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Liberties Babies Series: John Laurence

John Lawrence Shop Dublin

I = Interviewer – Alan Finn

R = Respondent – John Laurence

I: First of all I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the Fountain Resource Group for doing this interview. Just to get you into the swing of the interview, in 1984 I made my confirmation can you guess where my suit came from?

R: Well I hope it’s from here, from me!

I: It was (laughs).

R: Very Good.

I: John, you have been trading here on Thomas Street up in your other ship in the 80s, what was it like before the drugs came in?

R: Well, before the drugs came in, I’ve had a great relationship with the people in area and the people are fantastic in this area. I know the drugs came along when I came into the street in 1968 about 4 years after that and the lads who got their communion and confirmations were off me. They came along when they were 16 and 17 and I’d see them walking along the street on drugs. It was a shame really the way the area went with drugs, it ruined Dublin altogether, and it should not have happened at all.

I: Was the 1980’s recession worse than the one we’re having today? Is there any difference?

R: Oh there is yes, I mean the recession at the moment, it is horrible it is, in the 1980’s the recession was not like what it is today, in the 1980’s we had no problems with the banks. There was less money around I know that, but the banks we had no problems with and you could get money if you wanted money on an overdraft but the recession now, I’d hate to see where it’s going to go. It’s going to get worse as far as I’m concerned but hopefully, I’ll be till here in the next 10 or 20 years.

I: Every person on this side of the city at some point have got there Communion or Confirmation suits from your shop, have you ever passed someone on the street and say that’s one of mine?

R: Oh yeah sure, I notice my own tailoring, I’m tailoring since 1968 and I know my own tailoring, I could pick out my own tailoring the same way I could pick out Louis Copeland tailoring or Boris Abrahams we all have our own way of making suits and we all have own special little things we do with the suits.

I: Does it give you a real happy feeling when you see someone wearing your suits?

R: Oh yeas it is great when you see someone wearing a suit it’s magic it is, you know? And I’ve people coming along saying my son, a woman came in today saying “my son got his suit 10 years this is my grandson”, it’s magic oh yes it’s great.

I: So you’re going through the whole family cycle?

R: Yes its surprising like it’s going for generations, they bring their grandson’s back, they brought their son’s first for the communion and then they’re confirmation and they’re wedding and so fourth.

I: Did you prefer the old punts than the euro currency?

R: Oh by all means, there was more value in the old currency, definitely more value. There is no value at all in the money at the moment.

I: What’s the difference between the old school mammies and today’s mammies buying from you?

R: People my age who come in, they’re lovely people they are, they hadn’t got much but they always got the suit and shirt for their communion but now it’s the yuppie mommies, you see for the last couple of years they all seem to have money and they all want to do as best they can for their children. Like years ago, they tried to do as best they could but they couldn’t do it but now the new mammies do they best they can for their kids, they give them everything, as far as I’m concerned too much.

I: Do you think the children of today, are more spoilt than the children of the 80s?

R: The children of today in this day and age are definitely spoiled they get too much for too much and they’re giving their parents far too much problems. Now with the recession it’s going to be worse again, it’s going to be worse again, it’s going to be havoc nowadays. Years ago at Christmas, Communion or Confirmation what you got you were always happy with but they demand all the time now, kids demand too much from their parents.

I: John you seen many a change along Thomas Street and Meath Street etc. In your own opinion what was the worst and best change?

R: Well there is no great change in Thomas Street at the moment, I don’t think, I had big hopes for Thomas Street going back maybe 20 years ago. I’m the chairman of the business association for about 30 years and when I took over from Frawleys (Michael from Frawleys was the former chairperson) and we were doing quite well and seen great prospects for the area and the new generation. We thought we would get (changes to the area) a long time ago but they (the Corporation) put it on the long finger and we have gotten nothing. I looked for lights to be done in the area, I fought for Christmas light, we went back and forth to the corporation and Dublin City Council for 20 years and still got nothing out of them

It is a shame to see the way it’s gone for the time I’m here up to about 10 years ago, you would never see a shop idle for more than 10 minutes. As soon as one walked out another person would walk in but now there’s only derelict sites in the area which is a shame and disgraceful and I see councils doing nothing. They have trees growing out of them, hedges anf God knows what and for a tourist to walk up Thomas Street and see the way it is I don’t know how they even bother walking up but hopefully, we’ll come back were still fighting.

I: What were Thomas Street and Meath Street like when you first started?

R: well to tell you the truth when I started business first, I started on the north side, I started in Parnell Street, we had a premises over there. I wanted to come over to the south side because I did work in Thomas Street in previous years for different companies here as a tailor, and I always wanted to work in the Liberties and they were great people. And they were good at heart….they’re the nicest people you could get is in the south side, sorry about you’s northsiders, I know I’m a northsider but however….(laughs)

Fountain News DigitalThis article was originally published in:
Fountain News Digital – May 2011 (Issue 4)

We are re-publishing all articles from our past newsletter, Fountain News Digital, and you can view all completed newsletters here. There were nine issues published in total between 2010 and 2012.

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