Jude Hughes's Rapid Alterations Service
71 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1
The tailor Jude Hughes apologises for being late. The sprightly 72-year-old is just back from a tennis match in the Trackside club in Baldoyle. Born on the Navan Road to parents he's never met, Jude's formative years were spent in an institution in Tralee. His father being of Trinidadian origin, he cut a multicultural path before the word entered our lexicon.
Jude’s been in the tailoring business all of his life. His windowless room is a clutterfest of cloth worthy of Francis Bacon-style preservation. On the entrance to the staircase is a sewing machine, one of four which will make their way to Angola this week. Spurred on by the murder of his friend Regina O’Connor who initiated the idea, Jude has been collecting machines which have been sent to several African countries. There’s even a school named in his honour in Rwanda.
“They’re like gold dust in these places. I just got one from the daughter of John Behan this week too,” he explains. “John came into to me looking for a bit of work when he was 72 and stayed with me until he was 92.”
While his craft has changed in recent times to more of an alternations business, he’s still occasionally tasked with the creation of one off pieces. “I’m making a communion suit for a young boy at the moment. I’ve done it for generations in the family and it’s a tradition.”
In a city beset by the fever of the new, Jude is a reassuring presence woven into its fabric. He's an unsung hometown hero who plies his trade with little fuss. Yet his actions have impacted on thousands of lives from the simple reinforced stitch to his contributions to African communities.
Honourable mentions: Louis Copeland, The Alteration Centre, Des Byrne Tailoring