My Weekend: Providing cherished memories for generations of Corkonians

Mark and Sylvia Piper run the Merries in Crosshaven, which has been opened since 1837. Here Sylvia talks about their love for their work
My Weekend: Providing cherished memories for generations of Corkonians
Mark and Sylvia Piper from Pipers amusements in Crosshaven, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Myself and my husband Mark met in the Merries decades ago when we were just teenagers! Mark has always been hugely passionate about his family business, the Merries has been open since 1837 and has provided generations with cherished memories.

In 2001 the opportunity arose for Mark and myself to purchase the site in Crosshaven, a permanent spot for the funfair, in hopes of providing memories for many years to come.

18 years later we are now living on Camden Road with our three daughters and two dogs! All three girls have taken a huge interest in the business, with our eldest Hollie currently completing a masters in Marketing in UCC which we hope will we be a huge asset to the company!

Phoebe and Darcy stock and staff our ice cream shop, and input hugely to the day-to-day running of the business. It gives us huge pride to see them getting so involved! The last two years have been particularly difficult, the bad weather led to the loss of our bumpers cars. Luckily we were able to replace them but with insurance costs now doubling, we fear that this year could be a bit of a struggle. However, we truly believe that we have the most supportive customers, having generations passed through. We see the same families coming to us year in and year out and that is one of the great pleasures of this job. We are hopeful and look forward to many more years at Pipers!

Mark and Sylvia Piper from Pipers, in Crosshaven, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Mark and Sylvia Piper from Pipers, in Crosshaven, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Because we work in the Merries on a Saturday and Sunday, Friday would usually be the start of our working week! Saturdays are full of birthday parties during these months. There is no better way for us to spend it than with our feet up at home fuelling up for the weekend ahead with Ryan Tubridy and the Late Late!

Lie-ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

It’s definitely up with the lark for the both of us! I think having had three kids needing school runs for so many years, our body clocks are permanently set to waking up at the dawn. I prefer it that way! I like being up and able to get everything done in the morning, it’s when I feel most productive!

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

The weekend of course is our busiest time in the Merries. We open on Sundays at 2.30pm starting in March, and open every day when the kids in primary school finish for the summer, until October! We have always been asked if we mind not having the weekends to relax, and the answer is no not at all! We find that the weekends are when people are at their happiest, everyone is in great humour so we love seeing our customers enjoying their visit to the Funfair and wouldn’t have it any other way.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

A few years ago myself and Mark took a trip to Venice for a weekend and it was absolutely amazing. We had always wanted to visit because the photos of the colourful streets, Italian foods and gondolas looked magical. The trip was more amazing than we could have imagined and we are dying to go back given any chance!

Closer to home, is there a place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

When we have the chance to recharge our batteries we love taking road trips around Ireland, particularly to Kerry, to indulge in the scenery and just spend time together relaxing! Most recently we took a trip down to the Beara Peninsula to have a go on the cable car to Dursey Island. It was terrifying being able to look down through the cracks in the wood on the floor and see the rough sea below, but it definitely gave us a rush of adrenaline to say the least! We also like taking family trips down to Kinsale for the day and treating our girls to lunch after a nice walk.

Mark and Sylvia Piper from Pipers amusements in Crosshaven, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Mark and Sylvia Piper from Pipers amusements in Crosshaven, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Family and friends are hugely important to us and there is nothing we like more than spending time with them. The perks of working in a family business is that you get to work with the people closest to you on a daily basis so it’s great having our daughters, nieces and nephews working with us every weekend and throughout the summer. Catching up with friends is something that has to be left to the weekdays or a Friday night due to our busy schedule!

Do you get to indulge in any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

The two of us love going to the cinema whenever we can. Usually there is some sort of debate of whether it’s going to be an action film or a chick flick!

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

I have to say I do like a bit of both! I love having a full house of my daughters friends and over feeding them with homemade brownies and a pot of tea but there’s nothing better than switching off and being treated!

We have so many places to eat out in Cork- where are your go to spots for coffee/lunch/special meal?

We are absolutely spoilt for choice with good food in Cork, and some of our favourite spots would be the Bosun, Poachers, Café Paradiso and our very own Bunnyconnellans right here in Myrtleville. I recently celebrated my birthday in Bunny’s and have to say that the food and service was fantastic as always, I cannot recommend taking a trip down there enough. The veg parcel is a personal favourite!

Saturday night comes around too fast... how do you normally spend it?

Saturday nights definitely come around too fast! We wouldn’t get in from working in the Merries until fairly late so it’s usually a takeaway and nice glass of wine.

What time does your alarm clock go off on a Monday morning?

On a Monday morning our alarm clock goes off at 7.30am. It’s the start of another school week in our house. Our youngest daughter is in her teens now and in Transition Year so Mark is usually up making pancakes to lure her out of bed!

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