Archive for March, 2012

The 1947 funeral of ‘Nazi master spy’ Hermann Goertz at Deansgrange Cemetery, Dublin has been discussed quite a bit recently. The Irish Times as part of their ‘From the archives’ column reprinted the paper’s original article on the funeral back in May and the incident was also included in Shane MacThomas’ new book Dead Interesting which features stories from Dublin’s graveyards.

A scene from the funeral. Published first in The Irish Independent, Oct 22 1961.

Much has been made of the major role that women played at the funeral. The Irish Times reported that it was women who wore “most” of the Swastika badges in the crowd, that it was a woman who placed a large swastika flag on the coffin and it was also a woman who whispered ‘Heil, Hitler’ and gave a Nazi salute just after the burial. The paper also noted cards on wreaths announced they were from “Maisie”, “Mary” and “My dearest friend – from Bridie”.

A woman makes the Nazi salute at the funeral. The Irish Times, May 27 1947.

There can be no doubt that the “Mary” and “Bridie” were the Farrell Sisters from Glenegeary whom Goertz lived with up to his suicide.

Spinster sisters Mary and Bride (aka Brigid or Bridie) Farrell (sometimes misspelled as O’Farrell) lived at 7 Spencer Villas in Glenageary, South Dublin. It was this address that Goertz gave when he was in the High Court in April 1947 fighting his deportation order.

Like the other women, such as Caitlín Brugha, Iseult Gonne, Mary Coffey, Helena Molony, Maise O’Mahony (another name on a wreath), who helped Goertz it can be accepted that the Farrell sisters held anti-British and pro-Irish Republican sympathies.

Letter from Bride Farrell to The Irish Press. June 17, 1947.

Bride, who was the youngest daughter of Sylvester and Maria Farrell, died on May 11 1966 at St Michael’s Hospital. It is not known when her only sister Mary passed away.

In 1974, under the cover of darkness, a group of German ex-army officers exhumed Goertz’s remians and re-interned them in the German War Cemetery in Glencree, Co. Wicklow where they remain to this day.

German Military Cemetery, Glencree, Co. Wicklow.

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Some great footage of Dublin here, and the sounds come from LLCR ‘Rock Box’ back in the 1980s, playing a mix of hip hop and electro. Well done to YouTuber deejaymek getting it up. Some of the shout outs are quality. “All the breakers meeting at the Central Bank tomorrow at 3!”

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I’m not a photographer.

Below are some photos taken on a stroll through the city, little things that caught my eye and seemed perfect for Come Here To Me.

Back in November 2010, a Union of Students in Ireland demo saw students occupy the Department of Finance on Merrion Row, with the building getting pelted with eggs in the process. Passing it yesterday, I noticed that it looks almost like it happened yesterday.

I like little nods to the history of Dublin, like this one on Harcourt Street, advertising a market in the location where in 1900 The Wicklow, which was carrying cattle, ended up suspended over Hatch Street having smashed through the outer train station wall.

The Irish Times reported at the time:

All went well with the train until it was approaching Harcourt Street Station, at half-past four o’clock, when Hyland, it is believed , found he could not get his brakes to act, owing to the slippery nature of the wheels and rails combined with the fact that the train was very heavy. Speed could not be slackened, and the engine with its heavy load dashed through the station to the great alarm of the people on the platform, who saw that an accident of a serious nature must result, nor were they mistaken.

The tents are gone, but I’m starting to think the ‘Tree of Gold’ might be slightly more embarrassing if the worlds media descend on Dame Street. Like the spire symbolising Ireland’s rise to economic prosperity, the Tree of Gold hasn’t aged well.

Dublin is still sticker city in my eyes, and for the most part it seems the Council are happy enough to leave them be. This strange Irish Union Jack sticker has me baffled.


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Stein Opticians

The Irish-Jewish family, Stein, have run an optician’s in Dublin for nearly seventy years. They are perhaps best known for their 1983 David vs Goliath battle, where they fought bitterly to save their practice on Harcourt Road from the developer’s bulldozer.

