Facelift for a symbol of old Dublin: Moore Street market is an eyesore, despite its colourful stallholders. Alan Murdoch reports

Click to follow
DUBLIN CORPORATION may never improve the language but it does hope to revive the location. Moore Street market, provider of the cheapest fish, fruit and veg to the city for 150 years, is to get a much needed facelift.

Having toyed with the sacrilege of moving the market elsewhere, the 'corpo' as it universally known has begun debating how to give a facelift to the place many maintain is the birthplace of the city's ripest slang.

A living symbol of old Dublin, politicians flock to the area at election time (Charles Haughey loves being photographed with women here) while pickpockets find the hustle and bustle of the crowds equally fertile ground for business.

One suggestion, backed by 86 per cent of stallholders and shopkeepers, is to move the statue of Dublin's most famous fishwife, Molly Malone, into the street from its present home in the posher Grafton Street, south of the river Liffey.

Improvements are badly needed. Derelict sites, a plethora of ugly bargain shops and plastic signs covering what were once elegant Georgian frontages, have all but killed its charm. A Seventies brick and plastic shopping centre running up one side looks like a spaceship that has fallen on Belgravia.

The corporation and stallholders want more bins and more regular shifting of the piles of boxes and near-liquid fruit.

The corporation itself has earmarked Ir pounds 200,000 ( pounds 188,000) for putting back granite pavements and cobbles in the centre of the road.

Many hope that this will not also clean up the local vernacular. The women stallholders, forming a tight-knit matriarchy, have the sharpest tongues in town, as customers taking liberties with the goods find.

Spellings too are idiosyncratic: signs for 'brocli', 'mandrins' and 'nectrins' may be seen. Moore Street is also the home of the four-syllable fungus, as in the rasping shouts of 'torty (30) pence da musharooems'.

The women's dexterity with the one-liner has even inspired a book, Dublin Wit - Echoes of Moore Street, edited by Paul Ryan, who overheard one customer being told: 'There's yer oranges, missus, and have a nice holiday.'


'I said 'There's yer oranges and have a nice holiday.' Are ye bleedin' deaf?'

Similarly, when asked 'Missus, is there a toilet around here?' the reply was: 'Anywhere you like at all between here and Capel Street', doubtless expressing a strongly felt opinion on urban decline.

Besides tomatoes and oranges, freshly caught fish, still bought in quantity on Friday in Catholic Ireland, sells here at around a third of the shop price.

It is, alas, some years since a lobster was seen for sale on a stall, as trade has narrowed with the market's decline, so the fishwives have been deprived of the chance, when asked 'Are these fresh?' to reply 'No, sir. I have to wind them up every morning.'