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This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the passing of Dominic Behan. Playwright, novelist and songwriter, his remarkable career was every bit as prolific as that of his brother Brendan, with whom he shared radical political tendencies and many characteristics. In Dominic’s honour, a night will be held in Liberty Hall on the 30th of this month with singers including Phelim Drew and historians. A new edition of his memoir has been published too (photo below, apologies for making a haims of this post first time!)

Born in Dublin’s north inner-city, Dominic Behan spent the formative years of his life in Crumlin, where the Behans were moved to from Russell Street. He would joke about the “jungle” of Crumlin in his memoir Teems of Times and Happy Returns, still one of the great Dublin memoirs, capturing both the stories of the inner-city streets and the new suburban experience.

A plaque on the Kildare Road house honours Brendan, but in truth it was a house of writers, singers and debate. It is difficult for us now to imagine how transformative Crumlin, Kimmage and schemes like them were in the hungry 1930s, and not just for those moving into them. Brendan would quip that there was “no such thing as suburbia, only Siberia.” Crumlin native Fiona Watchorn remembered how “we had never seen so many houses – all of the same shape and size, and wondered how the new kids could find their own.”

Dominic remembered Russell Street fondly, recalling that “the native industries of Russell Street were drink and cleanliness, represented respectively by the Mountjoy Brewery and the Phoenix Laundry.” It was far from the worst of tenement Dublin, with Dominic recalling how “Russell Street was the extreme tip of a jungle of north city tenements: Georgian, red-bricked, strait-laced, and, at this time, complete with closed hall-doors and mahogany railed staircases. Even a few of the windows were still intact.”

The atmosphere in which the Behan children were raised was fundamentally radical. Stephen Behan, Dominic’s father, was a veteran of the War of Independence, and took the Republican side in the Civil War which followed. By trade, Stephen worked as a signwriter, a trade Brendan would briefly follow him into. Stephen married Kathleen in July 1922, as the country was in the midst of Civil War. Her brother was Peadar Kearney, author of The Soldier’s Song, the national anthem. Not long after his wedding, Stephen was himself imprisoned. Family lore had it that Brendan Behan would first see his father through the railings of prison.

Dominic, born in 1928, arrived too late for the excitement of the revolution, but he found his heroes in that tradition. To him, “Jim Larkin gave a new meaning to Christianity when he decided to fight his cleric critics with their own cannons – a Bible and a plea for a true brotherhood of man.” He brought his politics into much of what he did; working on a number of building sites with his brother Brendan in the 1940s, with one foreman complaining to their father that they were “the greatest bastards I’ve ever come across.One wants the men to strike for an incentive bonus so that the other one can bring them down to the pub to drink it.’ His political activism would land him in trouble in the early 1950s, with his role in agitation for the movement against unemployment seeing him imprisoned.

Dominic’s lyrical output was unprecedented. He was quick-witted, and able to get songs into the public domain quickly as events unfolded. Arkle, his tribute to the greatest racehorse Ireland has ever produced (known simply as ‘Himself’) honoured a brilliant victory for the Irish Thoroughbred racehorse over hotly tipped English opposition:

They’re at the last and over, Pat Taffe has more in hand
He’s passing England’s Mill House, the finest in the land
My God he has us beaten! What can we English say?
The ground was wrong? The distance long? Too early early in the day?

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Marble Arch Records cover of Arkle

Some songs were sweet, like Liverpool Lou, which became a top 10 hit for Liverpool group The Scaffold, and which Yoko Ono would select as one of her Desert Island Discs, noting that John Lennon had sung it to their child as a lullaby. Still, it is undoubtedly the republican songs that Dominic is best remembered for, Come Out, Ye Black and Tans and The Patriot Game among them. Behan would accuse Bob Dylan of plagiarising his song for his own With God On Our Side, leading to legendary tensions. In a scene in Don’t Look Back, the documentary of Bob Dylan on the road, Dylan retorts quickly that “I don’t hear nobody like Dominic Behan, man!” when his name is mentioned. Music industry legend has it that when Dylan suggested “my lawyers can speak with your lawyers”, Behan replied, “I’ve got two lawyers, and they’re on the end of my wrists.”

