Archive for November, 2012

Come Here To Me! turns three years old today, having begun in November 2009. The last year has been a good one for us, with the blog building a Facebook following recently just passing the 3,000 mark and bringing a ‘Best Of’ the website to the public thanks to New Island Books.

Far from running out of content as we may have once feared, the city and its history has continued to throw up subjects and ideas!

‘Emancipate Yourself’ (Image first posted on CHTM! in November 2012)

Today, the blog has received over 5,000 comments from readers, and published in excess of 1,720 articles, on everything from the back lanes of Dublin to the history of football in the capital. We’ve continued some long running series’ such as the pub crawls of Dublin (albeit with less regularity!) and had new series’ on subjects like the 1911 census returns.

On Wednesday December 12th our book will be launched by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, and we’d love to see you there.

Below, each of the three writers have chosen some of their articles from the last year. All published since November 29th 2011, this is a taster of what’s been produced. Some of these stories feature in the forthcoming book, and others remain exclusive to the website.

Thanks for all your comments, input and support. Here’s to another year!

A cycle to Howth (Image first posted on CHTM! in September 2012)

Ci: An eventful start to the year, with Unlock Nama’s Occupation, finding out that Soviet Russia mapped Dublin in Cyrillic, a continuation of the “A Few Quick Snaps” series, as I tried my shot at photography here, here, here and here. In addition to the random snaps, I took a trip to Howth with the camera and started a new series on those “semi-legal” spots in this city where Dublin’s street artists to their thing; the Tivoli Carpark, Richmond Villas, Liberty Lane and Windmill Lane. A look at the history of Dalymount Park’s Floodlights, a beautiful plaque dedicated to the Irish Volunteers in Wynn’s Hotel, and a look at how they were perceived in the Birmingham Gazette. A look at Dublin Trams from a time long before the Luas, a floating ballroom on the Liffey and a quick look at a Dubliner who may have designed the Academy Award; the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels, a student Anti-Fascist meeting in 1934 attended by some well known characters,  remembering the Manchester United Store on Westmoreland Street and probably my favourite bit, a look at where the term “Donnybrook Fair” comes from!


The story of ‘Fascist warships in Dublin Bay’ in 1938, the story of Constable Sheahan, the idea of moving Nelson’s Pillar to the Hill of Howth, the infamous ‘Animal Gangs’ of the 1930s, Liberty Hall before Liberty Hall, the story of the ‘African Boy’ John Mulgrave, a crazy trip to Sudan for UCD AFC, foreign media coverage of the Irish Civil War, when Dublin Fire Brigade rushed north during World War II, the earliest sex shops in Dublin, the Behan family and Siberia, the infamous ‘Pinking Dindies’, the Dublin Working Boys Home, Wood Quay vandalism, the first man to parachute over the capital, the Marian statues of Dublin, a chat with Maser, an easy to miss firemark in Kilmainham , some political art from Jim Fitzpatrick, the story of pirate television in the capital, Illustrated London News coverage of the War of Independence, when Hopalong Cassidy came to town, the GAA ‘Vigilance Committee’ of old, Bertie and Brendan, Dubliners with statues beyond these shores, ‘The Heart Of The City’, our first traffic lights and King Billy on his high horse.


