The original Archer’s Garage, Irish Independent 11 March 1953.

Archer’s Garage, where Sandwith Street meets Fenian Street, is a beautiful Art Deco building – but it isn’t quite as old as it looks.

Over the June Bank Holiday weekend in 1999, one of Dublin’s more peculiar buildings was illegally razed by a developer, leading to massive controversy. The developer in question signed a legal agreement with Dublin Corporation to rebuild the structure, which prevented prosecution for the act of senseless vandalism, and was preferable to a fine of a million or jail time! An Taisce noted that “it is the first time a developer has had to restore a listed building in Dublin.”


Evening Herald, 12 October 1999.

Archer’s Garage took its name from R.W Archer, the first man to import Ford cars into Ireland. Archer attended Dublin’s first motor car show in the RDS in 1907, which began a love affair with cars. At ninety years of age, he was still reportedly working three days a week in the garage in 1967!

Completed in 1946, the garage was designed by Arnold Francis Hendy, who was also responsible for the beautiful Pembroke Library.  While Art Deco buildings certainly stand out in the city (the GAS building on D’Olier Street being particularly popular), there is a richer history of Art Deco style architecture in this country than one might first think, highlighted recently by this excellent piece in Village magazine. Perhaps the most celebrated Art Deco architect to work in Dublin was Housing Architect Herbert Simms, whose public housing units (in particular the Chancery House scheme beside the Four Courts) remain popular. The Art Deco buildings of Dublin are, like most schools of architecture, a mix of public and private buildings.

The reconstruction of the demolished garage was scheduled to begin in September 1999, just months after its demolition, though work didn’t start until 2001. When completed, the building was widely praised. Still, it is difficult to disagree with the assessment of BuiltDublin.com that something just isn’t right:

For me, it’s impossible to shake off the Pet Sematary feeling about the building – not the demonic possession aspect, but the creepiness of reanimation. There isn’t an ‘undo’ function after demolition, and however grand words like ‘reinstate’ might make the process sound, this is a building completed in 2000 to a best-guess version of an 1940s design, and I can’t see how that’s desirable or anything other than a very particular pastiche.


The reconstructed Archer’s Garage. (Image Credit: Creative Commons, Kolleykibber )




Check out our music history section for lots more articles on the bands, venues and records of the late 1970 and early 1980s Dublin music scene.

The Resistor EP front. Credit – Sam (CHTM!)

The Resistor EP back Credit – Sam (CHTM!)

After a number of years of searching, I finally got my hands today on a rare Dublin New Wave 7″ from The Resistors.  All thanks to the wonderful photographer Wally Cassidy who is helping to sell his friend’s record collection.

Titled ‘EP for Jeanie’ and released in 1980, it was the the one and only output from the band’s own label ‘Break Records’. The contact person for the record company listed on the single is Marcus de Cogan who was Ents officer of UCD Student’s Union  in 1976/77.

The Resistors, who were active from 1978 until 1983, were described by music journalist Neil McCormack at the time as playing “reggae tinged new wave pop”. The band comprised of:

  • Peter McEvoy – Vocals
  • Paul O’Reilly – Guitar
  • Pat Hamilton – Guitar
  • Tim McStay – Keyboards
  • Valentine – Bass
  • Brian ‘Bun’ Curran – Drums

Three of the band had previously performed together in The Noise Boys (1978-79).

All three songs on ‘EP for Jeanie’ were composed by keyboardist Tim McStay.

The Resistors live. Credit – Bert Versey (via http://u2theearlydayz.com/)

The record was produced by Brendan ‘Brenny’ Bonass who had played guitar with a host of Dublin beat/blues/rock bands in the 1960s and 1970s including The Inmates, The Uptown Band, The Stellas, The Chosen Few, Rockhouse and Stepaside.

It was engineered by Ken Kiernan, who had co-founded Keystone Studios in 1977 and played guitar and keyboards with Pulling Faces, and Brian Masterson, who had co-founded  Windmill Lane studios in 1978, and played played bass with jazzy-rock groups Jazz Therapy and later Supply, Demand and Curve .

