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Archive for August, 2010

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 16 years, you will most definitely have heard about the annual Absolut Fringe Festival. In those 16 years, it has grown from humble begininnings to become Ireland most exciting multidisciplinary festival covering all walks of culture; music, art, literature and performance.

Spanning over two- and- a- bit weeks, and visiting over twenty venues, the festival is ambitious in it’s enormity, but then again, why shouldn’t it be going on the successes of the last couple of years.  While it would be close to impossible to list a full programme here ( you can check that out on the official website @ www.fringefest.com , or alternatively pick up the free guide from cafés and bookshops citywide,) below are some of the events I hope to attend, and suprise suprise, they’re Dublin-centric.

As You Are Now, So Once Were We

As You Are Now So Once Were We, The Company

Blurb from the fringefest site:

“Why haven’t you read Ulysses? Ulysses is Dublin. You live in Dublin. So do we. Four actors in a city we don’t really know pick up the most important and unread book in Irish history and follow James Joyce as he invents a whole city and its people. Returning to this year’s Festival with the Spirit of the Fringe 2009 award for ‘Who is Fergus Kilpatrick?’, The Company are back to delve into Joyce’s seminal work and ask – where are you in this story? Join us as we rediscover what it means to be Irish. By the way, we haven’t read Ulysses either… yet. The Company are part of Project Catalyst, an initiative of Project Arts Centre.”

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Having laboured my way through Ulysees in my UCD days, I’m interested to see what the good folks from The Company make of it. The questions of nationhood and identity always stood out in the book, and this show looks set to examine both.

The Project Arts  Centre Space Upstairs, Sat 11th – Wed 15th, 9pm, €14/12

World’s End Lane

World's End Lane, Anu Productions

Blurb from the fringefest site:

“For over 100 years, Monto was the most notorious red light district in Europe. Presided over by infamous Madams and fortune-tellers, lost strangers sought sex, guidance and the divine. You and I will be the strangers. Immerse yourself in a fragile and intimate encounter, exhuming an area of Dublin that no longer exists, as presented by the multi-award winning company that brought you last year’s festival favourite, ‘Basin’. Presented in association with The Lab. Supported by Rough Magic Hub.”

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Monto; An area sung about in a thousand songs and the backdrop for a hundred thousand stories of woe and debauchery, lonliness and violence, intrigue and legend. Some say that a branch of the current Monarchy flourishes in Dublin City due a night on the town by a British prince here in the late 19th Century. It is written into revolutionary lore as it’s many brothels and slums were used as safehouses in the period 1916- 22. In World’s End Lane, we get a unique look at this unique period in Dublin’s past.

The Lab,  Foley Street, Mon 13th- Sat 25th, (times can be found here ,) €15.

The Hidden Garden

The Hidden Garden, Garvan Gallagher Photography

Blurb from the fringefest site:

“‘It’s like going to mass’ is how one local resident describes her time in one of the most charming and unlikely secret retreats in the city. This uplifting film maps the transformation of an urban dumping ground in the North Inner City into a vibrant community growing space. Winter surrenders to spring as the characters and the space come to life while the goodwill and honest nature of the local residents spill out like the cups of tea poured in their hundreds. As informative as it is inspirational, don’t miss the chance to see this heart-warming film screened in The Hidden Garden. Arrive early if you’d like to potter around the garden!”

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Whilst over the last couple of years, developers have tried to rid us of any green spaces we have in the inner city, there has been a struggle within some local communities to take back some peace and tranquility. With inner- city community spirit diminishing as office and retail developments push people into the suburbs, projects like the Summer Row Community Garden are to be applauded.

Summer Row Community Garden, Summer St. North. Thurs 23rd – Sat 25th, 8.30pm, €8.

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All details, blurbs and pictures (apart from my own interjections of course) are taken from the excellently informative www.fringefest.com . For up to date information, tickets and more details, check it out.

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Without a doubt, C.S Andrews penned one of my favourite books.

