Archive for April, 2010

Arthur Scargill at Dunnes Stores, Henry Street with striking workers (Irish Times April 20th 1985)

Arthur Scargill, the (in)famous trade union leader of the National Union of Miners, is to address the upcoming May Day rally in Dublin. There is something about seeing Scargill speak that makes you feel almost entitled to a badge yourself, like you’ve ticked something off some imaginary list. He is, afterall, renowned for his ability in the field.

When I saw him last year, at the Unite union hall (which you can view here) I understood where the reputation comes from. Often humourous, sometimes biting and always engaging, he is in a field of his own when microphones are involved (And the same can be said of megaphones)

While aspects of his own politics remain open for debate among the left, and some debate the tactics and even the ideology of the strike Scargill led, it doesn’t change the fact he remains a speaker most worthy of your ears and time. He is a character of some magnitude.

DCTU May Day Rally:
2 pm , Saturday 1st May
Garden of Remembrance,
Parnell Square, Dublin.

March to Liberty Hall

The red-top smear the staff wouldn't print.


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“Since the end of last season I have been acquiring new players: three are local lads from junior clubs- Billy Reid (Fatima Rangers) Paul McGrath (Dalkey United) and John Cleary (Ballyfermot Utd.)”

Ooh Ah Paul McGrath. With “..a bit of time and encouragement” he won’t be a half bad player. Not a bad call.

This one showed up recently, and should be of interest to not just Saints but maybe Rovers fans and League of Ireland fans in general. The team listings in the central page for example makes for interesting reading. There is so much to this though, the ad’s for local businesses, the simplicity of the match programme, the irritating game of ‘Symbol Cross’ on the last page, and the annoying fact the backcover Adidas ad features snaps of Manchester United and Ipswich Town (not many Irish Ipswich Town fans at the moment). Suppose Barstool culture goes back a bit itself.

So, from the First Round of the League Cup, at a bargain 30p, here it is. Enjoy.

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Plaque to mark the home and business premises of Jennie Wyse Power at 21 Henry Street, put in place in 1991 by the 1916-21 Club.

Jennie Wyse Power operated a restaurant and shop (The Irish Farm Produce Company) at 21 Henry Street. She lived above it. She was a veteran of the nationalist movement, having been involved with the Ladies Land League from 1881, when she was elected a committee member of that organisation. Jennie contested elected office and was a Poor Law Guardian for North Dublin in 1903. She was later involved in the foundation of Sinn Féin.

Her shop became a frequent meeting place for revolutionaries in Dublin. It was here, just prior to the Easter Rising, that the proclamation was signed. Jennie was a close friend of Countess de Markievicz , who frequently wrote to her while imprisoned. In one example, the Countess wrote to her that “I’ve such heaps of money nowadays. Jail is so economical!”

Jennie Wyse Power took the Pro-Treaty side, extremely uncommon within Cumann na mBan, and Cumann na Saoirse became the Pro-Treaty womens movement. It is noted in Cal McCarthy’s account of Cumann na mBan, Cumann na mBan and the Irish Revoltion, that in February 1923 the IRA attempted to burn down the restaurant on Henry Street, angered by the actions of Cumann na Saoirse (Or ‘Cumann na Searchers’ as members of the Anti-Treaty Cumann na mBan termed then). McCarthy notes that by February 1923 they boasted branches in every electoral constituency.

Cumann na mBan was the first national organisation to reject the Anglo Irish Treaty. A resolution, put forward by Mary MacSwiney( sister of Terence MacSwiney, the Cork Lord Mayor who had died on hunger strike) explicity stated that it called on… “The Women of Ireland to support at the forthcoming elections only those candidates who stood through to the existing Republic proclaimed Easter Week, 1916” This resolution was passed by 419 votes to 63. The feeling of the movement was clear.

Jennie Wyse Power became a Senator to the first Seanad of the Irish Free State. She pushed womens issues to the fore in this capacity. Upon her death in January 1941, she was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery following a Mass at University Church, St. Stephen’s Green.

