Archive for the ‘Dublin History’ Category

Great find from the Irish Student Movement Research Project who originally uploaded the scanned document onto their Flickr page.

It’s a poster for three benefit gigs in September/October 1983 in aid of the Anti-Amendment Campaign. This wide reaching group unsuccessfully fought against the Eighth Amendment which introduced a constitutional ban on abortion in Ireland. Thirty-two years later and we are unfortunately still fighting to repeal it.

Anti-Amendment Music - Rock against the Referendum (1983). Uploaded by Student History Ireland Project.

Anti-Amendment Music – Rock against the Referendum (1983). Uploaded by Student History Ireland Project.

The leaflet indicated that the ‘Anti Amendment Music’ sub-group had the support of many of the country’s leading musical acts including Bob Geldof, Paul Brady, Christy Moore and the Tokyo Olympics.

Ringsend’s finest The Blades also backed the fight and played a benefit gig for the campaign in September 1982. They, along with the Rhythm Kings and Some Kind of Wonderful, headlined the annual The Lark in the Park concert in Saint Anne’s Park in Raheny in July 1983. Illustrating the point well that these ‘on side’ bands were really at the top of their game when they helped the campaign out.

The poster offers an interesting snapshot into the Dublin music scene of a time featuring some of the leading gigging bands in three iconic venues. The first of which is now demolished, the second one completely unrecognisable and the last renamed.

On 30th September, Dublin funky reggae band Some Kind of Wonderful headlined the first gig in McGonagles (now demolished) on South Anne Street off Grafton Street. Support came from Max (featuring former members of the Soulmates and the New Versions) and pop music luminary BP Fallon. Other enticements to get punters through the door included food, wine and “video” (!)

Some Kind of Wonderful (nd). From 'U2: Into the Heart: The Stories Behind Every Song' by Niall Stokes (2005)

Some Kind of Wonderful (nd). From ‘U2: Into the Heart: The Stories Behind Every Song’ by Niall Stokes (2005)

On 9th October, pub-rock group the Rhythm Kings featuring Ferdia MacAnna (aka Rocky de Valera) played The Baggot Inn. The venue, which along with McGonagles was a crucial cornerstone in the Dublin live music scene for decades, has been completely refurbished and was reopened recently as a Mexican-themed bar called Xico.

On 14th October, stand-up comedian Billy Magra hosted a night in The Sportman’s Inn (now known as Kiely’s) in Mount Merrion. The Club Comedy nights, along with others that Billy ran in the Project Arts Centre and the Mansion House, helped develop the live stand up comedy scene in Dublin and played host to amongst others the late Dermot Morgan, Kevin McAleer, Michael Redmond, Ian MacPherson and Mannix Flynn (today an independent Dublin City Councillor).

If anyone has any more posters from ‘Anti Amendment Music’ gigs or related memories, please get in touch or leave a comment.

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(This was originally featured on our Facebook page which may have been missed by some of our readers. It was hugely successful with 372 likes, 60 comments and 114 shares)

There are close to 1,000 pubs open today in Dublin city and county. Of these, around 15 are part of an exclusive club. Known as Early Houses, these are public houses that were granted and still avail of a special licence (dating back to 1927) which allows them to open from Monday to Saturday at 7am. Regular pubs can start serving from 10.30am.

We’ve previously looked at the all-hours drinking culture of Bona-Fides, Kips and Early Houses in this article.

Originally these places catered for dock workers, market traders, fishermen, night workers and those attending early-morning fairs. Today the clientele is a little more varied and depending on where you go, you are likely to rub shoulders with wired shift-workers (postmen, nurses etc.), thirsty early risers, tourists who have landed into Dublin early and all-night revellers who have no intention of going to bed yet.

Brand New Retro recently scanned up a hilarious 2003 article on Early Houses from the legendary and must missed Slate magazine.

The Chancery featured in The Slate (2003). Scanned by Brand New Retro.

The Chancery featured in The Slate (2003). Scanned by Brand New Retro.

Since 1962, no new pubs have been added to the list and they are considered a dying breed. In 2008, the government put forward legislation to revoke Early House licences but they eventually decided to leave them as they are. For the time being anyway.