Dublin born Mendel Stein (1915 – 2000) grew up in Victoria Street in the heart of Portobello, then known as ‘Little Jerusalem’. Studying to become an ophthalmic optician, he set up his practice at 36 Harcourt Road in 1944.

Advertisement for Stein's. The Irish Independent, Mar 05, 1946.

For the next forty-one years, he remained one of the most popular opticians in the city and his practice, known as ‘The Eye’, became “a place for encounter, conversation and spirited views on the life of Harcourt Road and the universe beyond” [1]. Mendel became a close friends with Michael MacLiammoir, Hilton Edwards, Harry Kernoff and others at the heart of Dublin’s art and theatre scenes.

But then in 1983 the Clancourt Group announced that they wanted to build a seven-storey office block which would involve demolishing the terrace to make way for the new Harcourt Centre.

While other property owners and lessees of buildings due for demolition accepted the substantial compensation, Mendel decided that he wasn’t going to give in so easily. He said that he would not leave until they gave him a new shop in the immediate vicinity and a guarantee that his (beautiful) shopfront would be preserved.

The Irish Press. Oct 12, 1983.

This window of the shopfront was “in the shape of an eye, whose pupil is reflected in a circular mirror on a facing wall inside”. Frank McDonald of The Irish Times described it at the time as “a masterpiece of its period (which) arguably should have been officially listed for preservation”. [2]

By the end of it, his single-story shop was the “only surviving remnant” of Harcourt Road despite the fact that the tiny building was perched on the edge of a ‘cliff’ while the new block was under construction. The late Brendan Glacken later recalled a story that during this time a young quick-witted Dubliner shouted into Mendel “Hey mister, your extension is coming on great!”.

"Stein's Opticians at Harcourt Road with the new office block behind it". The Irish Times, May 31, 1983. Photographer - Peter Thursfield.

Spurred on by local support, Mendel held out and eventually received a guarantee that the shop would be taken down intact and re-erected at a new location in nearby Grantham Street off Camden Street.

Joined at this stage in the practice by his daughter Ameila, Mendel worked at his new Grantham Street address until he reached his 80s. He passed away in June 2000.

Amelia, an award-winning photographer who has worked with Irish artists such as The Hothouse Flowers, Aslan, The Cranberries, still runs the family optician business  today from 4 Camden Market, Grantham Street.

Stein Opticians, Grantham St.(Google street view)


[1] The Irish Times. Dec 7, 2000.
[2] The Irish Times. May 31, 1983.

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Architects drawing for fire station (L Fallon Collection)

Above is the original architects drawing for Tara Street Fire Station. In the mind of many Dubliners the building is on Pearse Street, but owing to its postbox being on Tara Street it is ‘Tara Street Fire Station’. This image has not appeared online before.

The station was opened in 1907, by the then Lord Mayor Joseph Nanetti. Nanetti was not only Dublin’s only Lord Mayor to come from the Italian community, he was also the first Lord Mayor to come from the Labour movement.

The site of the fire station holds a special place in the history of the Italian community in Dublin, because as Vinnie Caprani noted in A View From The Dart (1984), the Lord Mayor of Dublin “…found himself opening a fire station on the exact spot where Giuseppe Cervi had set up Dublin’s first mobile chipper, “thus giving Dubliners the ‘wan-and-wan’, a meal which quickly became as popular on the working-class menu as the more traditional coddle or tripe-and-onions.”

Looking at the architects drawing and the building today, it’s clear the final tower design was different from that envisioned by the architect at first. It is said the tower of the fire station was used by British forces in 1916 to attack rebel outposts, and Liberty Hall which it was believed at first was the rebel headquarters. Shane MacThomáis noted in his day by day account of the Rising that:

From Wednesday onwards rifle and machine-gun fire on the GPO and its outposts, particularly those at the junction of O’Connell Street with the Quays, became heavy and ceaseless. Much of it came from Trinity College and the tower of Tara Street Fire Station across the river.

In this image below, showing members of the Irish Citizen Army on the roof of Liberty Hall, the tower can clearly be seen in the distance.

This postcard below comes from the time of the opening and shows the building more or less as it is today. It is difficult to understand today just what a presence this building would have had on the capitals skyline. The purpose of the tower was to serve as a lookout post, and also to allow for full lengths of the canvas hose used at the time to be hung up to dry.

Ironically, Liberty Hall is a considerably taller building than it today.

"The new fire brigade station, Gt. Brunswick Street Dublin." (L.Fallon collection)

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More info here.

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Dire, dire, dire stuff in Dalymount Park yesterday, with Saint Patrick’s Athletic and Bohemians playing out a snoozefest. If you fancy torturing yourself the game is on the RTE Player. The game was moved to a 4pm Sunday kickoff to facilitate television coverage. Putting us and Bohs on the telly has always been a recipe for boredom, with rare exception.

Anyway, the above was a simple protest from Saint Patrick’s Athletic fans against the moving of the game. Irony of ironies, it even ended up on RTE briefly.

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I’m very grateful there are people in this world with more ‘get up and go’ than I have at times! My thanks to Will Peat, a friend, for organising a visit to the Iveagh Trust Museum Flat recently through booking. The flat is tiny, but it offers huge insight on a former Dublin.

All images my own.

The Iveagh Trust buildings, built by Edward Cecil Guinness, the first Earl of Iveagh, were in some ways a monument in themselves to the philanthroy of the Guinness family. Built to house the working poor of Dublin, they were remarkably ahead of their time when contrasted for example with the Foley Street Corporation Buildings and other such Dublin Corporation dwellings also constructed in the early 1900′s.

As Andrew Kincaid noted in his study Postcolonial Dublin: imperial legacies and the built environment: “In 1890, on the back of the Dublin Improvement Act of 1889, a group of Protestant and Unionist businessmen and politicians formed the Guinness, later the Iveagh, Trust.” Edward Cecil Guinness outlined his belief that the Iveagh Trust would strive for “the amelioration of the condition of the poorer of the working classes.”

The area where the Iveagh Trust buildings stand now was once among the worst slums in the city. It’s a great irony in Dublin’s history that right next to the fortified home of political power in Ireland, Dublin Castle, one found many of the poorest Dubliners. The homes Guinness constructed, simple two or three bedroom tenements, were a million miles removed from what stood there before.

While the Iveagh Trust flats would be modernised in time, the Trust have maintained one small flat for museum purposes. Number 3B has changed little in the century since the opening of the buildings, and today it serves as a sort of Dublin time capsule. Stepping into it, you get a great social insight into a Dublin long gone.

This was home to Nellie Molloy, who passed in 2002 at the very impressive age of 95. She’d lived through major changes in Irish society, and the area around the building saw much change. In the short-time we spend in the apartment, our guide Liam tells us some great small details about Nellie, such as the fact she was a Trade Union shop steward in her time, and we learn something of the man who gazes over the small apartment, Sgt. Major Henry John Molloy, a veteran of the Boer War and the Great War. Below the picture of the Sgt. Major, a piano sits proudly, testament to the fact Nellie enjoyed hosting guests in her small flat. Liam tells us that he knew Nellie to talk to, and that she was a treasure trove of information on Dublin’s past.


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When Sunday Comes.

Speaking of Noel Gallagher, read on.....

Would I have enjoyed Keith Fahey’s absolute screamer in Dalymount Park back in 2008 if it had happened at half four on a Sunday instead of the usual Friday night? Of course. No doubt, there wouldn’t have been as many of us able to claim to have witnessed it in the flesh afterwards though.

League of Ireland fans and the telly, it’s a troubled relationship. Naturally and logically, fans want more exposure for the game as what’s really needed is more bums on seats. Still, a 4PM kick off on Sunday to facilitate the televising of the Bohs and Pats derby is fairly annoying for most who plan on attending.

Pats go into the game quite strongly. With seven points from three games, we’ve performed well to date and the team are playing a very different and refreshing kind of football. It’s a bit surreal seeing Liam Buckley back in the managers job, as Liam was Pats manager when we began going to watch the club as a family. All has changed, changed utterly since, and football is a different affair now. I probably know less about football now than I did as a child. I have friends who have genuinely had to check Teletext the following day to know if we won the night before. Sunday football isn’t ideal then.