As a broadcaster, singer and playwright Dominic would spend his life between these islands. In Britain, he was fundamentally important to opening doors for emerging Irish acts, including The Dubliners, and was part of a golden age of Irish folk and traditional performers on the UK circuit, which could include talent as diverse as Seamus Ennis, Margaret Barry (honoured at this years RTÉ Folk Awards) and a young Luke Kelly. In an interview with this writer, Christy Moore (for whom Dominic produced the album Paddy On The Road) recounted that time fondly, but while acknowledging a profoundly important truth: “Dominic was pure Dublin to his very core. He mesmerized me with an enormous repertoire of songs, reflections and poetry. Himself and his wife Josephine were very kind to me. Like myself back then,he seldom put the cork back into the bottle. The sessions went on ’til the bitter end.”

At the time of his passing in August 1989, Dominic Behan was just sixty years of age. His ashes were scattered on the Royal Canal in Dublin, and an oration delivered by his friend Seán Garland, President of The Workers Party. He would be remembered in the pages of The Irish Times as “a funny man, garrulous, brilliant, infuriating, angry,lovable but never boring.”

Up Russell Street!, a night in honour of Dominic Behan marking 30 years since his passing, takes place at Liberty Hall on 30 November. Tickets available now from eventbrite.

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2019 edition of Teems of Times and Happy Returns.

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Designed by Paul Guinan (www.paulguinan.com)

At long last, I finally got the podcast over the line!

Three Castles Burning is available now on a host of podcast providers, including Apple iTunes (Spotify will follow) and Podbean. For those of you who are old fashioned,you can stream it, and all future episodes, here.

Episode one is the Bachelor’s Walk Massacre, and features guest Lorcan Collins. We stood at the site of the atrocity and got into it, the Howth gun running, and questions of commemoration.

The Bachelors Walk Massacre of 1914 was a turning point event in the Irish revolution, shocking Dubliners and packing the ranks of the Irish Volunteers. Yet today the event is largely forgotten, without so much as a plaque honouring the victims. Guest: Lorcan Collins, Historian and Author.

The editing will improve, this is a brand new project for me but I hope you subscribe and stick with it. If you want to help us out, please give it a play and a rating on Apple iTunes which will move it up the chart. Future episodes already underway include 1930s suburbia, the Animal Gangs, Grogans public house, Dominic Behan and Dalymount Park.

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Crosses honour the dead of Bachelor’s Walk (Illustrated London News, 1914)

The version of events surrounding the violence on Bachelor’s Walk that made it to the United States in July 1914 was somewhat different from how things occurred. Readers of one New Jersey newspaper were informed that “some of the mob fired first with revolvers. The mob then pressed forward and threatened to sweep the soldiers with the revolvers.”

In reality, the 26 July had witnessed something different entirely. The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, confronted by a jeering crowd, opened fire on unarmed Dublin civilians on a day of considerable embarrasment for the authorities, as the nationalist Irish Volunteers successfully armed themselves. To The Times newspaper in London, those fired upon were “the sort of slum crowd which gave so much trouble during the Dublin strikes.” Three were killed on the day, with a fourth dying weeks later as a result of injuries sustained at Bachelor’s Walk. In Dublin, there were immediate scenes of mourning and anger, with recruitment into the Irish Volunteers swelling the ranks of the nationalist organisation, while the funerals of the victims became political spectacles. In its aftermath, Bachelor’s Walk loomed large over political discourse. When John Redmond and Prime Minister Asquith held a recruitment meeting at Dublin’s Mansion House months later, the signs of protestors urged those in attendance to “Remember Bachelor’s Walk, Don’t Join the Army!”