The 12 Early Houses left in the city centre are clustered on the Northside around Capel Street close to the old Markets and on the Southside around the Quays and Pearse Street area which would have the ports of call for dockers and sailors. See map below.

The Fisherman’s Bar, attached to The Waterside pub, in the Northside coastal village of Howth is the only early house in the Dublin suburbs as far as we know. There were early houses in Dun Laoghaire and in Bray Dart Station but they’ve since closed their doors.

Slattery’s on Capel Street is the only one that offers food and is unquestionably the place to go if you want a Full Irish breakfast and a pint at 7am.

The Dark Horse (which hosts a monthly ‘Breakfast Club’  for early morning ravers), The Chancery and The Capel are the most popular spots for the mad-out-of-it crew.

M. Hughes, due to its location, probably attracts more members of the legal profession than the other pubs.

Similarly the Galway Hooker in Heuston Station would be the natural spot for a thirsty traveller before he jumps on an early-morning train.

The rest of the pubs would normally be full of locals and regulars so a better place if you are looking for a quiet early morning pint but they probably won’t be too hospitable to Ebenezer Goode and a large group of his mates.

We’ve put together this handy map for locals and tourists who might find themselves looking for an early morning tipple :

Map of Dublin Early Houses. Credit - Sam (CHTM!)

Map of Dublin Early Houses. Credit – Sam (CHTM!)

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Thirty years ago in 1985, Ireland was gripped by the summer of moving statues. From Ballinspittle in County Cork to suburban Dublin, people gathered at religious monuments in the hope or belief that they would witness statues physically moving before their very eyes. While this story is well-known now, one aspect of the story has largely been forgotten. At Ballinspittle, where huge crowds and sections of the international media gathered over several months, the monument of the Virgin Mary was attacked with axes and hammers by a fundamentalist religious group from Dublin, leading to a high-profile court case, media appearances and a few broken windows in Clondalkin (more on that below!)

Irish Press (5 May 1986)

Irish Press (5 May 1986)

1985 in Ireland is perhaps best remembered for the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement at Hillsborough, as a year of much violence in the North and for the founding of the Progressive Democrats by Des O’Malley in the South. For many reading this however, it is perhaps a year best remembered for standing at roadsides and roundabouts.

Ballinspittle in Co. Cork, the centre of much of the media attention in 1985. (Image: Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence, via www.geograph.ie)

Ballinspittle in Co. Cork, the centre of much of the media attention in 1985. (Image: Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence, via http://www.geograph.ie)

Ballinspittle, about 5 miles southwest of Kinsale, was to find its way into the pages of the New York Times and papers right across the world as a result of events there in July 1985. The first reports in the Irish media began to appear around 26 July, with reports of two local women claiming to have seen the statue of the Virgin Mary in the town moving, at a shrine that had been there since the 1950s. What was interesting is that the local Parish priest was in no hurry to endorse the claims being made, remarking that he had no comment to make. From small groups of local people, word spread throughout Munster in particular, and by 31 July the press were reporting that 5,000 people had shown up at the monument on a single night. The media jumped on all of this, but there had been claims earlier in the year, by schoolchildren in Kerry, that they had witnessed a Marian statue in their local church move. Fintan O’Toole, as a journalist with Magill, travelled to Kerry and interviewed some of those who had claimed to witness the Marian statue there moving, in a feature which was published before events at Ballinspittle. Now however, with what was allegedly happening in Cork, people took those claims more seriously too and this was seen as a chain of events.

Magill reports on the claims of a moving statue in Kerry. (Source: http://politico.ie/magazine/magill/1985-05-16)

Magill reports on the claims of a moving statue in Kerry. (Source: http://politico.ie/magazine/magill/1985-05-16)

The Bishop of Cork, Michael Murphy, issued a statement informing people that “direct supernatural intervention is a very rare happening in life, so common sense would demand that we approach the claims made concerning the grotto at Ballinspittle with prudence and caution. Before a definite pronouncement could be made by the Church all natural explanations would have to be examined and exhausted over a lengthy period of time.” This approach was similar to that which had been taken in Kerry by the church.

