Archive for the ‘Dublin History’ Category

We’re very pleased to announce that Barry Gleeson has joined the bill for our Pieta House fundraiser next Thursday in The Sugar Club.

The blog celebrates Dublin’s very rich musical heritage, which has involved everything from compiling (and often uploading!) a timeline of Dublin punk and new wave 7″s to providing a spotlight to new and emerging acts, across a range of fields. It has also involved looking at Dublin talents like Frank Harte and the wonderful Liam Weldon, traditional singers who knew how to carry stories through the medium of songs. Liam Weldon was once described as being “as Dublin as the Easter Rising, and as Irish as the Love Songs of Connacht or the Limerick Soviet that got clobbered.”

The line-up we have assembled for Thursday is varied, spanning all from street artist Maser to young hip hop artist Costello, and reflecting the broadest possible range of Dubliners. Tradition is hugely important to us however, and nowhere is it more evidently found in Dublin than in institutions like the Góilín Singers’ Club. Barry Gleeson is a fine Dublin singer, and a voice that may be familiar to readers of Come Here To Me having shared the stage with our favourite “folk miscreants” Lynched in the past. From Artane in Dublin, his song subjects range from the brilliantly humorous (hear his ode to nightclub Tomango’s!) to songs which examine Irish political and social history.

Remembering the early days of the Góilín Club in The Thomas House, Gleeson recalled “There’d often be only about seven of us on Thursday nights in Thomas House. I really enjoyed it. Our names would be called out at the end of the night – fame at last!” Clubs like the Góilín, and institutions like the Irish Traditional Music Archive, have proven invaluable in preserving a most important oral tradition. Gleeson is a joy to listen to, and we hope you’ll join us on Thursday to enjoy it.


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We’re delighted with the poster for next weeks event in The Sugar Club, which draws inspiration from the work of both MASER and Jim Fitzpatrick:


The central inspiration for the piece is Thin Lizzy’s iconic Black Rose LP cover, which was designed by Fitzpatrick. We’re great admirers of Fitzpatrick’s work, from his political posters of figures such as Che Guevara and Joe McCann to his Celtic influenced designs. Jim comes from fine stock too, being the grandson of Thomas Fitzpatrick of The Lepracaun, who also contributed cartoons to the Weekly Freeman.

'Black Rose' via www.jimfitzpatrick.com

‘Black Rose’ via http://www.jimfitzpatrick.com

Further information on the event and tickets can be found here.

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Nelson model at The Little Museum of Dublin.

Nelson model at The Little Museum of Dublin.

168 steps were all that kept Dubliners from the viewing platform of the Nelson Pillar, or Nelson’s Pillar as it became known locally.

Francis Johnston’s Doric column, topped with Thomas Kirk’s statue of the famous Admiral, was ever-controversial. Everyone from Saint Patrick to John F. Kennedy was proposed as a suitable replacement for the top of the monument over the years by campaigners shocked by the presence of a British naval hero, and not an Irishman, in the centre of O’Connell Street.

Regardless of who was on top of it, the pillar itself became a part of the Dublin streetscape, and buses and trams made their way for ‘Nelson’s Pillar’ for many years. On the eight of March 1966 a bomb destroyed the core of the monument, and the English Admiral was gone, with pieces of the pillar destined to become a mantelpiece staple in Dublin. Some celebrated his demise, others mourned Horatio. The Senator Owen Sheehy-Skeffington went as far as to say that “the man who destroyed the pillar made Dublin look more like Birmingham and less like an ancient city on the River Liffey”.

The Little Museum of Dublin have recently added this great model of the monument to their collection. Meticulous in detail, right down to the gates and the inscriptions detailing Nelson’s victories, it is worth a visit for anyone who climbed the 168 steps – or indeed those who never made it. For an idea of scale, see this tweet.

The entrance to the Nelson Pillar.

The entrance to the Nelson Pillar.

Nelson himself (via @dublinmuseum)

Nelson himself (via @dublinmuseum)

NCAD students with the 'liberated' head of Nelson, 1966.

NCAD students with the ‘liberated’ head of Nelson, 1966.

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Recently, we were approached by man about town Johnny Moy regarding the possibility of a Come Here To Me themed night in The Sugar Club. While we’ve tried our hand at events before, we felt it necessary to get the venue right, to find a place where we wouldn’t be competing noise wise or otherwise with anything else, and a place where music, spoken word and visuals could all come together in right way.