It is curious that this event remains uncommemorated today. A plaque honours the Asgard’s landing of arms at Howth earlier that same day, yet nothing marks the violent deaths of innocent civilians. A year on from the event, attempts to unveil a plaque there in July 1915 were stopped by the authorities, under the war-time Defence of the Realm Act. Dedicated “to the memory of innocent civilians slain by British soldiers”, the completed plaque was not unveiled, its location today a mystery.

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American frontpage coverage of the deaths.

The King’s Own Scottish Borders, garrisoned in the Royal Barracks, maintained that they were responding to attack by a hostile crowd when the first shots rang out just after 6:30pm in the vicinity of the Ha’penny Bridge. Certainly, some stones were thrown, though Thomas Johnson of the Irish Trade Union Congress would later remark that he had seen “more stones thrown at a football match in Belfast without interruption of the game.” Professor Eoin MacNeill of the Irish Volunteers, in correspondance with Roger Casement, would try and outline what had happened:

The news from Howth and Clontarf soon got all over Dublin. The King’s Own Borderers had to bear the brunt of the disgrace…of the Castle regime. Even at Clontarf, a young girl cried out upon them for cowards and asked the women to line up before their bayonets. Half a mile further towards the city, at the North Strand, a jeering mob collected around them and reminded them of their prowess in South Africa. In Talbot Street they thrice charged the unarmed populace with their bayonets, and still the cry of ‘cowards’ followed them, all along O’Connell Street to Bachelor’s Walk. When they reached the metal bridge, they could stand it no longer.

MacNeill claimed “from Amiens Street to Liffey Street you could not find a missile of any kind, except orange or banana skins”, something contested by some first hand accounts, but the facts of history are that the crowd were unarmed and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers were never in any danger. Subsequent investigation of the incident was widely dismissed as a cover-up, and the end effect, as MacNeill noted, was a sea change in public feeling.

The dead were all working class Dubliners. Mary Duffy was a 56 year old widow whose son was serving with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. James Brennan, the youngest of the dead, was a teenage messenger boy. Patrick Quinn was a father to six children and employed as a coal porter. In September, the wounded Sylvester Pidgeon succumbed to his injuries, his death reigniting public outrage.

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Luke Kelly wounded in hospital following the Bachelor’s Walk outrage.

There were dozens of other injured Dubliners too, including several children. One of the wounded was Luke Kelly, namesake and father of the ballad singer who would go on to achieve international fame as a member of The Dubliners. Luke Senior lived a remarkable life in his own right, and distinguished himself as a football player with Jacobs Football Club in the League of Ireland.

In the immediate aftermath of the events, soldiers were confined to Barracks across the city. As historian Pádraig Yeates notes, “one soldier with a Scottish accent who was foolish enough to venture out in civvies was thrown in the Liffey. The Lord Lieutenant, Lord Aberdeen, wanted to visit the injured in hospital but his officials refused to allow him risk his person, given the mood in the city.”

The funerals brought Dublin to a standstill, with the bodies of the three victims brought to the Pro Cathedral, before a procession through the city streets to Glasnevin Cemetery. The Irish Independentreported on 29 July that “The removal of the remains of the unfortunate victims of Sunday’s shooting in Dublin from the City Morgue to the Pro Cathedral last night was marked by scenes of the most impressive character. Seldom in the recent history of Ireland has a more poignant and dramatic scene been witnessed.”

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Volunteers parade in the funerlal procession for the victims of Bachelor’s Walk (National Library of Ireland)

Mary Duffy’s son marched in British Army dress uniform, but for the most part it was the uniforms of nationalist Ireland which were on display during the great procession. The words of Duffy’s grieving son, who condemned those who shot down “helpless women and children in my native city”, had a deep impact. Likewise, the first hand account of a former British soldier who witnessed the carnage was also widely reprinted in the press:

I heard the officer, a young man, give the order to load. I tried to get a couple of women and a girl out of the way. I got the little girl clear, and the women lay down on the pavement. I saw the soldiers load their rifles with ball cartidge. They seemed to be very excited. They were within ten yards of me, and I saw one man fire. He reloaded, and as he put in his second cartridge he pointed his rifle downwards without taking aim. He pulled the trigger, and I was shot in the leg.

