independent

Friday 1 August 2014

My Fingal

With Mairead Sweetman

JOHN MANNING

Published 13/11/2012|12:54

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THE PRESIDENT of Rush Chamber of Commerce made a long and circuitous journey to the seaside village where she has made a home since 1975 having been born in County Laois and initially putting down roots on the south side of the Liffey when she first moved to Dublin.

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So via Rathmines and Rathgar, Mairead Sweetman finally ended up in Rush after meeting and falling in love with a native Rush man, Gerard Sweetman. Back then she was a nurse in Jervis Street Hospital before moving onto St. Ita's in Portrane where she worked for many years as a nurse and part of the management team of the hospital. She was initially shocked at just how rural the Rush of the 1970s was and remembers seeing the village for the first time: 'I nearly died when I saw the small little roads and boreens and I thought to myself this is really back in the 1950s but it grew on me. I love walking and walking on the beach and Rush is great for that so I got used to the place quickly.'

The Sweetmans settled down and raised four children in Rush, which Mairead described as a 'great place to bring up a family'. Both Mairead and her husband have been involved heavily in village life ever since, taking their place in a variety of local community groups. Mairead's recent elevation to president of the chamber, came after only four years in business as the owner of Kalimantsi fashion store which she said had always been her dream. 'After retiring from St. Ita's, I opened up the shop. It was always my goal to have my own business and I've been at it now for four-and-a-half years.' She acknowledges that there has been a lot of changes in the village she arrived in the mid-70s but a lot of that change has been for the better, Mairead believes.

She said: 'Most people who moved to Rush love Rush because they like that rural feel it still has but yet we are only a stone's throw from the city and we have the train station that allows you to hop on and go for a day to Bray or Greystones.' ' The people of the town are nice too and it's a very friendly place. A lot of good community work goes on and there are a lot of people trying to do their best for the betterment of the town.' Outside of Rush, Mairead's favourite place in Fingal is another seaside town.

She loves Skerries and spent a year of her life living in the town before getting her house in Rush. These days when Mairead is not in Fingal, she is usually found in Bulgaria where she has a little holiday home in a village she says is not so different from Rush, where market gardening is also the central activity of the region. The holiday home is in Kalimantsi which became the inspiration for Mairead's Rush fashion store which now bears the same name.

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