Pieta House is a charity very close to our hearts, and undoubtedly the same for many of you. We have decided then to throw our weight behind a forthcoming night in The Sugar Club. The line-up we’ve put together between us is eclectic, with a variety of talks and sets followed by boys and girls we know spinning tunes. This night takes place June 4th, ‘Dublin Songs & Stories’, with doors opening from 7.30pm in The Sugar Club. Tickets cost €10, and every cent we take in will go to Pieta House. Please support it and please spread the word.

You can get tickets in advance from here. Owing to the limited capacity on the night, you may want to!

Line Up:

MASER. Live and Love.

MASER. Live and Love.


Dublin and Ireland’s favourite street artist is back in on home turf after a two year working trip around the globe doing exhibitions and large scale installments. His work has taken him all over the planet. Maser started out as a graff artist in the 90’s and quickly rose up the ranks, he now has an international reputation for his ultra large outdoor works, he has also progressed to full scale exhibitions over the last few years. Readers of the blog may remember his ‘They Are Us’ collaboration with Damien Dempsey, which raised huge sums of money for the homeless in Dublin. His recent work can be seen in Hawaii, Sydney, New York, Las Vegas, Berlin, Milan to name a few. Back in Ireland now for a 6 week residency in the prolific Graphic Studios, Dublin. Maser has spoken in the past about his work at Offset and Sweet talk and he will join us on the night to get us up to speed on his international rise and his Dublin roots.

'Che' by Jim Fitzpatrick.

‘Che’ by Jim Fitzpatrick.


Jim should be no stranger to anyone with a remote interest in the arts, as his most famous piece of work is the iconic VIVA CHE – the internationally famous portrait of Che Guevara. This image went on to become a global symbol of resistance to oppression. Jim never made (nor wanted) to make money from this work as long as people used it respectively and in context. In Sep 2011 after several miss usage (without rights) in crass global marketing campaigns Jim decided enough was enough and took the image rights out of the public domain. That same year he met with El Che’s daughter (Aledia Guevara) and arranged a legal transfer of the image rights himself to her family to benefit the people of Cuba. Jim has also worked extensively with Irish bands and musicians, most notably Thin Lizzy and he was very close to the former singer Phil Lynott, Jim will give a good insight into what Dublin was like back then.

Una Mullally's study 'In The Name of Love'

Una Mullally’s study ‘In The Name of Love’


Journalist, broadcaster and author, we’re delighted to have the involvement of Una Mullally in this event. In 2014, she published her first book In The Name of Love, an oral history of the movement for marriage equality in Ireland through the ages. One of the busiest people in Dublin it seems, she presents Ceol ar an Imeall (Music on the Edge), an alternative music TV show on TG4, and has also organised the popular Come Rhyme With Me spoken word nights in the city. Given the talk around marriage equality in recent times, we wanted to invite Una to talk about the movement for marriage equality and gay rights in Irish society.

An image from the 'Where Were You' Facebook page.

An image from the ‘Where Were You’ Facebook page. “Skins…Specials…Madness” – Kilbarrack – Early 80s. ( Photo Joe Behan.)


We’re great fans of Garry O’Neill’s book Where Were You, and the ever-expanding Facebook page that came along with it. The book is a visual social document of young Dublin. A photographic journey through five decades of the city’s youth cultures, street styles and teenage life. All the material was sourced over four years or more of constant advertising to the general public through posters and flyers, and also from photographers, newspapers and books. The book covered the youth subcultures of Dublin’s past, including Punks, Teddy Boys, Skinheads, Hippies, Mods, Rockers, Goths, Bikers etc. Now, Garry is looking at the record shops of Dublin, which are slowly vanishing from the streets of the capital, and we invite him to tell us a little bit more about all of that.

'No Ordinary Love' - Aidan Kellly.

‘No Ordinary Love’ – Aidan Kellly.


Dublin born Aidan Kelly has been taking photographs for over 15 years building a solid archive of mainly documentary, fine art and portrait work. He’s worked for clients such as U2, and renowned playwright Martin MacDonagh, while he was also involved with the ‘They Are Us’ Project with Maser and Damien Dempsey. He has collaborated with Dublin street artist DMC in recent times, and his work often draws on the streets of Dublin as a central influence. He is a true Dub with with good knack for a story.


