Keeping Dundrum on the right foot for 100 years

by Emma Nolan

CAMPBELL’S Corner Shoe Repair shop is a Dundrum institution and one of the last traditional shop fronts on Main Street.
Run by Paul Campbell, this family business has been operating in Dundrum since 1900, long before it became the commercial hub it is today.
At the time, the suburb was a country village that was accessed from the city centre by steam train or a country bus.
The Gazette spoke to Paul about his business, which has seen four generations of his family master the craft of shoe-making.
Of his shop, he says: “We’re here a long, long time.” In the window of the shop there’s a photograph of Paul’s grandfather and father, which he thinks was taken in around 1908 or 1910.
“At that time, there were five or six people working here – a couple of apprentices, my father and my grandfather.”
Paul says that the shop first opened in Parliament Street in the city centre before moving to Dundrum. His grandfather was a master craftsman of shoemaking.
“He had done the City And Guilds [qualification] in London as a shoemaker, with the result that he got himself a job as the master shoemaker in the Dundrum Central Mental Hospital.
“At that time you couldn’t work a job like that and run a business, so his brother took over until he retired and my father took over.”
Paul’s father ran Campbell’s Corner until he died, when Paul was just 11. Paul’s mother then took over until she passed away four years later.
Paul himself tells of how he used to have a “collection round” when he came home from school where he would go and collect shoes to be repaired and deliver them to the shop.
“That was my chore,” he says. “Then, when the repairs were done, I’d deliver them back to their owners on a Saturday.”
To master the trade he attended Kevin Street Technical College for shoemaking. “Before they’d let you touch a shoe back then, you had to know how to actually make a shoe from scratch.”
Speaking on how Main Street has changed over the years, Paul said: “Dundrum was a very isolated little village then, in the 40s and 50s.
“If you said to someone you were going to Dundrum back then, they’d say ‘Where’s that?’ It was down the country!” he laughs.
“Compared to the metropolis it is today, it was only a one-horse town, then.”
Today, Paul works in the shop on Main Street four days a week and his son, who is also called Paul, has since opened his own shoe repair business in Enniscorthy.
“I learned the trade from the bottom-up like my father and grandfather, that’s how I’m after surviving for so long,” he says.

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