For Bohs fans, there seems to be a certain jubilation in, well….. just existing. They’re still there. To rob a line from the blue half of Glasgow, “If they play on the streets, we’ll cheer from the sidewalks” seems fitting in this league where near financial ruin is something almost every club has experienced. TBWRA, or The Bohs Will Rise Again, has become the mantra of the last block of the Jodi.

With Shelbourne in the top flight again Dublin derbies are more frequent than before. It might not be a quarter to eight on a Friday, but a good northside/southside derby is a derby all the same and I’d hope for a good one. Following the game, Bohs continue to show their far superior taste in music to just about everyone with Rob Smith in the Phoenix Bar performing the music of The Stone Roses and Oasis. The event page is here.

Let’s pretend it’s a Friday.

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CRONY 2012

Will. St Leger does it again.

I mentioned yesterday spotting Bertie’s Colouring Book in a few discount bookshops in the city recently, I grabbed a photo yesterday with the day that was in it.

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I acquired this great image recently, from the Illustrated War News Oct. 20 1915, it shows a group of “Officers of the 2/7th (Robin Hood) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters”.

Less than a year after this photo was taken, the Sherwood Foresters, described here as “fighters for the freedom of Europe”, would find themselves at the heart of the bloodiest battle of the Easter Rising in Dublin. 240 British soldiers were wounded or killed at Mount Street Bridge, where they came under sustained attack from a small band of Volunteers.

I always remember the first hand account of Captain A.A Dickson of the Sherwood Foresters, who wrote of the “baptism of fire” the men encountered at Mount Street Bridge. 25 Northumberland Road was the building from which Volunteer Michael Malone and Volunteer James Grace attacked, inflicting major casualties on the Sherwood Foresters. Dickson would recall:

It was a baptism of fire alright, with flintlocks, shot-guns, and elephant rifles, as well as more orthodox weapons. And 100 casualties in two days’ street fighting was a horrible loss to one battalion: the more so since my one friend from the ranks, commissioned same day, was shot through the head leading a rush on a fortified corner house, first day on active service, and it was my job to write and tell his mother, who thought him still safe in England.”

The house today (Donal Fallon)

If the Sherwood Foresters encountered such resistance, and suffered such heavy casualties in Dublin, surely some the men at the centre of the Battle for Mount Street Bridge feature in the image above?

I consulted Paul O’Brien’s excellent Blood On The Streets for more information. O’Brien has been writing detailed accounts of the battles of various 1916 garrisons, which look at the events in incredible detail which of course just isn’t possible in a broader study of the rebellion. Blood On The Streets (Mercier, 2008) tells the tale of Mount Street Bridge. I consulted it, and the classic Sinn Féin Rebellion Handbook, for an idea of how the men pictured above got on.

From the Sinn Féin rebellion handbook, I learned that two men shown were killed in action, while two were wounded.

L.T P.D Perry, third from the left in the back row, lost his life in the rebellion.
Likewise, Lt. Frederick Dietrichsen would perish.
Captain Hickling, second right in the middle row was wounded.
Also wounded was Lt. Pragnell, sitting on the ground on the left hand side.

Captain Dietrichsen

The story of Captain Dietrichsen was particularly tragic. O’Brien gives some background information on Dietrichsen in his study, noting that he had previously been a barrister in Nottingham. He had sent his wife (who originally hailed from Blackrock) and two children to Dublin “to protect them from the ever-increasing German Zeppelin raids”, yet was taken aback to encounter his family as the Sherwood Foresters marched towards the city. O’Brien notes that: “Captain Dietrichsen dropped out of formation and hugged his family at the side of the road. He was to be one of the first killed in action during the battle of Mount Street.”

The other side of the newspaper page shows men of the Sherwood Foresters in very relaxed post,and notes that “….standing on a pile of fodder, is Nancy, the battalion mascot goat.”

It’s certainly an unusual set of photographs, and I found it fascinating to see the faces of some of the men who were at the heart of the Battle for Mount Street Bridge for the first time. Today, the battle site resembles its ’1916 form’ much more than many other sites of combat, and 25 Northumberland Road is marked with a small plaque to Volunteer Michael Malone.

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