Archive for December, 2009

Peter's Pub

After Mother Nature tried her best to put us off our stride, and herself and Irish Rail conspired to delay me getting back to Dublin and causing the CHTM pub crawl to kick off a little later than usual, we met at Traitors Gate, well wrapped up against a very chilly Dublin Sunday evening. Traitors Gate as its known colloquially is the archway leading into Stephens Green and is so called because the inscriptions on its underside are the names of the Irishmen who fought and died in WW1, a subject that is still the inspiration for many an argument in Irish households. We had a quick gander at the names while waiting for a new attendee, JBrophy and decided to scarper as soon as he arrived, the cold being the cause; luckily we didn’t have too far to go to our first port of call which was to be Peters Pub, around the back of Stephens Green Shopping Centre. A lovely spot this, I’d been here a few times before when ambling around during the day – When you can get a seat, it’s the business; A pint and a toasted sandwich, I don’t think there’s a better combination. Unfortunately, the place was packed to the rafters with people stopping off for a break from the shopping and bags and big coats meant a tight squeeze for all. Not to be deterred, we took position at the back door and sampled the fare. A nice pint it has to be said but not a fantastic one, and at €4.80 was a little steep. But, no matter, it was grand and warm and the company and banter was good.

the Lord Edward.

With the lack of seats an issue, we didn’t stay long and were soon on our way to our next destination, The Lord Edward just across from Christchurch. A little moment of panic hit when the place looked like it was closed but that subsided quickly when we got around to the front door and it opened like a doorway into a different world, nice and warm with the offer of a tasty scoop at a bargain price of €4. I think we’d all been in here at various stages but I’ve always enjoyed the pint, a touch soft but tasty and much needed. The location of the pub was also a factor, being next to Burdocks was a big deciding factor. We got a few stools inside the door and were joined by another new head in the shape of kbranno, bringing his experience into the mix. A nice pub for a bit of banter this, though I’m not sure how many people were watching the Tenerife game on the telly above our heads. DFallon did comment though, that those among us that are into football drifted into a dreamlike state watching the game, it has that capacity to usurp conversation really. So we snapped out of it, got back to conversation and finished the pints. Out one door we went and in another, as we left for Leo Burdocks for a battered sausage and a scoop of chips.

The Brazen Head

You don’t get that too often, the free scoop of chips thrown in, but it was much appreciated and needed as we strolled through the cold to our next stop, The Brazen Head, on Lower Bridge Street. They say this is the oldest pub in Dublin and I don’t disagree. It’s a lovely place, one that a few of us had never thought to frequent, it being a little out of the way. Plenty to look at and talk about in here as we supped our pints in the “Robert Emmett” room, with all the signed dollars of visiting tourists and ancient posters on the walls. Again, we went back above the €4.50 mark for the scoop here but I’d say it was worth it- we got some nice seats and bantered back and forth about the man who the room was named after. While his speech from the dock has been repeated a thousand times, his rebellion itself was not so much brave as… a bit mad really. There’s quirks galore in this pub, if only you had the time to explore them, but the one that stands out is the etching on the window halfway up the stairs- A visiting journeyman etched his name, his occupation and the date on the window with his ring; dated at 1796, it was only a couple of years before the rebellion of 1798… I liked this pub but the night was getting on and we still had two stops to go.

Frank Ryans

For our first foray into the North-side, we headed across to Frank Ryans, Queen Street. I don’t know how I wasn’t in this place before, as although the Frank Ryan who owned this place was of no relation to the one who fought in the Spanish Civil War, the name inspired (as it always does) no end of conversation. I love a pub with an open fire and this place provided us with one, and a pool table, good music, warmth and a more-than-decent pint for €4.30. I think we all liked this place a lot and promised a return. The kitch décor of the place wasn’t too OTT but still seemed a little out of place, as it’s a locals pub and it doesn’t need the boots hanging from the roof or the Ballybofey signpost to make it Irish. If anything, they make it Oirish, and that’s not a good thing. We stayed for a couple here, such was the welcome, good music being played at a low volume, and the quality of the stout. A nice touch was the board with the newspaper clippings over the jacks; without it, I never would have known that Ho-Chi-Min worked as a kitchen porter in London…

