Quack and Dirk - Deirdre Mahon

I’ve known Deirdre Mahon (AKA Deids) from Quack and Dirk way back from my restaurant days when I was running the little Bistro upstairs at Kennedy’s Food Store. She held a fashion show one evening and I fell instantly in love with her clothes. One dress, in particular, had to be mine! I still have it! I ended up modelling in another one of her fashion shows for charity and then photographing a line of her clothes. I was only just starting my photography journey and Deids was so patient (bless) but it was a set of images I’m still super proud of. We had a great day

During COVID and after I had Elliot, I found myself gravitating towards the store more so than usual. I was even buying dresses that a) didn’t fit me and b) I couldn’t really wear anywhere due to COVID. So I asked myself, what’s happening here? What are you doing Dena? Then it hit me like a bomb. These beautiful frocks were a signification of hope. They were a sign that one day, all this misery will be over and you can go out again and feel fancy. They were something to look forward to and get excited about. They signified a dream of a date night with John and a fancy restaurant.


As well as that, they were a treat that I feel I deserved for learning how to be a Mom (ongoing), dealing with 2020 and achieving my post-baby body goals. As things have eased and we can finally socialise again, I finally have the chance to wear my dresses and boy it feels FANTASTIC!

Everyone! Retail therapy is a thing! It’s 100% a thing!


So why wasn’t I doing this with every online clothing store?? There is more to Quack and Dirk than just clothes, there is Deids herself! Her happy, bubbly, caring personality is as much part of the brand as her clothes are! She’s so incredibly passionate, it’s infectious. Her service is on a whole other level and I always feel I’ve been treated when I visit the store.


Deids, you had a massive positive impact on me during 2020 and continue to do so. I hope you know how special you and your clothes make us ladies feel every day. It’s not a vanity thang, it’s a therapy thang!


A final note about Deids; she loves to bake!! Her Instagram page is scattered with fun and fabulous baking sessions with the kids and new recipes. So I thought photographing her in her kitchen would be a great way to show off her personality at home. 


Here’s what she had to say:

Tell me about the type business Quack and Dirk is?

My aim is to bring the best clothes that you could find in the city centre into the shop in Fairview. I carefully cull all the clothes so that my customers’ shopping experience is effortless. I want shopping to be easier and quicker so we can all make the most out of our time. I love people and I take great pride in getting to know my customers and adopting high levels of customer service. Personal service is a huge aspect to the store!

Has this been your lifelong dream and has it gone in the direction you wanted to go when you started out?


No. When I was younger I never thought I’d own a boutique, no way! But I always knew I’d do something different and so did my sister. When I opened the shop 12 years ago I was just thought I’d see where it would go. There is absolutely no way I would have seen where I am today. I am thrilled and proud of myself and everyone that has helped me get here. It’s above and beyond any expectation or dream I would have had. I am so in love with my job. I think the reason it ended up this way was because I didn’t have any expectations, I just kept at it and loved the whole process.

What do you love about having a small business in Dublin 3?


I LOVE the community feel here! There is such a mixture of people from all ages and backgrounds. There is so much around you, you literally don’t need to go anywhere else! I love being able to cycle to work every day. My Dad had a mechanics around the corner from this shop and so I’ve always known the wonderful community of Fairview.


What impact has COVID had on your business (positive or negative)


It was frustrating and difficult having to change direction all the time. On the plus side, I’ve been able to lessen my hours because the online store is so strong now. Even though I’m busier mentally, I have more freedom and time to spend with my family. Having strengthened the online store over 2020 has helped reach more customers and networks from different countries.


With every delivery I want them to feel they get that personal shop experience with little extras such as a handwritten note and beautiful packaging.

What are your other passions in life?


I LOVE markets and vintage shops and second-hand shops!! If were on holiday on a bus or something and you see people with those market bags, I’m like stop the bus!! Everyone is getting off here!!


If you could have any 3 people at your dinner party who would they be and what would you cook?


Louis Theroux, he’s amazing!! My grandad Billy was meant to be great craic! I never met him so I would love to have him for dinner. The other one was Alan Partridge. He’s effortlessly, awkwardly funny. I would get my husband to cook because I’m more of a baker. He cooks a great squid with Couscous and salad. For dessert, I’d bake a Pavlova, always great for a dinner party.


Market Fair Butchers and Grocers

Last year when we moved to Donnycarney I knew that I was going to be
doing a tremendous amount of walking with the new baby, not to mention that it
was the only thing to do! I took routes through the houses of Grace Park, down
through Marino and up to Clontarf. One or the other or both!

 

I soon became aware of the amazing small businesses around me and felt it was
important to support them. I integrated my grocery shopping routine into these
walks at the beginning of the week. It was a special day for me. You can’t beat
walking into a business and the place is everything you want it to be and more!
On top of that, being welcomed with a warm familiar smile and having a chit
chat is just golden.

 

During COVID when things were particularly strict and when I had a tiny baby,
this type of customer service REALLY helped me. I wanted to celebrate the
people and their businesses that helped me ‘get through it all’.

 

So that was it, My Local Heroes was born. I’ll continue to find and
celebrate My Local Heroes but if you have a person that comes to mind in
your neighbourhood that you think would be a good candidate I’d love to hear
from you! Click here to get in touch.

 

First up; Larry Boland from Market Fair Butchers and Grocers in Marino.

