Early Houses of Dublin (2019)

In February 2015, I published an article listing the remaining 14 or so ‘early house’ pubs in Dublin city centre along with some brief historical background about why these bars have special licenses allowing them to open at 7am.

Delaney’s, North King Street, 1976. Note the ‘Bar Open 7am’ sign. Credit – dublincity.ie

In the last four years, one pub has been demolished and two have closed down. A further three have been put on sale or sold so their futures are uncertain.

The Dark Horse Inn on George’s Quay closed its doors in July 2016 and reopened as a Starbucks coffee shop the following month. I wrote a long piece about the history of the building here.

Ned Scanlon’s on Townsend Street closed and and the pub was demolished in October 2018.

‘Before and After’. Ned Scanlon’s, Townsend Street. Credit – John Fleming on Facebook

We’ve also heard that The Capel Bar on Little Green Street, which featured in a 2016 Dublin Inquirer piece, has closed in recent months.

So as far as I can assert, these are the remaining 10 ‘early house’ pubs in Dublin as of early 2019.


1. The Boar’s Head, Capel Street (Mon-Fri 8am; Sat 11am)

2. The Chancery Inn, Inns Quay (Mon-Fri 9am; Sat 7am). The pub (and five apartments) was on the market for €1.7 million in May 2018 so it’s unclear what the future may bring.

3. Delaney’s, North King Street (Mon-Sat 9am). This pub was up for sale in 2016 but no changes has affected it yet it seems.

4. M. Hughes, Chancery Street (Mon-Fri 8.30am; Sat 7am)

5. The Metro, Parnell Street. After sixty years in business, the current owners have retired and put up the pub for sale in October 2018. So time will tell whether the pub will continue to open early.

6. Molloy’s, Talbot Street (Mon-Sat 7am)

7. Slattery’s, Capel Street (Mon-Sat 7am)

8. Madigan’s, Connolly Station (Mon-Fri 8.30am, Sat 10.30am)


9. The Galway Hooker, Heuston Station

10. Padraig Pearse, Pearse Street (Mon-Fri 7.30am; Sat 9am)

11. The Windjammer, Lombard Street (Mon-Sat 7am)

Outside of city:
– The Fisherman’s Bar, attached to The Waterside pub, in Howth (Mon-Sat 8am)



My thanks to my friend Dorje for passing on a heap of old copies of In Dublin recently. An invaluable publication in the days before social media, it gave some sense of what was happening in the city. Dating from 1977 and 1978, these issues give good insight into culture in the city.  Many of the places advertised within remain loved parts of the city today.

Firstly, and most importantly, Grogans public house on South William Street.


There are two advertisements from the gay rights movement, firstly Tel-A-Friend (which in time became the Gay Switchboard), and secondly the Irish Gay Rights Movement, with its phoenix logo rising from the ashes. The movement was based at Temple Bar’s Hirschfeld Centre, which was also home to Dublin’s much-loved Flikkers disco.



Books Upstairs celebrated 40 years in business this year. This advertisement comes from their first year of business. We wish them every success for the next four decades (they are now on D’Olier Street)


In the days of cinema censorship, cinema clubs were hugely important. It cost 1.50 to join the Project Cinema Club:


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Jer O’Leary as Jim Larkin (Image by Donal Higgins)

Playing Larkin is a pleasure and an honour. Some parts are just performance tasks, but Larkin was one of the finest specimens of humanity; a wonderful mind, great courage with the heart of a lion, unusual vision, and a voice like rolling thunder.

-Jer O’Leary on playing the role of Larkin, Evening Press, January 1980.

There are many difficult audiences in this town, but if you haven’t, you should try explaining the ins and outs of the 1913 Lockout to a room full of school children. Against the backdrop of the centenary of the great dispute, I had the pleasure of trying this. They listened, though how much of it registered has puzzled me since. Following a brief historic overview, the next speaker was Jer O’Leary. The veteran and much-loved Dublin actor shook the walls of the Ringsend school, bringing the words of Jim Larkin to life. I think the children by the end had some sense of the power of the story.

