Five Go on a Treasure Hunt: Triumph by name, please be triumphant by nature
Not many 20th-century bicycles can claim to be Dublin bikes, but the Triumph 20 was made in Raleigh’s factory on Hanover Quay. Putting sentiment aside, is it worth as much as I hope?
For this challenge, and after weeks of combing Adverts.ie (underwear, only worn once) and Donedeal.ie (free tree stump) for bargains, I headed to the Dublin Flea Market, which takes place on the last Sunday of every month at Newmarket Square in the Coombe.
A buzzing market
I get straight into character. It’s a buzzing market, great fun to bring kids to, and full of furniture, books and other odds and ends, ranging from the terrible to the excellent. Prices are inconsistent, and you can get a genuine bargain if you persevere.
Shane Gallagher’s stall is right by where I park my car, so I stumble upon his immaculately preserved Triumph 20 straight away. Not many bikes in the 20th century can claim to be Dublin bikes, but the Raleigh Chopper and the Triumph 20 feature in a lot of Dubliners’ memories. Both were produced in Raleigh’s factory on Hanover Quay.
I never had a Chopper as a child. I sometimes see Mik Pyro, singer with Republic of Loose, heading down Rathmines Road Upper on his Chopper, and I know I still want one.
Girls had less choice. Before I really knew what a girl was, I knew that they all had Triumph 20s, which had shopping baskets for dolls to sit in, tasteful white leather seats, no crossbar for standing on and showing off, and were impossible to cycle with no hands, let alone do wheelies or stunts on. Why would anyone want one of those things?
As I’ve grown older and my tastes have become a little more, eh, feminine, I am full of admiration for Triumph 20s. Beautiful and well-designed, they are a perfect expression of a girl’s “shopping bike”. It is testament to the care and craftsmanship of their makers that I am standing in a market looking at a 30-year-old bike with original parts in perfect working order.
Either Shane is a great haggler or I am a terrible one. It takes me 40 minutes, and many mentions of The Irish Times, to convince him to drop his reasonable price of €140 to my budget of €100. Most of Shane’s bargains he gets in car-boot sales where people don’t really know the value of what they are selling. At flea markets such as this one, people look up items on their smartphones before they buy, so it’s becoming more difficult for stall holders to make a good mark-up.
That said, Shane has many success stories. He once found a rare print from 1798 in an Oxfam shop and sold it the following week at auction for an impressive return. But the second-hand and antique economy now spreads across the world online, and often he is selling to sellers who are selling via eBay to other collectors.