A Radiator From Space, a Trouble Pilgrim, we had to invite Pete Holidai to join us once again. The Radiators From Space produced two classic albums in the 1970s, in the form of TV Tube Heart and Ghosttown. In 2012, 35 years after the release of their classic single ‘Television Screen’, Come Here To Me chatted to Phil Chevron. Today, Pete and Steve Rapid of the original Radiators are back on stage as the Trouble Pilgrims, joined by long term member Johnny Bonnie along with bassist Paddy Goodwin and rhythm guitarist Tony St Ledger. In 2014, they released ‘Animal Gang Blues’, a 7″ record full of the stories and lore of the notorious ‘Animal Gangs’ of 1940s Dublin.




Working Class Records have released some brilliant slices of Irish hip hop in recent years. The label first came to our attention through the Street Literature album ‘Products of the Environment’, and in recent years performers like Lethal Dialect, GI and Costello have gone from strength to strength in the Irish hip hop scene. In 2013, the documentary Broken Song told the story of just what the lads at Working Class Records have been trying to do, with The Irish Times describing it as “Dublin’s first hip-hop street opera.” Costello’s Illisophical has been one of the most played albums around here in recent times and we’re delighted to invite him to take part.

Lewis Kenny

Lewis Kenny


Bohs man in the stanza, Cabra native Lewis Kenny has been attracting a lot of attention in recent times, and deservedly so. At the start of the year, Bohemians appointed Kenny as the first ever Poet In Residence at a League of Ireland club, a brave departure! But, there’s much more to Kenny than just The Beautiful Game, and as our friends at Rabble have noted “The work of poet Lewis kenny takes in everything from skagged out MDMA session victims and urban gentrification, right up to the importance of cherishing your ma.”

And then, to play it all out, we’ll be inviting people to take to the decks as we all relax and enjoy some music. We’ve roped in soul music extraordinaire and Anseo regular Shane Walsh, we’ll force Johnny Moy into it too, and we’ve invited other boys and girls from the CHTM circle to give it a go.

More tba.

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Sign-painting, sadly, is an industry in decline in Dublin. They said that Brendan Behan was the son of one of the finest sign-painters in Dublin, though Stephen Behan was by no means alone in the industry. Brendan himself dabbled in the field, before discovering other talents. Kevin Freeney, born in 1919, painted “at least 700 pubs and shopfronts” in the capital, and was a frequent sight on the streets of Dublin once upon a time, carrying his paint and brushes everywhere. The Freeney story was brilliantly told in the short firm ‘Gentlemen of Letters’, which brought the story right up to the present day through artists like MASER.

The Freeney family have continued a family tradition for generations now, always maintaining a great pride in their history. An archive of Kevin Freeney’s work, available to view on Flickr, is testament to that. A new book, entitled The Art of Painting Buses, demonstrates that the family continue to make their mark on the city.

The first bus painted by the Freeney's. (From The Art of Painting Buses)

The first bus painted by the Freeney’s. From ‘The Art of Painting Buses.’

1988 was the year of Dublin’s Millennium. Well, it wasn’t actually the Millennium (the Vikings were here long before 988, we’re sorry to tell you), but 1988 is remembered in Dublin today for the festival and celebrations of all things Dublin and old. There are lasting monuments in the city today to 1988, for example the mosaic tiles on the side of St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, the Molly Malone statue and the milk bottles in your attic. There are also plenty of memories, and readers may remember seeing the above bus driving around the city. Painted by the Freeney’s, it marked their first foray into, the art of painting buses. It was not to prove the last.

From  'The Art of Painting Buses'.

From ‘The Art of Painting Buses’.

The sheer labour involved in the art was immense, and sometimes the work tedious. In an interview with the Irish Independent, Tom Freeney remembered that “Some buses were tougher than others. In 1993 we had to hand paint 38,652 garden peas onto a Hak Produce bus. It was very hard to motivate yourself knowing you were facing into another day of peas.” For me, some of the most interesting images in this collection are those advertising Dublin businesses no longer with us, while others remain familiar names.

Bad Bobs. From 'The Art of Painting Buses'.

Bad Bobs. From ‘The Art of Painting Buses’.

