One of the longest continuously-trading businesses in Mullingar - Egan’s fishmongers on Dominick Street - may only have to wait until March to have their position regularised, it has been revealed this week.
The family business, which has been selling fresh fish to the people of Mullingar since shortly after the foundation of the State, had its right to trade once a week questioned by another business in a loophole that came to light in the process of updating the town’s casual trading bylaws.
In April 2010 Athlone Town Council re-drew its casual trading bylaws, and later Mullingar attempted to do the same, but focussed particularly on the Fair Green.
This draft was eventually brought to the full council for adoption, amendment, or rejection in November 2012 when the anomaly of Egan’s Thursday van came to light, and a number of councillors moved to protect this resource.
“As promised, I made a submission to protect the fishmonger on Dominick Street,” said Cllr Mick Dollard.
The present fishmonger is the redoubtable septugenarian Connie Egan, who was preceded on the stall by her mother Bridget, aunt Alice, and grandmother Connie Snr.
“She started coming down in the late 20s,” said Connie’s son, Tom.
“The connection was Joe Healy’s mother. She was a great customer of the shop in Dublin, and the [great] grandmother went down as a special request for Mrs Healy. It took off from there. That’s why they’re always parked outside Healy’s shop [now Albany decor],” he explained.
“Back in them days there was a big market all along Dominick Street. There’s still some old pictures. My Mam still has a lot of good friends in Mullingar,” he added.
This week, a spokesperson at the county council clarified that these updated draft bylaws -which would include a codicil to allow a solitary trading slot on Dominick Street - were now most likely to go before the full council in March for adoption.
He was at pains to point out that this was not an absolute, and that this draft may be yet amended or rejected, but this is not anticipated judging by the support shown to Mrs Egan by the councillors at the Mullingar Area committee meeting on January 21.
At that meeting director of services David Hogan explained how the council had no intention of creating multiple bays on Dominick Street, “ but if we didn’t designate Dominick Street, then Egan’s would be trading illegally,” he explained.
“We cannot state in the bylaws that a bay is restricted to one person, but we could propose to limit the number of days that the bay operates and designate it for Thursday trading only,” said Mr Hogan.
It is believed most of the casual trading bylaws will be based on the April 2010 draft adopted by Athlone.
Chief among these is a time limit of 9am to 6.30pm on any such trading at the four sites allowed for such activities within the boundaries of Athlone.
A stallholder cannot take up a space greater than 4m by 4m or broadcast any amplified speech or music or demonstrate any power tools. Trading licences will be strictly non-transferable.
Trading will be limited to each Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with Monday and Wednesday only included on the last week before Christmas.
All goods displayed must be legally saleable and the supervision of the sites and licences will be under the remit of the town’s traffic wardens.
The maximum penalty for breach of conditions under the 1995 Casual Trading Act is €2,500 (previously £2,000).
Licence prices vary depending on how many days a week one wishes to trade and an annual licence to trade four days a week will cost €1,000; €500 for two days a week; and €350 for a yearly licence to trade one day a week. Licences can also be purchased on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis to suit.