Dubliner Jer O’Leary, the Bard of Drumcondra, lived many lives in one. As an actor, activist, artist and raconteur he was a frequent face on the streets of Dublin. His booming and distinctive voice could be heard across the street over any volume of Dublin traffic. He was, firmly and completely, a man of the Left. In 1967, a 22 year old Jer O’Leary joined the Republican movement, the beginning of a life-long involvement in republican and socialist politics that shaped everything he did.


O’Leary in the Project in 1986 at an exhibition of his labour movement banners. More on that below.

Football was a great love too. As the book The Lost Revolution rightly notes, “he delighted in reminding GAA devotees that the Dublin IRA’s commander in 1921, Oscar Traynor, had been a soccer player.” O’Leary may well have attended more FAI Cup Finals than Traynor himself, and was present in 1961 when Saint Patrick’s Athletic won the cup in Dalymount Park against his own beloved Drumcondra. Willie Peyton’s heroic goal that day is something I’ve heard of from many Pats fans that were in attendance, but nobody told the tale as well as Jer. Each time I heard the story from him it was as if Peyton was deeper and deeper into his own half. Eventually in the telling, he may as well have been in deepest suburban Cabra kicking a ball in the general direction of the stadium. Whatever the debate about where Peyton kicked from, he was certainly far from goal. When Drumcondra went to the wall, one of the great losses of Irish footballing history, O’Leary retained a grá for association football in Dublin. A great Celtic fan, like his late son Diarmuid who died in tragic circumstances on a trip to see the Hoops, he remained familiar with Dalymount Park as a supporter of Bohs. Still, like all true Drumcondra fans, he answered ‘Drums’ to the question of which Dublin team he supported. Those who kept faith with the sport are now spread across the football grounds of Dublin.


A Bohemian FC flag produced by Jer O’Leary, bringing together two of his great passions.

As a stage actor, O’Leary came to public prominence thanks to a legendary production of James Plunkett’s The Risen People, directed by Peter and Jim Sheridan. The production did tremendously well in Dublin, but was also taken to London as part of the Sense of Ireland Festival. A 1986 profile piece on O’Leary noted that “his most notorious moment on stage – which is also a legend in Irish circles – was his dramatic playing in Peter Weiss’s work, The Marat Sade.

The play, a Marxist view of the French Revolution, coincided perfectly with O’Leary’s vision for modern day Ireland. But one fine night at the end of the performance, the actor decided that modern Ireland and revolutionary France should bridge the gap of time. He told the packed house in a completely unrehearsed speech that the alleged Sallins train robbers, who were then on trial, were completely innocent. For his ‘unprofessional conduct’ he had to be rescued from the wrath of the cast, whose efforts to hang him fro the highest point of the dressing room were guillotined by the back stage staff.


There was something about Jer as Larkin that registered deeply with Dubliners, even if the Toxteth-born Scouser developed an accent more akin to Dublin’s north inner-city, the energy was a perfect replica. In 1993 he was centrally involved in the historical commemorations of the Lockout organised by the North Inner City Folkore Project, addressing a huge crowd from the window of Clery’s, and he would revive the role for further historic anniversaries. Countess Markievicz recalled hearing Larkin speak and feeling that she was in the presence of “some great primeval force rather than a man”. To try and be Larkin took a certain confidence, which Jer had in abundance.

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Dublin Pubs (Mid 1980s)

I picked up this book for $5 in the amazing Powell’s bookshop in Portland, Oregon during the summer.

It features 60 full-colour photographs of pubs across Ireland taken by Liam Blake with accompanying text by David Pritchard and Joe Reynolds. It was first published in 1985 with this softback edition republished in 1993.

I’ve included the 15 photographs of Dublin pubs which I am guessing were taken in the 1984-85 period.

The Brazen Head

The Brazen Head, 20 Lower Bridge Street, Merchant’s Quay. We visited this pub in our November 2009 pub crawl.

