The Winter Garden Palace was situated on the corner of 106 St. Stephen’s Green West and 24 Cuffe Street for over 200 years.

From the newspaper archives, it seems that the business was in operation from at least 1866. Described as the ‘Winter Garden’s Gin Palace’, its first proprietor was James Brady.

The Winter Garden Palace, The Irish Times (31 March 1866).

It received a glorious review in The Irish Times in April 1866. The unnamed writer wanted to put on record that a  Gin Palace was just for the “idle, the drunkard or the spendthrift”. The Winter Garden Gin Palace  on St. Stephen’s Green could boast of a “public bar, a large saloon and smoking room”. Its walls were decorated with beautiful scenic canvas drawings and in one corner there was a model of “one of the Gothic windows of Muckross Abbey”.

The Winter Garden Palace, The Irish Times (6 April 1866).

Philip Little, who first began his publican career in Dublin in 1863, appears to have re-opened the Winter Garden Palace under his own patronage in August 1877.

The Winter Garden Palace, The Irish Times (20 Aug 1877).

In the 1880s, the pub was referred to as a favourite meeting spot for the Invincibles (Fenian-splinter group)

The 1901 census shows that Phillip Little (65), a “Grocer and Spirt Merchant” from County Cavan, lived in the property with his wife Bridget Little (62) from County Kildare and their four children. On the night of the census, a visitor Mary Molloy and her son were in the house. Little employed a domestic servant (housekeeper) and six young male grocers assistants. Five of whom were from his home county of Cavan.

Proprietor Philip Little was a Dublin Corporation councillor from 1884 and seeked re-election in the 1905 election. He described himself as a Home Rule Irish Nationalist, a friend of the Labouring Classes, a supporter of social housing and in favour of more public libraries and expanding Technical Education.

Philip Little, election address. Evening Herald, 3 Dec 1904

The 1911 census shows that Phillip Little (75) lived in the house with his wife Bridget Little (70), a son, a daughter and two grandsons. The employed a coach-man, cook and maid. While five male groces assistants worked in the Little’s Winter Garden Palace.

During the 1916, Easter Rising, a number of building’s overlooking St. Stephen’s Green were commandeered by rebel forces. These included Little’s public house (Winter Garden Palace) at the corner of Cuffe Street and the Royal College of Surgeons at the corner of York Street. The pub was occupied by an eight-man team, a mix of Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army, under the command of James Kelly. Most of them had retreated from Davy’s pub at Portobello and from Leeson Street bridge.

Philip Little put in a claim into the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee, 1916 for £189 5s 8d. This was a result of damage to his business from rifle fire, the looting of goods and the use of his property for barricades. A payment of £158 was recommended by Committee. Among the list of goods that Little claimed for included one feather mattress, 42 pieces of “best china”, six silver spoons and one gents suit.

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A first edition copy of Dracula, 1897.

Nothing is too small. I counsel you, put down in record even your doubts and surmises. Hereafter it may be of interest to you to see how true you guess. We learn from failure, not from success!

I was delighted to be asked to curate an event for the forthcoming Bram Stoker Festival, which returns to Dublin from October 27 to 30. It is a fitting time of year to remember the Dubliner who brought the world what is undoubtedly the most celebrated Gothic horror novel.

Stoker was born in Clontarf in 1847, and educated at Trinity College Dublin, before going onto a career as a civil servant in Dublin Castle. Like his contemporary Oscar Wilde (who Stoker proposed for membership of the TCD Philosophical Society), he is  thought of not as an Irish writer, but someone who left Ireland at a young age and was shaped by other places and things. I don’t think this is fair, and this event will aim to put him in the context of the Victorian Dublin he worked in, lived in and knew as home.

What I’ve done is gathered together a team of writers, for the purpose of going on a bit of a ramble through Stoker’s Dublin, but we won’t be leaving our seats. It is a sort of ‘Psycho-Geography’ in the Little Museum of Dublin, using old photos and other sources to open up a discussion. Le Blurb:

Without even leaving your seat, take an imaginary trip through the streets and alleyways of the Dublin of Bram Stoker and his literary contemporaries, Lafcadio Hearn and Sheridan le Fanu.

