance certs and the cost of the licence.

“We lost May the Queen of Moore Street (Mary Kavanagh) a while ago at the age of 92 and there is no woman like that in the next generation,” she said.

“May was still selling at the age of 88. She was a fantastic woman,” she added.

Margaret and her sister Imelda have been selling fish on Moore Street for decades. Now she has to go out to Damastown at 4.30 am to buy fresh fish from  the suppliers.

“That’s also added to the cost for the fish sellers,” said Margaret.

Further up the street, her cousin Catherine Kennedy is selling fresh fruit and veg.

“It is getting harder. At one stage there were 130 with licences to trade here. Now it is down to about 30. I still love it but it has to be bred into you. Some new people have tried it but they don’t take to it that well. It’s a tough life,” she added.

But despite the challenges, there was great laughter on the street and they were cheered last week by the success of Brendan O’Carroll’s new film Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie.

The comic revealed that the film is a tribute to the Moore Street women, saying he wanted to recreate their wit and resilience.

“I wanted to write a love letter to Dublin but in particular I wanted to write a love letter to those women in Moore Street who’ve given me so much material and so much craic all my life, and we did that.”

He is held in deep regard by the Moore Street traders.

“Brendan does an awful lot of charity work that no one ever hears about. Fair play to him. He came back to his roots to make the film and we all love to see him around here,” said Margaret Buckley.

Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan is leading a campaign to protect the architectural heritage of Moore Street — especially the site where the 1916 leaders surrendered.

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