Archive for April, 2011

Wexford Street fire

Pic: Lynsey Kiely

Four people were pulled from burning flats on Dublin’s Wexford Street early today. The blaze erupted on the first floor above Eddie Rocket’s City Diner at 4.15am.

It’s not the first time there’s been a late night fire on the street. Remember the panic that went with the fire in the Village nightclub back in March 2008?

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No Rare Old Times- but a city with a great story to tell.

The cultural landscape of Dublin will change this summer, when the Little Museum of Dublin opens at 15 St Stephen’s Green. This new non-profit museum will tell the story of Dublin in the 20th Century, and the collection will be completed with the help of the public. In other words it will truly be a people’s museum.

I stumbled across this yesterday by pure chance and have to say it’s quite an interesting idea. Of course many of our cities have museums dedicated to their own history, such as Cork and Galway. The Little Museum of Dublin looks set to open this summer.

In Dublin, we are obviously very lucky to have the National Museums, and also the Story of the Capital at City Hall. The fact the National Museums are free is a huge kudos too.

When on the job with walking tours, I normally direct tourists towards a few places if they want to get to grips with the city a bit better. There’s the Writers Museum, the prior mentioned Story of the Capital at City Hall, the folks at the Dublin Civic Trust and then a number of smaller specialist museums like the excellent Garda Museum or the GPO in-house museum.

I’m interested in seeing how this new venture marks itself out. It’s interesting to note they seem to be looking for people to become patrons of the Museum at this very early stage:

Become a member
As well as donating artefacts, individuals or companies can become Patrons, Life Members or Friends. We have an exclusive programme of benefits for those who support the Little Museum:

Patron (Annual subscription €5000)
Life Member (€1000)
Friend (Annual subscription €95)

A report in todays Irish Times suggests the museum will have a focus on twentieth century Dublin.

Come to think of it, we’ll consider anything to do with Dublin in the 20th century.

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Surely the best and cheesiest Dublin ad ever? Or at least since Dubliner cheese.

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In the course of two weeks, we will have gone from the Brandywell Bar to the Bray seaside, with three nights in Inchicore in between. If you want a cheap hobby, perhaps the League of Ireland isn’t it. Then again, on a good night, is there anything in Dublin better value?

You’re not obligied to show up all the time of course. You still do. ‘Win, Lose or Draw’ should really be changed to ‘Sun,Snow or Champions League on the Telly’, as nothing will keep the diehards away, no matter how many fixtures are suddenly piled on top of one another.

A three nil win at home may sound very convincing, but god the Drogheda United side I saw last night were nothing short of appaling. I have huge respect for the small but loyal band of Drogheda fans in the shed, who defiantly waved their tifo flag (the number 12, to symbolise their role as the ‘twelfth man’) and sung as all collapsed around them. Their team looked uninterested, and it’s unsurprising their wallowing where they are in the league. Of course many of the Drogheda fans in the shed would have been in Inchicore on the night when they lit up the ground late in 2007 with flares declaring themselves champions of Ireland. Those fans know these things go in cycles.

Something I’m hoping to do soon is lure friends BACK to Inchicore. I saw us win the league in the company of schoolfriends in times now long gone. More recently, I saw Keith Fahey dazzle crowds in the company of friends. People vanish from this league. When I began in college I took up a job in a public house (pro-tip: don’t do it kids) and I missed a good 65% of an entire season to Friday night work. Getting people back is harder than getting them down in the first place.

We’re playing Monday at home to Galway, Friday away to Bray and the following Monday at home to Dublin rivals, fellow southsiders and current champions Shamrock Rovers. If you’ve been missing from Richmond Park for a while, why not come down? When things go right on the pitch, there is no better night out. As the defiant mob in the Shed showed last night however, maybe it’s still a good night out regardless.

Drogs Ultras

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I’ve a lot of time for some Irish rappers. We had Street Literature from the northside on here before, but I love what Nugget has been doing on this site of the river. Hailing from Ballyfermot, this is a cracker.

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This looks excellent, a really good idea.

Hollywood Babylon -Dublin’s Midnight Movie Film Club Running Saturdays fortnightly April to October 2011 and devoted to our favourite ‘disreputable’ movies.

Roughly speaking- movies best seen after Midnight, in company and with beer.

Curated guest screenings, re-imagined film posters by some of our favourite artists and designers, BYOB, intervals, trashy trailers, cigarette girls…

Hollywood Babylon, of course, is one of the best Misfits songs. Hollywood Babylon, we salute your name.