 

Larry Boland – Market Fair Butchers and Grocers

Market Fair Butchers and Grocers was my first stop on my
shopping day. I had always wanted to have a local butcher to go to and I feel
quite privileged knowing that this is my ‘local’. The store is a wonderland of
meats, cheese, fresh fish, spices, sauces and pasta. To me, it’s more than just
a butcher, it’s an artisan grocery store that sells high-quality meats. You
walk in and you are surrounded by an array of colours from the jars and the
packaging together with the funky artwork is a feast for the eyes. It’s simply
a pleasure to be in!

Larry is a lovely man who always takes the time to have a chat
with you and lets you in on his life away from work. But he never forces the
chat either, I like that. (Mammas you know what I mean when someone wants to
talk the ear off you and you’ve had a max of 3 hours sleep the night before!)

There are little pieces of Larry all over the store. Larry’s
suggestions, Larry’s antiques etc all add that personal touch to the business.
When seasonal festivities come around be sure to book in your lamb or turkey,
there are queues out the door!

Larry got me through COVID because I knew that I had a fabulous
little sanctuary waiting for me once a week that would provide me with
delicious meats and treats for us to spoil ourselves with. Not to mention the
sense of familiarity that comes with frequenting a small business. I asked
Larry if he’d be interested in my project and he gratefully accepted. 



Larry, tell me about yourself and your business?

“Hi my names Larry, my business is Market Fair Butchers and
Grocers. It started off as a small butcher with my good friend Declan. I
thought myself and Declan would work until our 60’s together but he decided to
move on and I bought Declan’s half. From then I had a dream of making the store
more than just a butcher, I wanted to sell a selection of high-quality products
as well. So I started to slowly work on introducing new products and built it
up from there.”


How did you get into being a butcher?

“Back in the eighties, times were tough. It wasn’t something
I aspired to be, it was the first job I took and I worked hard at it. I
realised I loved the people side of the business and just never left it.”


What are your hobbies outside of the business?

“Landscaping, history, movies and walking but my favourite hobby is
Urban exploring. Going into derelict houses and castles. Obviously, if the building
was locked I wouldn’t go in but there are many open and derelict buildings
in Ireland. I’ve built up a collection of photographs over the
years. I love the history of imagining or discovering the story behind the
building. I have now got both my children into it too. It’s a really interesting
thing! Some places are left exactly how they were all those years ago.”


What impact has COVID had on your business?

“For trade, it’s been good as we have been open the whole
time and had great support but the stresses were there too such as the constant
fear of infection and bringing it home. If someone had asked me if I would go
through another year like last year, even with its financial gain, I would have
said no thanks. It’s not worth it.


I’m also really sorry for anyone who had to close their business and hope that they come back stronger than ever when they can reopen. When you are a self-employed business owner, worrying about your business can cause a huge amount of stress”


What have you done to help you keep sane during this crazy
year?

“My garden has helped as couldn’t go exploring but for the
most part I just kept busy. I wish I had tried to get a bit more fit but sure.
I probably overdid the business too as I kept busy at work and at home.”


You can go and visit Larry at Market Fair Butchers and Grocers, Philipsburgh Ave, Ballybough, Dublin 3. Or check out his website to order online


Follow him on Instagram here.


The trees of Fairview - Edel Leahy

Edel Leahy, the woman who saved the trees of Fairview! If mother nature had a face, to me, it would be Edel. From the minute I met Edel, I was overwhelmed by her wondrous and enigmatic personality. This is a lady who literally lights up the spirits of all around her, just by being herself. I looked forward to her coming in for her ritual coffee every day when I worked in Kennedy’s Food Store. We chatted about this, that and everything under the sun, accompanied by many a giggle in between. My job was to make her smile but she always made me smile as well.


One day, Edel came in rather flustered. She went on to explain that she had just found out that there were plans to take down most of the trees running from the Malahide road, all the way to North Strand. This was to help create a cycle lane along the road. Being a fairly active member of the community, Edel realised that if she didn’t know anything about this until now, then most people wouldn’t! So, not long after that, Edel used the powers of social media to create a petition to ’Save the Trees’ of Fairview. She said to her husband that evening, ‘John, I’d be delighted if this gets 100 signatures.’


She woke up the next morning to see 200 votes. Then by the end of the week, it had over 1000. By that time the radio stations were contacting her to find out more, counsellors were ringing her asking what party she was from and people were reaching out from all over the world praising her for her efforts to save the trees of Fairview.



Being a cyclist herself, Edel didn’t want to go against a new cycle lane, she just didn’t want the trees taken down and felt that there could be an alternative plan made. After numerous radio interviews and newspaper write-ups, the petition had reached a total of 15,000 votes. The council then decided to stop their plans, for the foreseeable future. She had saved the trees of Fairview!!

Edel is proof that one person can make big changes – and they don’t have to be in authority to do so. I believe this is where we can utilise social media in ways that were never really possible before.

Edel and her husband moved into Fairview/Marino just over 20 years ago. At that time they were part of a small group of younger couples that had moved into the area. She has seen how the area has become more and more attractive to young couples over the years and has watched an influx of people recently move in. This has brought a wonderful new energy to the neighbourhood. Yet, there are still over 900 people in Marino over the age of 80 years old and they have helped maintain that ‘village’ atmosphere. Coming from an intellectual and corporate world, Edel decided to change her life and focus on raising her 3 beautiful girls. For many years she ran a small business working from home, minding other people’s babies whilst her girls were at school. She coaches the under 8 and 10s girl’s teams at the GAA club where she is one of many people that take time out of their day to volunteer to help the club. Edel is also an active volunteer in the Fairview Park run that happens every Saturday. She states that to make these organisations work it requires a whole community of people that are happy to volunteer. She is what I would call a Community Angel.



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