There were scenes of mourning during the funeral procession, in particular at Bachelor’s Walk, where the Freeman’s Journal reported that “the assembled thousands became overwhelmed by grief…Hundreds wept and sobbed aloud.”

In the days following the shootings, there were sporadic protests, one of the most remarkable of which was in Liverpool, where a Dublin GAA team were taking on Merseyside opposition. Frank Thornton recounted in his Bureau of Military History Witness Statement:

It was decided in Liverpool that we would mark the occasion by making a strong protest in the streets of Liverpool against the shootings at Bachelor’s Walk. The Volunteers were paraded on Sunday afternoon, headed by the O’Toole Pipers Band and a large banner in front with the words “Remember Bachelor’s Walk”, “Bullets for Dublin”, “Support the Volunteer Defence Fund”. Hundreds of collectors accompanied the demonstration through the city and a large amount of money was collected, all of which went to purchase arms at a later date.

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Bachelor’s Walk, In Memory (Jack B. Yeats)

The painter Jack B. Yeats would capture something of what the tragedy came to mean for Dubliners in Bachelor’s Walk, In Memory, painted in 1915. Jack was moved to paint this from something he had seen at the site of the killings, noting in his diary “a flower girl placing her own offering on the scene of a killing.”

The historian George Dangerfield, writing in The Strange Death of Liberal England in 1935, captured something of why Bachelor’s Walk became the turning point moment it did, putting it in context by comparing it with the indifference – and sometimes tactical support – of the authorities for the UVF arming itself: “Under these circumstances, it matters very little whether three thousand civilians were slaughtered, or three hundred, or thirty, or three: there are stains in Bachelor’s Walk which nothing will ever quite wash away.”

‘Remember Bachelor’s Walk’, whether chalked on walls, printed on handbills or carried on banners, was a rallying cry for nationalist Ireland in the years of the Irish revolution. While commemoration of the civilian dead was disgracefully prevented by the authorities in 1915, we have now passed the centenary of this event without marking the lives cut short on that day. They deserve more.

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The inimitable Dean Swift

It is an honour to contribute a walking tour to the Jonathan Swift Festival this November. The festival is a chance to look at unusual aspects of the eighteeth century city, and with that in mind my tour is focused on voices of protest and dissent in the Dublin of the 1700s.

Swift rests today in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where, his inscription tells us, “fierce Indignation can no longer injure the Heart”. There was much to be indignant about in the time of Swift and after.

The tour takes place on Sunday, 24 November.

18th century Dublin was a city of protest and dissent. From Dean Swift to James Napper Tandy, via The Liberty Boys and Charles Lucas, this tour will examine the angry city of the 1700s. (€10 per person) Join author, historian, and writer of the “Come here to Me Blog”, Donal Fallon.

Tickets are available here, priced at 10 euro.

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The cover of Hands Off Dublin, a collaboration between campaigner Deirdre Kelly and photographer Pat Langan

Deirdre Kelly was only 61 years of age at the time of her passing in 2000, but by then she had done so much. In the words of Dublin’s finest historian, David Dickson, she “became the most fearless community activist – on the streets, in the courts and with her polemical Hands Off Dublin.”

Author, activist and conservationist, she was to the fore of the battle for Dublin, founding the Dublin Civic Group and instrumental in bringing about the Dublin Crisis Conference in 1986. Together with the work of others like Uinseann MacEoin and Frank McDonald, she helped to shine a light on poor planning and the threat to the heritage of the city. She was centrally involved in the campaign to save Hume Street from demolition, which first brought her to public prominence.

Crucially, Kelly (earlier Deirdre McMahon), MacEoin and others were important in changing the image of heritage activism in the city, concerned as much with the proper provision of houses and facilities for Dublin in the present as with saving the past.

