Archive for January, 2012

Historic photos of the past from the North Inner City Folklore Project at The Lab art space.

Frequently we draw upon the work of historians much longer in the field, and the work of Terry Fagan and the North Inner City Folklore Project has appeared on this site on several occasions. We have had reports from the 2011 (Patrick Heeny) and 2010 (Connolly Siblings and Molly O’Reilly) North Inner City Folklore Project Easter commemorations, and in the past we’ve drawn upon Terry’s research on a range of topics from Monto to women in the republican movement. The beauty of Terry’s work is the fact he is a local, raised in the Corporation Buildings. People are always more willing to talk to their own. Terry is refreshingly dismissive of the nonsense one often hears that “we were poor but we were happy”, and rather the Folklore Project focuses on telling Dublin’s history from a working class perspective, warts and all.

Newspaper report of DMP riot in Corporation Buildings, 1913.

I’d long wanted to sit down with Terry Fagan and talk about the complex history of the north inner city, but not limit ourselves to one specific subject. I met him at the small flat which has become a sort of HQ for the project in the heart of the community in which he grew up, and talk for well over an hour on the history of the local area. When walking through the area with Terry, we constantly passed people who know him and acknowledge him, the area is not only his historical area of expertise but also very dear to him.

If you listen to this interview, which I feel confident in saying will appeal to many of you regardless of whether or not history is the main draw for you to the site, you’ll hear a whole range of topics discussed. The tragic history of prostitution in Dublin’s inner-city (over 1,600 women worked in brothels in the city at one point), the history of youth criminality and gang culture, the forgotten history of women in the area, the role of the Legion of Mary in changing Monto and the revolutionary period were all discussed.

In this interview there are stories as diverse as Maud Gonne and the Countess visiting the north inner-city tenements at the time of the Lockout to stories of the ‘Solemn Blessing of Monto’ by the Catholic Church and Frank Duff. There are stories which show the failures of both church and state in this area historically, but there’s also stories of hope. Stories of how a working class community decided to mark and honour it’s own history. There are huge personalities who shine through in this interview, like Lugs Branigan and Jim Larkin, but there’s also stories of the community as a whole.

I had some technical issues at the very beginning, but this opens with Terry answering my first question, which is what it was like growing up in the Corporation Buildings. He began by talking about those buildings, his school days at the ‘Red Brick Slaughterhouse’ and more besides. The interview below is one hour and twenty minutes long, put the kettle on and enjoy.

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So the brouchere said.

Walking around the Celtic Tiger graveyard which is the ‘ Beacon South Quarter’ area of the Sandyford Industrial Estate is a depressing experience that everyone should do once. Half east-Berlin housing development and half non-descript city post-Nuclear Fallout, some of the apartment blocks lie half-built while others are occupied by only a handful of people.


(c) Carax

(c) Carax

(c) Carax

(c) Carax

(c) Carax

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Plaque photographed in The Irish Times, November 1980

The plaques of the city are something we return to time and time again. Indeed, you may have noticed at the very top of the page we’ve given over a section of the blog to some of the more unusual plaques in Dublin, in pieces which often examine the history (and controversies!) around some of the plaques on the walls (or in the pavements) of Dublin.

One of the most unusual plaques ever unveiled in this city must be the one above but, a fascinating insight into Irish society in the late 70s and early 80s some would say! This plaque was unveiled at Dublin Airport in November 1980, marking the very spot where Pope John Paul first touched Irish soil. The Minister for Transport unveiled the plaque. Being located where it is, it is obviously a plaque very few Dubliners beyond those in the pay of the Airport will ever see.

The minister had come straight to the unveiling from the funeral service of Frank Duff! Frank Duff was the founder of the Legion of Mary, a radical Catholic organisation often accredited with “cleaning up” the notorious Monto, the red-light district of Dublin for so long.

The plaque was designed and commissioned by Aer Rianta. Also present at the short ceremony was the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Fergus O’Brien.

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Well, this is unfortunate…

(we got word that those who postered the Eelus piece removed the posters, stating it to be a genuine error. As I said below, the real vandalism against this city is the empty NAMA buildings that dot it)

Only a few hours ago we posted a piece about the exciting new NAMA poster campaign around the city, bringing NAMA buildings to the attention of the public.

Sadly, it seems those behind the posters decided to hit up this beautiful EElus piece of street art on South William Street. If you’ve read A Visual Feast, last years excellent book covering Irish street art, you may have seen the interview with the street artist Eelus in it.

Eelus noted that he was approached by a young woman while painting this piece, who told him he’d robbed the idea from a similar piece of street art in the UK. He replied by informing her that was him! The constrast however is that this angel in Dublin, a lost angel, appears a bit vulnerable when compared with her London sister. I often admire her while walking down South William Street, she’s somewhat symbolic of where the city is.

Cheers to Freda, whose photos of street art have appeared on numerous occasions on this site, for drawing my attention to this.

The sentiment of the NAMA poster campaign is admirable. The real vandalism in this city in the state empty buildings fall into, while people lack homes.

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How to spot a NAMA building…

This was brought to our attention earlier today, an interesting poster campaign in the city centre to draw attention to some of the NAMA owned buildings around us. Some, you pass on a daily basis and may be unaware that they are under the ownership of NAMA.