Trying to figure out what Dublin’s oldest hotel was, the Dublin strike that lasted fourteen years, Phoenix Park’s Free Peace Festivals in the late 1970s, early days of Stand Up comedy in Dublin, depressing snaps of Sandyford post-Celtic Tiger, the Dublin cinema manager who was imprisoned in Dachau during WW2, Vladimir Lenin’s apparent Rathmines accent, Dublin’s first gay bar, figuring out what the shortest street was in the city, another feature on the The Blades, the David vs Goliath battle between Stein Opticians and the developers, Nazi spy funeral in Deansgrange, Philip Chevron interview, breaking the story about the friendship between Bob Marley and Johnny Giles, Kildare Street Club monkeys debate, Stop Making Sense in 1980s Dublin, Dublin New Wave band Sacre Bleu, the City’s first Drugs cases, mysterious Karl Schumann, the much missed Mena Cribben of Santry, origins of the word Quiz, Maynooth’s spooky room, Dublin’s first Chinese restaurants, Una Bean Mhic Mhathuna‘s illustrious political career, Colloquial areas of the city,  1970s Triad violence, the late night cafe The Manhattan, Foreign Nationals in 1911, Atheists and Agnostics in 1901 and 1911unusual religions in the 1911 census, daylight robbery – Hugh Lane paintings and The Hill – Rathmine’s working class enclave.

The signage of what was once Dublin’s oldest shop, Thomas Read’s. (Image first posted to CHTM! in May 2012)

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(Thanks to Brian Kirby of the Capuchin Archives for bringing my attention to this)

Fascinating photo showing a handmade sign made by German soldiers in the trenches during World War 1, telling the Irish regiment of the British Army in the trench ahead of them that Dublin was being bombarded in response to the Easter Rising.

The wooden board with pinned paper message reads:

Irishmen! Heavy uproa[.] in Ireland, english guns are firing at your wives and children | 1st May 1916

1916 Trench Sign – Irish Regiment. Copyright – The Great War Archive, University of Oxford / Primary Contributor.

The photograph was uploaded by Peter Carolan onto the The First World War Poetry Digital Archive website. Regarding the photo’s background, he has said:

… it given to my granddad by a Major Hand in the 1930’s. My granddad was working for the Major (a retried British Army Officer) as a gardener in Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny … the Major told my Granddad that they fired a few rounds at the sign and did not believe or understand what the sign was about till weeks later when the news filtered through about the 1916 rising … The Major took the photo, after the British had captured the German trench a month later.

Massive thanks to Damian Shiels (Rubicon Heritage) who sent us on this picture.

Raid to capture sign. Credit – Imperial War Museum.

He told us:

… (the trench sign) was placed across from a battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (if I remember correctly) who opened fire on the sign, and actually launched a trench raid to capture it. They afterwards officially presented it to the King to show their loyalty, and it was from there it eventually ended up in the IWM. It got quite a bit of coverage at the time, and a number of periodicals ran sketches of the Dubs taking the sign during the raid…


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We are very excited to announce, just a few days before our third birthday, that our long-awaited book is now available to pre-order from the publishers, New Island. Click here to reach the page.

A perfect Christmas present for any of your family, friends or pets! :)

Available now from New Island

The beautifully illustrated hardback of over 300+ pages contains seventy of the best stories from the last three years, including a number of new articles never published online.

The launch is happening on Wednesday, 12th December. We hope you can join us. RSVP here.

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‘The Last Hour of the Night’ (Harry Clarke, 1922)

I’ve always loved this striking work by Harry Clarke, ‘The Last Hour of the Night’. Dating back to 1922, this image from the celebrated stained-glass artist and illustrator shows the ruins of the revolution in Dublin. The General Post Office, Four Courts and Custom House are all shown destroyed and in flames, while to the right a miserable Dublin tenement can be seen. While many talk about independence as heralding a new era for the city and nation, Clarke showed that Dublin lay in ruins, and that the shocking poverty of the city was unavoidable.

The work served as frontispiece to Patrick Abercrombie’s Dublin of the Future: The New Town Plan (1922) This very interesting work, published under the auspices of the Civics Institute of Ireland, put forward a number of proposals for the city. Originally aimed for publication in 1914, by 1922 the work would include detail of the destruction caused to Dublin during the Easter Rising and later Civil War fighting. It is available to read in full here.

Few towns but have suffered a change, physical and psychological, during these intervening years of war, trade boom and subsequent depression : but Dublin has added the double tragedy of war and civil war within her gates. Of her six glorious buildings in the Renaissance manner only three remain—Post Office, Custom House and Four Courts at intervals of years pr months have been destroyed ;her greatest street has been twice bombarded and part once renewed.