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It’s often forgotten that the late and very great Charlie Chaplin has a statue in this country, located in Kerry, where he spent happy times as a visitor.

In recent times, whenever I’m on the job and providing tours of the city to tourists, I’ve stopped at the statue to another great man, Jim Larkin. When I stand there I think of Austin Clarke’s wonderful words of tribute, when he wrote:

What Larkin bawled to hungry crowds
Is murmured now in dining-hall
And study. Faith bestirs itself
Lest infidels in their impatience
Leave it behind. Who could have guessed
Batons were blessings in disguise,
When every ambulance was filled
With half-killed men and Sunday trampled
Upon unrest? Such fear can harden
Or soften heart, knowing too clearly
His name endures on our holiest page,
Scrawled in a rage by Dublin’s poor.

One of the giants of Irish history, Larkin stands proudly and defiantly on the very street where workers he organised were hospitalised and even killed on a Bloody Sunday.

“Who is missing a statue here?” I always ask. The answer is Charlie.

It was through Emmet O’Connor’s wonderful biography of Larkin I first stumbled across a most unusual episode in Larkin’s life, which occurred when he was imprisoned in the United States. Larkin had found himself imprisoned for “criminal anarchy”, essentially a sentence placed upon him as a result of his radical politics.

While sentenced to five to ten years, Larkin found himself in Sing-Sing Prison. Among his more unusual visitors was Charlie Chaplin.

Chaplin wrote of the visit:

The last day in New York, I visited Sing-Sing with Frank Harris. Jim Larkin, the Irish rebel and labour union organiser, was serving five years in Sing-Sing, and Frank wanted to see him. Larkin was a brilliant orator who had been sentenced by a prejudiced judge and jury on false charges of attempting to overthrow the Government, so Frank claimed, and this was proved later when Governor Al Smith quashed the sentence, though Larkin had already served years of it.
Frank inquired about Jim Larkin and the warder agreed that we could see him; although it was against the rules, he would make an exception. Larkin was in the shoe factory, and here he greeted us, a tall handsome man, about six foot four, with piercing blue eyes but a gentle smile.

It was noted in O’Connor’s biography that Chaplin felt compelled to send presents to Elizabeth (the wife of the union leader) and the Larkin children after this visit.

More detail on the visit to the prison can be found on charliechaplin.com, where it is noted:

Other highlights of this tour included meeting Irish radical Jim Larkin and sitting in the electric chair for a few moments. Charlie visited this prison again shortly before his 1931-2 tour, presenting his new film, City Lights, free for the prisoners’ entertainment.

Something to think about this May Day.

Larkin upon his return from America.

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Six years later

For the week that’s in it. A great snap of Free State soldiers in Dublin in 1922 during the Civil War.

The flyposter beside them reads:


Notice the soldier’s sword as well.

© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

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This is a great watch. As Patrick Cooney from the campaign to save Moore Street asks, in 2016 will visiting world leaders find the laneways of 1916 or a shopping centre?

While I find it difficult to pay too much heed to politicians of green or blue stock, the relatives and campaigners, along with ordinary Dubliners going about their business, make this video an excellent insight into the issues. Lord Mayor Gerry Breen seems more concerned about a retail gap on O’Connell Street than Moore Street. “I come from a business background” he notes, before asking “how relevant is 1916 to the Facebook generation?”

This is the same Gerry Breen who recently welcomed anti begging laws in the city centre by noting:

I would have encountered eight beggars on a short walk through the city now I’m seeing just one. Begging is much more random now and it is not as pervasive or aggressive as it was before the new Act came into force.

Over 4,000 people have joined the ‘Save 16 Moore Street’ group on Facebook. Why don’t you become 4,013?

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The annual ‘Anarchist Bookfair’ is always a great event, taking place this year once more at Liberty Hall. In the past, the event has seen visiting speakers as diverse as historian Martha Ackelsberg and former blackpanter Ashanti Alston.

This year another diverse range of stalls and talks will make up the bookfair. PM Press, AK Press the Irish Labour History Society and more besides will be there on the day selling books, but the talks are always the real highlight of the event.

Among them will be a talk from Gabriel Kuhn, author of Soccer vs. The State, a work which provides a very different look at The Beautiful Game.

More details on the event are available here.

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On the walk to the shops….

I’d been meaning to take the camera with me some day and photograph some of the more interesting pieces of street art appearing in West Dublin suburbia….


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8ft by 5ft. Can also double up at musical performances, though the choir aren’t up to much these days.

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