Vivid conversations with striking visual images describe the lit erary, social and political scenes of Victorian Dublin.


Stones of Dublin (Collins Press)

Lisa Marie Griffith was a natural fit for any such panel, owing to her excellent study Stones of Dublin: A History of Dublin in Ten Buildings. Beautifully illustrated, the book examines places like Trinity College, Dublin Castle and the Old Irish Parliament and looked at their importance in shaping the city. She knows the bricks and mortar of the city so well, but also the important contexts (political, cultural, social) of the times in which these buildings were constructed. It’s a great read,and just part of her excellent output on Dublin in recent years.


Frankie Gaffney (Liberties Press)

Frankie Gaffney’s debut novel, Dublin Seven, was described as being akin to “Love/Hate meets Ulysses.” Set very much in the here and now, there’s a reason I asked Frankie onto this panel. His knowledge of the written word through time, and his obsession with the evolution of the novel (see this Tedx talk), is part of his great love for literature and the journey it has come on. He is completing a PhD in Stoker’s Alma mater, not to mention teaching there. He is an important voice on Dublin today, but I look forward to hearing his views on Stoker’s place in the literary canon.


A Fantastic Journey (University of Michigan)

Finally, Paul Murray was not only a natural addition to this panel, he was an essential part of it. An expert on not only Bram Stoker, he has also examined the more forgotten Lafcadio Hearn, another important horror writer of the nineteenth century. That study won the 1995 Koizumi Yakumo Literary Prize in Japan, and was awarded the Lord Mayor of Dublin’s Prize too. Stoker is just one of the horror writers Ireland has produced, so let us briefly examine the others.

This is a chance to learn more about Dracula, yes, but also Dublin. How did Dublin shape Stoker? Come along and find out!

Time 3pm
Date October 28th
Location The Little Museum of Dublin, 15 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2




New commemorative stamp from An Post.

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, shot in Bolivia having been captured leading a small revolutionary force against the Bolivian army.

In Ireland, there has been considerable controversy around the decision of An Post to issue a commemorative stamp to mark this anniversary. That the stamp is very much a celebration of one of the most important pieces of twentieth century Irish art, Jim Fitzpatrick’s Viva Che!, seems to have passed many commentators by.

In an Irish context, Guevara is very much associated with Fitzpatrick’s iconic artwork and the words of his father, who proclaimed following his sons death that “the first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels.” They were powerful words, even finding their way to the painted gable wall of a Derry house in time.

In 1949, General Tom Barry published Guerrilla Days in Ireland, considered by many to be the classic War of Independence memoir. While Ernie O’Malley would poetically capture the spirit of the people in On Another Man’s Wound, Barry’s memoir focused primarily on the IRA’s Flying Columns, the bands of men who terrorised patrolling Auxies and Black and Tans in the Irish countryside.

The IRA of 1919 did not invent guerrilla warfare, in an Irish (Michael Dwyer of the United Irishmen may claim that honour) or international context. In South Africa, the Boers adopted guerrilla army tactics so effectively during the 1899-1902 war, that the widespread internment of Boer women and children in concentration camps was used to break their morale. Zapata had his ‘dynamite boys’, the Italians their ‘Brigands’. What the Irish War of Independence did produce however was a remarkable volume of literature on guerrilla warfare.

In her biography of Barry, historian Meda Ryan discusses the international influence of Barry’s memoir, noting that its influence was significant enough to move many international fighters to contact Barry. One such figure was the Zionist radical (for radicalism is not exclusive to the Left) Menachem Begin, founder of the militant group Irgun and later sixth Prime Minister of Israel. Begin’s appeals to Barry are all but forgotten, but the same cannot be said of Che Guevara.

Guevara’s outreach to Barry was, Ryan notes, unsuccessful. Barry believed that the fight of Irishmen was at home, and though opposed to the Blueshirt threat in 1930s Ireland, had strongly discouraged Irish participation in the Spanish Civil War. It remains an interesting footnote in Irish history.