Doheny & Nesbitt’s

Doheny & Nesbitt’s at 5 Lower Baggot Street near St. Stephen’s Green. A pub we also visited in our November 2009 pub crawl.


Mulligan’s (now L. Mulligan Grocer) at 18 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7. A boozer we reviewed in our May 2012 pub crawl.


 The exterior of Slattery’s, 217 Rathmines Road in Rathmines. A pub we dropped into in our February 2010 pub crawl.


McDaid’s pub at 3 Harry Street off Grafton Street. Somewhere we visited in June 2010 for a pub crawl.

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1918 Election handbill. The election occurred a century ago today.

It is difficult to imagine political canvassers tossing “rotten eggs, dead cats and rats” at one another today. A century ago this week, that is exactly what happened on the Falls Road in West Belfast, as supporters of the Irish Parliamentary Party candidate, Joe Devlin MP, attempted to drive young Sinn Féin canvassers from the district. The election, described beautifully by one Royal Irish Constabulary report as “the triumph of the young over the old”, pitted a youthful Sinn Féin against an ageing party which had dominated Irish politics for decades. For many tens of thousands of Irish people, it was a first taste of the ballot box in a General Election. The Representation of the People Act, which made its way through the House of Commons earlier that year, had increased the Irish electorate from some 700,000 people to 1.9 million. Here in Dublin, the election produced the first female M.P in the history of Westminster.

Much coverage of the centenary of the 1918 election has focused on the granting of the vote to women (of a certain age and class), though the Representation of the People Act was also transformative in giving a voice to millions of working class men. Now, all men over 21 found themselves entitled to partake in a General Election. It was an unprecedented mass exercise of democracy in these islands, but in Ireland it was dominated by the national question.

The Irish Parliamentary Party had achieved much through its participation in Westminster politics, including meaningful land reforms and the seeming inevitability of Home Rule itself, but buckled before the mass appeal of a young and confident Sinn Féin. In October 1917, Sinn Féin has been transformed into a new fighting machine, spearheaded by Éamon de Valera, elected in the East Clare by-election of 1917. The party jettisoned the ambiguous language of its founder Arthur Griffith’s in favour of that of republican separatism. Now, in its own words, Sinn Féin aimed “at securing the international recognition for Ireland as an independent Irish republic.” Throughout 1917 and 1918, the party had fought a series of bitter by-elections against the Parliamentary Party, with very mixed fortunes. Anger at the very real fear of conscription in 1918 had moved many towards support for the party, while the language of some leading Parliamentary Party figures on the question of women’s suffrage would not have endeared them to sections of the newly enlarged electorate. To John Dillon MP, the vote in the hands of women would “be the ruin of our Western civilisation. It will destroy the home, challenging the headship of man, laid down by God. It may come in your time – I hope not in mine.”

As women made their way into the ballot box for the first time in a General Election setting, they encountered female candidates, providing they lived in either Belfast’s Victoria Ward or Dublin’s Saint Patrick’s Ward. In Belfast, Winifred Carney stood for Sinn Féin. A veteran of Easter Week, Carney had served faithfully as James Connolly’s secretary, earning her place in history as ‘the typist with the webley’. A veteran of Belfast labour politics, her election manifesto stated that she stood for a ‘Worker’s Republic’, which was not Sinn Féin policy. There was little desire to stop her expressing that ambition, and in the decidedly Unionist electorate, she came away with a mere 539 votes. In Dublin, Countess Markievicz was elected, becoming the first female MP in the history of the Westminster parliament. Markiecicz took her seat from the Parnellite William Field, in office since 1892 – ironically, he himself was a something of a suffragist and had supported votes for women – it proved his undoing in the end.

There were tensions between Sinn Féin and the Irish Women’s Franchise League, who felt the party had not stood enough women, or supported the women who stood sufficiently. Markiecicz’s campaign on the ground was curiously absent – while she herself was in prison – IWFL leaders complained in private about a perceived lack of enthusiasm in the constituency from Sinn Féin. Margaret Connery of the IWFL complained to Hanna Sheehy Skeffington that “the very nerve of Sinn Fein sets my teeth on edge… Why should the work be left to the chance care of outsiders as they are so fond of calling us.” Still, the election of Markievicz was a triumph for both the women’s movement and the national movement, and emerged as one of the international headlines of the election.

markievec (1)

Constance Markievicz, elected in Dublin’s Saint Patrick’s Ward.