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Dublin is a city of fantastic archives, but many of us will only ever explore a small selection of them, if we can find the time to explore any at all! In recent years social media has allowed archives and institutions like the National Library to share some of the items within their collections with the general public. One particularly interesting archive which has recently begun sharing some of its items on Facebook is the Capuchin Archive on Church Street. The friars of the Capuchin Order from Church Street attended those executed in 1916 at Kilmainham Gaol and administered the last rites, and their archive contains incredible items from the Irish revolutionary period and beyond.

Do you know of any other archives or institutions sharing their content in this way?

Civil War propaganda poster from the Anti-Treaty side, ‘Easter Week Repeats Itself’. Posted to Facebook by Capuchin Archive.

c.1964, a brilliant photograph of Admiral Nelson gazing down over O’Connell Street. Posted to Facebook by Capuchin Archives.


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Image: Wally Cassidy

We’re big fans of Wally Cassidy’s photography, and have shared some of his brilliant shots from the 1980s both here and on our Facebook page. From youth subcultures to great moments of protest and rage, Wally captured some real gems in black and white. There is something about the medium of black and white with photography, it remains timeless. Yesterday, Wally took a series of brilliant photographs at the Anti-Austerity demonstration, and has allowed me to share a few here.

On the march itself, to me it felt a bit like going through the motions. The hostility towards the overpaid union top-brass was totally unsurprising, and Jack O’Connor’s absence from the speakers list notable. I don’t blame him!

You can see some of Wally’s classic images, and some more recent shots, over here on his Facebook page.

Image credit: Wally Cassidy

Image credit: Wally Cassidy

Image: Wally Cassidy


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It took longer than I imagined it might to get down to Windmill Lane for this, the third in a series of posts looking at some of Dublin’s lesser known street art spots. I’ve been to Richmond Villas and Liberty Lane in the first two posts, and am on the look out for other gems. Strange though it may seem, given Windmill Lane’s historical connection to U2, that amongst the thousands of tags that cover the street, I couldn’t find one “Bono is a pox.”


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At the minute I’m reading David Boulton’s study on the Ulster Volunteer Force, UVF: An Anatomy of Loyalist Rebellion, which was published in 1973. Writing a study of anything as the story is still unfolding is a difficult task, but it’s a pretty enjoyable read. The books cover is the work of Cor Klaasen, and some of you may remember the brilliant exhibition of his work in Dublin back in 2010.

One of the key characters in the work is Major Ronald Bunting, described by Tim Pat Coogan as the “henchman” of Ian Paisley during the worst days of the troubles. Bunting had a history of service to the British Armed Forces,but is perhaps best remembered for his physical opposition to the People’s Democracy movement. Video footage of Bunting and Paisley discussing a planned People’s Democracy march in Derry in January 1969 appears on the RTE Archive website, and can be viewed here. Bunting outlined his opposition to “anarchists, revolutionary socialists and republicans” to the media.

People’s Democracy, a radical movement of socialist principles which campaigned for civil rights in the north, planned a ‘long march’ from Belfast to Derry, in the spirit of marches like the Selma to Montgomery march in the United States. This march was attacked on several occasions, most notably at Burntollet Bridge. Bunting was directly responsible for the violence at Burntollet Bridge, having encouraged loyalists who “wished to play a manly role” in stopping the People’s Democracy march to “arm themselves with whatever protective measures they feel to be suitable.” A crowd of 200 attacked the demonstration. That incident has been remembered in song by both loyalists and republicans, for example in Seamus Robinson’s ‘Democracy':

T’was at Burntollet Bridge we bled, yet never turned to flee
As bloodied but unbowed we stayed to win democracy

Major Bunting outlines his opposition to the Peoples Democracy movement.

Of considerable embarrassment to Bunting was the manner in which his son, Ronnie, would become a committed republican-socialist. Active with the Marxist Official IRA, and later leading the Irish National Liberation Army, the son of Major Bunting was gunned down in his home in 1980. Major Bunting insisted his son be buried in a family plot, and not alongside other INLA members.

One of the most interesting anecdotes in Boulton’s book on the UVF relates to Major Bunting, when it is noted:

He became a ‘loyalist’ hero overnight in 1966 when he gate-crashed a 1916 commemoration service in Dublin to lay a wreath in memory of British troops killed in putting the rising down.

This story is also told in Patrick Marrinan’s biography of Ian Paisley, and Ed Moloney and Andrew Pollak’s biography of Paisley, where they note that at Easter 1966 “he went to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin to lay a wreath in memory of British soldiers killed in the 1916 Rising.”

This interference from Bunting caused considerable embarrassment for many parties, as the Church of Ireland had sought to mark the jubilee in a fitting manner. In his remarks at the official ceremony at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Archbishop George Simms noted:

There is much for which to give thanks on our commemorative occasion. We are grateful across the span of the last 50 years for the goodwill, tolerance and freedom expressed and upheld among and between those of differing outlooks and religious allegiances. The words of the Proclamation that guarantee ‘religious and civil liberty, equal rights and opportunities to all citizens’ have brought help and encouragement to minorities during this period. There is a rock like quality about such elements in the formation of a State.

An excellent article on the Church of Ireland and the 1966 commemorations appears in the Autumn 2012 edition of Search, A Church of Ireland journal. It can be read here.

This wasn’t to be the last time Paisley or one of his henchmen interfered with commemorations or the symbols of the Easter Rising. Almost twenty years later, at Easter 1984, Ian Paisley and some supporters postered the GPO with the message ‘ULSTER IS BRITISH’. At the time Paisley told the newspapers that the photo of him postering at the GPO would take “pride of place” in his home, and that he was “glad to stand where the 1916 proclamation was read”.

Irish Independent, May 3 1984.

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Back in August, Dublin street artist and CHTM favourite ADW ended up in hot water with the Gardaí for a piece of street art he painted as part of the Kings of Concrete Festival. In a city where Justice has always looked a little funny, (“The Statue of Justice, mark well her station, her face to the castle and her arse to the nation!”) ADW placed her over the knee of a riot-squad officer, which led to this scene:

Image by Damian Duggan, taken from ADW’s Facebook.

In the latest edition of Rabble, ADW discusses this piece and what it meant, as well as the response of the police to it:

The blindfold represents her decisions to be objective and impartial and not to be influenced by wealth, power, status or politics. In one hand she holds the scales of justice which represents her careful weighing the claims of each side. Her sword which represents her willingness to defend her decisions lies broken beside the riot shield.

Thankfully, he has repainted the piece. Here she is, in all her glory.

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Regardless of what you think about Geldof today, he has been on the ball a few times down the years.

His 1980 single ‘Banana Republic’, with that great reggae bassline, summed up the country quite well and rallied against all the ills of nationalist, conservative Ireland:

And I wonder do you wonder while you’re sleeping with your whore?
Sharing beds with history is like licking runnin’ sores
Forty shades of green yeah, sixty shades of red
Heroes going cheap these days, price a bullet in the head
Banana Republic, Septic Isle Sufferin’ in the screamin’ sea, sounds like dyin’
Everywhere I go, yeah everywhere I see
The black and blue uniforms, Police and Priests

In 1985, Geldof was honoured with a civic reception go mark his African famine relief work. In front of the Lord Mayor, the City Manager and other dignitaries, he rallied against the destruction of his home town:

This city has become increasingly brutalised. The people have lost some of their openness, and I think a lot is largely due to the destruction of the city itself, which was once one of the prettiest cities in these islands and is now a shambolic mess, at best.