In June 1963, the writer Barbara Page lamented those who she felt were concerned only with the Georgian past:

My work takes me frequently into the slums and tenements of Dublin, and although I love the city I feel often depressed and dispirited at the end of the day. I listen to the fine talk of the Georgian Society and read the pleas to save our Georgian Architecture. I climb the stairs, four and five storeys, of Georgian tenements…to rooms unfitted for modern living. There are times when I wish I could make the Gerogian admirers live in these hovels.

No such criticisms could be levelled against an activist of Deirde Kelly’s standing.

The Battle for Hume Street:

Hume Street, and the occupation of a number of endangered buildings by architectural students and conservation activists, drew significant national and even international attention onto the threats facing Dublin’s Georgian heritage.

A significant catalyst for public debate had come earlier, in August 1957, with the demolition of two Georgin houses on Kildare Place, next to the National Museum of Ireland. Campaigners, including Uinseann MacEoin and Seán Ó Faoláin, had argued that these houses had importance in helping to tell the story of the city, and positioned them in an Irish context:

We believe that the architecture of Dublin in this period – the period of Grattan’s Parliament – is one of the country’s chief treasures and to the educated traveller one of its principal attractions. These houses have no particular historical associations: they form a part of a great heritage which was allowed to go to waste in the last century, which, if every effort is not made in the present, will be dissipated. The preservation of a few historical buildings do not keep a city’s character: it is the total effect of houses such as these which made Dublin unique.

The campaigners lost, but the Irish Georgian Society would emerge. Frank McDonald, in his study The Destruction of Dublin, quotes one Government Minister as stating “I was actually glad to see them go. They stood for everything I hate.” The IGS, as McDonald writes, was born “with the twin aims of awakening public interest in Ireland’s heritage of Georgian architecture and spearheading a campaign for its preservation.”

Hume Street played out differently from Kildare Place. Moving beyond words of condemnation into action, the site was occupied in an attempt to stop its destruction. Visiting it in January 1970, journalist Mary Kenny described Deirdre McMahon as leading the occupation:

The architectural students occupying the house at No.1 Hume Street operte in a rigidly democratic manner and proclaim not to hve any specific leader. but a yougn woman, Deirdre McMahon, is clearly emerging as a spearheading force in the movement… Miss McMahon, a first year archaelology student at UCD, is Dublin-born and bred (from Leeson Street). She is lively, merry and extremely resourceful. She is full of purpose bout the project of saving Dublin, but she is clever enough to avoid sounding a hotheaded extrmist.

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Irish Press image of the occupation.

Hume Street had been brewing for some time,with the Green Property Company acquriing property there from 1966. In December 1969, when the first demolition began, concerned students and others moved in, occupying the site. This was in the aftermath of the destruction of similar Georgian houses for the premises of the Electricity Supply Board, and feeling was running high. Sam Stephenson, the architect of the ESB offices, took a dim view of the Hume Street occupation, insisting that the protestors should “stop bleating on about all of Georgian Dublin being preserved for posterity – posterity might not want it.”

Reflecting on the Hume Street occupation, Deirdre remembered “we used to have school parties coming in, people came from Belfast and places like that to visit us. We spent a lot of time showing people around.” The occupation lasted several months, and had some curiuous moments, like the arrivial of a Christmas hamper for the students from Charles Haughey.

Things turned ugly in June 1970,when private security arrived to remove the students occupying the building in the dead of night. The violence was serious, condemned as the “strong-arm methods of a private army employed by property speculators”. Gardaí, not for the first or last time, watched on as private security removed protestors from a building. Widespread condemnation followed,and a protest that evening would be addressed by Mary Robinson, Noel Browne and others.

Hume Street was a noble defeat, but a victory in a sense that it demonstrated the broad support for conservation campaigns in the city, a perfect rebuff to the idiody of Minister for Local Government Kevin Boland, who had denoucned the protestors as “a consortium of belted earls and their ladies and left-wing intellectuals.”

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Deirdre Kelly at Christchurch Cathedral.