What violence did occur happened largely in West Belfast and Waterford, where the IPP had strong bases. Kevin O’Shiel, having gone north to canvas for de Valera in West Belfast, recalled:

I shall never forget that wild, yelling, maddened Hibernian mob that pelted us for two hours with sticks, stones, rivets, rotten eggs, dead cats and rats. Only for a strong draft of Volunteers and, later, some belated help from reinforced R.I.C., I doubt if any of us would have survived intact.

The hostility of the Ancient Order of Hibernians to youthful Sinn Féin canvassers there was unlike anything witnessed elsewhere. It took uniformed men to police and protect Sinn Féin meetings in the district. Patrick J. Whelan, a Harland and Wolff worker and a local Irish Volunteer, remembered that:

During the general election of 1918, C. company acted as bodyguard for Sinn Féin. election speakers. The speakers wont by brake from meeting to meeting in the Falls Road division, and rather rowdy meetings were held. The opposition was provided mostly by mill workers and not the Orange mobs. These mill workers were enthusiastic supporters of Joseph Devlin, the Nationalist M.P. for West Belfast. At one of the meetings which was held in King Street, Belfast, I was struck on the head by a brick and rendered unconscious. When I recovered, I was brought to a first-aid station on the Falls Road, and had my injury attended to by local Cumann na mBan.

Absent from proceedings were the Irish Labour Party. In popular history, this boils down to the idea that ‘Labour must wait’, and that the party were somehow brushed aside prior to polling. In reality, the party leadership had initially intended to contest the election, but later stepped aside of their own volition. The national executive of the party voted 96 to 23 not to contest the election. Jason Knirck has suggested that Labour leaders “may have feared a decisive defeat for their party if they had entered the election. Cooperating with Sinn Féin, even as a junior party, was preferable to the delegitimation of the entire cause. while Labour did gain some concessions from this agreement, it also simplified Sinn Féin’s recurrent claim to speak for the entire Irish nationalist population.” The party would perform incredibly well in the local elections of 1920, and see 17 of their 18 candidates elected in the 1922 General Election following the birth of the state. If 1918 was Labour’s great missed opportunity is a question that has been pondered for a century now.

Dublin offered some interesting results. Here, the only Unionist MP’s outside of Ulster were elected, with two Unionist seats in Trinity College Dublin and the victory of Maurice Dockrell in Rathmines. For southern Unionism, the election had been a disaster, and at a crisis meeting in the Freemason’s Hall shortly after the election the tone was downbeat. 79,000 votes were cast in Dublin for Sinn Féin candidates, who took eight of the nine contested seats in the capital.

In the end, the IPP won six seats across the island, only one of which, Waterford City, was outside Ulster. The British ‘First Past the Post’ system makes their result look truly dismal; in reality, Votes cast for the IPP were 220,837 (21.7%) for 6 seats (down from 84 out of 105 seats in 1910). Sinn Féin votes were 476,087 (or 46.9%). In many parts of Ireland, the status quo held up. Some IPP candidates received only marginally smaller votes than they had in 1910, but were swept aside by the enormous new electorate. The significant number of uncontested seats is sometimes pointed to as evidence of Sinn Féin intimidation of opponents, though in reality there were less seats uncontested than in the previous General Election.

On 21 January 1919, elected representatives of the Sinn Féin party met in Dublin’s Mansion House, proclaiming themselves to be the legitimate government of Ireland. Reading a roll call that included Unionist MP’s like Lord Edward Carson (unsurprisingly as lathair, or absent!), the gathering constituted just 27 parliamentarians, with many others imprisoned or exiled.

