I met a gentleman last Sunday on Merrion, Eddie Sheehy, the man responsible for the set up of Merrion Square 30 years ago! Eddie kindly followed up our chat with an e-mail:
….I’m delighted to see that Merrion Square is still thriving after 30 years
It was originally established in 1985 by formally designating Merrion Square West as a Casual Trading Area and restricting the Casual Trading Permits to the sale of original works of art. (This was to prevent the fruit sellers and jewellery sellers who were trading illegally in the City Centre from being allocated spaces ). Ads were placed inviting applications from artists who were interested in exhibiting on Saturdays and Sundays. It started modestly with a number of artists at either side of the Rutland Fountain opposite the National Gallery. Later we extended the permits to include weekdays in December.
It was slow in taking off . In order to generate some interest we organised music from groups who were busking in Grafton Street. In order to give it some further momentum , we renamed it as ” The Boulevard Gallery ” and organised a formal launch in June 1987.
Sales were very slow at first and I bought 2 paintings from an artist called Peig McMahon on the first day.
The relaunch in June 1987 generated some media interest and I attach a copy of a photograph which appeared in the Irish Times on 8th June 1987 . I retained this press cutting because I had purchased the painting from Judith Walshe on the day of the relaunch.
Good luck with the celebrations next weekend .