Of course, this isn’t the first protest engagement with NAMA buildings in Dublin. Back In November, we brought you this image:

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The Irish Press, April 25 1966

The fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 rising was of course a monumental moment in the history of the Irish state. It was marked in a wide variety of ways, for example in Dublin with the opening of the Garden of Remembrance and the pageant Aiséirí at Croke Park on Easter Sunday, not to mention a full military parade on our main thoroughfare.

As Fintan O’Toole noted in a 2011 Irish Times article on commemorating the Rising:

The 50th anniversary in 1966 was perhaps the nearest thing to a broadly embraced national celebration, with everything from postage stamps to the renaming of train stations, and from Hugh Leonard’s TV re-enactment, Insurrection , to a pageant in Croke Park.

One of the more unusual manners in which the anniversary was marked was at Dalymount Park, where the FAI Cup Final would take place on the exact anniversary of the rising, April 24th.

The 1966 FAI Cup final was by all accounts not a beautiful game of football. Indeed, The Irish Times went as far as to say it was “among the most disappointing finals ever”. Shamrock Rovers and Limerick would play it out at Dalymount Park, with the game ending in a two-nil victory to the Dubliners, but prior to kickoff the crowd would witness something rather unusual.

Over 200 veterans of the 1916 rising accepted a special invitation to attend the final from the FAI, and among the survivors to attend the final was President Eamon deValera. The Irish Times of April 23rd noted the men were to parade in the centre of the pitch, salute the President and then there would be the playing of the Last Post before the veterans would then make their way to a special seating area in the stands. The Fintan Lalor Pipe Band led proceedings.

Oscar Traynor is a name today associated with football among the youth of the city for the cup named in his honour, but the one-time FAI President was also a veteran of the Easter Rising of 1916. Traynor had a great love of the beautiful game, and had toured Europe with Belfast Celtic in 1912. His Witness Statement to the Bureau of Military History on his role in the 1916 rising is quite a good read, and begins almost with this excellent line.

I was connected with football up to that and I broke with football when I saw that there was something serious pending.

Something serious indeed!

Veteran of the Easter Rising and later FAI President Oscar Traynor

Traynor passed away in 1963, but the Irish Independent report on the 1966 final would note that the pre-match ceremony “was a historic occasion with the freedom fighters of 1916 taking part beforehand in ceremonies which would have brought joy to the heart of the late president of the FAI, Oscar Traynor. The final itself, however, brought little joy to the hearts of the 26,898 spectators who gave it their disapproval in the slow hand-clap in the second half.”

The FAI took aim at Radio Eireann the following day for not broadcasting the FAI Cup Final. The FAI President and Minister for Health Donagh O’Malley took aim at the station, stating “it would be remiss of me if I did not express my utter disgust at the manner in which the broascasting authority in this country has treated soccer followers.”

A historic day for Irish soccer, but not broadcast by Radio Eireann.

Sportsfile today have some excellent images from the 1966 clash, as mentioned above said to among the worst FAI Cup Finals ever played, but sadly no images of the 1916 commemoration prior to kick off.

Long on my list of books to read is Sean Ryan’s history of the FAI Cup. The cup has many interesting stories of course, and it’s role in marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising shouldn’t be forgotten.

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Let there be light

Lovely idea and a lovely video.

“On the shortest day of the year, December 21st, a little extra light shone out on Dublin’s Camden Street through a 19th century stainglass window which has been dark for more than a century”

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Its not quite this stunning image from Broadsheet but someone has taken the time to print, frame and hang the below on the side of  a business in the Italian Quarter. Part of the Dublin skyline for over a century, plans are abound for demolishing the Pigeon House towers… a pity I say.

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Champion Sports. If there’s one positive to this recession, it’s the bargains.

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This is sheer brilliance from the lads at Storymap and Shane MacThomais, historian at Glasnevin Cemetery. It tells the story of a UVF man buried among some of our own ‘patriot dead’.

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There were  a number of highly significant and influential one-day and two-day Punk and New Wave festivals from mid 1977 to late 1978 in Dublin.

The first was the Belfield Festival in UCD which took place on 25 June 1977. The line up was The Radiators from Space, The Undertones, The Vipers, Revolver and The Gamblers. Sadly the gig is perhaps best known for the tragic fatal stabbing which took place on the night.

Philip Byrne of Revolver. (Picture: U2TheEarlyDaze)

Secondly, there was the first annual New Wave Festival which took place over two nights in The Project Arts Centre on 8 – 9 November 1977. The first night saw The Vipers and The Gamblers and the second night Revolver, Fabulous Fabrics and The Kamikaze Kids.

Paul Boyle (The Vipers), Steve Jones (The Sex Pistols), George Sweeney (The Vipers) & Larry Mullen (U2) at the Hot Press Xmas Party, '78. (Picture: U2TheEarlyDaze)

Thirdly, there was the one day Punk Festival on 28 November 1978 in St. Anthony’s Hall on the quays. The line up was The New Versions, Berlin, Virgin Prunes, Strange Movements, the Skank Mooks and The Citizens.

Strange Movements (Picture - Irishrock.org)

Anyone have any memories, pictures or gig posters of the above, please do get in touch.

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Interesting photo posted to Facebook, the inevitable fall out with local business for Occupy Dame Street?

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