The Living City Group and the Dublin Crisis Conference:

Beyond Hume Street, Deirdre involved herself in a number of important 1970s campaigns in the city with the Living City Group, and published City Views, which shone a light on poor planning in the city and threats to heritage. The group was founded by Niall Montgomery, Aidan Kelly (her husband, and the business partner of architect Uinseann MacEoin in MacEoin Kelly Architects) and herself, but quickly formed an active and commited membership.

Some of the language around Kelly in the press was typical of its time, described in the Irish Independent in 1976 as “housewife who leads war on the planners”, but despite such language she seized upon any and every opportunity offered to put forward her argument:

She does not like the Living City Group being referred to as a conservation group, because this term deals mainly with buildings, whereas their greatest concern is with people and protecting them in their small communities. It’s the threat to these communities with which Mrs. Kelly is concerned at present. The threat, she says, is contained in the Draft Development Plan for the city.

Kelly’s impassioned plea for a new approach to planning, Hands Off Dublin! , highlighted all that was wrong in the Corporation’s Draft Development Plan, in the words of one reviewer, “people before traffic, homes for them near their jobs and property speculators way behind in the list of what Dublin needs is what this book is all about.” With Pat Langan’s brilliant photography, she demonstrated the destructive impact road widenings would have on inner-city Dublin communities, communities she always insisted wanted to live in the city. Cleverly,she and Pat took a busload of local politicans and journalists around Dublin, visiting places mentioned in their study and highlighting the potential negative impact of changes on communities. At the heart of Kelly’s argument for Dublin was for the centre of Dublin to be embraced as “the living heart of a capital city.”

One of Kelly’s greatest moments – in conjuction with other longstanding voices for the city – was the Dublin Crisis Conference, which drew up a Citizens’ Alternative Programme for Dublin. Drawing up a 16-point Citizen Alternaive Programme, the iniative won the support of organisations as diverse as the Architectural Association of Ireland, Dublin Council of Trade Unions, Students Against the Destruction of Dublin, the Liberties Association and the Concerned Parents. There is still much of merit and wisdom within the programme. It drew attention to the need for improved public transport, highlighted the decay of Dublin’s docklands (insisting that it was vital the land there “is developed as a diverse and humane environment in the context of a community planning framework which is compatible with the needs of existing residents”) and opposed road widening schemes which threatened the fabric of the capital.

Beyond her work as an activist, Kelly also produced a brilliant local history Four Roads to Dublin: The History of Rathmines, Ranelagh and Leeson Street, published by O’Brien Press. As with many of her contemperaries – Uinseann MacEoin, Frank McDonald, Máirín de Burca (of the Dublin Housing Action Campaign) – she fought plenty of battles, lost a few and won others. Still, she shifted views, and opened up improtant discussions on the direction in which Dublin was heading. She is commemorated today with a memorial in Ranelagh, where a plaque reminds us to think about the streets we walk down as living streets:

Wherever one walks, one is conscious that these are living streets, steeped not just in their own history but woven into the history of Dublin. Writers and musicians, unionists and nationalists, scientists, poets and artists lived and still do – in the houses which line these streets.

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A place to sit and reflect, Deirdre Kelly’s Ranelagh memorial (Image: Dublin City Architects Blog)

With the departure of the British Army from Inchicore’s Richmond Barracks and the birth of the Irish Free State, the barracks was renamed in honour of Tom Keogh. One of the ‘Twelve Apostles’ and a trusted member of The Squad, the assasination team within the IRA’s Dublin Brigade assembled by Michael Collins, Keogh had played an active and important role in the Irish revolution. Killed in September 1922 during the subsequent Civil War, the naming of the barracks was a form of commemoration, but the military life of the barracks was short following the birth of the state.

Only weeks into 1922, the press were pondering if former British barracks could be utilised for housing. The Irish Independent wrote:

The buildings of the married quarters in most of the barracks might be utilised for housing families and relieving congestion while a proper housing scheme is being put into operation. The sites also offer scope for industrial establishments, and for such the buildings could be used without much remodelling.