The meeting was loaded with political symbolism. Choosing the Mansion House, residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin and a centre of civic political leadership, the parliamentarians sought to present themselves as statesmen before the world. Their ‘Message to the Free Nations of the World’ was read in Irish, English and French, seeking to place Ireland in the post-war Europe of peace, as she believed “permanent peace of Europe can never be secured by perpetuating military dominion for the profit of empire”.

On the same day that the Dáil met, the opening shots of the War of Independence were fired in the Soloheadbeg ambush in county Tipperary. This occurred without the sanction of the Dáil, with IRA leader Dan Breen recounting that “Seán Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war.” In the eyes of the world’s media however, the two events were intrinsically linked, and Ireland was now at war.

Alan 1990s

Alan at anti-fascist demo in the 1990s. Credit – WSM.

We learned at lunchtime today of the tragic news that Alan MacSimoin has died. It was sudden and hit us hard. Alan was a social historian, political activist, trade unionist and great supporter of the Come Here To Me! project from day one.

Alan first became interested in politics in the late 1960s as a young teenager in Dublin. Paddy Healy recalled a very youthful Alan approaching him outside the GPO to buy a copy of the Young Socialist newspaper.

Alan said back in 2011:

I remember it as a time of optimism, modern ideas were challenging the conservative ones, the civil rights movement had brought out tens of thousands across the North, the Vietnamese were beating the mightiest military power on earth, the women’s movement was winning very real reforms.. Big change seemed possible.

While a secondary school student at Newpark Comprehensive School in South Dublin, Alan joined the youth wing of Official Sinn Féin. He recalls that the Special Branch visited his home and school in attempt to intimidate him as was a common tactic back then. Alan was centrally involved in the Irish Union of School Students in the 1970s which at its height had 7,000 paid up members.

Red Rag cover, 1975. Credit – Irish Anarchist History project

17-year-old Alan and a friend, both members of the William Thompson Republican Club, published a political magazine entitled ‘Red Rag‘ in 1975. Shortly later Alan resigned from the Official Republican Movement “because of its decision to regard the Soviet Bloc countries as “actually existing socialism” and to describe the 1956 Hungarian uprising as fascist.”

Alan then became interested in libertarian socialist/anarchist politics and remained committed to these ideals until the day he died. In the 1970s, he was also active with the anti-Nuclear movement and the Murrays Defence Committee.  Alan went to London and helped the Anarchist Workers Association produce a two sided special edition of their paper focusing on the Murrays. He took part in a demonstration outside the Irish Embassy on 24 July 1976.

Screenshot 2018-12-05 at 22.43.09

Libertarian Struggle magazine, January 1976.

He helped form the Dublin Anarchist Group (1978) and later the Anarchist Workers Alliance.

Alan. Anarchist Worker 1979

Alan’s contact details for the Anarchist Workers Alliance, 1979

User Battlescarred on Libcom.org has written:

In the 1970s as national secretary of the Anarchist Workers Association, I corresponded with a young man in an Irish Republican youth organisation who had started considering anarchist ideas. This was Alan and he went on to working with us to setting up an anarchist organisation in the Republic. This eventually became the Workers Solidarity Movement. Alan parted with the WSM some years ago but he remained an active anarchist till the end. He was bright and acerbic and always well dressed whenever I met him. A great loss to the movement and to the world.

A still from a recent television documentary showed Alan at a counter-demonstration in the face of a large anti-Traveller march in Tallaght in 1982:

WhatsApp Image 2018-12-05 at 20.20.23

Alan with leather jacket and long hair in Tallaght, 1992

Here is a wonderful photograph of Eddie Conlon (left) and Alan (right) at Dunnes Stores strike picket in 1984.

Eddie Conlon (left) and Alan (right) at Dunnes Stores strike picket, 1984. Credit – The Irish Times

In 1984, Alan was a founding member of the anarchist Workers Solidarity Movement and for the next 26 years was involved in countless campaigns around trade union rights, migrant solidarity, anti-racism, anti-apartheid, anti-war and anti-Bin charges.

In the early 1990s, he acted as spokesperson for the Dublin Abortion Information Service and was active with the campaign for divorce in the 1995 referendum.