Maureen O’Hara in Havana, 1959.

While Guevara may not have encountered Tom Barry in the flesh, he did cross paths with many Irish people, including the celebrated Dublin-born actress Maureen O’Hara. Filming Our Man in Havana there in 1959, she was clearly smitten by the Guevara she met, remembering later in her memoir:

When we arrived in Havana on April 15, 1959, Cuba was a country experiencing revolutionary change. Only four months before, Fidel Castro and his supporters had toppled Fulgencio Batista… Che Guevara was often at the Capri Hotel. Che would talk about Ireland and all the guerrilla warfare that had taken place there. He knew every battle in Ireland and all of its history. And I finally asked, “Che, you know so much about Ireland and talk constantly about it. How do you know so much?” He said, “Well, my grandmother’s name was Lynch and I learned everything I know about Ireland at her knee.” He was Che Guevara Lynch! That famous cap he wore was an Irish rebel’s cap. I spent a great deal of time with Che Guevara while I was in Havana. Today he is a symbol for freedom fighters wherever they are in the world and I think he is a good one.

O’Hara found it hard to believe “how young and idealistic Che was…he had already helped to topple a dictator and liberate a nation.”


The second printed volume of CHTM! articles has just arrived on the shelves in all good bookshops. The book follows on from our first volume, which was described by The Sunday Times as “one of the most amusing and valid social/cultural/political history books of recent times.” We’ll take that.


Sitting pretty on a bookshelf (with thanks to Donal Higgins)

Volume 2 is another diverse selection of articles, including pieces examining things like the social phenomenon of Heffo’s Army in 1970s Dublin, the history of Bartley Dunne’s and Rice’s public houses, the Hirschfeld Centre, Watkins’ brewery, the chaotic Donnybrook Fair and faction fighting in eighteenth-century Dublin.

Some wonderful characters from the history of the city emerge throughout its chapters, including the housing architect Herbert Simms, wandering French artist Antonin Artaud, the Latvian revolutionary Konrad Peterson, and the visiting English Suffragettes who found themselves on hunger strike in Mountjoy in 1912.

The book is published by New Island Books. In Dublin, it is stocked by Hodges Figgis, The Gutter Bookshop, Chapters, Hodges Figgis, Books Upstairs and many other stores (indeed, if you run a bookshop and are stocking it please get in touch, we’d be delighted to include mention of your business here.)

It is as diverse as the blog itself, and will be launched on 5 October by historian Lorcan Collins at Cleary’s pub on Amiens Street.


The back of the book.



Thomas Ashe

The centenary of the funeral of Thomas Ashe occurs next week, a defining moment of a year in which the revolutionary forces continued to reorganise themselves after the Easter Rising.

In some ways, 30 September 1917 was a replay of 1 August 1915, the day when P.H Pearse told the gathered mourners at the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa that “life springs from death, and from the graves of patriot men and women spring live nations.” Now, Pearse himself was dead and gone, and the Volunteer movement had lost both men and rifles to Easter Week. The logistics of the Ashe funeral were to prove a challenge to a revolutionary movement reemerging from the shadows.

The Thomas Ashe funeral, much like that of O’Donovan Rossa, was political theatre and a propaganda spectacle, and as Fianna Éireann boyscout Seán Prendergast remembered it, “the funeral of Ashe epitomised not the burial of a man of a dead  generation but one who represented a living generation of men who had fought and suffered and were fighting and suffering in Ireland’s cause.”

That Thomas Ashe made it into 1917 was surprising in itself. Major John MacBride, a veteran of the Second Boer War, had wisely advised the young Volunteers in Jacob’s factory before their surrender that “if it ever happens again, take my advice, and don’t get inside four walls.The failed tactic of seizing buildings in the heart of the capital and proclaiming a Republic before the world stood in stark contrast with the tactics adopted by the men who fought under Ashe at Easter Week. In scenes more akin to the subsequent War of Independence, Volunteers under Ashe’s command attacked the RIC Barracks at Ashbourne in County Meath. In a vicious five hour battle, eleven RIC men and two Volunteers lost their lives.  The men under Ashe caused chaos for the RIC in North County Dublin too, raiding the RIC at Swords and Donabate.