Dublin Made Me covers two lives. One, the life and memories of a Dublin youth. The other, a life within the revolutionary movement, serving as adjutant to Liam Lynch during the traumatic Irish Civil War. On reading it, I was struck by Andrews account of the day he made his Confirmation, at the Holy Faith in Dominick Street.

Anyway, on the great day, my mind was more preoccupied with football than with religion because my father had promised to take me to a cup match that afternoon between Bohemians and Shelbourne at Dalymount Park and I was afraid that the ceremony would not finish on time.

At the time, as Andrews noted, Shelbourne and Bohemian F.C were the only senior soccer clubs in the city, and he notes that “the people on the south side followed Shelbourne” He went on to write that the supporters and indeed players of the game were “..exclusively of the lower middle and working classes.” Men would travel north to see one of the Dublin sides take on Linfield, Belfast Celtic, Glentoran, Distillery, Cliftonville or Derry Celtic. These were the first ‘Away Days’, the roots of what we still do today.

Football has a habit of popping up in any account of growing up in Dublin. A love of the beautiful game was not only to be found among native Dubliners, but within immigrant communities too. Nick Harris touched on the love of the game in the Jewish community of ‘Little Jerusalem’, as Clanbrassil Street became known. His account of growing up there, Dublin’s Little Jerusalem ,is a Dublin classic. The local lads, he noted, tended to follow Shamrock Rovers. In the book he recounts stories of away trips, noting his brothers would follow the Hoops all over Ireland.

Once in Sligo, when Rovers were playing Sligo they were leading one goal to nil and Sligo were awarded a penalty. As the Sligo man was about to take the kick, Hymie(his older brother) jumped over the fence and kicked the ball away from the spot.

The Jewish youth evem established a team among themselves, naming it New Vernon, a nod to a “Jewish club that played in Dublin some years earlier”. They played frequently in the Phoenix Park, and Harris noted that the team “… played some great matches with various non-Jewish teams, and we were often applauded by people who stopped to watch the game.” Recently when passing through what was once the Jewish area of Dublin, I spotted a child kicking a football against a wall and was reminded of this tale. Harris also remembered a raid on the house next door by Black and Tans in 1921. The family next door were the Clery’s, one of whom was a footballer for Bohs. “From the noise that was going on, it sounded as though they were playing football” he noted. They were, with a football they found in one of the rooms.

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Vincent, Come Back!

Excellent one this, doing the rounds on Facebook. They rarely make such mistakes out in Ballymount in fairness.

I’m really missing Vincent Browne. Nothing wrong with Sarah Carey, I’d always read her pieces in The Irish Times and she’s more than decent on d’telly, I would say to the point where I can see her landing a role somewhere else down the line. Yet Tonight With Vincent Browne is the late night fireworks that you stay up for, no matter what time your alarm is set for the next day. I miss seeing Vincent, the left-leaning rising voice of reason, lash into people. He’s come a long way from his days with Young Fine Gael anyway. Sam from this here blog uploaded a gem over on his UCD Hidden History site with a piece dealing with student politics in UCD in 1967. Look at young Vincent! Talk about rubbishing that great Father Ted line about all getting more right wing as we get older….

Vincent Browne will return to the programme on Monday September 6th. I look forward to it.

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How the other half lived.

The exhibition running at the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar at the minute is well worth a visit, an excellent look at ‘The Big House’ and its role in Irish society. It is a great insight into class and power in Ireland between 1858 and 1922. It includes many images of the workers of the vast estates involved too, and the photographs are taken from the four corners of Ireland. A symbol of vast wealth, ‘Big Houses’ remain a curiosity in this country today, with a number of them thankfully remaining as museums or exhibition spaces. In some cases, they’re golf courses. Make of that what you will.

Women taking part in an otter hunt at Curraghmore is perhaps the most bizarre image in the selection, but others are striking too. Carton House, a familiar sight to any NUI Maynooth student, also features.

The NPA is free to visit, and this exhibition runs through to December. A number of images, like the one below, can be viewed over on the RTE site here.

On the hunt.