So onwards and upwards to the highlight of the night; How could you venture down this part of the city without visiting The Cobblestone Bar in Smithfield Square- What a pub. They say you get the best Trad sessions in Dublin here and they aren’t too far off the mark. Far enough away from town to dissuade the cheesy ‘old sod’ ballad bollocks, the musicians here are top notch. We didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy it, such were the crowds thronged around the music, leaving us in a precarious position beside the front door, and so we headed down into the bowels of the pub, and got a nice spot out of the way. The pint was without a doubt the best of the night, you know when you get a top pint as it satisfies down to the last mouthful, the head stayed creamy and white on each of the pints we had, a joy to behold and far from some of the muck you pick up around the Temple Bar area. I really like this pub, I haven’t been here enough, it’s only a ten minute walk from O’Connell Street but psychologically much further I guess… But, I reckon Sunday nights visit will be the boot up the arse we need to start heading there on a more regular basis. I don’t know how to describe it; this place just feels like a pub is supposed to feel, the hum of conversation and laughter, the musicians in the corner, top barstaff and good craic.

So there you go, part three of the CHTM pubcrawls, and a nice trip across the city it was too. Next months pubs will be chosen by JCarax, and I’m looking forward to it already!

December’s five pubs were:

1. Peter’s Pub, South William Street.

2. The Lord Edward, Christchurch Place.

3. The Brazen Head, Lower Bridge Street.

4. Frank Ryan and Sons, Queen Street.

5. The Cobblestone, King Street North.


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The Oak Bar, established in 1860, at the corner of Dame Street and Crane Lane boasts a fascinating history.

The Dublin Street Directory of 1862 shows that the occupant of 81 Dame Street was a P.J. Burke, a grocer and home & foreign spirit dealer. In the early 1920s, the bar was bought by the Humphrys family. To this day, you can still see the original tiled floor sign at the entrance reminding customers of its old name.

Photo Credit - Humphrysfamilytree.com

After a re-decoration in 1946, the name of the pub was changed to The Oak. Why? The oak panelled interior of the bar was made with wood savalged from the RMS Mauretania, the sister ship of the RMS Lusitania. [1]

The Oak Interior. Photo Credit - Archiseek Ireland

The RMS Mauretania was launched in 1906 and at the time was the largest and fastest ship in the world. During WW1, it served as a troopship to carry British troops during the Gallipoli campaign. The ship was withdrawn from service in 1934 and its furnishings and fittings were put up for auction. More information on the ship can be found here.

RMS Mauretania. Picture Credit - MaritimeDigital Archive Encyclopedia

Crane Lane, the little street at the side of The Oak which connects Dame Street with East Essex Street, is also historic in its own right. This narrow thoroughfare, which is now most famous for housing The Boilerhouse gay sauna, was once the primary route to Dublin Castle before Parliament Street was built. It takes its name from a public crane used to unload ships which was erected nearby in 1571 beside the old Custom House, the site of the Clarence Hotel today. A previous crane had been put in place here by the Normans in the 13th century. [2]

Crane Lane (Looking towards Dame Street). From Daft.ie

Ireland’s first synagogue was founded in Crane Lane by Portuguese Jews. It was in existence from at least 1700 [3] (some sources contend that it was in fact founded earlier in the 1660s [4] ). The prayer rooms were said to have been in the house of a merchant called Phillips. Unfortunately, it is not known which building on Crane Lane Phillips resided in.

Dolphin House (at the corner of Crane Lane and East Essex Street) Photo Credit - Flickr User 'Ilkhanid'

During the 1700s, a drinking spot called the ‘The Bear Tavern’ stood in Crane Lane. In the later half of the 18th century, another “more frequented” tavern was run here by a Freemason named David Cobert, an “excellent musician” and leader of the band of the Dublin Independent Volunteers. [5] Another bit of history is that the ‘Dublin Gazette’ was printed in Crane Lane from 1705 – 1764 by Edward Sandys. [6]

I’ll leave you with this lovely snap taken in 1968 showing The Oak Bar and a pub opposite called The Crane (now Fogarty Lock & Safe Company).

[1] http://humphrysfamilytree.com/Humphrys/mick.html
[2] Paul Clerkin, Dublin Street Names, (Gill & Macmillan 2001), 48.
[3] Katherine Butler, Synagogues of Old Dublin, Dublin Historical Record, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Sep., 1974), pp. 118-130.
[4] Pat Liddy, Temple Bar – Dublin, (Temple Bar Properties, 1991), 93.
[5] Sir John Thomas Gilbert, History of the City of Dublin (McGlashin & Gill, 1859), 167.
[6] Richard Robert Madden, The history of Irish periodical literature…, (T.C.Newby, 1867), 233

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D'ya Remember Jem? Will I Ever Forget (side b)

I’d very much like to welcome the Skytec vinyl player to the Fallon household. She’s a gem. You take a 7″ vinyl, give her a spin, and via Audacity – there it is. An MP3 file. Put the song in your pocket, put it on Youtube, do what you will- you have it now. Brilliant.

