Faces of The Victorian Quarter Andrew McDonagh: Mother Jones Flea Market Trader




Mother Jones Flea Market is a funky antiques market situated on York Street within Corks Victorian Quarter. It is located in the historic Thompson House (previously a bakery). It contains a vast array of items such as vintage clothing, books, jewellery, records, crafty household items and furniture. You can also grab yourself a coffee while listening to live music within the market. The market opens from Friday – Sunday. This week the Victorian Quarter got to interview one of the many traders from Mother Jones, Andrew McDonagh. Andrew gave us an insight into the life of a trader in the market as well as his views on the ‘Quarter’.


Mother Jones is open just over seven years and Andrew has been a part of the market since shortly after it’s opening. With a strong passion for collecting unique items Andrew pounced on the opportunity to set up a stall within the market after he heard of it’s opening. When asked what the most exciting time for the flea market was, Andrew told us, that the events in the city draw a lot of footfall such as the Jazz Festival. He also told us that Sunday tends to be the busiest of the three days they open. Months January and February also see a lot of people to the market. As one of the most unique spots in Cork, let alone the Victorian Quarter, Mother Jones Flea Market sees a large influx of tourists to the spot to take photos. However, it can be difficult to settle a deal on a couch or coffee table due to flight regulations!

We asked Andrew some questions regarding his personal experience within the trade. When asked about the most exciting item he encountered, he told us he found a German Army Sappers axe from World War II, when clearing out a tool box he bought. The axe was used primarily as a tool for digging trenches but also as a weapon for close action combat. It was a very well-built tool and he noted he would love to know the history behind it and how it ended up in Ireland.

We also asked what the most enjoyable part of his job was. Andrew informed us that ‘the people you meet on a day-to-day basis make the job worth-while’. The unique characters you encounter and the stories they have about items or memories they share with a particular object. As many tourists’ flock to the market Andrew constantly meets people from all over the globe with exciting stories. He noted that the ‘chase is almost better than the find’ , referring to when he is on the hunt for items for his market. Andrew said most of the items he discovers come from house clearances. The haggling with other dealers and the banter that is had between those who share the market also brighten up Andrews day on the job.

In regard to the Victorian Quarter itself we asked Andrew a few questions. We asked him to name his three favourite places within the ‘Quarter’. Andrew informed us his favourites are; White Rabbit with their great BBQ food, where he spends most of his lunch breaks, CASK Cocktail b

ar with their amazing range of funky cocktails and the great atmosphere within the bar and apart from food and drink he suggested Bunker Vinyl Studio based on Camden Quay, where you can find almost any vinyl record you can think of. We asked if he could bring one type of shop/service to the Quarter what would it be? Andrew suggested he would like to see the trend of small independent businesses continue throughout the VQ. He would like to see the VQ be known as a hub for alternative shopping within quirky bars, restaurants and shops.

We asked Andrew his opinion on the developments happening within the area and their contribution to business. He is initially concerned with the new entrance to the train station and if it will draw commuters to the quarter or make it a more attractive option to walk down along the quay to the city centre. But he did mention we will have to wait until the developments of the new hotel and offices are complete to see just how it effects the quarter. He believes it is a fantastic opportunity to develop the area into a more attractive place to drawn customers if the pavements and lighting are redeveloped as well as adding some life to the place with trees and other decorations. He suggested a sign upon entering the Quarter to let people know that this is the hub for a change of scenery. Andrew had great insights into the life of an antiques dealer and due to his great knowledge of the area he also gave valuable suggestions for improving the ‘Quarter’.