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John Cooper Clarke

A stomach infection put me in the shade
must have been something in the lemonade
but by the balls of Franco i paid
had to pawn my bucket and spade
next year I’ll take the International Brigade
…to Majorca

I missed John Cooper Clarke when I was over in Edinburgh. The famous punk-poet, who opened gigs for everyone from Joy Division (see Control) to The Fall is thankfully coming to Whelan’s late in September, with a gig planned for Tuesday the 21st. Excellent.

Unfamiliar? Enjoy.

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The seizure of the Rotunda concert hall by a reasonably large group of unemployed workers, and the hoisting of the red flag over the premises, remains one of the most bizarre and understudied events of the Irish revolutionary period.

In his excellent history of the ITGWU, The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union: The Formative Years C. Desmond Greaves wrote that, early in 1922 “….industrial conflict took the form of individual struggles rather than a concerted class war.” The occupation of the Rotunda came two days after the foundation of the new state, and was perhaps the earliest example of class anger within it, a direct response to the existing high levels of unemployment. One of the leading figures of this occupation was Liam O’ Flaherty, today well-known as the author of The Informer, the classic novel, but then acting as a dedicated socialist.

He, like so many other unemployed men in Dublin, had served in the Great War, serving with the Irish Guards. He had been on a strange journey before returning to Dublin, and Emmet O’ Connor notes in Reds and the Greens that “After being invalided out of the British Army he set off trampling about the Mediterranean and the Americas, joining the Wobblies in Canada and the Communist Party in New York. He returned to settle in Ireland in December 1921….”

Liam O' Flaherty.

On January 18 1922, a group of unemployed Dublin workers seized the concert hall of the Rotunda. The Irish Times of the following day noted that “The unemployed in Dublin have seized the concert room at the Rotunda, and they declare that they will hold that part of the building until they are removed, as a protest against the apathy of the authorities.”

“A ‘garrison’, divided into ‘companies’, each with its ‘officers’ has been formed, and from one of the windows the red flag flies”

Liam O’ Flaherty, as chairman of the ‘Council of Unemployed’, spoke to the paper about the refusal of the men to leave the premises, stating that no physical resistance would be put up against the police and that the protest was a peaceful one, yet they intended to stay where they were.

“If we were taken to court, we would not recognise the court, because the Government that does not redress our grievances is not worth recognising” O’ Flaherty told the Times.

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This one, from the History Ireland Hedge School, looks interesting. Sam in particular has frequently uploaded slabs of classic Dublin vinyl to the site here, and the blog has been known to be a bit nostalgic for a period, although not being old enough to recall it ourselves! We’ll be on hand at this event to provide the noise, so come along. I can hear you now, “Really, is that them?”

The event is taking place as part of the Phizzfest in Phibsborough.

Date: Sunday, 12th September 2010
Time: 3pm
Title: ‘Dublin’s late ‘70s New Wave scene’
Description:A History Ireland Hedge School-Blasting back to the70’s.
Venue: Phibsborough Library,
North Circular Road,
Dublin 7.
Tickets: N/A, show up on the day.

Tommy Graham from History Ireland will host the event, joined by a varied group of individuals, including our favourite journo Fintan O’ Toole, Counciller Cieran Perry, Eamon Delaney, David Donnelly and Billy McGrath. Each of these people bring something unique to the discussion, ranging from organising concerts at the time, to an understanding of the diverse youth cultures and cliques that emerged from the scene at the time, sometimes quite literally clashing. Some of the bands that emerged at the time remain household names, the likes of U2 coming to mind instantly. Others have become cult classics. Bands like DC Nien, The Atrix and their kind still hold pride of place in many vinyl collections.

If this period interests you, check out previous posts here like this one on DC Nein or this gem from our first week in existence, looking at some of the main first-wave Dublin punk singles. When you’re feeling nostalgic (Maybe you were there?), write the date down and come along on the day and share a story. If you’re younger like ourselves come along and hear a story or two. Regardless, come along.

The History Ireland Hedge School will be hosting some historical discussions at this years Electric Picnic too, a slighty more muddy setting than Phibsborough.

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