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Archive for June, 2010

It’s a good question for a pub quiz- How many bridges span the Liffey from Heuston Station to where Dublin meets the sea? No doubt you’ll get a plethora of answers, but you’ll rarely get the right one. You can guarantee people will forget that two bridges traverse the water at Heuston, they’ll forget about the little Rory O’Moore Bridge that has more history than most of them, or the DART Loopline at Butt Bridge. They might even forget the ugly abomination that is the East Link, the last connection between Northside and Southside before Dublin Bay separates the two…

Perhaps Dublin's best known bridge, The Ha'Penny Bridge.

The correct answer, if you want to know, is seventeen, starting at Sean Heuston Bridge and working all the way along the river to the Eastlink Bridge at Dublin Port. I’m not going to cover them all in this piece; I won’t be covering the bridges we all know, like O’Connell Bridge or the Ha’penny Bridge for that matter. What I will do is take a look at some of the ones to the west of O’Connell Bridge; ones I find interesting mainly due to who they’re named after or because of their historical importance.

-Sean Heuston Bridge (ex-King’s Bridge, Sarsfield Bridge) 1829

The first incarnation of the bridge was built in 1828/ 9 and named Kings Bridge to commemorate a visit by George IV to Dublin in 1821.  After the declaration of the Free State  in 1922, it was renamed Sarsfield Bridge, in memory of Patrick Sarsfield, leader of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1641. (I’ll talk about the 1641 Rebellion later.) In 1941 the bridge was again re-named, this time after Sean Heuston, a member of Na Fianna h-Éireann who played a prominent role in the Easter Rising of 1916.

At 19 years of age, Seán Heuston was Captain of a twenty three strong company of men, mostly Fianna h-Éireann members around his own age, who were directed by James Connolly to take “The  Mendicity (Institute on Ushers Island) at all costs”. Their goal was to prevent British re-inforcements coming into the city from The Curragh Camp and the West. They held out until Wednesday afternoon, until they were scattered by the 10th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. One of the more striking stories of the Rebellion (or one of countless stories to tell of that week) is that of the Liutenant of the 10th Battalion, Lieutenant Gerald Aloysius Neilan who was shot and killed by a sniper from the Mendicity, while his brother Anthony Neilan took part in the Rising on the Rebel side. He was one of two Liutenants killed in Dublin that day, with another nine members of the 10th Batt. killed at the Mendicity,  as per a report to Prime Minister Asquith by General Sir John Maxwell.  Seán Houston was captured with 22 other men and executed by firing squad on May 8, 1916 in Kilmainham Jail on the charge that he “… did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of wars against His Majesty the king such act of being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the defence of the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy.”

 Kingsbridge Station was later renamed Heuston Station in his honour.

Nothing like this anymore of course, theres more silt than water under it, and the LUAS runs across it!

The Bridge itself was reconstructed in 2003 and now carries the LUAS from Tallaght to the Point.

- Rory O’Moore Bridge, (ex- Victoria & Albert Bridge, Queen Victoria Bridge) Watling Street to Ellis Street, 1859 (Previous structures: 1670, 1704)

“Oh lives there the traitor who’d shrink from the strife, who would add to the length of his forfeited life. And his country, his kindred, his faith would abjure; No we’ll strike for old Ireland and Rory O’Moore.” (more…)

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Two very different Kennedy's, one premises.

It’s like a song by the Beach Boys out here today, we’re melting.

It’s all Topshop girls and Choc Ice’s up in Merrion Square, and it’s very hard work altogether. We’re into the inevitable waiting game now, when two people want to hit the pub but both know it might be slightly too early in the day to do so. I give in.

“Shall we go for a….
Brilliant idea

Great, that was easy. From here, we either move towards Foley’s, Doheny and Nesbitt or Kennedy’s. I call Kennedy’s, purely on the grounds of long time no see.