From 'The Art of Painting Buses'.

From ‘The Art of Painting Buses’.

Today, Freeney’s Graphics continue family traditions. With the day that is in it, it’s only right to draw attention to this recent wrap on a Hailo taxi! Few families in Dublin have remained as firmly rooted in a family tradition as the Freeney’s, and The Art of Painting Buses is a fine record of a job well done.

Image via 'Freeney's Graphics' Facebook.

Image via ‘Freeney’s Graphics’ Facebook.

For more information, see The Art of Painting Buses website.

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After nearly 130 years of production, the anarchist newspaper Freedom moved its operations online last year. Sadly unable to sustain a regular printed publication in this era, the East London-based Freedom Press now publishes its news and opinions on the web accompanied by a quarterly freesheet and a monthly email digest. From 1886 to 2014, it was the stalwart organ of the English-speaking Anarchist movement and could boast of links with some of the world’s foremost Anarchist thinkers including Peter Kropokin, Marie-Louise Berneri and Colin Ward.

Front cover of Freedom Newspaper (March 1916) - Libcom.com

Front cover of Freedom Newspaper (March 1916) – Libcom.com

While reading a copy of Freedom (sub-titled the “Journal of Anarchist Communism”) from March 1916 on the Libcom website, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that along with major cities like London, Manchester, Glasgow and smaller ones such as Plymouth, Yeovil and Falkirk – names and addresses of Freedom newspaper sellers are listed for Dublin and Belfast.

Sellers of Freedom Newspaper (March 1916) - Libcom.com

Sellers of Freedom Newspaper (March 1916) – Libcom.com

They were:

“Belfast – W. Robinson, 167 York Street
Dublin – J.C. Kearney, 59 Upper Stephen Street”

Jospeh C. Kearney (c. 1887 to 1946) was a bookseller and stationer who lived above his shop at 59 Upper Stephen Street his whole life. There are a small number of fleeting references to him and his family online. I think it could be assumed that he had some sympathy to socialist or anarchist politics he was happy to both stock Freedom and let the newspaper publicly advertise the fact.

In 1901, Joseph C. Kearney (14) was living at home with his widow mother Lilly Kearney (38) nee Walsh and two younger brothers Thomas (11) and Alfred (10). Lily was a tobacconist and employed an assistant, Mary Callaghan (19) from Cork, in the shop downstairs. Obviously reasonably financially well off, the family also enjoyed the services of a servant Ellen Byrne (16) from Carlow.

On the first anniversary of her death, a notice was put into The Freeman’s Journal (4 December 1891) in memory of a Mrs Anne Walsh of 59 Upper Stephen Street . I suspect this was Lilly’s mother.

Map of Stephen Street, 1912. Credit - swilson.info

Map showing the looping Stephen Street, 1912. Credit – swilson.info

The Kearney family put an advertisement in the Freeman’s Journal (8 March 1902) looking for a “respectable, strong, young country girl” to work as a general servant. They inserted similar notices in 1904 and 1911. The family were decidedly middle-class.

By 1911, Lily (50) had re-married a Royal Dublin Fusiliers Army Pensioner by the name of Vincent Walter (60). Her three sons Joseph (24), Thomas (22) and Alfred (20) all still lived at home with her and listed their profession as “News agent shop men”. Lily’s brother Alfred Walsh (52), an “Engine Fitter”, and a cousin Louie Wilson (16), a “Drapers Shop Assistant” from Liverpool also lived in the house at that time.

In August 1918, Joseph C. Kearney was fined after his wife Louisa Kearney illegally sold matches to a customer. It was the first prosecution, according to the Irish Examiner (28 August 1918), under a new act which “provided that matches must be sold in boxes and not in bundles under any circumstances”.

On 23 February 1922, a notice was put into the Irish Independent by Lily Kearney-Walter who then living in California, San Francisco to mark the 5th anniversary of the death of her brother Alfred. Lily obviously moved back home as she died in Harold’s Cross Hospice on 6 June 1924. The notice in the Irish Independent (9 June 1924) mentioned her late husband V.B. Walter was late of the SMRASC which I think stood for Service Member (?) Royal Army Service Corps.

Kearney had another brush with the law but this time for more interesting reasons than selling matches. In April 1928, Joseph C. Kearney was found guilty and fined a total of £60 for selling two “obscene” publications entitled “Family Limitation” and “The Married Women’s Guide”. It could be concluded from this that Kearney was still politically inclined.