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Letter to the Irish Times, 6 June 1996

A life-long historian, Alan was involved with SIPTU’s Dublin District Committee in its 1913 and 1916 commemorations and was a founding member of the Stoneybatter & Smihfield People’s History Project. Launching the website irishanarchisthistory.com in 2011, this pet project of his was an amazing resource of Irish anarchist material from the 1880s until today.


Alan at Mayday march in Belfast, 2006. Credit – Sam

In the last couple of years, Alan was heavily active with the Stoneybatter Against the Water Tax and the Dublin Central branch of the victorious Together For Yes campaign that repealed the 8th amendment.

Alan was a political mentor and strong supporter of Come Here To Me! since we launched in 2009. He will be truly missed. A giant of a man, he managed to retain close friends from all strands of left-wing politics in Ireland.

Alan at launch of CHTM! book 1 in December 2012. Credit – Paul Reynolds

Our deepest condolences to his partner Mary Muldowney and his extended family.

Funeral details can be found here on RIP.ie

Alan MacSimoin (25 June 1957 – 5 December 2018)

  • 2013 recording of Alan speaking at a public meeting about his involvement in radical politics in 1970s/1980s Dublin. Starts about 5mins 30secs in. Link.
  • 2014 recording of Alan speaking about Irish Squatting history. Starts about 12mins in. Link.
  • 2015 interview of Alan speaking about his early entry into politics. Link.
  • 2017 recording of Alan speaking at Peter Graham memorial meeting. Link.


  • 2018 post from the Working Solidarity Movement marking his passing. Link
  • 2018 post from Look Left Magazine (Workers Party) marking his passing. Link.


The Dublin Castle homosexual scandal of 1884 is a complex story. It involves more than a dozen characters that were introduced over a series of separate criminal trials. All sections of society were involved. The upper echelons of serving police detectives, eminent civil servants and British Army captains. Aspirational middle-class bank clerks and Trinity college graduates. Right down to the semi-blind brothel-keepers and young male prostitutes who were described as “persons of the lowest class of life”. All of these men were accused in newspapers and in court of having same-sex physical relationships. Irish society was shocked.

My main interest is in one specific aspect of the scandal – the backgrounds and post-prison lives of three men who were convicted of running homosexual brothels in the city in 1884.

But before that, a very brief background.

Tim Healy (Irish Nationalist MP) accused two high-ranking British establishment figures, of being homosexual in the United Irishman newspaper edited by William O’Brien MP. They were:

  • James Ellis French (43) (1842-?), Detective Director of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and County Inspector for Cork, who lived at Bessborough Terrace off the North Circular Road
  • Gustavus Charles Cornwall (62) (1822-1903), Secretary of the General Post Office (GPO) who lived at 17 Harcourt Street.

Gustavus Cornwall photographed by Camille Silvy in 1861. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Both men had little choice but to sue the newspaper to uphold their reputations. French backed off as there was multiple evidence of his sexual relationships with young police officers. He retired from the RIC on the grounds of being medically unfit.

Cornwall, who was known by the nickname ‘the Duchess’, pressed on with his libel action and it went to court on 2 July 1884.

O’Brien’s solicitors and his private detective managed to convince three men to give evidence against Cornwall. They were:

  • Malcolm Johnston (21) known as ‘Conny’ or ‘Connie Clyde’ or ‘Connie Taylor’. A Trinity-educated student of ‘private means’ whose father ran a bakery business in Ballsbridge which later became ‘Johnston, Mooney and O’Brien’.
  • Alfred McKiernan/McKernan (25), from Pembroke Road, who was employed as a clerk in the Munster Bank for 16 years
  • George Taylor (33) known as the ‘Maid of Athens’. A former Royal College Surgeons medical student who was employed as a clerk in the British and Irish Steam Packet Company for four years

Another ‘Dublin Castle’ figure who was accused of being homosexual in court was:

  • Captain Martin Oranmore Kirwan (37) (1847-1904) of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, (aka ‘Lizzie’), who lived at 42 Upper Mount Street

Cornwall denied all the allegations. The trial lasted five days but the jury took only an hour to find Cornwall guilty. He was charged with buggery and with conspiracy to corrupt young men.

