Archive for September, 2010

Your humanity and your faithful loyalty
Your compassion and your plea for change
Gives me faith in humankind
All the good ones you can find
And all the monsters and the blind……

Damien Dempsey- How Strange.

We’ve been following this one for yonks.

Our first post on the maser/Damien Dempsey collaboration was back in March (March! Jesus this blog is ancient now) which was long before people were ringing into radio stations wondering what all the graffiti meant. Each bit was a surprise in itself, as you’d stumble across them in the most unusual spots. The laneway behind Brogans pub being an example. It has done wonders for the city at the minute. I loved each and every bit of it, and if I was lucky enough to be giving a tour or guiding people around I would frequently stop at one of the pieces.

For the most part, it seemed Dubliners agreed with me. With the exception of the gobshite below, who we posted up back in May, we all seemed happy enough to stroll past and look. A gentle reminder to ‘do something to be proud of’ , to ‘dare to be different’ or to ‘love yourself today’ , as the less common stickers proclaimed.

The highlights were no doubt the bits most of us will never see, the messages inside the walls of prisons.

If one thinks the laneways of town are ‘boring’, imagine what the colour of these pieces did to such surroundings.

It’s come a long way. Now, it’s time to make a few quid for charity. All proceeds from the sale of the works will go to the Dublin Simon Community. Coming into the winter, in a year like this one, charities will find themselves stuck for money. Sadly, in time gobshites like the above mentioned one will take to more of these great pieces around the city, and they’ll be lost. A reminder of one is something I intend to pick up for the house, being lucky enough to have one to hang it up in.

Best of luck to the lads.

They are us exhibition launches
Friday, October 15, 2010 at 6:00pm
Block T, 1 – 6 Haymarket, Smithfield Sq (above Chinese market)


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You’d have to laugh.

While Dublin comes to terms with truckgate today, I got a laugh out of this excellent image doing the rounds from the ICTU protest yesterday at the Dail. Nice one lads, nice one.

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These are everywhere in town. I had to explain to two American tourists at the traffic lights by Poolbeg Street that not alone was the tap water fine, but I’d filled up the bottle I was carrying at home that morning.

This one comes from the bathroom of one of my local pubs. Sticking to the Ballygowan now?

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Enemy at the gates.

This is excellent, TDs discuss truckgate at the Dail this morning.

If you’re not from this parish and confused about the subject at hand, I suggest you read this typically over the top Evening Herald report. Only in the Evenin’ Hedild can a truck parked outside the Dail become a doomsday device rammed through the front gates.

Interesting microphone too. No prizes.

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“The National Graves Association and the Save 16 Moore Street Committee cordially invite you to an information meeting on Thursday 14th October 8pm at Wynns Hotel, Middle Abbey Street, Dublin. It is essential that as many people as possible attend this event. TDs, special guests and relatives of the 1916 leaders will be present.”

August 2005: The roof of 16 Moore Street.

Anyone who attended the recent free Heritage Week walking tours around the Moore Street area detailing the fighting there during the 1916 Rising would have come to the conclusion that it is not alone ‘the building’ of 16 Moore Street that is historically important, but the area itself. The buildings the Volunteer and Citizen Army men and women broke their way through, the laneway where they came under intense fire from the Rotunda hospital and the alleyways where some died are as historically important as the building with the plaque.

Growing up in Dublin, I was always fascinated by Moore Street. Even without the historical connection to 1916, the street is worth saving purely for its character today. It is a melting pot of the old and the new, and among the last markets of its kind. I love passing through it.

Under threat from a major planned development, the campaign to save the Moore Street sites continues. Did we learn nothing at Wood Quay? Nothing so clearly shows how a tokenistic historical feature can be dwarfed by an unsuited development. Come along.

“The plan of the property developers, Chartered Land, encompasses around 5.5 acres bordered by Upper O’Connell Street (including the Carlton building, a cinema in previous years), Henry Street and Parnell Street, right back to Moore Street. The objections centre around Moore Street itself and the perceived effect of the development on no.s 14-17, officially designated a National Monument, but also on the effect on Moore Lane. While the objectors agree with the need for development they hope to see one which will preserve the character of the terrace. Some objectors have also stressed their wish to keep the street market character of Moore Street in any development.”
-From a 2009 Indymedia report, located here.