The bar is lovely and quite old fashioned. The first thing that grabs your eye on entering is a picture of Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde himself, who was born only around the corner. There are a few people around the bar grabbing an early lunch, and we order two pints, over the sound of the vuvuzela. I will always remember this summer as the summer of that irritating object. The telly isn’t too loud, but the vuvuzela is. Come to think of it, did ANYONE know what a vuvuzela was last month?

We grab two seats, and only then notice the ‘Pull your own pint’ set-up at the table. I hate, hate, hate the introduction of these things to Dublin pubs, but even some of the best have succumbed to them. In fairness, I can’t spot any more of them about. The pints from the bar are excellent, and we both comment on the quality of the pint. I don’t know why anyone would go for the vending machine option, but you never know with people I suppose. A map of Dublin from the 1700’s stands out on the walls, which are free of tacky rubbish.

So, all this has the feel of a lovely and quiet-enough-except-when-the-World-Cup-happens-in-Africa city centre pub, no? The place is well known as a Trinity College haunt, and it really does feel a bit like a ‘Sunday with a book’ haunt, and that is no bad thing. There’s more to the place but, much more downstairs.

‘The Underground’, is miles removed from the quiet boozer upstairs. It’s home to a music venue that hosts everything electronic and does things a little bit noisy.The door-tax is normally a fiver, but you can always pop back upstairs. Things move slower there, and the noise is (normally) that of chat alone.

We live a nice barman, two empty pint glasses and that sound behind us, and continue on. To the next pub.

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I’ve always liked this old school advertisement for Elvery Sports, in the laneway opposite The Oval pub. Elvery’s is Ireland’s oldest sports shop, founded in 1847. It’s long been a staple of Dublin and indeed Irish life, with strong links to domestic sports. The Elvery’s at the bottom of O’ Connell Street was one I always had a soft spot for, owing to the reappearing Saint Patrick’s Athletic F.C jersey in the window. Behind enemy lines, looking pretty on the northside.

There is a great story told in the wonderful Forth The Banners Go book, taking in the reminiscences of William O’ Brien, where he retells a tale about James Connolly being arrested outside this Elvery’s for a series of public speeches he had given in Dublin, breaking a proclamation forbidding any meetings being held.

That Elvery’s is gone now, making the above a ‘ghost sign’.

It’s been replaced with this:

A newsagents named after ‘The Liberator’, and former Lord Mayor of Dublin Daniel O’Connell. Directly opposite his statue, it’s sure to do a roaring trade in postcards, miniature busts of the man himself and student bus tickets.

It’s not the first newsagents on the street to tip its hat in the direction of history however. Further down the street, and on the same side, you come to this:

Sackville Street was, of course, the name of O’ Connell Street before the establishment of the Irish Free State.The name ‘Sackville Street’ was in honour of one time Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Lionel Cranfield Sackville, Duke of Dorset.

The ruins of Sackville Street, 1916.

Interesting nods to the past, from the most unlikely of sources.

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The decor is a bit plain and there’s only one TV in the pub (important during World Cup season) but at €2.50 for a pint of fosters (all day, every day) I was not one to complain. Especially as I’ve acquired a certain taste for Fosters after two years studying and working in Belfield.

It is I believe the cheapest pint in Dublin County. (Guiness stands at a very reasonable €3.80)

This is a picture of a pint of Fosters.

Situated behind the Kilmacud Luas Stop and accessible via Sandyford Industrial Estate, St. Olaf’s is your standard, essential GAA club which plays a vital part in the local community. (My circle of friends who play GAA are nearly equally divided up between Kilmacud Crokes, St. Olaf’s (Sandyford) and St. John’s Ballinter. I’m not one to pick sides.)

As the four of us walked in Thursday night, we had the whole bar to ourselves and settled down in our seats just as the Denmark – Japan game kicked off on the (one and only) television. Perfect timing. My old school mate DMurray got the first round. Four pints for a tenner. What a feeling. (He also bought a packet of King crisps, bacon fries and peanuts, opened them up and mixed them altogether. A dangerous and very salty mix)

The bar steadily filled up with a gangs of parents and kids arriving after a school play which was being held in the hall downstairs. Beer mats went flying, coke bottles knocked off tables and crisps crushed into the carpet as a crowd of toddlers ran riot through the pub.