Tomorrow, I have to bring some of the BBC around the city to show them some of the things I remember and love about the place. Unfortunately, when I went through the list of my memories, 50 per cent of the things I liked had disappeared, to be replaced by the most mediocre, unaesthetic, architecturally inarticulate buildings I’ve ever seen in my life. They are a scandal. They can only be the product of back-handers, political corruption and moral degradation.

His words ring true today as they did then:

When a city is being destroyed by its custodians, then what are the people who live in it supposed to think? The brutalisation seeps through, in the increased use of drugs, which is epidemic in this city, the street violence and the rudeness that is almost everywhere. And I’m sorry if my image clashes with the tourist image of it, but that’s what I’ve seen over thirty-two years. As I say, it’s very nice to come home and it’s particularly nice to be honoured in this way. But please stop destroying Dublin, and please get rid of those buildings that offend us all, that make us so depressed. And, please, bring back to this city some of the life and beauty that was there when I grew up with, and make it somewhere that’s nice to come home to…

The above quote was taken from Frank McDonald’s must-read The Destruction of Dublin, published in 1985.

Front cover. Frank McDonald, The Destruction of Dublin (1985)

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Newcomen Bank (now the Rates office), Castle Street. Credit – Flickr user milezero

Most Dubliners pass the Rates office building on Castle Street without giving it a second glance. Few know the story of scandal, bankruptcy and suicide which still haunts its corridors.

In 1722, a banker by the name of William Gleadowe married into the Newcomen family of Carriglass in Co. Longford and assumed their name. In 1781 he was knighted and elected to the Irish Parliament. Here, he  voted in favour of the Act of Union. Sir William Gleadow-Newcomen’s wife was rewarded with a peerage as thanks.

In 1778, he commissioned architect Thomas Ivory to build a new bank at 16 Castle Street next to City Hall which traded as Newcomen & co. Bank. It was completed in 1781.

At time of his death in 1807, he was in £74,000 in debt to his own bank. Hhis son Thomas Viscount Newcomen inherited his mother’s title and the management of the Bank.

Thomas followed his father’s example by borrowing £44,000 from the same source. Additionally, he borrowed elsewhere to the tune of £163,000.

He soon turned into a despondent, isolated, Scrooge like figure.

William John Fitzpatrick in his memoir 1892 memoir Secret Service Under Pitt, described how he:

For years he lived alone in the bank, gloating, it was wildly whispered, over ingots of treasure, with no lamp to guide him but the luminous diamonds which had been left for safe keeping in his hands. Moore would have compared him to ‘the gloomy gnone that dwells in the dark gold mine‘. Wrapped in a sullen misanthropy, he was sometimes seen emerging at twilight from his iron clamped abode.

From 1825, the mismanaged bank suffered a number of failures and eventually had to close.

Newcomen, then forty-eight and still unmarried, could not face the scandal. He returned home to Killester House, went into his office and turned a gun on himself.

After his death the title became extinct.

In 1831, the building was sold to the Hibernian bank and it later became the Rates office.

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Over the years we’ve looked at many of Dublin’s brilliant and controversial statues, but one which I’d not stumbled across was the statue to the great Socrates in the Botanic Gardens. My brother was strolling through the grounds and took a photograph, and I wonder how many others are unaware of its presence in Dublin.

Socrates in the Botanic Gardens. (L.Fallon)

Not quite a signatory of the 1916 Proclamation or anything else you might expect of a man immortalised in this form in Dublin, Socrates (c. 469 BC – 399 BC) is one of the founders of Western philosophy, celebrated for his contributions in the field of ethics in particular. Does anyone have any information on the origins of this brilliant statue, and how it came to be placed in Dublin?

A friend joked it must be in honour of his time spent playing the beautiful game with UCD AFC. A brilliant joke, but that was another Socrates, and he never kicked a ball apparently.

Socrates in the Botanic Gardens (Irish Independent, January 1966)

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