Mary Plunkett died in 1932 but Pat carried on trading until 1951. ‘When my father married, he moved out to Whitehall’, Brendan says. ‘He took an old iron bed which I used as a child – it could well have been the one that James Connolly slept in’.
Afterwards, No. 16 was leased to the Tyrell brothers. Stephen Cassidy, who worked there during the early 1980s recalls: ‘It was a really wonderful place to be on a Saturday afternoon. I used to stand at the front door from about 3.30pm with a microphone shouting out the prices. Our shop would have a queue of people all day. We used to have some craic with the customers. Sometimes old country ladies would just give me a small bottle of Poitín for serving them; maybe thinking they would get a better cut of meat. We used to clean sheep skins on the roof and there were stone curing baths in the basement where the corned beef was made.’
Today, this little three-storey house, once described by the Freeman’s Journal as ‘situated in the best part of the street’ is an eyesore. Boarded up and dilapidated, it and the other houses along the terrace form part of Dublin’s broken tooth. It belies an interior that retains some original eighteenth-century features – a newelled staircase, wooden architraves and a diagonal corner chimney-breast (typical of Dutch Billy houses). All are at risk from exposure to the cold and damp and in some parts the ceilings threaten to give way.
Developer Chartered Land has asked for permission to build a new retail development on the National Monument site – a plan that would spare Nos. 14-17 Moore Street but leave other parts of the terrace and historic lanes at risk of demolition.
On Wednesday 27th March, after several months of deliberation, Dublin City Council’s Advisory Committee made its final recommendation. It refused the developer’s proposal and requested a full assessment of the designated ‘battlefield site’ area. Councillor Nial Ring who heads up the committee says: ‘We welcome a museum or interpretative centre but it will have to be done in a careful way. The need to protect the national monument cannot be over-emphasised; its preservation is of the utmost importance’.
Meanwhile, Brendan Plunkett can only watch as his family shop falls further into dilapidation. ‘My grandfather fed the people of Dublin for many years’, he says. ‘It’s shameful to see the state of neglect it is in. If a building of such cultural importance was situated in any other city, it would be preserved. No. 16 has a great cultural history attached to it. That should never be forgotten.’
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