Archive for the ‘Dublin History’ Category

Arthur Guinness, founder of the Guinness brewery.

Arthur Guinness, founder of the Guinness brewery.

There are many layers to the story of the relationship between Dublin and her most successful brewery. The story of Guinness is a story of, naturally enough, brewing stout.  Yet it is also a story of philanthropy, and a story of politics. At different points in the history of the company, it has been confronted by diverse opponents, including the powerful O’Connell family, with Daniel O’Connell’s son briefly going head to head with the company as a brewer himself. The founder of the company, Arthur Guinness, was undoubtedly a pioneer in his field, beginning as a small-town brewer in Leixlip before becoming one of the leading figures in a city of dozens of breweries. This brief post will look at a protracted dispute he found himself entangled in regarding the supply of water to his brewery, and the manner in which he resorted to most unusual methods (of eh….swinging a pickaxe at unwanted visitors to the brewery) to protect his supply.

While dozens of breweries may sound like a dream come true to some readers today, it should be noted that just because the city was awash with breweries does not mean the beer was any good. One eighteenth century ballad joked that:

The beer is sour – thin, musty,thick and stale

and worse than anything except the ale!

Very few of the commercial opponents of Guinness are remembered today. Sweetman's, another eighteenth century brewery,  survived right until the end of the nineteenth century. (Image: National Library of Ireland)

Very few of the commercial opponents of Guinness are remembered today. Sweetman’s, another eighteenth century brewery, survived right until the end of the nineteenth century. (Image: National Library of Ireland)

Yet, Arthur Guinness succeeded by producing a quality product of a higher calibre than most of his opponents. As David Dickson has noted, his success even preceded the move of the brewery towards porter:

Porter, cornerstone of the brewery’s later fame, was not brewed in the early years, and may indeed have only been introduced in the 1780s, in imitation of a similar black ale pioneered in London. But it seems that, long before its introduction, ale from Arthur Guinness’s establishment was of a more predictable and more agreeable standard than that sold by most of his rivals. In an age of economic turbulence and short-lived partnerships, his success lay in building up the core business, in consolidating its profitability and assets over the forty years that he was involved, and in training up a competent and willing heir to take over the reins – his second son, Arthur (1768–1855). These achievements were what set him apart from all but a very few of his commercial contemporaries.

The story of the humble origins of the brewery is well known. Arthur, at the grand old age of 34, signed a nine-thousand year lease on a disused brewery at St. James’s Gate in 1759, committing to paying an annual rent of £45, a relatively high figure at the time. Guinness acquired the brewery from Mark Rainsford, who is today commemorated via Rainsford Street in the vicinity of the brewery.

Having assumed control of the premises, Arthur found himself entangled in a dispute regarding the supply of water to his brewery. As Joe Joyce has noted in his history of the family, water was critical to the growing city of the eighteenth city, and while the River Liffey “provided no drinking water or water for brewing”, businesses largely depended upon the River Poddle to provide them. Arthur Guinness got his water supply from the city main, as did many of the businesses in the area of the city in which he operated, but crucially he believed that the lease he had signed entitled him to full water rights, without becoming a tenant to the city main supply of which he was a user.

As the Guinness brewery continued to expand its output, the Corporation complained that he rejected “all reasonable methods” which were made to induce him to pay for this supply. There were further tensions in 1772 when a sub-committee found that Arthur was utilising two illegal pipes, larger than permitted, to supply his brewery with its required water supply. In Guinness’s Brewery in the Irish Economy 1759-1876, it is noted that the committee observed that the waterworks beside the Guinness brewery had been described  as belonging to the city, and they believed that neither Guinness nor Rainsford, from whom he leased the brewery, had any claim to the ground in question.

In an 1947 edition of the Dublin Historical Record, the story of the attempt to bring Arthur into line with City policy is well told:

On 16th May 1775, the Committee, with the Sheriff and a number of workmen, went to the Back Course for the purpose of filling in the section between the Limerick property [neighbouring land] and St. James’s Gate. Mr. Arthur Guinness appeared on the scene and strenuously opposed the Committee. He told them that if they filled in the stream he would at once open it again; he seized a pick axe from a labourer and, placing himself in front of the workman, resisted and protested to such good purpose that the Committee, although supported by the Sheriff, whom they had brought to enforce the law, withdrew without accomplishing their design.

Arthur, the report of the Committee noted, told the men that “the water was his, and he would defend it by force of arms.” He told the men that “if they filled it up from end to end, he would immediately open it”, and his use of “very much improper language” was also commented upon.

The dispute dragged on and on,  but on 24 May 1784, Arthur agreed to sign a 8,795-year lease for the use of the water (the remainder of his original 9,000 year lease), that required him to pay £10 annually for the privilege. Ultimately, it was a compromise between the two sides.  To his credit, Arthur did have some interest in conflict resolution in his lifetime. He was a member of the wonderfully named  Friendly Brothers of Saint Patrick, described as a fraternal organisation “that opposed duelling and aimed to promote social harmony.”   While he evidently detested pistol duelling, it appears that waving pickaxes was another matter entirely!

The impressive waterfall inside the Guinness Storehouse tourist attraction today.

The impressive waterfall inside the Guinness Storehouse tourist attraction today.

Read Full Post »

Not so long ago, we looked at the chains of the Lord Mayor of Dublin on the website. Readers of the blog might have been surprised to learn that King William of Orange is depicted upon the ceremonial chains,and it was hoped that “in everlasting memory of the great services of William III to the Protestant inhabitants and as a mark of his royal grace and favour” he would bestow the chains upon the city.

But if King Billy is out of place in Dublin, so too is the city motto: Obedientia Civium Urbis Felicitas. Translated, it essentially proclaims that the happiness of the city depends upon the obedience of its people. It has been argued that the flames depicted within the city coat of arms represent “the zeal of the citizens to defend Dublin”, though looking at the course of Irish history the zealof the citizens to destroy Dublin may seem more fitting!


Recently, Dublin street artist ADW had a bit of fun with the city coat of arms as part of the  All City Tivoli Jam, which sees the walls at the Tivoli Theatre carpark redecorated on an annual basis. ADW’s art may be familiar to some readers of this blog, for example his redecoration of a dull city centre powerbox. ADW has taken the coat of arms and placed the people of the city within a turning cog of a machine. Justice and Law still feature!

Image Credit: ADW Art.

Image Credit: ADW Art.

As a work in progress.

As a work in progress.

Variations of the city coat of arms are to be found all over Dublin today, on street lamps and above buildings. You’ll find a beautiful mosaic tile in City Hall which is well worth taking the time to visit. While you’re there, check out the murals around it.


Read Full Post »

Niall ‘Hano’ Hannigan was a well-known figure not only at Saint Patrick’s Athletic but right across the League of Ireland community. A committed volunteer at the club he loved so much, he gave much of his time to the youth sides at the club and to issues which involved supporters, such as organising away buses. His sudden death last week was a heartbreaking moment for so many at Saint Pat’s, and his trademark white cap will be missed in Richmond Park. Luke Fallon captured these photographs on Friday as Saint Pat’s fans remembered one of their own. As ever with Luke’s images on this site, they were captured on film.

RIP Hano.







Read Full Post »

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.


Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,368 other followers

%d bloggers like this: