By 1973, Joe Clarke was one of a dwindling band of 1916 veterans to be found in Dublin.

While others had become Government Ministers or even made it to the Áras,  Joe remained a political radical, and at 92 years of age he was still an active member of his local Sinn Féin Cumann, and indeed a senior figure within the party structure.When he walked down the steps of an Aer Lingus plane at Heathrow Airport in April of that year, he was destined to make it no further. Refused entry to Britain, he was quickly deported and sent home. In its own way, it was a fitting tribute to the 1916 veteran who never gave up the fight.


Survivors of the Battle of Mount Street Bridge, taken on the first anniversary of the Battle. Joe Clarke is on the right of the sitting row, with his hat covering his face. (Image Credit: Irish Volunteers)

Joe Clarke’s revolution:

Joe Clarke was born in Rush on 22 December 1882.  Before he became active in the separatist movement, he worked a host of jobs in the city. He was “knocking about in the kitchen” of a hotel at 11, later working in a boot shop and as a harness maker. He was driver of a horse-and-van for a Grafton Street firm at the time of the insurrection.  As an Irish Volunteer, he was fortunate not to die during the course of the Rising. Located in the vicinity of Northumberland Road and Mount Street Bridge, he took part in some of the fiercest fighting of the week, in an area where the Sherwood Foresters famously marched into a waiting party of Volunteers, who had taken up strategic positions in the hope of ambushing men marching into the city from Dun Laoghaire. Captain A.A Dickson of the Sherwood Foresters remembered:

It was a baptism of fire alright, with flintlocks, shot-guns, and elephant rifles, as well as more orthodox weapons. And 100 casualties in two days’ street fighting was a horrible loss to one battalion: the more so since my one friend from the ranks, commissioned same day, was shot through the head leading a rush on a fortified corner house, first day on active service, and it was my job to write and tell his mother, who thought him still safe in England.

In truth, the numbers were worse than Captain Dickson recalled; in total, the Sherwood Foresters took 240 casualties in the vicinity of Mount Street Bridge. An eyewitness recalled that “They lay all over Northumberland Road, on the house steps, in the channels along the canal banks and in Warrington Place…the place was literally swimming with blood.”

Joe was with a small band of men in the Parochial Hall building on Northumberland Road, who caused havoc for British troops advancing towards Mount Street Bridge. When the Volunteers eventually ran out of ammunition, they attempted to escape by sneaking out into Percy Place behind the building. Here, they were intercepted by British soldiers. According to one detailed account:

Joe Clarke, on being searched, was found in possession of his revolver, and placed with his back to a door, hands up. With his own revolver he was fired on, the bullet piercing the door just above his head.

“Immediately, the door was thrown open, an indignant doctor rushed out, having narrowly escaped being shot as he attended one of a yardful of wounded British soldiers; and, after an almost miraculous escape, Joe was led away, his hands bound behind his back.

Joe remained bitter in later years towards Éamon de Valera, who commanded a sizable force of men at the nearby Boland’s Mills, remembering that “there was any amount of men in Boland’s Mills, and although we sent for reinforcements, we didn’t get any.” In one interview, he went as far as to say he always looked on Dev as “a dictator” within the movement.

After the Rising:


Joe Clarke, selling Easter Lillies in 1966. (Image Credit: An Phoblacht)

Following a period of imprisonment in English jails and the Frongoch internment camp in Wales, Clarke returned to Dublin and worked at the Sinn Féin premises on Harcourt Street, serving an important and dangerous role as courier to Michael Collins and other leading figures in the separatist movement.  He took the Republican side in the Civil War split, and was brutally interrogated by former comrades, remembering that they sought information in relation to who was coming and going from Sinn Féin HQ, as well as the whereabouts of prominent Anti-Treatyites. Among the men who physically assaulted him were former members of ‘The Squad’, the close-knit unit of men founded by Michael Collins:

Frank Bolster and Dolan (with coat off and sleeves turned up) twisted my arms and kicked me on the legs and body, tore my moustache off with a scissors; razor and some other torture instruments. Dolan did most of the torture, assisted by Bolster. They also twisted my ears with a pliers. They also threatened to use a hot iron if I did not give them information. Dolan made a blow at me with a large black bottle. I dodged the blow. Bolster said I should be shot. There were six or eight men in the room during the torture, including Lieutenant Tom Scully. I was told I would be taken to the torture room again in an hour’s time if I did not give the information wanted. All my money (over £6), a fountain pen and a knife were taken from me by Dolan. I was then taken to a cell off the guardroom and left there with seven others without bed or bedding of any sort.

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The Eucharistic Congress of 1932 brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets of Dublin, but one man certainly stood out from the pack. Father Philip B. Gordon, known as “the Indian Priest”, was only the second Native American Catholic priest ordained in the United States. Gordon was a champion for the rights of Native Americans, and clashed with the bigoted KKK on more than one occasion in the 1920s. Newspapers described him in Dublin as “A full-blooded Indian priest of the Chippewa tribe who appeared in the regalia of his people in a procession of the Congress.”

His presence on the streets of Dublin was a reminder of a moving moment in 1919, when the Chippewa tribe to which he belonged made an important gesture towards Irish nationalists. In that year, Éamon de Valera visited the Chippewa Reservation in Wisconsin, where he was honoured by community leaders there. De Valera told the Native American people that “‘you say you are not free. Neither are we free and I sympathise with you because we are making a similar fight. As a boy I read and understood of your slavery and longed to become one of you.”


1919 US press coverage of visit to the Chippewa Indians.

From June 1919 until December of the following year, Éamon de Valera traversed across the United States, an elected representative of the ‘Irish Republic’ which sought international recognition and allies. While he failed in securing recognition from President Woodrow Wilson, which was perhaps an overly ambitious goal, he did succeed in raising enormous sums of money for the cause, as well as in shining a light on the Irish question in the American media.

Interest in Ireland didn’t come only from the predictable corners, such as the Irish Diaspora. Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League and a champion of Pan-Africanism, had named the Harlam headquarters of his movement ‘Liberty Hall’,in honour of the centre of trade unionism in Dublin. In one speech, made at a time when de Valera was in the United States, Garvey proclaimed that “the time has come for the negro race to offer up its martyrs upon the altar of liberty even as the Irish had given a long list from Robert Emmet to Roger Casement.” Similarly, Puerto Rican nationalist Pedro Albizu Campos would express his admiration for the cause of Ireland and de Valera, while making quite the impression on the visiting Irishman.

Joined by a team that included Dubliner Harry Boland, de Valera’s journey across America brought him to places of great symbolic importance. He laid a wreath on the grave of Benjamin Franklin, visited a memorial to George Washington, and even touched the famous Liberty Bell. Enthusiastic crowds mobbed him in cities like New York,  and the cameras were never far away. Some in the American press compared him to Benjamin Franklin, and Harry Boland told one New York newspaper that “in Ireland five men out of six are prepared to die for him.”

The visit of the Irish delegation to the Chippewa Reservation created a lot of excitement in the American press, and the Irish certainly enjoyed themselves. Boland remembered that “we had the pleasure of seeing the native games and dances, fed on venison and wild race and other delightful Indian dishes.”


From the American Bismarck Tribune, Match 1929. “De Valera is in hiding about Dublin and in planning soon to come to America.”

In the pages of the Irish World and American Industrial Liberator newspaper, it was reported that:

Eamonn De Valera, president of the Republic of Ireland, is a Chippewa Indian Chieftan.

He was adopted today by the old Indian tribe on their reservation in Northern Wisconsin and was named ‘Dressing Feather’ or Nay Nay Ong Abe, after the famous Indian chief of that tribe who secured for the Chippewa their rights to the Wisconsin land under the treaty of 1854.

The ceremony took place in an open field in the reservation in the presence of more than 3,000 Indians and white people and was interpolated by a weird series of Indian dances and speech-making.

The ceremony began with Chief Billy Boy greeting the Irish leader in Chippewa, and then the headsmen of the tribe “presented the Irish leader with a handsome beaded tobacco pouch and moccasins”. When de Valera began his speech, he spoke in the Irish language, before telling the gathered crowd of thousands:

I speak to you in Gaelic…because I want to show you that though I am white I am not of the English race. We, like you, are a people who have suffered and I feel for you with a sympathy that comes only from one who can understand as we Irishmen can.

You say you are not free. Neither are we free and I sympathise with you because we are making a similar fight. As a boy I read and understood of your slavery and longed to become one of you.

Dev was presented with a ceremonial headdress (though not the one he is shown wearing in the images from that day), which made its way back to Dublin with him. According to UCD’s excellent historyhub, “Terry de Valera recalled in his memoirs how he and his siblings used their father’s headdress in their games as children.”

Thirteen years after he was honoured by the Native American people, Dev hosted the visiting Father Gordon during his time in Dublin, demonstrating that he hadn’t forgotten the honor bestowed on him by the Chippewa people. Whatever one thinks of the political decisions later taken by De Valera, there remains something remarkable about this particular story.


(Design credit: Moira Murphy)

Sources: In particular, historyhub (linked above) was important, providing the detailed contemporary newspaper report. My thanks to Andrew Flood for pointing me towards an online biography of Father Philip B. Greene, which mentioned his visit to Dublin. The Library of Congress website hosts historic American newspapers.

(Note : I have earlier looked at the Drugs and Dublin in the 1960s here)

In light of the Dáil recently passing a bill to make cannabis available in Ireland for medicinal use, we thought we would share this enlightening newspaper article from nearly fifty years ago.

On the 31st of January 1968, a 22 year-old “bearded young man” was caught with £5 of Cannabis resin in Rice’s pub beside St. Stephen’s Green. He was a part-time actor who had recently failed his final English literature university exams.

Rices, 1984

Rices, 1984. Credit – @PhotosOfDublin.

In front of District Justice Farrell in April, he told the court:

In my opinion, I have done no wrong in so far as I consider it to be inevitable that cannabis resin will be legalised within the next few years, and taking into account that it is a non-addictive drug and that I have not at any stage given it to anyone who had not previously taken the drug and who was old enough and intelligent enough to know what they are doing.

He went on even further talking about “more enlightened times” while also refusing to name his friend and supplier.

I have answered clearly and truthfully all questions, with the exception of one – what my source is.
Were my source one of those infamous people who capitalise on the weakness of others by selling such habit-forming drugs as could ruin the lives of those indulge in them, I would have no qualms about giving you such information …
However in view of the fact that this is not the fact, and neither my source nor I make any profit from Indian hemp, and bearing in mind the certainty that in more enlightened times which are fast approaching, the charges brought against me now will seem ludicrous as would a charge of possessing cigarettes containing nicotine at the present time. I consider myself a victim of circumstances.

Detective Sergeant Dennis ‘Dinny’ Mullins, who made the arrest accompanied by fellow Drugs Squad member Garda Con Murphy and Garda Christopher Keane from Dundrum station, told the Court about the drug’s effects:

It exhilarates, makes you happy, forget your troubles, and some say it gives a clearer insight into things, a writer, clearer thoughts for example.

The Irish Times, 2 February 1968

The Irish Times, 2 February 1968

The young man felt giving his friend’s name would not help the police:

When questioned I have, and shall continue, to refuse to reveal my friend’s name. In doing so, I have taken into consideration both the responsibility one has to the State and the loyalty one owes to a friend. The revelation of my friend’s name would not help in anyway to bring the Gardai nearer in their search to any ring, as such, which may exist for the sale of either cannabis or other more dangerous gigs.

In order to avoid a “fairly severe fine” and prison sentence, the student agreed to give up the drug and was given a remand for three months.

The drug was handed over to the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland to be used for “experiments”.

He also made an appeal to the journalists present in the court not to reveal his name or address as this would “undoubtedly lead” to problems finding employment and accommodation. Interestingly, The Irish Times compiled with his plea but the Irish Press and the Irish Independent refused.

As this individual, if hopefully still alive and healthy, would be 70 years old – we feel reprinting the article with his name shouldn’t have any damaging effects.

We’d love to know what happened to him. So if you know a William or John O’Sullivan who studied English Literature and born about 1948 – get in touch!


The Irish Independent, 2 February 1968.

Though mentioned before in passing on the blog, Margaret Gaj and her restaurant on Lower Baggot Street are certainly deserving of greater focus here. Indeed, her restaurant was such an important part of the story of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement that Anne Stopper christened her 2006 study of the IWLM Monday at Gaj’s. At the time of Gaj’s passing in 2011, she was remembered by Mary Maher as being “absolutely fearless in taking on the establishment.”


1965 advertisement for Gaj’s, Trinity News.

Margaret Gaj (née Dunlop) was born in Edinburgh in 1919 to Irish parents. In a 1976 interview with The Irish Times, she remembered how “I felt myself to be Irish. You could not be a Catholic in Scotland without feeling it.” A pacifist to the core, she joined the Red Cross and served as a nurse during the Second World War, and in that capacity she met Polish soldier Boleslaw Gaj, who she would marry. She and her husband arrived in Ireland in the late 1940s, using inherited money to obtain a farm and a restaurant at Baltinglass, though it proved a financial failure. She would joke that she came here “with more money than sense. Now I have more sense than money.”

In the city, she first opened a restaurant in Molesworth Street, but later moved to 132 Lower Baggot Street in the mid 1960s. Politically active from a young age, she had been a member of the Independent Labour Party in Scotland, and joined the Irish Labour Party, attracted by Dr. Noël Browne’s politics despite some political differences. She would drift from the party, but remained politically active across a wide variety of campaigns. She was particularly active with the Prisoners Rights Organisation, which sought to reform Ireland’s prison system, but was also active within the Dublin Housing Action Committee, and a passionate anti-war campaigner; in July 1971, she was brought to court charged in relation to a protest at the U.S Embassy, along with her 19 year old son Wladek.


Margaret Gaj. Notice the political poster, urging people to “oppose internment, North and South” (Image Credit: Memorial page)

One of the earliest references to her restaurant in the mainstream press comes from the Sunday Independent, who reviewed it in 1968, describing it as a hub of conversation. Indeed, references to the restaurant in the press tended to focus on the discussion rather than the cuisine:

In the room over the restaurant you will find people sitting and talking who are rather more concerned with ideas than with good. Supporters of Reform or the Labour Party may well by there or, if it is a Sunday, there may be a wine and cheese party in aid of pacifists or Grille, or a bring-and-buy sale to help the old age pensioners.

The food was affordable, and indeed plentiful. Nell McCafferty has written of food that was “homely, swiftly swerved, accompanied by pots of proper tea. Bacon and pineapple on toast, hamburgers and chips, apple pie and cream to follow.” The writer John Banville remembers the restaurant as “a haven of sanity, freedom and good cheer, and at half-a-crown, the bangers and chips were not only  a bargain but also, as a friend of mine used to say, a great tightener.”

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Chancery Park housing scheme, the work of Housing Architect Herbert Simms.

23 years after the birth of the Free State, a writer in the journal Studies complained that slumdom remained, and that the city was still home to “conditions which are often quite unsuitable for cattle,much less human beings.”

To Professor T.W.T Dillon, things were still dire and not getting better:

…the pattern of dirt, decay and discomfort is everywhere the same. The filthy yard with the unspeakable closet often choked, always foul-smelling,serving the needs of all the families in the house; the single tap,often situated in the basement or even in the foul-smelling yard; the cracked and crumbling walls and ceiling covered with scabrous peeling paper or blistered paint; the leaking roofs and rat-infested floors. There are differences in detail, but in general a drab and disgusting uniformity is unrelieved by any sign of human dignity.

Yet while there was much work still to do in 1945, the previous decade had witnessed some  significant changes and improvements, which we can still see in the urban landscape today.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the opening of the Oliver Bond House scheme at Usher Street and Cook Street. Just like the beautiful Chancery Park complex across the Liffey, it serves as a reminder of the remarkable architect Herbert Simms, who was to be “responsible for the design and erection of some 17,000 new homes” in his time as Housing Architect from 1932 to 1948. In recent years there has been a great resurgence of interest in Simms and his work, and public housing in Dublin more broadly speaking.


Detail of North Cumberland Street scheme, the work of Housing Architect Herbert Simms.

“Bread for the People” – The coming to power of Fianna Fáil and the issue of slumdom.

The 1932 General Election is primarily remembered for the cynical ‘red scare’ tactics of the out-going Cumann na nGaedheal government. Front page newspaper advertisements from the party warned that “The gunmen are voting for Fianna Fáil. The Communists are voting for Fianna Fáil.” One government publication warned that if de Valera’s party took control, “the extremist minority, as in Spain, as in Mexico, as in Russia, will get the upper hand.”

Fianna Fáil attempted to make the slums an election issue, promising increased public spending on housing. This was one contributing factor in Labour supporting the first Fianna Fáil government, with party leader Willie Norton declaring that “so far as the slum-dwellers are concerned, they need have no regret at the change of government, and the old-age pensioners have reason to be glad that the rich man’s government of the past ten years was not in office at the present time to further reduce them.”

Cumann na nGaedheal had, in truth, delivered some advances in public housing in Dublin. The Free State’s first attempt at public housing was in Marino, well-detailed here by Rhona McCord. The new state looked internationally for influence on occasion; as architectural historian Ellen Rowley has noted, “a collective of Dublin officials took a study tour to Amsterdam and Rotterdam in 1925 so as to examine the Dutch Expressionist housing by Michel de Klerk and Piet Kramer.”

On political platforms and stages, the slums became an issue. One Fianna Fáil candidate, Eamonn Cooney, declared at a 1932 election rally that “in the slum dwellings there would arise a new hope” if the party were elected to power. In Smithfield, a Cumann na nGaedheal candidate was heckled by Fianna Fáil supporters about the condition in local slums, attempting to deflect criticism by asking if people were prepared to see “the red flag flying” in Dublin.

Fianna Fáil’s policies undoubtedly owed more to populism than socialism, but as Brian Hanley has noted, the party did evoke the promise of the revolutionary period:

It talked about putting into practice the “ideas embodied in the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil” while de Valera claimed James Connolly as his major inspiration and promised to make “the resources and wealth of Ireland … subservient to the needs and welfare of the people”.

Furthermore, there would be more than simply political independence; Ireland would be “self-supporting economically”. Much mocked now, Fianna Fáil’s commitment to protectionism and native industrial development was fresh and radical in a state whose government seemed content to maintain itself as a giant beef ranch for the British market.

When Seán MacEntee read the first Fianna Fáil budget before the Dáil, he emphasised that this was a new approach to ruling. Now, there would be “bread for the people”. The poor were promised dignity, and that meant pulling down the slums.


Greek Street scheme, completed in 1936.

Throughout the decade, the slums of Dublin were spoken of  as hotbeds of vice and crime. To The Irish Times, the slums were “Dublin’s deepest shame and gravest peril”, and it was “almost a miracle that hitherto Communism has not flourished aggressively in that hideous soil.” In 1936, an Archdeacon Kelleher was reported as saying:

Slums could be called the breeding grounds of potential Communists. The fact that they are not producing the natural destructive effects of typical Communism is to be attributed, in my mind, to the fundamental Christian virtues of faith, charity and humility.

Horace O’Neill, the City Architect, went as far as to tell a 1935 meeting of the Old Dublin Society that “slums are barbarous. If I were born and lived in a slum and unemployed, I would be a revolutionist.”

Herbert George Simms:

The Londoner Herbert Simms entered the service of Dublin Corporation at the age of only 27, a veteran of the First World War who had served with the Royal Field Artillery. A scholarship received in the aftermath of the war allowed him to study architecture at Liverpool University,  and he was appointed temporary architect to Dublin Corporation in February 1925. Seven years later, and after a brief spell working as a planner in India, he was appointed to the position of Housing Architect for the Corporation. There was much work to do; Simms told one 1936 tribunal that “they were now trying to do in one generation what should have been done by the last four or five generations.”

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Thomas Farrelly (20), of 30 Mary’s Lane, was shot and killed by the British Army in Dublin’s North Inner City in August 1920. A neighbour Thomas Clarke (19), of 16 Green Street, was seriously wounded in the attack.

It occurred during a turbulent month within a turbulent year. On 7th August, an IRA Flying Column’s ambushed a six-man RIC foot patrol near Kildorrery, County Cork. Two days later, the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act received royal assent giving Dublin Castle the authority to replace the criminal courts with courts-martial and to replace coroners’ inquests with military courts of inquiry. On 12th August, Terence McSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork was arrested and began his hunger strike.

Planned visit of Archbishop Mannix:

During the summer of 1920, the outspoken Cork-born Dr. Daniel Mannix (1864-1963), Archbishop of Melbourne was undergoing a tour of the United States. He shared a platform with Eamon de Valera at Madison Square Gardens in New York telling the audience of 15,000 people that Ireland should be given the “same status in postwar planning as the other small nations of Europe”.

He openly supported the actions and aims of those behind the Easter Rising proclaiming :

I am going to Ireland soon and I am going to kneel on the graves of those men who in Easter Week gave their lives for Ireland.

On 31st July 1920, he boarded the transatlantic liner Baltic at New York for his long journey to Queenstown (Cobh) in his home county of Cork. The ship had made it so close to the Irish coast by 8th August that Mannix could see the lights of Cobh and the flames of huge bonfires of welcome on the hilltops.

But the British government had other ideas and the ship was intercepted by the Royal Navy. Mannix was denied entry to Ireland, arrested and brought to Penzance, Cornwall. Padraig Yeates, in his brilliant book ‘A City in Turmoil‘, wrote that Mannix was prohibited from addressing any public meetings in any part of England with large Irish immigrant populations.

Mannix remarked with characteristic irony: “Not since the Battle of Jutland had the British Navy scored a victory comparable with the capture f the Archbishop of Melbourne without the loss of a single British sailor.”

A summer’s night in Dublin

Bonfires to welcome Archibishop Mannix to Ireland had also been lit across Dublin city including one on Greek Street in the Markets area of the North Inner City.

A large Irish tricolour with the wording ‘Welcome Dr. Mannix’ was draped across the street by supportive locals.

The Evening Herald, 11th August 1920.

Crowds and tricolour to celebrate the visit of Mannix. The Evening Herald, 11th August 1920.

On that summer’s night late on 10th August, a small group of about ten young men were sitting around the dying embers of the bonfire at the corner of Greek Street, Mary’s Lane and Beresford Street. Newspaper articles reported that they were singing Irish nationalist songs. During the singing of ‘The West’s Awake’, a truck full of British Army soldiers from the Lancashire Fusiliers pulled up.

Location of the bonfire and shooting from 1913 Dublin Map.

Location of the bonfire and shooting from 1913 Dublin Map.

At the time, Dublin was under a strict military curfew and people without the necessary permits could not be outdoors from midnight until five in the morning.

At the following inquest, local witnesses like Joseph Eccles of Church Street said : “No challenge was given and nothing was said by the military” before they opened fire.

Thomas Farrelly ran in the direction of his home and was about twenty yards from the front door when he was hit by a volley of bullets. He was carried into his mother’s house and laid on the kitchen floor. According to the Sunday Independent (15th Aug 1920), Farrelly exclaimed “oh mother! oh mother!” and soon died in her arms.

Evening Herald, 11th August 1920.

Thomas Farrell (sic). Evening Herald, 11th August 1920.

Another young local man Thomas Clarke was shot and wounded in the knee. He limped into the same house where he collapsed on the floor but luckily recovered from his injuries.

Farrelly was rushed to Jervis Street Hospital in an ambulance but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Evening Herald, 11th August 1920.

Joseph Clarke. Evening Herald, 11th August 1920.


Dr. Mannix sent a telegraph to the Lord Mayor of Dublin:

Just now I can only use this means of thanking you and all my friends in Ireland for their welcome to Irish waters. Kindly convey my heartfelt sympathy to the relatives of the murdered man Farrell. God rest his soul and comfort those who mourn him” (Irish Times, 13 August 1920)

Thousands attended his public funeral which took place on Friday 13th August 1920. The Evening Herald (13th August) reported that “all shops for a large area around were closed and blinds in private houses reverently drawn”.

