29 December 2017
The local kiosk or periptero has been a thriving, lively part of economic life in cities and town throughout Greece for generations. In recent years, the kioks have gone into decline, and although I know many surviving kiosks throughout Crete and Athens, their future is in doubt and many people fear that they may became a lost feature of social and daily life in Greece.
There were some kiosks in the Dublin area until recently too. A handful of kiosks survive along the seafront in Bray, Co Wicklow. But I also remember a kiosk at a busy traffic junction in Ballsbridge and another at the corner of Adelaide Road and Leeson Street, as well as a small kiosk that operated in the summer months in Bushy Park in Terenure.
I did not realise, however, that in Limerick too kiosks were part of street life for many generations. While kiosks in Greece were originally licensed to support the families of war veterans and war widows, it is said in Limerick that the kiosks sprang up close to the location of shops where the proprietors and their families had been evicted in the 19th century.
The last surviving example of these kiosks seems to be one on the Boherbuoy side of the People’s Park.
The People’s Park in Pery Square, Limerick, opened in 1877 in memory of Richard Russell, a prominent business figure in Victorian Limerick. The Barrington Map of the People’s Park that year shows a public pump on the site of the later kiosk, on Boherbuoy, then known as Nelson Street.
The kiosk, therefore, postdates this map, and was built sometime after the 1877.
For many generations, this kiosk was run by the O’Sullivan family. The first proprietor was William O’Sullivan and it then passed to his daughter Norah.
The kiosk was a well-known landmark in Limerick, and part of its trading success owed to its prominent and eye-catching location close to the railway station and bus station. Like other kiosks in Limerick – indeed, likes its counterparts througohut Greece – from early morning until late at night, it sold newspapers, soft drinks, cigarettes, tobacco, matches, toys, children’s comics, chewing gum, books and ice creams, and a good place to find small change for a pay phone.
The kiosk remained in the hands of the O’Sullivan family for generations. Tommy O’Sullivan was a prominent member of the Limerick Coty Club in Barrington Street. It continued to be run by his sons and daughters, Fonsie, Maureen, Eileen and Robert (Bob).
Bob O’Sullivan was the last member of his family to run the kiosk. After it closed in the late 1980s or early 1990s, the kiosk then fell into disrepair and was vandalised. There was a fear that many of the tobacco signs and name signs were being claimed by trophy hunters, and over the years the original signs were removed.
However, the signs were repaired and the kiosk was painstakingly refurbished and restored in 2007 by Limerick Civic Trust. In co-operation with Bob O’Sullivan, FÁS and Limerick City Council, it was brought back nostalgically to its original appearance, complete with the original signs, including old enamel signs for Will’s Cigarettes.
Since then, the kiosk has been a unique venue for the arts. For example, in January 2015, as part of a project by artist Mary Conroy, it became a green building promoting Limerick as an environmentally friendly and ecologically rich city.
The kiosk was a starting point to engage with Limerick’s parks and green spaces, and housed native plants, local information, imagery and a specially designed map to introduce people to the wide range of ecological habitats and special areas of conservation in Limerick.
The Park Kiosk has also been offered to artists as a venue for multidisciplinary residencies, with a new experience each month as artists presented work made specifically for this building. Some artists saw it as a studio, others as a theatre, a community centre or a shop.
Last year, it hosted a puppet and installation theatre, and been a location for producing short films incorporating shadow puppetry, music and song and children’s theatre.
The kiosk at the People’s Park remains a nostalgic feature on Limerick’s streetscape. But it seems to be the only surviving example of a Limerick kiosk.
I still wonder, though, what the future holds for kiosks throughout Greece.
Today is the feast of Saint Thomas Beckett [29 December 2017].
Until the end of December 2017, I am continuing a practice I began at the beginning of Advent this year. I am spending a short time of prayer and reflection each morning, using the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar from Lichfield Cathedral.
USPG, founded in 1701, is an Anglican mission agency supporting churches around the world in their mission to bring fullness of life to the communities they serve.
Under the title Pray with the World Church, the current prayer diary (22 October 2017 to 10 February 2018), offers prayers and reflections from the Anglican Communion.
This week, the Prayer Diary visits the Holy Land, and this theme was introduced on Sunday by Salwa Khoury, who is based at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Nablus on the West Bank.
The USPG Prayer Diary:
Friday 29 December 2017:
Give thanks for the work of the USPG supported Saint Luke’s Anglican Hospital in Nablus in the West Bank (see article), as it reaches out to people of all faiths.
Lichfield Cathedral Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar:
The calendar suggests lighting a candle each day as you read the Bible and pray.
Today, the calendar suggests reading Luke 2: 22-35.
The reflection for today offers this challenge:
Give thanks for the new-born, for all we do to nurture them. Pray for new parents that they may provide love, care and wisdom.