Entrance to St. Olaf's GAA Club.

Another round later and with the final whistle blown in the game, we decided to have our own half time and went off to get some food (and some peace and quiet) The recently opened Pizza Hut in the ‘Beacon South Quarter’ five minutes away seemed happy to have our custom. (€10 for a 9″ pizza with two toppings, a side (garlic bread, chips or wedges), garlic & herb dip and a can). Tasty, cheap but hard to go back on the larger afterwards.

We arrived back into a much darker, much nicer child-free pub. A group of men in the corner played dominoes while three club members at another table were sorting out the monthly community lotto. DMurray spotted his dad having a quiet ones with some of his own friends at the bar. I see the barman, as he collects glasses from the floor, stop what he’s doing and have a conversation with an elderly female customer (Well how-are-ya getting on Mrs. Smith?). Its that kind of pub.

I may even try my luck at their next (monthly) Texas Hold ‘Em competition.

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This is a nice find, from the Irish Municipal Employees’ Trade Union, 1942.

The back of the leaflet was clearly used in 1942 by someone dealing with union finances, as it is littered with figures and sums.

Union members are encouraged to attend a commemoration in memory of Connolly on May Day, and also to show up a demonstration on the 3rd of May, “…to participate along with other Trade Unions in procession, which will leave STEPHEN’S GREEN at 12.15 pm”

Of all places, it showed up recently in the books of the Dublin Fire Brigade Union, loaned to the DFB Museum. The things that show up in books eh?

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Bit busier than this these days.

A bit unlike any other pub I’ve visited over the course of this experiment, in that you’re normally out the door when you’re spotted with cans (not that Come Here To Me engage in that sort of carry-out carry on.) Here, they’re on sale, and students are lashing into the Bavaria like it’s going out of style. In this heat, I’m going for the Bulmers, so I’ll order a pint.

Steep enough. Our maybe it’s not, my own Student Union pub in Maynooth don’t sell cans, so the booze flows cheaply. I suppose they’re balancing the books here. Lesson learned, and I’ll transfer over to the cans with the masses of pretend TCD students from here on in.

The staff are friendly and have their wits about them, amazing owing to the mix of intense heat (by eh, ‘Irish standards’) and a line of students longer than any library will ever see.

Ernie O’ Malley wrote about Trinners in his excellent, highly entertaining ‘On Another Man’s Wound’

Trinity had been founded by Queen Elizabeth, and had been built and maintained mainly on confiscated Irish lands. Its tone had always been anti-Irish, arrogantly pro-British, and it had always linked itself to Dublin Castle. The students all wore their college ties, black and red, carried themselves with a swagger and seemed very pleased with life in general.

Harsh.

By pure chance, I end up in the company of a few friends on the green outside, and we sit in the sun, drinking away from the cricket pitch (Them’s the rules…) and discussing that very book.

There’s little you wouldn’t discuss out here, with the sun beating down on you and the booze cheap, it’s a perfect summer evening. Inside, ‘The Pav’ seems to have changed since my last visit, and it’s looking very well. The Sports Bar of the campus, the benches by the doors to the bar go quickly on a nice day. ‘The football’ was on the telly inside, fair enough with the whole Sports Bar thing really. The profits of the pub go back into the sports facilities apparently, meaning you really should buy your cans from the bar and not do a cheeky one. In fairness, it’s one of the only spots in Dublin you’ll get away with drinking cans.

Sit out in the sun , grab a can and watch The Topshop’s go by.

What would Ernie think of us?