The record featured saxophonist Dave McHale, formerly of Stagalee, The Boomtown Rats amongst others, who sadly passed away in 2009.

The front cover photograph was taken by Colm Henry.

Side A

‘Jeanie’ is an up-beat track with strong two-tone and mod revival influences.

Side B

‘Takeaway Love’ is a decent power-pop tune.

More of the same with ‘End Of The Line’

The band’s second single ‘That’s It‘ (1983) is probably even more rare with not a single copy ever sold on Discogs since 2000. It’s a collector’s item as Phil Lynott produced the b-side. Luckily, I was recently passed down a copy and will get around to digitising it as soon as possible.






Evening Herald, 29 April 1991.

Morrissey’s father phoned the Gerry Ryan Show once in its early days to complain about the lack of airplay given to his son’s music on Irish radio.

-Dermot Hayes writing in the Irish Press.

Friday sees the release of Morrissey’s new record, Low in High School. Its cover features a child holding an axe outside Buckingham Palace, clinging to a placard that says ‘Axe The Monarchy’. One would expect nothing less.

His solo career has now produced a remarkable eleven albums, beginning with 1988’s Viva Hate. If you care, my favourite remains You Are The Quarry. Next February, Morrissey returns to Dublin to play the Point Depot, a venue we will never call by any other name. He is strongly bound to Dublin through blood, but also a passion for Irish literature, which included reference to Brendan Behan on his last recorded album.

It’s an interesting part of the Morrissey story that his first proper solo concert was here in Dublin, with a sold-out concert at the National Stadium in April 1991. There had been a gig in December 1988 in Wolverhampton, but it was in many ways the remnants of The Smiths, and largely consisted of Smiths songs. Dublin was the beginning of the first ever Morrissey solo tour, backed by a new band and performing only his own songs.

A negative review in the Evening Herald inspired full pages of letters from disgruntled fans over subsequent days, but for most who were there the concert was nothing short of a revelation, with tickets selling out in an impressive forty-seven minutes (before the internet). The Irish Press couldn’t quite get the appeal, asking just what was it about “the bard of bedsit psychoses” that appealed to Irish teenagers. It was all front page news the following day, viewed as nothing less than the latest youth culture craze in the eyes of curious journalists.

Daffodils, lupins and geraniums:


Irish Press, 29 April 1991.

The constant stage invasions at the National Stadium were one feature of the concert that fascinated journalists, with the Press commenting on how “Daffodils, lupins and geraniums showered down on the Mancunian legend throughout his exciting one hour set.”

Over in the Herald, the review could have been about Bill Hailey and the Comets or The Beatles, both of whom had caused their own scenes on Dublin stages decades earlier:

To say Morrissey is idolised by his fans is an under-statement. They could not be kept off stage – although at times it looked as though even the narcissistic Morrissey was getting fed up with being kissed repeatedly on the ear.

Dressed in jeans and a glittering lurex style v-necked vest, Morrissey, to the delight of a packed arena, spent much of the evening wrapping his arms around his own body, running his hands through his hair and letting his tongue shoot back and forward lizard-style.

The youth of the crowd was commented on in many places, NME joking that “the only way they could have bought Meat Is Murder is by being wheeled into the store in a pram.”

Emerging on stage, Morrissey told the audience that “it’s very nice to be here, and it’s really touching but if you don’t come on the stage then we can play better.” Nobody listened. One great account of the gig comes from David Bret’s Morrissey: Scandal and Passion. The concert had a large Garda presence, who had done their research into the fandom surrounding the artist, and Bret writes “his opening number, ‘Interesting Drug’, was virtually inaudible on account of the fans excitement. One of these grabbed the microphone from him to yell ‘I love you Steven!; Morrissey grabbed it back and growled ‘Thank You, but I don’t know who Steven is!'”


Notice the flower-covered stage! This image from the concert was later used by EMI Records.