For the local economy at Ballinspittle, The Irish Times reported that “the shops and the two local pubs have been given an unexpected boost in an otherwise quiet tourist season.” One woman wrote to the newspapers noting that bus companies seemed to be making a killing bringing the curious and the faithful from right across Ireland, while it was reported one man got a telling off from the gathered crowd for opening his chip van directly opposite the shrine, something one journalist noted was found to be “unsuitable to the solemn nature of the occasion.” A local told a visiting American journalist that “Knock spawned souvenir shops and a partially-completed airport, why can’t we do the same?”

The story made the pages of the Wall Street Journal, and the paper quoted the Government press secretary Peter Prendergast as saying “three-quarters of the country is laughing heartily. In Dublin, the citizens are anxiously watching James Larkin on O’Connell Street to see if it will move.” The BBC sent a reporter from Newsnight (above) and a team of cameramen to Ireland. In the weeks that followed, people began claiming that similar scenes were occurring at shrines at Dunmanway and Courtmacsherry, while in Kilkenny, there were reports of over half a dozen locations where statues were ‘moving’, and there too the church urged caution and scepticism. There was an academic intervention from staff at the Department of Applied Psychology in UCC, who claimed that “people sway when standing still for a period of time and what they are looking at appears to move.” They called it the ‘Ballinspittle Phenomenon’. They claimed that it was an issue of light, as “the statue appeared to move only when it is dark.” In the North, Unionist Jim Wells of the DUP told the media that:

We find much of Roman Catholic doctrine repugnant… [we find it repugnant] that the Virgin Mary is regarded as a deity that can be prayed to, who can forgive sins and heal the sick and all that, that shrines which can supposedly move in Ballinspittle or wherever it is can delude thousands into believing that there are some magical powers. That is superstition of almost African tribal levels.

"Moving Statue No. 76." A cartoon from Freedom News, a radical newspaper in Cork at the time. (Credit: Irish Left Archive, https://cedarlounge.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/freedom-news-cork-irsp-october-1985.pdf)

“Moving Statue No. 76.” A cartoon from Freedom News, a radical newspaper in Cork at the time. (Credit: Irish Left Archive, https://cedarlounge.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/freedom-news-cork-irsp-october-1985.pdf)


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Chant! Chant! Chant! via irishrock.org

Chant! Chant! Chant! via irishrock.org

Chant! Chant! Chant! were one of the most original and exciting bands to hit Dublin’s post-punk music scene. Active from 1979 to 1982, they played a jilting sort of New Wave that would find a natural home amongst your Talking Heads, Wire, Gang of Four and XTC records.

The line up was Eoin Freeney (vocals), Robbie Wogan (bass), Larry Murphy (drums) [ex. The Threat] and Paul ‘Mono’ Monohan (drums) [ex. The Threat]

Journalist Liam Mackey reviewing the band in the Project Arts Centre(26 June 1980), on the same set as Derry’s The Moondogs and Cork’s Nun Attax, wrote:

Chant! Chant! Chant! offer glimpses of what the embryonic Talking Heads must have been like struggling to create coherent music out of all those bubbling, half realised ideas in a New York loft way back when. They’ve got something of the dark pulse of Joy Division too and their methodology – songs constructed around the startling bass runs of Larry Murphy – has a precedent in the work of the Public Image chaps…

Their recorded legacy is sparse with only a track (‘What do you know’) on The Boddis EP (1980) also featuring Big Self, Departure and the peridots ; one hard-to-find single (Quicksand/Play Safe) on DIY label Peig the Man from July 1981 and a 3-track live recording (Ballet no.1/Forty one/Say so) on the Dave Fanning Rock Show Session from the same month.

Self-described ‘writer, hack and music fan’ John Fleming has written a special account for CHTM! on the band’s 2013 reunion gig and their impact first time around when the band were a “dark force to be reckoned with.”

