The Tuesday Club - The Faces of Fairview

Anne Forde, together with many of the volunteers you see in this photograph, developed the idea for The Tuesday Club about 10 years ago. They realised that there was a large part of the community that were 70 years of age or over, were living alone, and it had become more difficult for them to move around the area. This made it hard for them to maintain an active social life. I think this aspect of our lives is something that we really take for granted when we are younger as we are so busy with work, children and life in general that we don’t realise that when you get older, meeting your friends and making new friends is fundamental to your mental state of mind and wellbeing.

After much planning, The Tuesday Club officially began. Every Tuesday the members of the club are collected by 8-9 volunteers and taken to the Charlton Hall for an afternoon of numerous activities.

(from left to right, the names are Anne Forde, Maria Cantwell, Valerie Mulligan, Sr Margaret Ivers, Adrienne Glover, Peggy Bergin, Lily Smith, Ann Ryder and Marion Boyle. These are just some of the 30 or so volunteers who help run the Tuesday club.

The day usually starts with a 30-minute catch-up between friends, some old, some new (although by now, they have all made friends through The Tuesday Club). The members then start their 40-minute chair exercises hosted by instructors, Nevrig, Colm, Shane and Seán. This is an activity that the members very much look forward to each week.

Afterwards the group get a well-deserved tea and an assortment of home-baked cakes supplied by volunteers such as Valerie and trainees from Prospect Fingal. Fairy Buns, Fruit Cakes and Lemon Drizzle (a house favourite) are just a few of the beautiful cakes on display each week. The ladies tell me how important this is for most of the members as they were bakers themselves and look forward to a homely sweet treat.

Bingo is an absolute must at The Tuesday Club where things become quite competitive as well as highly enjoyable.  Jim, the volunteer pianist, and Marian usually get everyone into a singalong which brings the crowd back to times past and happy memories. I am told that the atmosphere is joyful and everyone gets involved.

Additionally, each week, there are different volunteers that mix things up a bit such as Ukulele bands, singers, guest speakers and arts and crafts workshops. One of the committee members Anne even did her own piece once on the history of the different stores in Fairview. A thoroughly researched endeavour that brought the members back to a time in their lives that might have been forgotten.

The Tuesday Club now has a healthy number of 40 members each week, 25% of which are men. They have been lucky enough to get small grants from Dublin City Council and Croke Park Community Fund to keep things going and occasionally take the group on outings. Aside from that the whole initiative is voluntary based.

They are always looking for new volunteers so if you would like to become a member contact Anne Forde at the email below. I am sure she would love to hear from you. Aside from contributing to something very special here this is a fabulous way to meet new people and carry on the Fairview tradition of voluntary work. To find out more about them, click here.

The Mud Island Community - The Faces of Fairview

Nestled behind the houses just off the North Strand lies a beautiful oasis of trees, flowers and herbs. A garden created by the people, for the people of the area, is a hidden gem in Dublin 3.

Before the community garden, there was housing for the elderly. It was then knocked down to create social housing. The Larkin Unemployment Centre had plans to create a family childcare centre. The economic crash came before plans went underway and unfortunately the area was left derelict. The land then became used as a dump.

Fionnuala Halpin, the now chairperson of the Gardens, lived right next to the land dump and felt there needed to be something done about it. She had asked Tony Gregory, the then TD, to help her in removing it as a dump and use the space for something more constructive to the area.  Tony Louth, another local in the community, called a meeting and sought out if people would be interested in making compost and growing their own plants and vegetables. There was already a keen interest for that to happen in this specific location. The idea then flourished for The Mud Island Community Garden.

Fionnuala, John Hannigan and Maeve Foreman were the first three signatories to start the plans for the garden. From 2009 until 2011, they fought to use the land for the community garden. Finally, the three became licensees of the area and that is where it all began. They then started to apply for grants to help fund the development of the garden. Luckily, at the time, the Community Foundation of Ireland had just started creating a fund for community gardens and became their main funder for the first couple of years. The generosity, time and energy given by the volunteers have made the Garden what it is today. It has been a slow and steady effort by everyone involved and from what I can gather a family of close friends has evolved from this magnanimous creation.

If there are no plans to develop in the near future there are hopes that they can have electricity and water provided for the site which will be extremely helpful when running events. Each person that gets involved has something valuable to contribute towards the growing and development of the gardens. The ethos is to give people a shared sense of ownership to the Mud Island Community Gardens.

How to become a member of the Mud Island Community Garden? If you are employed, it is €10 a year and €5 a year for the unemployed. You can take part as much or as little as you like. You can come and enjoy social events or really get stuck into the gardening aspect of things. Either way, I feel this is just a wonderful way to integrate with the community, make long-lasting friends and help to contribute to something special.

These Faces of Fairview (North Strand to be more correct!)

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!’.

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