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The Champions League; The most-watched sporting event worldwide, with an estimated 100 million viewers every year. To most football fans in Ireland, it means following the progress of an English or a Scottish team; generally one of those same six teams who appear every year with little variation. It means pubs in Dublin City Centre packed with replica jerseys and loud mouthed punters wearing them. It means people with no material allegiance crying meaningless tears for a team they’ve never seen live, and yet who they still refer to with a mythically inclusive “we.” (In my book, “supporting” doesn’t involve buying a jersey in Lifestyle sports and then sitting on your arse watching games on telly.) It means opposition like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, a long run in the competition and a feeling of unwarranted superiority for followers of the winners.

Sure wouldn't it look great in Dalymount Park

For the majority, it doesn’t set the heart racing at the thought of a trip to the town of Oswestery, in Shropshire, to take on a team once monnikered “Total Network Solutions” in the second round of the competition. Well, for those who follow glory with a British team it doesn’t. For me, as a fan of Bohemian FC, it means absolute unbridled joy, hope and living with the feeling that my chest is going to explode until the games, both home and away are over. For Bohs are set to take on Welsh Champions “The New Saints FC” on the 13th and 20th July, and I intend to be at both games. The New Saints, or TNS for short don’t exactly match up to the glamour of the Champions League. They’ve only been in existence for fifty odd years and play in a ground that seats 1,000. Their claim to fame is losing 6-0 on aggregate to Liverpool  in the same round of the competition five years ago, when Irish keeper Gerard Doherty played a blinder and Rafa Benitez claimed he was the best player on the pitch. But, this is still the Champions League, its Europe, and a level that most English Championship clubs, and never mind that, most Premiership clubs will ever again experience with the European monopoly held by a small elite. So for that I respect TNS.

Not exactly the Bernabeu, this is Park Hall, TNS' home

But whilst British teams get back page spreads in Irish papers, the role of League of Ireland teams in the competition is often relegated to bit parts and side columns. And yet there have been famous victories in Europe; Bohemians alone have beaten Rangers, Aberdeen, Kaiserslautern amongst others in various competitions. Games that will be talked about for years, some, like the Rangers game, for ever. But inevitably, with the victory and joy, such as that expressed after moments like Glen Crowes goal below comes defeat and pain. Saddness. Utter dejection and humiliation. It’s all very well for those who say from the outside “Ah well, sure they gave a good account of themselves.” These words do nothing to alleviate the grief.

Last year, Bohemians were seven minutes from knocking out Salzburg, a team bankrolled by Red Bull, who play in an ultra-modern 31,000 all seater stadium and who have International players earning in a week what the average Bohs player takes home in a year. And what follows is the true meaning of joy followed by dejection. Bohs went to Salzburg, and thanks to this save from Brian Murphy, and a cracking goal from Joe Ndo went home with heads held high and an away draw. And while I didn’t make that game, the scenes of adulation in the members bar in Dalymount Park will stay with me for the rest of my life. I’ll be honest and say, yes, I cried.  The following week, Bohemians held on for 85 or so minutes, in which they had a couple of chances to put the game beyond Red Bull but (though some in the media said inevitably, I’d think otherwise) slipped up and a silly back pass meant Red Bull took away a 1-o lead and a passage to the next round. My feelings leaving the ground that night are hard to explain. I hadn’t felt that bad for years and haven’t felt that bad since. Truly heartbroken, in depths of despair, feeling pain, anguish, sorrow.

"That" goal by Salzburg. The author of this piece is just out of shot. Thankfully.

But, as they say, thats football, and hopefully this time around, results and luck might go our way. For winning this tie means at least another four games in Europe- Two in the Champions League third round, and if we fail in that attempt, a crack at the Europa cup in the final qualifiying round where we could be pitted against English or Scottish opposition. Where then will the allegiances of average Irish football fan lie? I’d like to think that a run in Europeans elite competition might do the league wonders but to be honest I’m sceptical. What I would like is for Dalymount to be packed to the rafters on Tuesday, 13th July, and should we pass through to the next round, have the same again. We’ll see.

For ticket details, keep tuned to http://www.bohemians.ie

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