Grand Social, 2013

A few numbers in, it starts to flow: Quicksand. It’s May 2013 and Chant! Chant! Chant! are back on stage after 31 years. Five hundred people bought their record in 1981 on the Peig The Man label: Quicksand with its B-side Play Safe. Having been zapped through a time warp, Chant! Chant! Chant! play tightly, a gang of now older mates but still as thick as thieves. Nostalgia for lost moments is pulverised. Singer Eoin Freeney thanks the crowd, joking about this one-off reunion concert at the Grand Social venue in Dublin. “At this rate, our next gig will be in 2043,” he says. “So… See you then.” The ageing audience share the wistful smiles of mere mortals.
Chant! Chant! Chant! – each word followed by an exclamation mark – are temporarily back. It is the start of summer 2013 and they have returned through time’s thick ether, magnificently but momentarily. They take the stage. The lads stand nervously. The frontman’s cool, leopard-print shirt inspires the confidence they all badly need. Some conceptual music floods from the speakers. Edgy smiles fade away. Slow seconds crawl. The tape ends. The drums, the bass and the guitar crank into machine mode and Chant! Chant! Chant! begin to play. The singer stays motionless, beaming himself back from 1981 as the magical wall of sound builds behind him and he gets into character. Two camera guys dart back and forth, capturing the event with digital technology, training 21st-century lenses on every second of the legendary Dublin band’s return. (Some of these videos have now at last been posted on YouTube.)
Lead singer Eoin Freeney in action in 2013 in the Grand Social. Image via Youtube.

Lead singer Eoin Freeney in action in 2013 in the Grand Social. Image via Youtube.

Tune after tune bleeds out. 41. What Do You Know. Play Safe. Chant! Chant! Chant! were Dublin’s Factory band that never was. A mesh of punk and funk, they stalked the same world that produced A Certain Ratio, XTC, Wire, Gang of Four, Pil and Josef K in late 1970s Britain.
Dublin, early 1980s
The wonderful Quicksand sucks you down. Down along the damp and gritty trajectory of the last three decades. Back to Dublin of 1980 and 1981 and 1982, when this city was the small-scale capital of limited opportunity. The scratchy guitar and huge slabs of bass swirl the audience back through time like agents of Adam Eterno. They bring us to the Judge and Jury on Bolton Street, to the Ivy Rooms on Parnell Street, and, aaaah yes… remember the Magnet on Pearse Street? Nascent stars of a small firmament that will soon peter out are queuing for pints between sets – there’s the boys from Amuse who would yield Blue in Heaven and Backwards Into Paradise. There’s The End who would spawn Something Happens and a certain radio host. There’s Meelah 18 who would become Aslan, there’s The Blades, a support band Microdisney and The Atrix who will live forever.
It’s the summer of 1981. The gigs were full of snapped guitar strings (Cormac Wright, The End), bass drums bursting (Johnnie Bonny, also of The End) and the singer of A Further Room belting out their single Psychedelia Disco as he dangled from one arm, his fist clenched on a beam that just might break. But Chant! Chant! Chant! had the best musical mishap: a sound desk exploded. After three short tunes in the Judge and Jury that summer, electricity had the last laugh. The plug was pulled: the show was over. A noble decision to give refunds was taken, and fists of 50-pence pieces were handed back to 80 or 90 disappointed fans.
Band members and the future
“That was Robby who gave you your cash back all those years ago,” said drummer Paul “Mono” Monahan, three decades later at the reunion gig. “There were so many on the guest list that night we gave out more money than we took in.” That one-off gig was short and sharp too, a lesson in post-punk art economy. And the music? It transcended memory’s distortion: despite the obscurity of the endeavour, some of us knew what we were at back then.
Chant! Chant! Chant!,  1980

Chant! Chant! Chant!, 1980

Larry Murphy was the god of the band’s pulsing bass. He still is now, and lives in Spain. Mono had pre-gig butterflies but was delighted his offspring got to see his old man’s crew were cool. Guitarist Robby Wogan lives in England: he was relieved to be going back this time without having to give any more cost-ineffective cash refunds. And singer Eoin Freeney looked like one of the happiest inhabitants of the planet tonight, leading his team of elegant 1970s/1980s men through the matrix of music and memory.
Due to geography, rehearsals posed logistical challenges. But over the course of 10 European months, the fiftysomething year olds all dug in. They disinterred their sturdy tunes and collective identity. Just as they might have sunk down forever into the Quicksand of culture, they dragged themselves back out in May 2013.
Will Chant! Chant! Chant! ever play another reunion gig? “No!” the men chorused. But packing their instruments away, they seemed less certain.