After a few days, the Herald had to guillotine Morrissey related letters, as fans had taken such offence to their review of the gig. Woody from Dublin 5 insisted that “there is a light that never goes out. His name is Morrisssey”, while David in Dublin 12 agreed that the concert hadn’t been great, maintaining “this has more to do with an ancient boxing hall unfit for a talent contest, never mind a big concert, than anything else.”


The set list included no Smiths numbers (it was far too early for that), but there was a cover of the New York Dolls song ‘Trash’, dedicated to the great Johnny Thunders who had died shortly before the concert. Despite what the Herald maintained, it seemed to everyone else that the man who would later describe himself as “ten parts Crumlin, and ten parts Old Trafford” was off to a flying start. A few months later he returned to the much larger Point Depot, his boxing stadium days behind him in Dublin for a while at least.

SET LIST, APRIL 27 1991:

Interesting Drug
Mute Witness
The Last Of The Famous International Playboys
November Spawned A Monster
Will Never Marry
Sing Your Life
Asian Rut
Pregnant For The Last Time
King Leer
That’s Entertainment (The Jam Cover)
(I’m) The End Of The Family Line
Everyday Is Like Sunday
Our Frank
Piccadilly Palare
Trash (New York Dolls Cover)
I’ve Changed My Plea To Guilty


The Attack on New Books, 1956.


Irish Examiner, 9 November 1956.

The idea of hundreds of people laying siege to a bookshop or a political party office is a strange one that we might not associate with Dublin, but it has happened here on more than one occasion.

Yesterday was the centenary of the birth of Michael O’Riordan, a remarkable figure in Irish political history. Born in Cork in November 1917, just days after the Bolshevik revolution had transformed world politics forever, O’Riordan devoted decades of his life to the cause of communism in Ireland. It wasn’t always (or ever) a popular cause to promote. In 1989, he joked in one interview of how “we are becoming more acceptable, people no longer cross the street when they see me coming and bless themselves.” O’Riordan, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, remembered the more difficult days no doubt.

In the early 1930s, anti-communist sentiment in Ireland was sharpened by events on the continent, and in particular the rise of the left in Spain. It spilled over in March 1933 with the siege of Connolly House on Great Strand Street, the headquarters of the Revolutionary Workers’ Group, a forerunner of the Communist Party. Just over two decades later, in 1956, events in Hungary brought thousands onto the streets of the capital again, this time directing their anger at New Books on Pearse Street, the forerunner of what is now Connolly Books and the home of the Communist Party in the city.

The anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary in the winter of 1956 received much sympathetic coverage in the Irish press. When Soviet troops took control of Budapest and other urban centres from 4 November, the resulting violence led to hundreds of deaths. In Dublin and many other cities across Europe, protests followed.


Irish Press, 9 November 1956.

A protest of some 4,000 students on O’Connell Street saw placards reading ‘Communism: Down With It’, ‘Aggression: We Know What It Means’  and ‘Save Crucified Hungary’ carried. Banners identified the students as coming from UCD, Trinity, the National College of Art and other institutions. It was all standard protest fare, but at New Books on Pearse Street things took a turn, with the Irish Examiner detailing how attempts were made “to rush the seven policemen outside the shop, but this failed, and cries of ‘burn it down!’ were heard.” The windows of the bookshop were smashed, as well as an unfortunate neighbouring business premises. Its owner told the press he was in full sympathy with the objectives of those who had damaged his premises!


Sunday Independent, 11 November 1956.


The Irish Democrat, newspaper of the Connolly Association, reports on the attack.

Not all opposition in Dublin to the behavior of the Soviet Union in Hungary came from the traditional religious right, the instigators of much of the violence in the 1930s. The meeting organised by the National Students’ Council on College Green following Hungary was described as being “both anti-imperialist and anti-communist”, with one speaker insisting that “if there was an armed insurrection in the Six Counties there would be a repetition of the brutality of the scenes in Budapest.” Among the speakers was Count Nickolai Tolstoy, described as a “White Russian now a student in Dublin” (though born in London) and an Egyptian student who condemned Britain’s actions in Suez and Cyprus. In some ways, it was not unlike the huge demonstrations in Dublin in 1949 over the imprisonment of of Cardinal Mindszentry,  which was also an unlikely coming together of the right and some from the left, including the Larkinite Workers’ Union of Ireland.