So this morning, the younger lad finds Santa left this thing. A few hours later, and I’ve already hijacked it.

The ‘Official Millenium Single‘, on 7″ vinyl, has been sitting in my room for some time now. My Dad built up a great collection of 7″ traditional vinyls, ranging from the likes of Planxty and Jim Page to one off oddities like ‘The Magnificent Seven’, a rushed out propaganda type tune about the seven prisioners who escaped from the Maidstone in Belfast. All these records offer interesting historical insight. What better place to start however, seeing as this is a “Dublin blog”, than with the Millenium Single of the capital, issued in 1988 by K-Tel.

The Official Millennium Anthem- Performed By The ‘Band Of Dubs’

The Record

Performers list:
Paddy Moloney (Chieftains)
Maire Ní Bhráionáin (Clannad)
Leslie Dowdall (In Tua Nua)
Maura O’ Connell
Mary Black
Finbar Furey
Johnny Logan
Jim McCann
Christy Moore
Paul Brady
Colm Wilkinson
Ronnie Drew
Shay Healy
Tony Kelly
The Dubliners
The Fureys/Davey Arthur

While Side A, a performence of ‘Molly Malone’ does nothing for me, Side B is absolutely fantastic. A spoken word performance from the late Ronnie Drew. Witty as ever, I recommend you give it a listen. It’s amazing this 7″ hasn’t found its way online before now.

And the day we went to the Phoenix Park
To look at the deer and sit in the grass.
And you held my hand and asked for a kiss
But I wouldn’t give in, cause I knew it was a mortal sin.
And then you said you loved me and promised a ring.
Do you remember Jem? Do I remember, will I ever forget?

SIDE A: Band Of Dubs- Molly Malone

SIDE B: Ronnie Drew- Jem

Of course, with a large enough collection of vinyl, the dad couldn’t originally be entirely sure of the backstory on this one. The back of the 7″ however notes that “All royalties from this single go to ALONE” ALONE is a “voluntary action group” that was founded by Dublin firefighter Willie Bermingham. By this logic, I presume it was through the job that this vinyl arrived in the household originally.

In the Dublin Fire Brigade museum you can find a great piece Willie wrote about himself hanging on the wall, which I’ve always considered one of the best examples of Dublin wit I’ve laid eyes on:

Joined the Dublin Fire Brigade in 1964 and spent a long time pushing for the pension. Favourite food, good old irish stew and lots of fish. For breakfast – several mugs of tea at work. Also loves to eat lots of red tape to teach the bureaucrats a little manners.

Classic. So anyway, give this 7″ a play. Side B in particular.

Lastly, if you have a copy of the complete album ‘Official Dublin Millenium Album: Dublin Songs’ issued by K-Tel (cat no. Dub1000) on vinyl, get in touch!

Now run off to Tower Records to nab yourself a Skytech 😉 Expect plenty more posts like this in the coming months.

ALONE still exists today and can be found online HERE

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It doesn’t get much more Dublin that that, fantastic. Have a great Christmas and take care of yourselves, thanks for the support.

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Sorry Lads, I'm off to Glasgow.

While we might see a Carrolls or two close its doors in Dublin after Ireland failed to qualify for the World Cup (Every cloud and all that…) there is now plenty of excitement building over the planned friendly with Brazil in March.

Dublin won’t see a cent however, as todays Irish Independent states that Celtic Park is now one of the most likely venues for the friendly.

London (Emirates Stadium), Glasgow (Parkhead) and Manchester (Old Trafford or City of Manchester Stadium) are the more likely venues.

Arsenal’s ground is a front runner due to the fact that Brazil have played there before and also the FAI’s links to Arsenal through Liam Brady.

But there is a complication as the English FA have confirmed that England will play Egypt in a friendly in Wembley on Wednesday March 3rd.

Police would not be keen to allow two internationals go ahead in the same city on the same night so that would rule out the Emirates for Wednesday.