Fore more information on the band’s history, check out their entry at Irishrock.org and U2theearlydayz.com. Two great resources. Also this brilliant interview with singer Eoin from Thumped.com (2013)

For more CHTM! pieces on music history, check out this link.

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The world of politics and the world of sport have been known to collide from time to time in Ireland. In 1952 for example, Archbishop John Charles MacQuaid urged the football loving people of the capital not to attend an international friendly in Dalymount Park which saw Ireland take on communist Yugoslavia. Sporting stadiums have been used as venues in which to stage political protests too, with political banners appearing on the terraces of Croke Park during the Troubles. One particularly interesting moment in the history of controversial sporting clashes in Dublin concerns the sport of rugby, and the visit of the Springbok team to Dublin in 1970. All all-white team from South Africa, the team were seen by some to be the embodiment of Apartheid South Africa, and their tour of Britain and Ireland in 1969/1970 attracted huge protest. While the Springbok team did play in Lansdowne Road in January 1970, the game occurred behind barbed wire fencing and in front of a small attendance.

Gardaí drag protestors away from the Springboks tour bus at Dublin Airport, January 1970 (The Irish Times)

Gardaí drag protestors away from the Springboks tour bus at Dublin Airport, January 1970 (The Irish Times)

The Boks arrived in Ireland in January 1970 having completed a two month tour of Britain, a tour which had witnessed considerable scenes of protest. Opposition to their tour of Britain extended beyond anti-apartheid campaigners however, many sporting bodies and figures opposed the visit because of what was then a recent bitter memory. Two years prior to the visit of South Africa to Britain and Ireland to play rugby, in 1967, there had been shock in British sporting circles when the Apartheid government announced that they would not allow Basil D’Oliveria, a South African cricketer who played for England, to take part in England’s cricket tour of South Africa. The potential inclusion of a non-white cricketer in the team caused something of a diplomatic incident, with some senior South African figures suggesting it was a move designed to cause political embarrassment, and in the end the tour was actually cancelled. In Britain, questions around the relationship between sport and apartheid were being asked even before this rugby tour.

A poster from the British movement against Apartheid produced at the time of the cricket controversy. Via:  http://africainwords.com/2014/04/28/forward-to-freedom-anti-apartheid-movement-1959-1994/)

A poster from the British movement against Apartheid produced at the time of the cricket controversy. Via: http://africainwords.com/2014/04/28/forward-to-freedom-anti-apartheid-movement-1959-1994/)

When the Springbok rugby team arrived in Britain in the winter of 1969, they faced very real protests in a number of cities. Brian Hanley has written that during December 1969 “there were 98 arrests when the Springbok side played in Aberdeen, 69 during their visit to Manchester, 26 at Murrayfield and more serious disturbances in which several policemen were injured during their game against England at Twickinham.” A young Gordon Brown, future Prime Minister of Britain, was one of the Edinburgh organisers of the opposition to the visit.

Demonstrating in Dublin against the visit of the South African rugby team (Irish Press)

Demonstrating in Dublin against the visit of the South African rugby team (Irish Press)

A particular cause of concern for the authorities was the North of Ireland, where the Civil Rights Association was gaining considerable ground and you had young and charismatic leaders like Bernadette Devlin, and where the side were due to play. One statement from People’s Democracy, with which Devlin was involved, stated that it was “no surprise that the corrupt and vicious Unionist clique admires racist South Africans.” This was a time of real heightened tensions in the North, and the authorities there were very fearful of just what could happen with the games becoming the focus of political disagreement. It was unsurprising that any visit by the team to the North was cancelled in the winter of 69, when The Joint Security Committee moved to cancel the planned match. One effect of that was turning up the pressure on the IRFU in Dublin – and there were demonstrations outside their headquarters demanding that the team not play in Dublin or Limerick as planned.

The IRFU found itself in a tough position. The organisation made its view clear, which was essentially that “cultural and sporting relations were the last links that should be broken with a country whose laws and policies incurred condemnation.” The Springbok team had actually visited Ireland only a few short years prior to 1970, and while many on the left and in the trade union movement had condemned their visit on that occasion,it had failed to spark the same level of public outcry as witnessed in 1970.

Irish Times frontpage prior to the visit.

Irish Times frontpage prior to the visit.

