From Mission Hall To Fair Play Cafe

The former Mission Hall is located on York Road, Ringsend, facing the river Liffey. Its
beauitful facade has been kept as it was over 100 years ago, when two sisters of the famous
Bewley cafe family decided to build it as a YMCA.
The sisters were both very interested in helping people get a foot on the ladder and built a
number of halls as far as Crumlin and other areas. They enlisted the help of William Fry
Solicitors to become trustees and gave them a brief, namely that the hall was to be used in
perpetuity for the good of the Ringsend people.
Over the years the hall was used for religious services, etc. Then in the 1990s Joe Donnelly
was approached by the ageing trustees, now all in their eighites, to take over the hall and
restore it to a mission hall. Joe said no to this. Instead, he wanted to make it a more
workable business with a charity focus. The trustees gave it some thought and had to agree
that this was a more beneifcial way to go.
Joe himself called it ‘Mission Impossible’, but when he let people know what his vision was
he was bowled over by the numbers who gave their itme and skills to get it up and running.
It was a success, and the Fair Play Cafe – also known as the Anchorage – has been feeding
the village and all the oiffce workers around the area for a number of years now.
I use the cafe regularly, and the food is excellent, with an array of sandwiches, soups and
wraps, as well as hot meals prepared and cooked on the premises.
Joe and his wife, Sharon, help many chariites with the proceeds of the cafe, taking the
Bewley sisters’ wishes to another level. I’m sure they would be very content to know that
their mission is sitll going strong over a hundred years later.
In the same building there is also a kiddies’ creche used by the locals, and a fabulous garden
centre where Joe sells plants in the summer. His own begonias ifll the seciton outside the
cafe, which he has transformed into an outside eaitng area where you can sit in glorious
sunshine and enjoy what’s on the menu of the day.
CAPTION FOR PHOTO: If you look across the river from the north side of the East Link Bridge
you can see the pretty blue door that is the front of the mission hall building.