Veteran Dublin street trader Tessie Carroll dies aged 88

Councillor pays tribute to ‘outstanding activist’ who worked Dublin 1 pitch for 60 years

Veteran Dublin street trader Tessie Carroll has died aged 88. In June, 2019 Tessie brought her pram of clothes and bric-a-brac to the Cumberland Street market for the last time after 60 years of trading. Video: Kathleen Harris

 

Another link to what was Dublin in the rare old times has been broken following the death of Tessie Carroll, one of the oldest street traders at one of the longest running markets in the city.

The 88-year old, who was hailed by Dublin City councilor and long time friend Christy Burke on Wednesday as an “outstanding activist and humanitarian”, died on Tuesday night.

Every Saturday morning for 60 years before her retirement in the summer of 2019, Tessie would wheel her pram full of clothes and bric a brac from her Hill Street home to her pitch at the flea market on the street known on most maps as Cumberland Street North.

She and her fellow traders knew the street, which runs parallel to O’Connell Street, by different names, though. They called it ‘the Cobbles’, even though the stones that gave it the name were paved over donkeys years ago.

They also called it ‘the Tuggers’ even though the tugs-of-war over desirable clothes that were once common at the market, which is more than 100-years-old, are barely a memory. More often that not Tessie referred to it simply as the Hill.

Before she retired she told The Irish Times that her husband had worked with CIE and was “only earning a few bob and it wouldn’t feed us and dress us, so I’d to pull down the cart with all my stuff and go back and bring down the babies”.

She recalled gathering things to sell at jumble sales and auctions off Capel Street “and in Protestant halls all over Dublin”.

Tessie first set out her stall when one of her children was just weeks old and stuck with it through hail, rain, snow and sun until she decided to call it a day 18 months ago. A special function was held in the Mansion House in her honour.

She was born on Summerhill and moved with her family to Whitehall when she was five. They would walk to school on Rutland Street in the north inner city every morning and walk home, but after three years the family moved back to the city centre - first to Temple Street and then to Seán MacDermott Street before settling on Foley Street.

Tessie and her husband and their growing family were offered a newly built council flat on Hill Street 62-years-ago, which was where she lived until her death.

Mr Burke said she had been a strong advocate for the rights of others and for the street traders. He noted her willingness to fight the good fight, even as she came close to her retirement, most notably when Dublin City Council sought to close down the market for good.

He said she was “very vocal” about any proposed changes to any street trading conditions or rights.

“She was loved, respected and revered in her community and around Dublin city centre. Tessie will be a great loss. It’s so sad that she will not be able to get the funeral she deserves due to the restrictions,” Mr Burke added.