Even before the arrival of the team in Ireland, it was clear they would face organised opposition from the labour movement. In The Irish Times, an official from Post Office Official’s Association said “that if the Springboks’ headquarters hotel was known, all telephone and mail services to it would be withdrawn.” The official was quoted as saying “When we find out the hotel, we will give the telephone number to all exchanges and see that it is not serviced….Similiarly no mail will be delivered to the hotel. All other guests will be affected. The ban will last for the Springboks’ stay.” In addition to this, trade unionists in RTE were eager that the national broadcaster would not screen the match, and were adament they would not work on any transmission of the game.

When the team did arrive at Dublin Airport on 7 January 1970, they were greeted by dozens of anti-Apartheid activists in the airport itself, headed by Kader Asmal of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, clutching tricolours and the flag of the ANC. The Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement had been founded in 1964, and as Diarmaid Ferriter has noted “by the early 1970s it had branches in almost all parts of Ireland. Its first chairman was Dublin barrister Ernest Wood, the honorary secretary was trade unionist and future Labour TD Barry Desmond, and its vice-chairman was Asmal, who had also been a founder member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in London and had joined the staff of the Faculty of Law at Trinity College Dublin in 1963.” There had been protests against Apartheid in the city prior to the foundation of the IAAM, but it provided organisation and structure to the movement. Some of the earlier opposition to Apartheid here was led by members of the small South African community in Ireland, including those who were studying here. This helped in forging links with the student movement, who were to the fore in opposing the 1970 visit.

Calling for the boycott of South African goods in early 1960s Ireland. (Image: National Library of Ireland)

Calling for the boycott of South African goods in early 1960s Ireland. (Image: National Library of Ireland)


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A plaque upon one of the Glasnevin watch towers. (Image: CHTM)

A plaque upon one of the Glasnevin watch towers. (Image: CHTM)

There are many to ways to make a living, and not all of them noble. A profitable enterprise for some in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries involved the physical digging up of freshly buried bodies, which could be sold to medical schools where they were in considerable demand. Far from being just the stuff of fanciful folklore, we have plenty of evidence that this was a real problem for the authorities in Ireland, in the form of newspaper reports of scuffles in cemeteries and unusual towers constructed in cemeteries with the aim of allowing ‘watchmen’ to catch any would-be thieves in the act.

Dublin was, in many ways, a city leading the way in the nineteenth century in the field of Medicine. As Gerard Maguire noted in the 1960s, “she was the first city to establish a guild of medical practitioners, first with the voluntary hospital, and first with the maternity hospital. The names of Graves, Stokes, Carmichael, Corrigan, Colles and Wilde, and the medical schools they are associated with, are familiar to every student of medicine and are as much respected today as they were then.”

The term of choice for those who engaged in this activity today is often ‘resurrectionists’, though in their day they were frequently known as ‘sack-em-ups’ here in Ireland. There was, of course, great educational importance in the bodies of the dead to those studying medicine, and for centuries the bodies of criminals had been dissected. Indeed, there was a Murder Act in the 1750s which noted that only corpses of executed murderers could be used for dissection. This was a fairly gruesome act, with the full title ‘An act for better preventing the horrid crime of murder’, and it actively encouraged “that some further terror and peculiar mark of infamy be added to the punishment”of those who murder others.

Resurrectionists (1847), by Hablot Knight Browne.  (Wiki)

Resurrectionists (1847), by Hablot Knight Browne. (Wiki)

As Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill has noted by the nineteenth century “the number of people studying medicine had risen and demand far exceeded the supply, thus corpse robbing developed into a profitable business.” This greater demand for bodies meant that the focus was no longer strictly on the physical remains of dead criminals, but acquiring bodies of totally innocent people to meet the growing demand. Bodies were provided not alone to medical schools, such as the Royal College of Surgeons, but also to Trinity College Dublin. Removing a body from the ground frequently involved utilising a hook to pull the body from the coffin, having first smashed a hole into the wooden box. Early Dublin resurrectionists received only a guinea for a ‘subject’, but as the trade developed into something of a profession prices rose, with prices as high as £10 or even £20 secured on occasion. Bodies of children were frequently sold by the inch, while hair and teeth could be sold separately. As Gerard Maguire has written, owing to the strange legal situation at play, “a peculiarity of the profession was that if a resurrectionist was caught in the act of body-snatching he was brought to justice and charged only with stealing the shroud in which the body was wrapped. Hence, the professional sack-em-up always took the precaution of removing the shroud before carting the body off.” Christopher Dixon, who served as porter at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in the early years of the nineteenth century, was caught in Bully’s Acre on one occasion by a mob and “after tying a rope around his waist the mob dragged him to the Liffey into which he was ducked repeatedly.” John T. Kirby, son of the President of the College of Surgeons, was reportedly killed by another such mob!