The same problem arises with Parkhead for that date as Scotland host the Czech Republic at Hampden on March 3rd, so if Parkhead is chosen for the Brazil game, it would have to go ahead on the Tuesday night.

The ‘Green Army’ will get to spend a few of the pennies in the South African jar then. With League of Ireland season tickets going for buttons by comparison, lets hope a few season ticket books find their way into the hands of broken hearted Ole Oles.

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James Connolly lived in a number of houses in Dublin during his time in the city. How many have plaques to mark this? None.

In 1896 when Connolly first came to Dublin the family lived in a one roomed tenement at 76 Charlemont Street. The following summer they moved to 71 Queen Street (beside Smithfield) and then to an end of terrace house at 54 Pimlico in the Liberties.

James Connolly with his wife, Lillie and daughters Mona, and Nora, c. 1895.

Before their move to the United States, they lived in a cottage in Weaver Square off Cork Street.

On his return to Dublin in 1910, James Connolly lived at 70 South Lotts Road, Ringsend. You can see the 1911 census return for the household here On his visits to Dublin in 1913 he stayed occasionally at Moran’s Hotel (now O’Sheas) at the corner of Gardiner Street and Talbot Street.

At back: Jim Larkin & James Connolly. In front: Mrs Bamber (Liverpool Trades Council) & Bill Haywood (IWW), 1913.

More frequently he lodged in 49b Leinster Road, Rathmines, (a.k.a Surrey House) the home of Constance Markievicz where several of her colleagues in the Fianna organisation also lived. (James Larkin hid in this house after he was arrested on 28 August 1913 and before he addressed the crowd from The Imperial Hotel on Sackville Street on 31 august. The house also served as Connolly’s and Markievicz’s office for The Spark and The Workers’ Republic which was also printed here.)

Some time before the Rising Connolly moved into Liberty Hall. During this time, his family stayed with Constance Markievicz’s in her cottage at the foot of Three Rock Mountain in South Dublin.

The houses in Charlemont Street, Queen Street, Pimlico, Weaver Square and South Lotts Road where Connolly and his family lived should have small plaques to mark their importance. If Dublin City Council can’t provide them, maybe all the left wing groups active in the city could raise the money?

Joseph E.A. Connell Jnr, Dublin in Rebellion: A Directory 1913 – 1923, Lilliput Press, 2009 and Donal Nevin, James Connolly: A Full Life, Gill & Macmillan, 2006.)

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the Plough And The Stars

“The only censorship that is justified is the free censorship of popular opinion. The Ireland that remembers with tear-dimmed eyes all that Easter Week stands for, will not, and cannot, be silent in face of such a challenge.”

The above words, amazingly, come from none other than Hanna Sheehy Skeffington. A feminist, suffragete and left-wing nationalist. The subject of her comments is Sean O’ Caseys play, The Plough And The Stars. When we think of the riots the play kicked off, often its easy to imagine a ‘mob’ of religious and conservative nationalists. Sheehy-Skeffingtons opposition shows things were a little more complex.

If anyone has read O’ Caseys book on his time in the Citizen Army, The Story Of The Irish Citizen Army, they’ll know he never held back with his criticism of what he seen as the failures of the movement (Normally, of course, with biting satire and wit)

Sean O’ Casey famously put a motion forward within the movement calling on the Countess Markievicz to “sever her connection” with the nationalist movement if she was to remain active in the labour movement, which fell. After this, O’ Casey resigned his position was Honorary General Secretary.

The motion read:

“Seeing that Madame Markievicz was, through Cumann na mBan, attached to the Volunteers, and on intimate terms with many of the Volunteer leaders, and as the Volunteers’ Association was, in its methods and aims, inimical to the first interests of Labour, it could not be expected that Madame could retain the confidence of the Council; and that she be now asked to sever her connection with either the Volunteers or the Irish Citizen Army”

While many of you have likely seen the play before, its return to the Abbey is most welcome and this promises to be a fantastic production.

For me, the prize moment is always Jack singing Nora to his wife. Nobody has ever come near to the late Ronnie Drews fantastic rendition.

Look here, comrade, there’s no such thing as an Irishman, or an Englishman, or a German or a Turk; we’re all only human bein’s. Scientifically speakin’, it’s all a question of the accidental gatherin’ together of mollycewels an’ atoms

I’ll see you there!

The Plough And The Stars Opens At The Abbey On July 27th,2010
Sean O’ Caseys ‘The Story of the Irish Citizen Army’ can be read free online at Libcom.org

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