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In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

Woody Guthrie, one of the greatest folk singers of all time, died a horrible death at the hands of Huntingtons Disease. At the age of 55, he passed on, and it would take others like Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott to see to it the next generation would hear his words. His life, short as it was, was an exciting one. His influence is acknowledged by a wide variety of artists today, with Billy Bragg and Wilco putting some of his unsung lyrics to music, while Damien Dempsey mentions his “rebel heart” in his excellent ‘Teachers’, a song which lists his childhood musical influences.

Love Music Hate Racism and Sunday Roast have come together to stage a tribute night to Woody, as a fundraiser for the Huntingtons Disease Association of Ireland. It kicks off with a documentary screening (‘This Machine Kills Fascists’) at 6pm, which is a freebie. At 9pm, there will be a gig kicking off with a wide variety of acts. The doortax is a mere five euro, and it all takes place this Sunday at The Mercantile .

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The market workers of Dublin and others like them knew a very different city from the average worker in the capital today. Before the first bus even rolls through the suburbs now, these workers were often at the end of their workday. Early house pubs opened their doors from about 7am, and it wasn’t unusual to spot a mix of tired workers and those returning from more enjoyable nights in the capital seizing the opportunity presented for a pint.

Alas, the fruit markets are no more in all truth. The docks are quieter now too. Yet Dublin retains a few early house pubs dotted around the city, and this suggests business remained strong long after the shutters came down on some markets for the last time. Amazingly, I’ve never been to one. A 2008 Irish Times report suggested 15 such pubs remain in the capital. Since 1962, no new pubs have been added to the list. They’re a dying breed.

The Chancery.

The Chancery is located right by the Four Courts. By sheer coincidence, we’re coming to it from the direction of Smithfield, an area much changed since the time the markets flourished there. Beautiful apartment complexes, an art-house cinema and the sort dot Smithfield today. The Cobblestone remains, the horses long gone.

Arriving at the door of The Chancery at the early hour of 8am, the first thing you notice are two bouncers on the door. While at first one can be worried by the sight of a bouncer, on second thoughts it can be reassuring. They keep an eye on proceedings, but there is no trouble in the time we’re here. We pass them on the way in, give ‘the nod’, and with it clear we’re in decent condition on entering the place, we don’t hear/see them again, until ‘the nod’ is given again on the way out.

The pints of Guinness are more than decent, and we remark that it’s interesting they can pull a decent pint here at 8am when we’ve seen ‘one pour pints’ chucked out in fancier boozers across the city on Friday nights. On the subject of Friday nights, there appear to be a few other survivors dotted around this place. The milkman? The market worker? No sign of them but.

The ‘locals’, or the people sitting across the bar talking to the barman and each other, are a mixed bunch. With the sun up, this might as well be 3pm in any Dublin pub. One annoyance that hits you on entering the place however is the jukebox. Is there a need for a jukebox to be blaring music at half eight in the morning?

I’m gonna send him to outer space. To find another race.
I’m gonna send him to outer space. To find another race.

I love the song too, but it’s half eight in the morning. Turn it down, or turn it off. The arrival of The Wild Rover leads one of our party to a semi-audible “for fucks sake…” that thankfully goes unnoticed. Somewhere in the world it’s a suitable time to play this stuff, lets be quiet and drink to them.

The early house is clean, and the pubs layout is perfectly fine. What surprises me is the number of people here. I remember a friend telling me you could never open a Wetherspoons in Ireland because “we can’t be trusted to drink sensibly”. Maybe there’s an element of truth in that. In the time we’re here, with the exception of one eejit and his unwanted and unimpressive rendition of ‘The Boys Of The Old Brigade’, we see nothing too out of the ordinary or worrying. We even remark a return visit in the future isn’t an impossible scenario.

So, who does drink at 8am? A much more varied bunch than I expected. On leaving, we do a quick turn and head towards town, and I spot people getting off the 25A bus for work. Getting on the same bus home, there is a distinct lack of market workers, milkmen or dockers. The Chancery is not going to make its way into any ‘Top 50 Pubs In Dublin’ list, and it’s not brimming with the sort of unique character that does see pubs make such lists, but it’s not the hellish boozer some may think looking down on it from the double-decker bus to work. Judging on the crowd inside it, at a time I wouldn’t normally have risen yet, it’ll be here a while longer yet.

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(Note: This is our 400th post. Wow! Our birthday is coming up in November. Watch this space)

It may take a while before someone writes the definitive history of the rave/dance/club scene in Dublin. Until then, here’s some links to keep you busy:


- History of Dublin Clubbing, John Braineon, September 2000. Excellent overview covering the 1988 – 1990 Acid House period.