An 1830s illustration of the Royal College of Surgeons.  (Source: http://www.libraryireland.com/articles/royalcollegesurgeonsDPJ1-19/)

An 1830s illustration of the Royal College of Surgeons. (Source: http://www.libraryireland.com/articles/royalcollegesurgeonsDPJ1-19/)

There seems to have been a much greater degree of violence towards the ressurectionists in Dublin than in London, indeed the Professor of Anatomy in Trinity College Dublin, a Dr. Macartney, gave evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons in which he stated “the common people frequently of late have assaulted the Resurrection-men: one of these men died in consequence of a severe beating… I may add, that lately also, even medical men and medical students were assailed by the people, and that at present the Resurrectionery men go to a great number of graveyards, some distance from Dublin, provided with firearms, and are accompanied frequently by several students armed in the same manner.”

Sometimes, the resurrectionists didn’t even wait until the body was buried before making an attempt to acquire it. In 1831 a rather morbid account of bodysnatching in Dublin appeared in The Times newspaper:

On Friday evening last, about six o’clock, a party of resurrectionists rushed suddenly into a house in Bow Lane, where the corpse of an aged female, named Carrol, was being ‘waked’ by her friends and neighbours….and succeeded in possessing themselves of the body, which they bore off, before the persons present could offer any effectual resistance. The ruffians acted with the most revolting indecency, dragging the corpse in its death clothes after them through the mud in the street, and unfortunately baffled all pursuit. Information was shortly after given at College Street police office of the transaction, and an officer with some constables immediately visited the College of Surgeons. They were informed that the body had not been brought there, but they were not permitted to search. Several of the fellows engaged in this outrage are well-known resurrectionists, but though the police are acquainted with their haunts, strange to say that none of them have been apprehended yet.


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1880 illustration of Arthur Edward Guinness, Lord Ardilaun (Vanity Fair/Wiki)

1880 illustration of Arthur Edward Guinness, Lord Ardilaun (Vanity Fair/Wiki)

Today marks the centenary of the passing of Arthur Edward Guinness, better known as Lord Ardilaun. Ardilaun is perhaps best remembered for donating St. Stephen’s Green to the people of Dublin, and on Sunday I appeared on RTE’s The History Show and talked about Arthur with Myles Dungan. A brief discussion, we touched on Ardilaun and his place in Guinness family history, as the son of Benjamin Lee Guinness, who put himself into the history books by paying for the restoration of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1860s. Time was against us and as such the discussion didn’t really get around to Ardilaun’s brother, Lord Iveagh (or Edward Guinness), another significant philanthropist in Dublin’s history.

We have looked at Lord Ardilaun’s monument before on the site, in this 2012 post. There, it was noted that while Arthur was crucially important to opening Stephen’s Green to the public, he did not actually attend the park opening.

Lord Ardilaun himself did not attend the opening of the park. Within a week of its opening, a young 16-year-old by the name of Patrick Grennan, listed in the newspapers of the day as being an ashpit cleaner by trade, became the first youngster charged with malicious damage in the park for tearing up plants! Ironically, his home was Arthur’s Lane.

The park we enjoy today is in many ways unrecognisable to the park of centuries past, with the landscaping Lord Ardilaun financed dramatically changing the physical appearance of the space, giving us the wonderful artificial lake for example. In addition to the striking lake, the fine cottage home, Ardilaun’s Lodge, better known as the gardener’s cottage, is also evidence of his investment in the park. It remains for me the dream house, a stones-throw from Grafton Street with the best front garden in Dublin!

St. Stephen's Green as it appeared in the eighteenth century.

St. Stephen’s Green as it appeared in the eighteenth century.

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