New Books continued on, moving to Parliament Street in 1971, before finding its current home on East Essex Street, where it is known today as Connolly Books. In the words of Irish Times writer Frank McNally, it has somehow survived “the rise of that flagship of rampant western consumerism known as Temple Bar.”


Irish Independent, 17 July 1919.

There was something of a furore this week when Leo Varadker wore a remembrance poppy into the Dáil. Personally, I think it is the right of anyone to wear or not wear any commemorative symbol they choose. I wear a white poppy each year, primarily in memory of my great-grandfather, one of the tens of thousands of Irish victims of the slaughter of the First World War. A white poppy (intended as an anti-war symbol and created in the 1930s) probably annoys both sides in the debate, but that isn’t the intention.

Commemoration of the past in Ireland is a loaded thing. When Sinn Féin TDs wore Easter Lilies into the Dáil in 2013, Charlie Flanagan lambasted them on the basis that “some members of this House may find the wearing of such emblems offensive.” When Fine Gael TD  Frank Feighan wore a remembrance poppy into the Dáil, nobody from the otherside of the floor objected. Why would they bother?

There has been a lot of work in recent years by historians, academic and otherwise, on remembrance of World War One in Ireland. The myth that the First World War was somehow ‘forgotten’ in Ireland is surely laid to rest by now, thanks to work highlighting Remembrance Sunday’s attended by tens of thousands in the capital, and the phenomenal public appetite for films like Ypres and The Battle of the Somme. In an account of childhood in working class Dublin, Brendan Behan remembered the importance of the memory of the war in parts of the city:

When the singing got under way, there’d be old fellows climbing up and down Spion Kop til further orders and other men getting fished out of the Battle of Jutland, and while one old fellow would be telling how the Munster’s kicked the football across the German lines at the Battle of the Somme, there’d be a keening of chorused mourners crying from under their black shawls over poor Jemser or poor Mickser that was lost at the Dardanelles.

It was in the very immediate aftermath of the war that the question of how it should be remembered was first being asked of course, and one interesting intervention was the Irish Nationalist Veterans’ Association (INVA), founded at a meeting in Dublin’s Mansion House in May 1919.

With some 2,000 to 3,000 men refusing to march in the 1919 victory parade through the city, the body claimed that “they did their part to resurrect ancient nationalities and to redress grievances in other oppressed nations, and on return they find in Ireland a larger occupation than Germany found necessary to keep down Belgium.”


July 1919 advertisement.

The War after the War:

Certainly, significant numbers of ex-servicemen did enlist in the ranks of the Irish Republican Army, the Citizen Army and other separatist bodies during the War of Independence, most famously men like Tom Barry and Emmet Dalton. Paul Taylor has noted that “the witness statements of IRA veterans contained in the Irish Military Archives refer to 109 ex-servicemen serving in the IRA….They include 24 commanders (almost all on active service),34 instructors (at least 15 on active service), 42 other Volunteers on active service and eight intelligence officers.” There were several hundred such men across the country, a frightening prospect for the authorities.

Yet for many veterans of the war, their fighting days were behind them. At the first meeting of the INVA the anger in the room was palatable, something captured in contemporary newspaper reports. Widows, the maimed and others demanded Irish nationhood be recognised, with war veteran Brigadier General Hammond in the chair. Men who had followed the Redmondite line that the interests of all of Ireland were served in the War now found themselves feeling abandoned, as “they believed honestly in the adhesion of the democracy of England to the just claims of Ireland when they entered the war, and they now told English statesmen that the eleventh hour had struck.”

Among veterans themselves, there were questions of what form Irish self-government should take. Some shouted ‘Up the Republic’, while a Captain Sheehy was booed for proclaiming his belief in “Colonial Home Rule”. The widow of Tom Kettle, who had been a founding member of the Irish Volunteers and an Irish Parliamentary Party MP in the years before his death on the Western Front in 1916, proclaimed boldly that “the men who went to France have been betrayed.”