The Irish tricolour flag with the message “Welcome Dr. Mannix” was draped over his coffin. Thomas Farrelly apparently had helped to make this flag which was hung near where the shooting took place.

Irish Examiner, 17th August 1920.

Funeral of Thomas Farrelly. Irish Examiner, 17th August 1920.

The hearse was drawn by four black horses from Halston Street Church to Glasnevin Cemetery. Thousands lined the route from North King Street, Church Street, Mary’s Lane, Little Mary Street, Capel Street, Parliament Street, Dame Street, College Green, Westmoreland Street and Parnell Square.

The Herald stated that the scene from Dame Street to the Cemetery was “particularly impressive as the long line of Volunteers, members of the Citizen Army and numerous Trade Unions marched four deep behind the hearse “. A slow, death march was played by the bands of the United Labourers’ Union and the Irish National Foresters.

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To date, we’ve been lucky enough to host four nights in conjunction with our friend Johnny Moy at The Sugar Club.  The Dublin Songs and Stories nights have all been for charity, with the Dublin Rape Crisis, Inner City Helping Homeless and other great causes benefiting. There have been some real moments of magic at the nights to date; poet Stephen James Smith played a blinder in December 2015, while veteran political activist Ailbhe Smith and artist Jim Fitzpatrick are two others that come to mind instantly as special moments. We’ve had rappers, traditional musicians, street artists and historians, and always a very engaged and lively audience!  The common thread between all the various performers has been the city of Dublin, and its importance in their lives and work.

The last night happened in March of this year, and included Will St Leger, Rory O’Neill (aka Panti Bliss) and others. It’s taken us a while to get the wheels in motion again, but I will lay the blame for that on the centenary. There was plenty for historians to be doing this year! Still, we’re going back into it now and seeing the year out with the fifth night.

This night is to benefit a great cause, and a friend of the website who needs life-saving surgery in the United States (click for Gofundme page). Mags lives with multiple conditions which drastically affect her quality of life, and is in a very brave battle with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). The manner in which friends have mobilised around her and her family in recent times in inspiring to see, and this is a small contribution towards a great cause.

Once again, the mix is as eclectic as you’d expect from this blog. Tickets are available in advance from here, at €10 plus booking fee.We recommend getting them in advance. All help in promoting the night is much appreciated.


Brian Kerr  (Image Credit: Amnesty International)

If things had gone differently, Brian Kerr from Drimnagh could have followed his father into boxing. Thankfully for the entire Irish football community, he took a different path. There are few people who have contributed as much to The Beautiful Game in this city and country, from his close involvement with Saint Patrick’s Athletic to his work with the national squad at youth and senior level. He has done wonderful work with Sports Against Racism Ireland (SARI) and other progressive campaigns, and is a much-loved broadcaster, not afraid to call out the ruling powers that be in Irish football.


Danny Diamond by Barry Britton (Image Source)

The traditional music dimension of these nights has always proven popular. At the first night, Barry Gleason took the roof off the place when he burst into song, and Landless, Rue and John Flynn of Skippers Alley have all represented traditional and folk music and singing at the nights since. This time, Danny Diamond brings his fiddle along. Majestic stuff always, his 2004 album Fiddle Music is well played around these parts, with echos of the great Tommy Potts. Danny is part of the great Slow Moving Clouds among other musical pursuits, and this promises to be a great set.


Fuchsia MacAree print for the Irish Architectural Foundation, posted to the excellent Dublin Ghost Signs.

We’re delighted to have got Fuchsia MacAree on board for the night, being long time admirers of her work as an illustrator. Her work is often very playful and frequently draws on Dublin itself – her characters, buildings and eccentricities. Formerly NCAD’s Designer in Residence, you have seen her work in a wide variety of Irish publications. Anyone that can make a play on Busáras and dinosaurs is sound in our book. See her website MacAree.ie  for examples of her work.

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