WATCH: Cobbler Martin Duggan loves repairing shoes and chatting to customers in his Shandon shop

Mr Duggan believes that people should keep their good old shoes and not buy many pairs of new shoes as it affects the climate in the long term.
WATCH: Cobbler Martin Duggan loves repairing shoes and chatting to customers in his Shandon shop

Martin Duggan in his shop on Shandon Street. Picture: Mostafa Darwish

“I love repairing a shoe. I love to see someone come in with a pair of shoes. And some people don’t think you can repair them. And I love to see the surprise expression on their face when you give them their shoes back.”

Martin Duggan is a second-generation cobbler and owns the oldest cobbling shop on Shandon Street.

His dad started the business in 1961, and Martin joined him a half-century ago when he was 14.

Mr Duggan’s business suffered during the pandemic as he closed his shop for nine weeks, then he reopened as he was classed as an essential worker.

“It was surprising as no one ever told me before that I had to close my business. I was closed for nine weeks, after that we were allowed to open because I do orthopaedic work in shoes and keys.”

Mr Duggan believes that people should keep their good old shoes and not buy many pairs of new shoes as it affects the climate in the long term.

“It’s time to think about things like that, and we see from the environment, the effect that climate change is having on us. And I think everybody’s having a rethink about that and ‘what can I reuse’. ‘What can I re-save?’ ‘How can I help?’ So certainly, I think it has played a part in people not buying new shoes all the time or not disposing of things immediately.”

Martin Duggan outside his shop on Shandon Street. Picture: Mostafa Darwish
Martin Duggan outside his shop on Shandon Street. Picture: Mostafa Darwish

The pandemic made Mr Duggan think about finding new things to grow his business and not rely only on the ordinary customers who visit the shop. So he has created an account on Google store and other outlets. He also uses a postal service, which he says has increased recently.

“I think so many people are using the internet to order passes ordering stuff and are checking to see where they can find a cobbler.”

Although most cobblers on Shandon Street have closed, Mr Duggan does not believe the craft will ever be extinct. Instead, he says that it will develop and cobblers are developing too.

“It might be done differently. It could be done maybe from a workshop somewhere. And we might have drones bringing the shoes to the dog shop, but cobblers now have reinvented themselves quite a lot.”

Mr Duggan loves the Shandon area, and he can chat to people while working on their shoes.

“I can work here on the bench, and people can stand across from me, and I can chat. We can solve the world’s problems and chat about anything, you know, to gossip or scandal or anything, and we can have a chat, and there’s a great dry sense of humour.”

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