Spreading beyond Dublin,the INVA had a presence in Belfast too, where Richard Grayson notes “in 1920 it took in political events such as a May Day labour rally in Belfast, but it was increasingly concerned with representing its members. In particular, it lobbied the local War Pensions Committee.” Beyond demanding recognition of Irish nationhood, the INVA in Dublin also made financial demands, with Mrs Kettle insisting “there should be an increase of all existing pensions and gratuity rates”, while there were demands that “work be started to give employment to ex-service men.” In the 1920 local elections, a 21 year old veteran of the war, Alderman Harkin, President of his local Nationalist Veteran’s Association, was elected in Belfast. He “romped home by a huge majority in a division hitherto exclusive to the Orange party.”


Letter in Freeman’s Journal, May 1920.

After independence, the question of remembering World War One was a complex one. Foolishly, some IRA men chose to attack those who participated in remembrance services, while on the otherside some uniformed British Fascisti used the day to provoke republicans and the left. The Gardaí themselves complained that the day was being exploited for “imperialist displays”. In the middle of all of this were tens of thousands of people who just wanted to remember their own dead with dignity.

On Remembrance Sunday 1934, an appeal to Irish ex-servicemen was issued, claiming that “the Armistice Day parades under the British Legion have been proved for the last ten years to be an insult to the dead and a mockery to the living.” Frank Ryan, one of those who had been prominently involved in shutting down earlier Remembrance Sunday events, shared a platform with Irish veterans of the war who marched through the city. Patrick Byrne of the Republican Congress remembered years later that “I had urged this new approach because of the disgust I felt when I saw some ex-servicemen being set upon for wearing their medals and poppies on their ragged coats.”

The men and widows of the INVA should not be forgotten. When the war was over, a conflict between empires, it left tens of thousands of people without fathers, husbands and sons. People had the right to mourn,to be angry, and to remember.



Barbara Jefford as Molly Bloom and Milo O’Shea as Leopold Bloom in Joseph Strick’s 1967 Ulysses.

Fifty years have passed since one of the great Irish cinema controversies, when James Joyce’s Ulysses made it to the big screen, only to be banned here. The work of American director Joseph Strick, it would remain banned until 2000, giving it the rather dubious honour of being the longest banned film in the Irish state. In New Zealand, it was only shown to gender-segregated audiences.

Ulysses had long been a controversial work. When Sylvia Beach made the brave decision to publish the work in print in February 1922, the book was widely condemned, often by people with no intention of reading it. The Sporting Times, a weekly British newspaper, regarded the book to be the work of “a perverted lunatic who has made a speciality of the literature of the latrine.” The Dublin Review went further still, wondering how “a great Jesuit-trained intellect has gone over malignantly and mockingly to the powers of evil.” To D.H Lawrence, himself a victim of censorship, the book was “the dirtiest, most indecent, obscene thing ever written.” It wasn’t only British and Irish sensibilities that were offended by the book; in the United States, some libraries refused to stock the book, denouncing it as pornography.

Yet whatever about the printed word (and it should be noted that Ulysses was never actually banned in Ireland, though condemned) it was the 1967 film version of the tale which shocked Irish sensibilities most. Denounced by the authorities as being “subversive to public morality”, it remained banned in Ireland for more than three decades. The film proved controversial globally, even inspiring a walkout protest at the Cannes Film Festival, with the audience of critics who booed the film denounced as “illiterates” by a festival official. The use of the word ‘fuck’, coupled with a nude man shown from behind, was too much for some.


Liberty Hall, a very new Dublin landmark.