By 1924, working class Dublin families were living in what was now known as Keogh Square. Four years later, it was reported that “248 families now are housed in the barrack building…and 218 families in houses recently built on a thirteen-acre field adjoining.” Given the history of the site, those who lived there became known as ‘Barrackers’.

History has not been kind to Keogh Square. In 1969, as the St. Michael’s Estate scheme prepared to open in its place, the demolition of the old homes of Keogh Square was described as “sounding the death kneel for the old world and symbolising the new decade of progress.”

The scheme is remembered today as a place which had a tremendous sense of community, but which was also among the most deprived working class housing schemes in the country. Initally, the converted barracks space had been considered decent with regards public housing, but conditions worsened as the scheme grew. The Dublin Tenants Association in 1918 had deplored Dublin Corporation for builing what they termed “neo-slums” in the place of the old across the city, but Keogh Square was different. When initally converted, each flat contained its own toilet, a large living space and a kitchen. Still, things gradually were left to decline. Local resident Nora Szechy, in her memoir of growing up in 1940s Inchicore, recounted that “it was a converted soldiers barracks to give housing to the poor. It was a dark, dilapidated tenement, which smelt of poverty and decay.”

Conditions in Keogh Square were regularly discussed in the press in the decades following independence. In April 1933, there was widespread coverage of the refusal of tenants to pay rent in protest at conditions, with residents organising themselves into the Keogh Square Residents Association. In 1957, Frank Sherwin T.D went as far as to say, over-dramatically, the conditions were “a kind of concentration camp if you like”,language only matched by the Irish Press, who described it as “a warren of decayed houses, human despair, a seeming example of man’s inhumanity to man.”

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The opening of St. Michael’s Estate, 1970.

Keogh Square made it to the late 1960s, a time of considerable change in public housing in Dublin. For many, the seven Ballymun towers, named in honour of the executed 1916 leaders, are the enduring memory of that time,but change was apace across Dublin. St. Michael’s Estate was an impressive scheme in scale, as four eight-storey towers and seven four-storey blocks would replace what had stood before.

The new buildings were architecturally striking,designed by Arthur Swift and Partners. Still, as occurred on the otherside of the Liffey with the Ballymun scheme, there were critics who maintained services were inadequate. In her excellent recent study, Housing, Architecture and the Edge Condition: Dublin is building, 1935 – 1975, architectural historian Ellen Rowley quotes one 1960s voice as stating that “in Ireland, by and large, the struggle has not been to create neighbourhoods but merely to build homes. This is roughly parallel to producing automobiles without building hard surface roads.” Just as in Ballymun, the St Michael’s Estate housing scheme – and Keogh Barracks before it – is now a memory. The excellent Richmond Barracks museum and exhibition space includes reconstructed homes from both Keogh Square and St Michael’s Estate.

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Architectural Survey, 1971. Digitsed by brandnewretro.

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Aerial view of the former St Michael’s Estate. Dublin City Council.

Dazzling Dublin New Wave/Post-Punk band The Atrix are set to release their long awaited anthology. The boxset (available in vinyl and CD) of remastered tracks from the 1979-81 period also includes a 24 page booklet designed by Niall McCormack containing a reflective history of the group by journalist Declan Lynch, song lyrics and photographs.

The relaunch takes place on Thursday 19th September in the Sugar Club. There will be a short comedy set from Kevin McAleer; a poetry reading by Paula Meehan; a roundtable discussion of the Dublin music scene of that era (line up TBC) and a live performance from the band featuring original members Dick Conroy (bass) and Hughie Friel (drums). Tickets (€15) are available here.

The Atrix relaunch poster

Dublin in the late 1970s and early 1980s produced some amazing musical talent and this new release will bring The Atrix’s music to a younger audience of music fans and collectors. The band deserve their place in the top table of local acts alongside The Blades, The Boomtown Rats, The Radiators and U2.

For more on the band, see our previous posts on their singles; ‘A Sense of Ireland’ 1980 festival in London and footage from a 1982 gig in The Top Hat.

Links:

Website – https://www.theatrix.ie/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/theatrixdublin
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pg/theatrixofficial/

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