Sentenced to execution following the insurrection, his sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. Much like Éamon de Valera, Ashe perhaps owed his escape to sheer timing. He was court-martialed on the 8 May, by which stage it was clear the tide was turning against further executions. Even John Redmond, the constitutional nationalist leader who condemned the Rising as a German plot, understood the executions to be an “insane policy”, correctly warning that “if more executions take place in Ireland, the position will become impossible for any constitutional party or leader.” Ashe, like many revolutionaries, did his time in the internment camps that followed. Ashe took a leading role in the reorganising of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the secret society central to bringing about the rebellion through its clandestine networks in Ireland and the United States.


A memorial card for Thomas Ashe.

Ashe may have cheated death in 1916, but he died on 25 September 1917, having gone on hungerstrike after his arrest under the Defence of the Realm Act for a seditious speech he had delivered at Balinalee in Longford. He had earlier courted the attention of the authorities with a speech delivered at Ardfert in Kerry, in which he outlined a bizarre hope that “Ireland might be preserved from the tyranny of the Jews and moneylenders of London who are at present running the World War.” The decision to force feed Ashe proved fatal, and the later inquest into his death would condemn prison authorities for the “inhumane and dangerous operation performed on the prisoner, and other acts of unfeeling and barbaric conduct.”

Richard Walsh, a senior Volunteer in Mayo, remembered that the response to the death of Ashe demonstrated something to the leadership of the nationalist movement:

Ashe’s funeral proved that there existed an unsuspected enthusiasm for the organisation of the Volunteers all over the country, which the men at the head of affairs had not suspected. The country at that time was travelling faster than the leaders anticipated.


Republican boyscouts from Na Fianna Éireann provide the guard of honour at City Hall. (Image Credit: History of Na Fianna Éireann)

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ASK is a monthly(ish) night in MVP, which aims to bring together people with eclectic music tastes and raise money for good causes in the process. It draws together people from this parish, Sunday Books, Foggy Notions and more besides. So far, we have raised money for MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland) and the Gay Switchboard.

The night returns next Thursday after a brief hiatus, with a night to raise funds for One Family, a national organisation supporting lone parents. We are delighted to be joined by Dorje de Burgh, whose late mother Sherie was central to One Family. With the Irish Family Planning Association and One Family, Sherie truly made a difference to the lives of many people, and has been recalled as a “visionary who worked tirelessly to support women, couples and parents through the difficult landscape of unplanned pregnancies, relationship separation, parenting and family conflict.”

The nights are good fun, bringing together a mix of music I don’t think you’ll find anywhere else in the city, not to mention plenty of visuals pulled from the archives of yore, Fintan Warfield’s remarkable collection of tambourines, whatever flowers we can haggle from the sellers and more besides. You probably won’t hear the Bothy Band and Chicago House played one after the other anywhere else, and that’s ok.

Event page is here.

MVP is located at 29 Upper Clanbrassil, Dublin 8.


Poster for Mansion House meeting referenced in below article, February 1918.

The following article appeared in the 23 February 1918 edition of Irish Opinion: The Voice of Labour.  Written in the immediate aftermath of a phenomenal meeting at Dublin’s Mansion House, when thousands thronged the venue and surrounding streets to herald the Russian revolution, Thomas Johnson of the Labour Party offers some vision of what may happen “if the Bolsheviks came to Ireland.”

Johnson, born in Liverpool to Irish parents in May 1872, served as leader of the Labour Party for ten years, beginning in 1917. He was elected in 1922 to the Dáil as TD for Dublin County in an election which saw a surprising Labour vote, with 17 of the 18 candidates put forward by the party elected, and 21.3% of the overall vote secured.