- Notes on an Irish disco landscape, Paul Tarpey, September 2008. Well researched piece that covers the Dance Club scene from the early 1970s to the late 1990s.

- Belfield’s 1980s Rave Scene, Sam McGrath, December 2009. While today Belfield is a vacuous musical wasteland of commercial electro-pop and RnB, in the late 1980s it enjoyed a healthy, organic dance scene.

Internet forums:

- Legendary 695 (!) page ‘Asylum/Oldskoolthread on Boards.ie which is still going strong after five years.

- 2005 Boards.ie thread on ‘Legendary Clubs/Raves’ and a short thread from 2009 asking posters to vote for ‘Dublin’s Best Ever Club’.

- A more recent 12 page thread on the Bodytonic forum about the “History of rave/dance music culture in Ireland”.


- A 1,636 strong Facebook group dedicated to the “Old Skool Ravers” of Dublin. Heaps of pictures, youtube links and reminiscences.

- A fantastic resource of flyers from Irish dance clubs (1988 – 2008)


Sides D.C. (1986 – 1996)

The Asylum (1992 – July 1994)

The Olympic Ballroom (Raves; April 1990 – 1994)

The Ormond Multimedia Centre (Mid 1990s?)

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Dole TV.

Includes an interview with Sam Nolan (Trade Unionist)
Street Literature- Products Of Our Environment (1.48 in)
and Brian Cowen boozing around Dublin (8.00 in)

Well done to Dublin Community Television on this one, the first episode of Dole TV. Offering a fine mix of content, what begins with a great interview with Sam Nolan goes on to feature a great parody on the Taoiseach’s love for a good pint and an excellent hip hop effort from some younger Dubliners, in the form of Street Literature. Give it a watch.

We’ve briefly touched on the unemployed workers movement in Dublin in the fifties, about which Sam Nolan speaks here, before. The post I have linked to above includes video footage of a protest rally in 1953.

We are putting out an appeal to all those talented video editors, graphic artists, writers, music producers and others to send in their media and ideas for inclusion in the show. Get them in. You can reach out at doletv@dctv.ie

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A portrait of legendary bare-knuckle boxer Dan Donnelly.

Ye sons of proud Britannia, your boasting now give o’er,
Since by our hero Donnelly, your hero is no more;
Eleven rounds he got nine knocks down, broke his jawbone,
Shake hands, says she, brave Donnelly, the battle is our own.
(from the ballad “Donnelly and Cooper,” words here.)

Irish history is rich in stories of playwrights and poets whose characters matched if not outshone their talent with a pen. When it comes to sports people, we are arguably equally rich in those characters. When it comes to boxing, one name that comes to my mind (and in honesty, only because I saw an excellent documentary on TG4 about the man) is Dan Donnelly, beknighted (though that tale behind this is a story in itself) prize fighter who won the hearts and minds of Irish men and women in the early 19th Century.

Dan Donnelly

With Ireland still under British rule, and with ten years yet to pass until the uprising of 1798, Dan Donnelly was born into poverty and a house already full of children (eight before him, with another eight to come after him) in the heart of Dublin’s Docklands. He trained as a carpenter at early age, but it was with his fighting prowess that he excelled, garnering a reputation as a man “handy” with his fists with a few pints in him; what wages he had left after he had provided for his family, he spent on drink, or on some occasions, the other way around.  He grew to be a formidable beast of a man, standing six foot and one half inch tall and weighing fourteen stone. His arms were said to be unnaturally long (a fact since proven false) giving him a reach to worry opponents. But as scary as he looked, he was said to be a man of manners, and on more than one occasion stepped in to stop muggings or assaults around the area of Townsend Street where it is said he lived. (His introduction to boxing came from fighting, and beating, a bullying English sailor in a bar close to his home.)

Dan’s infamy as a bareknuckle boxer grew, and he soon progressed from drunken brawls outside taverns to organised fights, with a purse to be taken home by the winner; and though it is said he only ever took part in three of these bouts, it is the manner of the victories and the opposition he faced and defeated that ensure his place in history.

The fight he is remembered for was his second and took place on December 13th, 1815 in The Curragh of Co. Kildare. Now called Donnellys Hollow, the area was a natural amphitheatre with sloping hillsides surrounding a flat area of ground where the fight took place. It is said that over 30, 000 people made the trek to Kildare for the fight by foot and carriage, with the upper classes mixing with slum dwellers, as each had a stake on the outcome.

The fight itself was said to be a dour affair, with the favourite Cooper (1/ 10 to win) using dirty tactics and falling to his knees on a couple of occasions in order to get a round to be stopped. Donnelly put paid to the Englishmans arrogance when he broke his jaw with a right hook in the eleventh round, taking the fight in the process.

A victory against English opponents these days is greeted with a cheer, so it’s hardly suprising that Donnellys victory against Cooper was seen as a national event. His trip back to Dublin is said to have taken over two weeks, so many were his stops, doing his best to spend the £60 purse he earned from the fight in taverns along the way. His footsteps from the Hollow itself are still there to be seen, as supporters, keen to follow in his footsteps, did so physically, marking out the steps on the landscape, as people still do to this day- as can be seen from the photograph above.

The stone obilisk surrounded by an iron fence below marks the spot where the fight took place, bearing the inscription “Dan Donnelly beat Cooper on this spot 13th Dec. 1815.”

The Obelisk marking the spot.

Donnelly decided to make his way to England where he became parlour entertainment for the wealthy upper classes who welcomed him at their parties, no doubt as a lumpen Irishman with extraordinary strength. it was at one of these parties that Donnelly (according to legend as there is no documentation to prove so) knelt before the Prince Regent, George IV and was granted knighthood with a sword tap on each shoulder- an Irish pugilist who once worked with the brother of Anne Devlin, a figure central to Robert Emmets revolt of 1803 receiving knighthood from the future King of England. Implausible, but apparently true.

He moved back to Ireland and with the money he had earned from his fights (and with his reputation still intact,) he decided to go into business, opening four bars in succesion. But, as is often the case, he was often the bars best customer and this was eventually his undoing. Of all the bars, Fallons Capstan Bar is the only one that remains in business today. He died broke and lonely on February 18th, 1920 at the young age of thirty two. The procession that followed his coffin numbered in the tens of  thousands and he was buried in Bullys Acre- a paupers graveyard and one of Dublin’s oldest. Within days, his body was stolen by grave robbers; Riots broke out in Dublin upon the news and Surgeon Hall, who had purchased the body, returned Donnelly to his grave in Bully’s Acre- minus his right arm. The arm was transported to Edinburgh University where it was used in anatomy lessons, was taken around England by a travelling circus, was brought back to Ireland and displayed in several pubs throughout the twentieth century, and went to New York and back before it found its resting place in The Hideout Bar, Kilcullen where it remained on show until 2006 before being removed from public viewing.

Dan Donnelly's arm

While undoubtedly, it’s Dan’s arm that garners most interest in him, its his story that gets me most. Maybe I’m just a sucker for social history but the thought of 30, 000 people making the trek out to the Curragh in the days before Bus Eireann to see what equates to an amateur bare- knuckle fight, the image of the streets lined on his victorious return, and the 70, 000 that showed up at his funeral, and yet I only know about him because of a chance viewing of a documentary on TG4 makes you think how many other stories like Dan’s have gone beneath the radar.

Underneath this pillar high,
Lies Sir Dan Donnelly;
He was a stout and handy man,
And people called him buffing Dan.
Knighthood he took from George’s sword,
And well he wore it by my word!
He died at last from forty seven
Tumblers of punch he drank one even.
O’erthrown by punch, unharmed by fist,
He died an unbeaten pugilist.
Such a buffer as Dan Donnelly,
Ireland never again will see.


Links used for research on the above piece:




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A documentary called ‘Hill Street’ which deals with the history of skateboarding in Dublin is currently in post-production. Produced by JJ Rolfe and directed by Warrior Films, the film will deal with skateboarding in Dublin from the late 1980s to the present today. It will include contributions from many legends of the local scene including Clive Owens, Roger Kavanagh, Mike Keane, Graham McPhearson and Wayne Gallagher.

This will obviously be of interest to anyone who has ever skated in the city. My early teenage years were made up of skating the Central Bank, the ESB, Three Steps, the Conrad and the early days of Ramp n Rail every weekend.

It’s great to see a documentary being made about a Dublin youth culture at a time when the people involved are firstly, still alive and secondly, when they can still remember the details. Sadly, it’s far too common that people leave it too late to make documentaries or write books about social history, waiting for the individuals to either hit their 80s or 90s or pass away.

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Our friend Garry O’Neill (author of an anticipated photographic book on Dublin youth culture) is trying to get in contact with any of the girls mentioned in the following news article. You can reach Garry at cru71(at)hotmail.com

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