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Máirín de Burca - Faces of Fairview

If you don’t know who Máirín de Burca is, I would suggest taking the time to watch Cathal Black’s documentary 5 Red Roses which is an interesting portrayal of Máirín’s life. Then go and listen to The Irish Time’s Women’s Podcast (ep 294) for an in depth interview with Máirín by Kathy Sheridan. For now though enjoy a brief history of Máirín the way she relayed it to me whilst sitting in her cosy sun room, drinking coffee and eating chocolate.  What a day!

After coming back to Ireland from America Máirín de Burca and her family resided in the countryside. There was little to do when she was a teenager other than going to school and the library, so she invested a lot of her time reading. Her books were chosen by their size so as to make them last the week that she had them for. One day, she chose The Young Irelanders for this very reason. She had no idea the profound effect it would have on her then but after reading it she immediately decided that she was going to join Sinn Féin. She was 14 years old then and, unfortunately for her, still too young but on her 16th birthday she went and signed up.

During that time, Sinn Féin’s main aim was the reunification of Ireland which suited Máirín fine until she left in 1962 after the Border Campaign ended. A couple of years later she re-joined and became General Secretary of the party. Sinn Féin was heavily involved in fighting to develop the housing conditions in Dublin. They were also very involved in anti-Vietnam war and anti-Apartheid protests.

One particular anti-Vietnam war protest got Máirín and her friends a 3 month sentence in prison. They decided to burn down the US flag at the American Embassy and throw balloons filled with cow’s blood at the steps of the Embassy. A peaceful but highly effective protest that wasn’t forgotten.

It was during her time in prison that she decided that when she got out, she was going to start to fight for women’s rights in Ireland. Together with a group of like-minded women she set up The Women’s Liberation Movement. None of them quite realised the extent of work they had ahead of them as there were so many discriminations against women in this country at the time. Most women just took it as the norm. A few of the 10 demands that they had were the rights to contraception, equality before the Law, equal pay,  equal educational opportunities and one family, one house. From there, the members branched out to develop their own movements such as Cherish, a single mother’s movement and Irish Women United, a movement to fight for gay rights.

During a housing demonstration, Máirín and her friend were arrested and for some reason her solicitor suggested they should go for a trial by jury which she had never done before. It was then that she realised that the jury was only men and secondly men that owned property. Under advise from Mary Robinson, Máirín challenged the Jury’s Act. Her solicitors worked pro-bono for 5 years on the case and eventually won the case in 1975 on two grounds. Firstly, women were allowed to sit the jury and secondly, anyone, home owner or not could sit. From then on jury members were pulled from the electoral registrar.

Máirín worked as a journalist after leaving Sinn Féin but in her early 50s she decided that it was time to retire after working since the age of 14 years old. She had recently bought a house in Fairview and decided that she was going to volunteer for the Credit Union. She has been working with them ever since. Máirín fell in love with Fairview and was instantly drawn to its sense of community. She made long lasting friends who still live in the area. Her admiration for the local store owners such as Victor from Edge Hardware, Ciaran from the Veterinary Hospital and Damian from Duggans Jewellers LDT, to name but a few, is immense and she adores the ‘village’ quality that Fairview has continued to hold for so many years.

In her words, ‘Even if I won the lottery, I would never leave Fairview!’.

Martin McGowen - Faces of Fairview

Dublin is such a small city! After researching this project I realised Martin is the father of a dear friend and has also been John’s mechanic for over 10 years! Martin has been associated with Fairview and Marino ever since he was 9 years old when he used to play football in Fairview Park. In his early 20’s he joined the CY Football Club in Fairview and played with them for 10 years until his knees started to give him trouble. He then got married and started a family. During that time he partnered up with one of his friends and they worked together in his garage for just over 7 years. Since then, Martin has run the garage by himself and this year celebrates having his own successful business in Fairview for 35 years.

Martin has made many great friends whilst working and playing football in Fairview. He states that Fairview has always been a fantastic community and the people have always had a friendly nature, throughout generations. ‘Fairview really is a jewel!’. All his customers are regulars who have been coming to him year after year. He has never had to advertise for his business, everyone who has walked into his garage has come from word of mouth. His choice to keep his business in Fairview was a no brainer.  He loves the customers he has and ‘You can’t beat walking onto Fairview Strand and always getting at least 6 or 7 hellos!’

Martin is a big believer that one must keep at their hobbies and passions aside from work. When he stopped playing football, he took to marathon running, then golfing and then fell in love with deep-sea diving. He travels all over Ireland and the world to dive. He and his wife love to travel the world together. (I can see so much of Denise in him as he speaks!) They have raised 4 incredible women who have all gone on to succeed in their lives but still have a seriously close bond with their parents. Martin is a true gent who is totally in love with his family and has a genuine zest for life.

Victor Edge - Faces of Fairview

Victor Edge from Edge Hardware Store in Fairview needs no introduction to most of you. His store has been in Fairview for over 100 years and runs through 3 generations‼️

Aside from being the local celeb, Victor is well known for his kind heart and warm demeanour. He is always smiling and willing to help wherever he can. His store is a wonderland of knick-knacks. If you need anything at all, Victor will have it.

Victor’s grandfather Elias came to Dublin in the early 1900s. He worked as a stock-keeper in Hampton Leedom up until the Rebellion in 1916 when it was burned down. On the 19th March 1917, Elias opened 2 Fairview Corner where he had his hardware store, Elias Edge Hardware, and China Merchants downstairs with the family home on the 2nd floor. The store became very successful and Elias managed to install one of the first petrol pumps in the area and then purchased the land behind the store (which is now the Euro Spar) to create a garage.

Elias ran the store up until 3 months before he died at 93 years of age. Unfortunately, Victor’s father died not long after so Elias Junior’s wife Chrissie took over the running of the store. She was very much adored by the local community and came in every day until she died at the age of 92 in 2016. Victor, having grown up in the shop, started working there when he was 15 years old and has worked there ever since.

The Edge Hardware store has seen many events in history and has stood through some terrible disasters over the course of 100 years. From World War II to rebellion bombings, an escapee Lion to massive snowstorms - to name but a few. There is an excellent write up about The Edge family in a book called History On Your Doorstep, Six stories of Dublin history100 years of Edge Hardware: 1917-2017 by Dublin City Council Historian, Cormac Moore.

The store is decorated with photographs dating right back to when it first opened. There is a real sense of melancholy when looking through them all and getting a glimpse of how much history one building has stood through. For an independent store to last over 20 years is a great achievement these days, let alone 100 years. Edge Hardware has remained a faithful constant in the community of Fairview and is continually supported by not only people in Fairview and Marino but those from Clontarf, Raheny and Ballybough.

Where we sat chatting and eating scones in Victor’s office, the walls are filled with photographs of Victor’s family. It is wonderful to see so many printed photographs, a rarity sadly in this day and age. He is immensely proud of his wife and two daughters, speaking very fondly about their achievements. Victor being quite a shy man by nature didn’t want to make too much of a fuss about the 100-year mark, yet his daughter Beverly and the locals who love him to bits had other ideas. Beverly created a mini-exhibition of photographs and memorabilia of the store, they threw a big party for him and treated him and his wife to a luxurious weekend away.

As Damian Duggan from Duggan Jelewers said to the Dublin Enquirer, Edge Hardware store is ‘.. the anchor for the whole village.’ I for one, could definitely not done this exhibition without him in it. Thank you, Victor.

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