In may was, Johnson is remembered as a reformist political figure and not a revolutionary; he himself asked in 1925 “shall the aim be honestly to remove poverty…or are we to agitate and organise with the object of waging the ‘Class War’ more relentlessly, and use ‘the unemployed’ and ‘the poverty of the workers’ as propagandist cries to justify our actions…I do not think this view of the mission of the labour movement has any promise of ultimate usefulness in Ireland.”

Here though, we see a Johnson who is looking on at the events in Russia with great hope and optimism in their immediate aftermath. Notice the references to the “Irish Republican army”, to the “Dublin housing problem” which could be resolved through socialist change, and to the need for political education and the study of Russian tactics.

My thanks to Dr. Brian Hanley for providing me with a copy of the article, which I have transcribed.


The great gathering of Dublin citizens at the Mansion House to acclaim the social revolution in Russia was a sign to all parties in Ireland that the people in demanding independence are not going to be satisfied with a mere political change, no matter how drastic. What they need, and are quickly coming to recognise, is a change of social and economic relations. It is not only to British authority that this is a warning: it is a call to the conservative forces of all political parties to rally to the defence of the existing social order. All those people whose prosperity is dependent upon the institutions of rent, interest or profit or who can be persuaded that the national well being can only be built upon a basis of capitalism – “the most foreign thing in Ireland” – will be told that their own and their country’s future is endangered if any countenance is given to the doctrine that Labour is king.

Labour also must take warning. We acclaim the Russian revolution, and our hearts respond to the call of the Russian people to join with the workers throughout war stricken Europe in dethroning Imperialism and Capitalism in our respective countries. But, as we asked at the meeting in the Mansion House, are we prepared to take action if opportunity offers? Is Labour organised sufficiently? Are our trade unions and our trades councils, our co-operative societies and our Labour parties properly supported and in close enough relations to become the centres of economic life in a new society? Are our working class leaders or spokesmen devoting time and effort in reading and study to fit themselves for the duties that may be forced upon them?

The framework of the new Russia consisted of 50,000 co-operative groups in town and country, organised within the past six or seven years. The archive men and women who made the revolution had devoted years to the work  of propaganda, to study mental discipline and self-sacrificing service of the people. While Ireland has produced but one Connolly, Russia has produced hundreds; men and women of great intellectual power, devoting their lives entirely to the work of organisation, education and agitation, and receiving in return no reward but persecution, imprisonment, poverty and the love of the people.

The Soviets – the councils of workmen, of peasants and of soldiers – who are now in power in Russia have their Irish equivalents in the trades councils, the agricultural societies, and – dare we say it?- the local groups of the Irish Republican army.  An Irish counterpart of the Russian revolution would mean that these three sections co-operating would take control of the industrial, agricultural and social activities of the nation. Power would no longer be in the hands of the wealthy nor authority be wielded by the nominees of an Imperial Majesty. Industry would be diverted towards supplying the wants of the Irish people and agriculture towards providing food for those engaged in industry. Food and houses, clothing and education, these would be provided for all the people by the labour and service of all the people before luxuries or superfluities were allowed to any. The private profit of the private proprietor would not then determine what class of goods should be produced, whether cattle should be raised or corn grown, the needs of the people would decide.

Probably, as in Russia, the first act found to be necessary would be following the example of the capitalistic governments at the outbreak of war, to declare a moratorium  (“I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word!”) suspending temporarily the repayment of debts and making illegal all interest!By this act alone, the income of the workers would be increased about 25 percent.

The land of the country would be made free of access to those who were willing to cultivate it to the best communal advantage. The Dublin housing problem would be immediately tackled,and might be made less pressing by a distribution of the congested population from the tenements over the partially occupied mansions of the suburbs!

These are a few of the things that would happen if the Bolsheviks came to Ireland. it is right that our friends who join with us in acclaiming the Bolshevik revolution should understand its implications. It means that as society is based upon labour, Labour shall rule. And that means a complete overturning from the present state wherein, though society is based upon labour, capital and property rule.






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