1989 doesn’t seem so long ago. But reading the Dublin Insight Guide first published that year gives an Insight into a whole different city, pre-boom, pre-bust. With segments on “Local Heroes,” “Street Characters” and “Games People Play,” it sculpts a city very different to the one we live in today. The guide places a lot of emphasis on the twee side of Dublin, with pictures of old men in pubs, (anyone guess the one featured on the cover? Mulligans maybe?) horse drawn carts and street life. I’ve scanned and uploaded some of the better images, unfortunately the book spread a lot over two pages that wouldn’t scan correctly.
A great snap below, taking in the city from the South East. Long before the Marlborough Street Bridge was even thought of, notice the Odeon Cinema on Eden Quay and the lack of the Sean O’Casey pedestrian bridge.
The below snap comes from a section in the book called “Street Credibility” and looks like a game of handball although it just locates it as “a central Dublin Street.” It looks like the corner of Temple Bar at the back of Central Bank… again, Any ideas? Alongside the picture is a piece dealing matter-of-factually with Dublin beggars, saying “a slightly dilapidated third world capital, almost Asian in its colour, clutter and confusion, and unfortunately poverty. Many tourists are shocked to find Dublin is a city of beggars, many of them are members of Ireland’s traveling community- tinkers, itinerants or travelers as they are known, who number about 16, 000 in all.”
The top of Grafton Street below, with Robert Rice’s on the left and the Gaiety on the right. A stalwart of the Gaiety gets a mention in actor Micháel Mac Liammóir, quoting a time when, in full costume, he was sitting having a pint in Neary’s on Chatham Street. In full wig and make- up, and chatting to the barman, a disgruntled Dubliner bawled across at them “ah why don’t the two of ye get a divorce?” To which Mac Liammór replied “we can’t dear, we’re Catholics.”
In a two page article on Dublin’s bookshops, the below is captioned “Queuing for school texts in Greene’s.” Other stores of note that they mention to have disappeared are The Alchemists Head, (East Essex Street, “dealing with the supernatural, the occult and science fiction,”) and Zee Books (Duke Street, “a quiet basement place strong on second hand, arty and left-wing works.”)
“The state of the Irish economy is desperate, but doesn’t always seem serious… the summer festivals in every town, dedicated to various unlikely subjects, produce prodigious feats of drinking and dissipation.”
The book goes into great detail about Dublin’s street characters. Bang Bang, the Yupper and Brien O’Brien, as does the famous author and character, Pat Ingoldsby below. Apparently the red bandana was a part of an outfit “”sixties-in-aspic, denim flowered and beaded.” A little bit different to now then.
“Shopkeeper from Dublin’s closely knit Italian Community,” the below looks like it could be somewhere down around Smithfield. The book gives over quite a bit to market traders, hawking everything from fish to wrapping paper, and describes “the Dublin saunter” where people would “go to town on a Saturday afternoon with nothing more definite in mind that to stroll around, window shop and to share a drink or coffee with one of those friends you meet by chance on the street.”
The “travel tips” section at the back has some gems too, covering aspects of daily life in the city, giving food recommendations “under £8 -over £18,” and hotel recommendations “under £10 – over £100.” Some of the names have survived, many have not.
Thanks to Rose Murray for the book!