Joseph Kearney arrested. Irish Times, March 06, 1928.

Joseph Kearney arrested. Irish Times, March 06, 1928.

In court, the state prosecutor Carrigan was quoted in the Irish Times (20 April 1928) as saying:

The theories contained in the publications might find support in England or in large communities, but in a comparatively small community, like that in Ireland, he did not think that they would find favour, not that the Irish were superior people, but they, happily, were more old-fashioned than were people elsewhere. The public good in Ireland would not be served by the circulation of these books.

Joseph C. Kearney tragically lost his wife and two children in the 1920s and 1930s.

His wife Louisa Kearney died on 8th October 1923. Emily Lousia, his second daughter, passed away on 10 March 1939 aged 22 and was buried in Glasnevin cemetery. His youngest son Vincent Joseph Kearney died on 24th February 1936 aged 15 after a short illness.

Joseph C Kearney himself died on 29 January 1946 and was buried in Glasnevin with his family.

After his death, the newsagent at 59 Upper Stephen Street was taken over  by a P. Smyth. This house and that whole row at the corner of Upper Stephen Street and South Great George’s Street was demolished and replaced by a modern office block (Dunnes Stores head office) in 2007.

Dunnes Stores Head Office - sligotoday.ie

Dunnes Stores Head Office – sligotoday.ie

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This footage aired on ABC Australia in 1996, a year which witnessed a significant re-emergence of anti-drugs activity in working class Dublin suburbs, leading The Irish Times to write in December of that year that “for all the talk of government action against ‘drug barons’, 1996 was the year when the people forced change.”

André Lyder was penned a definitive account of the anti-drugs movement in Dublin historically, entitled Pushers Out: The Inside Story of Dublin’s Anti-Drugs Movement. In it, he describes the atmosphere of 1996, writing that, “You could be at a march of three thousand people in Crumlin on Monday night, at a packed meeting in the Cabra Bingo Hall on Tuesday, in East Wall or Pearse Street on Wednesday, at a meeting of thousands in the Macushla Hall in the north inner-city on Thursday, out in Tallaght or Clondalkin on Friday.”

In September 1996, thousands marched through the streets of Dublin with the Coalition of Communities Against Drugs, with Tony Gregory informing the crowd that “if the Gardaí did not take effective action, communities would.” A ten year old boy from Ballyfermot carried a baby coffin shoulder high through the streets, “with the solemn face of a chief mourner”, while the Irish Independent reported that “Dublin’s addicts are getting younger by the day, it seems. The marchers didn’t look the slightest bit shocked when Cecil Johnston from Killinarden told the protesters of a 10 year old who had been on the treatment books for the past eight months.”

One feature of the anti-drugs movement, in both the 1980s (the time of ‘Concerned Parents Against Drugs’) and the 1990s was the tactic of marching communities onto the homes of known drug pushers. One such march is shown in the above footage. The marches were often controversial, denounced by politicians, Gardaí and in the press. Yet a survey commissioned by Cabra Communities Against Drugs in the late 1990s found that ninety-eight per cent of residents asked were in favour of anti-drugs patrols in the area, while ninety per cent supported marching onto the homes of known dealers. The campaign stated that:

Time and time again we hear people such as journalists and professional social workers describe activities such as marching on drug pushers and anti-drugs patrols in the area as ‘vigilantism’, and the people involved as ‘thugs’ etc. The support of over ninety percent of those surveyed for both these tactics show that the Cabra community recognises the necessity of this aspect of our campaign. As usual those who do not have to live in the areas affected by drugs are only to willing to denigrate those in the community who are striving to make the area a better place to live for all.

While it may feel like only yesterday, it is important to remember that this is now important Dublin social history, and such news reports at this one serve an important function for those researching street politics in Dublin or broader issues around addiction or vigilantism.

Still from

Still from news report, showing an interview with ‘Tallaght Against Drug Dealers’.

Still from news report, showing a banner in Tallaght proclaiming 'No Heroin Here'

Still from news report, showing a banner in Tallaght proclaiming ‘No Heroin Here’

Still from news report showing an anti-drugs march in Tallaght.

Still from news report showing an anti-drugs march in Tallaght.

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