Joseph Strick’s Ulysses is true to the text, but also very much of its own time. Though Joyce set the story on 16 June 1904 (now eternally known as Bloomsday), Strick made no attempt to hide 1960s Dublin from the cameras, and the city itself emerges as one of the stars of the film. I like to think that Joyce, a true modernist, would welcome Strick’s playfulness with the contemporary city. We see Liberty Hall, Desmond Ri O’Kelly’s sixteen storey building by the Liffey. Then the tallest building in the state, such a building was a distant dream in the Dublin of 1904. We also get a great look at the much-missed Irish House pub on the corner on Winetavern Street, sadly lost a decade later to the regeneration of Wood Quay for the Civic Offices.

Strick originally intended to make the film more than eighteen hours in length, though financial constraints thankfully prevented this. The film divided critics; to the Sunday Independent, it was “a sincere if rather tedious homage to Joyce – very much a filmed book. It is totally innocuous visually.” It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the cast was something of a who’s who of Irish stage and screen acting. Leopold Bloom, the central protagonist, was portrayed by Irish stage actor Milo O’Shea, while Barbara Jefford was one of the few non-native talents, taking on the role of Molly Bloom. To her fell some the most controversial lines in Ulysses, and her characters bluntness about sexual matters like masturbation stood little chance against the Irish censor. Her performance is masterful, at its best in her closing soliloquy.

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Farewell to Liam Sutcliffe


Liam Sutcliffe at the Spire, previously published on CHTM in Dear, Dirty Dublin series.

Whether or not the removal of Admiral Horatio Nelson from the Doric column on which he stood for so long was a good or bad thing will be eternally debated by Dubliners.

In the immediate aftermath of the blast, there were mixed reactions too. An American journalist wrote home that “Dublin’s mood was one of gaiety. Crowds jostled and joked around the police cordons at the scene.” By comparison, The Economist condemned the blast, as “Nelson’s fall may be good for a laugh; but it is comical only by the greatest good luck. Post-colonial Dubliners being safely in their beds by 1.30 a.m, nobody was hurt.”

In recent years I got to know Liam Sutcliffe, one of the men responsible for the bombing of the Nelson Pillar, who died last Friday. When I wrote The Pillar in 2014, he signed more copies of the book than I could dream of. He also had a remarkable ability to hear about any talk on the Nelson Pillar in the city. On one occasion, I got a good laugh out of seeing him stroll into Store Street Garda Station where I was giving a lecture for the Garda Historical Society on the Golden Jubilee of the blast. There may have been familiar faces in the room.

Liam Sutcliffe’s time in the republican movement did not begin or end on 8 March 1966. From Dublin’s south inner-city, he joined the IRA in 1954, shortly before the ill-fated Border Campaign. He was to become an IRA agent inside Gough Barracks in Antrim, gathering important information. Liam was among the (primarily young) men who followed the charismatic Joseph Christle out of the organisation; the ‘Christle Group’ were viewed as dissidents by IRA leadership, soon launching their own attacks north of the border. Joseph Christle had been among the students who climbed to the top of the Nelson Pillar in October 1954 and hung a banner of Kevin Barry from the viewing platform, carrying with them instruments they hoped would help remove Nelson. On that occasion, efforts to remove the Admiral failed, but his days were numbered. Gough, William and George could tell him as much.

Liam remained active in republican politics after the destruction of the Nelson Pillar, joining Saor Éire in 1970. In this capacity, he “was involved in the arming and training of the Nationalist Defence Committees in Belfast and Derry. He became a leading volunteer in the group, active in many of its engagements.” Saor Éire’s manifesto proclaimed that “in the Six Counties today the Butchers are at work again. The ghetto uprising of the Catholic-Nationalist population is the latest round in the Irish struggle for self-determination. But the rulers in the Free State are not in the least interested in the people North of the Border.” For Liam, there could be no question about the need to assist the besieged nationalist population.

In recent years, Liam was frequently to be found at commemorations honouring friends who had given their lives in the 1960s and 1970s, but he was also politically active in campaigns like that to Save Moore Street. A regular in Tommy Smith’s wonderful establishment, Grogans on South William Street, he had a great love for discussing history and politics and a wonderful friendly manner, not to mention a fine sartorial touch, never shying away from a pink shirt. He will be missed by many, and I will think of him every time I pass O’Connell Street.

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