Headline from ‘Flag of Ireland’ newspaper, 1 November 1884.

O’Brien’s supporters held street parties in celebration outside the offices of the United Ireland newspaper and bonfires were supposedly lit around the country.

As a result of the evidence given in this trial, James Ellis French was arrested and brought to trial on 5 August 1884. He was charged with the attempted buggery on George Taylor and the soliciting of Malcolm Johnstone.

Kilmainham Prison Court Registry (5 August 1884) listing Cornwall, French, Pillar, Kirwan, Considine and Fowler. via FindMyPast.ie

Malcom Johnstone, Alfred McKiernan, George Taylor – the witnesses from the first trial – were charged along with James Ellis French and two other individuals:

  • Major Albert de Fernandez, a British Army surgeon in the Grenadier Guards
  • Johnston Lyttle (20), son a Protestant clergyman, and employee of Jameson’s distillery, Bow Street

Many other men fled the county to escape arrest including Charles Fitzgerald (26) of Dalkey, whose father ran a wine business in Brunswick Street; Police Inspector Esmond of the B Division and Richard Boyle, Chairman of the Dublin Stock Exchange.

The cases against Malcolm Johnston and Lyttle were dropped; Cornwall was acquitted; de Fernandez was found not guilty and French was found guilty and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour in December 1884.

The trial was a political victory for Irish Nationalists like Tim Healy and William O’Brien. As Jonathan Coleman has written, it was their “masterful, practiced rhetoric” that led Dublin Castle to be portrayed in the hearts and minds of the Irish public as “a bastion of corrupting, leprous perverts preying on the literal flesh of young Ireland—a powerful image for Irish nationalists.”

Prominent opponents of landlordism during the Land Wars William O’Brien (left – throwing papers into the fire) and Tim Healy (right – holding a large bottle of “Healy’s Disinfecting Fluid”) are pictured ‘disinfecting’ Dublin Castle. via http://www.dublincity.ie

It was revealed in court that liaisons and meetings took place between the various characters in the many locations around Dublin – the hothouses at the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin; at a ‘musical party’ in a house on Raglan Road; the back seats of the Queen’s Theatre and the Gaiety Theatre; the urinal behind the Moore statue; laneways off Brunswick Street and Cornwall’s home. A lot of other activity happened in three brothels ran by three middle-aged men who were convicted in the August 1884 trial. Who were they and what happened to them?

Daniel Considine (41), a blind Protestant basketmaker and former school teacher, who was charged with keeping a room “for the purpose … of buggery” at his lodgings at 10 Great Ship Street in the shadow of Dublin Castle. He was found guilty and sentenced to the maximum punishment of two years hard labour.

– Robert Fowler (60), a Protestant toymaker, who lived in nearby 43 Golden Lane who was charged and found guilty of the same offence.

– James Pillar (63), a married Quaker grocer and merchant, who pleaded guilty to the charge of buggery and was sentenced to twenty years penal servitude. Pillar’s business premises at 56 Lower Rathmines Road beside Portobello Barracks was revealed to be a key meeting point for this homosexual network. Was it his Quaker beliefs that led to him pleading guilty to the charge? We can only guess.

All three men died before the century was out, two in desolation in the workhouse.

I’ve mapped out the locations of brothels and private residences of Considine (purple), Fowler (green) and Pillar (blue):

Daniel Considine was born in 1843 in Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin. In May 1884, he was charged with assaulting a police officer and sentenced to a fortnight’s imprisonment. Later that year, he was charged with running a brothel at 10 Great Ship Street. Considine told the court that in his youth he used to perform in drag at balls and at “little parties” in Dublin Castle.

Evidence from Daniel Considine. Belfast Newsletter, 22 August 1884.

The prison records described him as blind, 5ft 10inches with grey hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion.

