Saturday 21 September 2019

'It’s been the worst year ever' – Dublin street traders fear they’ll become a thing of the past

Street traders claim they’ve experienced a “hard time”

Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

With just three days to go until Christmas Day, the people working on the stalls of Dublin’s Henry Street are praying that business picks up.

For some of them, it’s been “the worst year ever”.

Kathleen Conway’s stall has been in the family for three generations.

However, she fears that the stalls may become a thing of the past.

“My nanny stood here in 1928 – we’re a third generation. Just tell the people to get into town and buy their few bits off the stalls. Go back to the old ways.

"I'm worried we won't be able to make a living in a few years time."

Aisling Owens, who has three kids, says it’s been a difficult time.

“It’s been very, very slow, the customers are not buying. They’re buying in the shops alright. We’re getting a hard time from the gardaí as well.

“When the gardaí come over to you and a customer is there, they kind of think to themselves ‘What sort of a person am I buying from’ so that puts us in a bad light.

“Whatever has happened this year it has just been a complete downer for the street trader.”

Talina Hendrick has worked on Henry Street since she was 6-years-old.

“I’m 50 now. This is my mother’s stall; it’s just about keeping her there, her legend, even though she is alive. She’s in a home.

“I’ve stood here over forty years and it’s been the worst year ever.

“If she was here [her mother], there would be murder” she laughed.

Explaining why he has stood on Henry Street for over thirty years, Peter Hickey says it doesn’t really feel like work because he enjoys it.

“I just like being here talking to people – bringing joy and happiness into peoples lives by selling beautiful things to nice people,” he smiled.

Earlier this month, gardaí made a number of seizures from these markets – removing a variety of items including toys, handbags, jewellery and electrical goods.

They expressed concern about the dangers of counterfeit goods being sold at Christmas stalls.

A garda spokesperson said that they recognise the people on Henry Street are hard-working, but insisted they "must comply" with the terms of their licence and products must go through the "relevant safety checks". 

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