Assuming he served his full sentence, Considine was released from prison on 4 August 1886. Two years later he charged with assault but the case was dismissed in court.

In April 1898, Daniel Considine of 31 Jervis Street was admitted into the North Dublin Union workhouse. He died there on 18 April 1898 aged 55 of bright’s disease (chronic inflammation of the kidneys.). He was described as a ‘dealer’ and single.

Death certificate of Daniel Considine (1843-1898) of 31 Jervis Street, Dublin. Irishgenealogy.ie

Robert Fowler was born in 1823 or 1824 in London, England. The first records of him in Dublin date from July 1843 when he was charged with “attempting to violate” a woman named Mary but was found not guilty in court. In August 1864, he was described as a basket maker of 1 Bride Street when up on the charge of breaking glass of an unknown premises and sentenced to 10 days imprisonment.

In 1884, he was charged with running a brothel at 43 Golden Lane and it was revealed that his friends and lovers knew him as ‘Mother Fowler’.

The prison records described him as 5ft 6inches with grey hair, grey eyes and a sallow complexion.

Assuming he served his full sentence, Fowler was also released from prison on 4 August 1886. In December of that year, Robert Fowler (63), a toymaker of 42 Upper Kevin Street, was charged with ‘vagrancy’ (i.e. homelessness) and sentenced to one month hard labour. He was convicted of the same offence in March 1889.

Robert Fowler died in the South Dublin Union workhouse on 1 September 1889 aged 65. His death certificate listed his occupation as ‘artist’.

Death Certificate of Robert Fowler (c. 1824 – 1899) of [42] Upper Kevin Street, Dublin. Irishgenealogy.ie

James Pillar was born on 2 February 1822 in Culkeeran, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

Griffith’s Valuation shows that he had a wine and grocery business at 56 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin from at least 1850.

He married Susanna Pillar (née Hudson) (1822 – 1894) in 1847 and had three children: Charles Henry Pillar (1851-1910), Frederick James Pillar (1852-?) and Susanna Pillar (1857-1928).

The Pillar family in the Quaker records (1884) via FindMyPast.ie

At the time of the 1884 scandal, the Pillar family were living at 63 Palmerston Road. He was known to his friends and lovers as ‘Papa’ or ‘Pa’.

Advertisement for James Pillar’s business. The Irish Times, 28 Jan 1860.

Pillar was charged with committing buggery with Malcolm Johnston; George Taylor; Villiers Sankey; Private Odell and with conspiring with Clarke; Daniel Considine; Robert Fowler; Michael McGrane; Thomas Allen and William Carter.

The Richmond prison records described him as 5ft 6inches with grey hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion.

Dublin Quaker record book announcing that Pillar’s name would “to erase his name” from their membership list. September 1884. via FindMyPast.ie

Pillar served half of his 20 year sentence according to author Glenn Chandler and was released in 1894. He didn’t last very long on the outside. Records show that James Pillar died in Mercers Hospital, Dublin on 24 November 1894 aged 72. He was a listed as a merchant of Ballin?, Wicklow.

Death certificate of James Pillar (1822-1894) of County Wicklow. Irishgenealogy.ie

Further reading

The Dublin Castle scandal offer a fascinating glimpse into the underground gay scene of 1880s Dublin which cut through all sections of society. It’s also significant for preceding a number of other key LGBT milestones – the Oscar Wilde libel trials (1895) in London; the Cleveland Street scandal (1899); the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels (1907) which revealed a homosexual network within Dublin Castle and the emergence of the Roger Casement diaries (1916).

+ Glenn Chandler – The Sins of Jack Saul (Grosvenor House, 2016) – Chs. 8-10

+ Jonathan Coleman – Rent: Same-Sex Prostitution in Modern Britain, 1885-1957 – Ch. 3

+ Averill Earls – Queer Politics: The Dublin Castle Scandal of 1884 (2018 Podcast)

+ Brian Lacey – Terrible Queer Creatures: Homosexuality in Irish History (Wordwell Books, 2008)- Ch. 11

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