Works consulted:
Anne Marreco- The Rebel Countess
Margaret Ward- Unmanageable Revolutionaries
Cal McCarthy- Cumann na mBan and the Irish Revolution
Sinead McCoole- No Ordinary Women
The Irish Times Online Archive

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This Friday sees the seventh installation of the Punky Reggae Party. It will be my last blow out before my summer university exams, so hope to see you there.

Click to visit the PRP facebook page.

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” I think people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics.”

Woody Allen’s Manhattan is one of my favourite films. Most student flats I’ve entered seem to boast a copy, and it is just as bittersweet as you’d expect. I put off watching it for a long, long time. It made it’s way into most of those ‘Films you’d like’ lists, but I’ve been let down by them one too many times. It was one of those ‘€3.99 in HMV‘ films that I consistently overlooked.

Then, when it came on telly, I decided to watch it. “Beats studying”. Turns out it beats most things. A beautiful black and white film, it had me from the get go. In fact, even just look at its opening moments:

The dialogue, the imagery, it all comes together wonderfully. It’s not a love letter to New York (God knows there are enough of them out there) – but like everything Allen has produced to date, a little more complex than that. It opens and closes with Rhapsody in Blue, which- since the time I first saw Manhattan– has been the soundtrack for many bus trips.

A festival of Woody Allen’s work is an exciting idea. To mark the world premiere of Allen’s latest effort, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, the IFI are doing just that, with Woody Allen: Part One running all through the month of May.Opening with Bananas, and concluding with Hannah And Her Sisters most films will be shown for one or two days apiece. Amazingly, this is just the first part of what will be a three part festival.

There is something to be said for the big screen, even if you’ve watched a DVD (Or, heaven forbid, VHS Tape) a hundred times. No film is the same away from the big screen, and a chance to catch Manhattan (and several other Allen films) in the right environment is something I’ll jump on.

Bananas – May 1st & 2nd (2pm)

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* But Were Afraid To Ask – May 1st & 2nd (4pm)

Sleeper- May 4th (2pm & 6.30pm)

Love and Death – May 6th (2.30pm & 6.45pm)

Annie Hall – May 9th (2.15pm)

Interiors – May 10th (7pm)

Manhattan – May 11th and 12th (7pm)

Stardust Memories – May 13th (7pm)

Zelig – May 15th (3pm) & 16th (3.25pm)

The Purple Rose of Cairo – May 16th (1.45pm)

Broadway Danny Rose – May 22nd & 23rd (1.20pm)

Hannah and Her Sisters – May 29th & 30th (8.30pm)

Tickets are available from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 5744 or online at http://www.ifi.ie

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I’ve had the image below for quite a well now, a fantastic old press snap of two Gardaí inside Connolly House (located on Great Strand Street) after the attack on the premises in March 1933 by an anti-communist mob. Accounts of the night are always chaotic, for example in Pat Feeley’s wonderful article “The Siege of 64 Great Strand Street” (Old Limerick Journal,Vol. 9, Winter 1981) it is noted that:

“As the house filled with smoke and the mob began to occupy it, the defenders were making their escape across the rooftops. The fire brigade tried to rescue two women who were in difficulties on the slates but they were prevented by the crowd who slashed their water hose”

The fact a Webley and Colt. 45 Revolver were found by the Gardai behind the shop counter perhaps best indicates the political tension and state of fear at the time.

Feeley’s article also mentions a meeting held a number of days later where Maud Gonne McBride condemned those behind the scenes at Connolly House, to which a voice in the crowd responded that those involved were Catholics. When she continued to speak, and condemned the broader attacks of the street mobs:

Again the voice repeated, “It was Catholics”. To which this time she replied, “They were hooligans”

Bob Doyle, one of the men who was in the mob that attacked Connolly House, would go on to join the International Brigade forces opposing fascism in Spain. In his memoirs Brigadista, he wrote that:

“I had attended the evening mission on Monday 27 March 1933 at the Pro-Cathedral, during the period of Lent where the preacher was a Jesuit. The cathedral was full. He was standing in the pulpit talking about the state of the country, I remember him saying – which scared me – “Here in this holy Catholic city of Dublin, these voile creatures of Communism are within our midst.” Immediately after the sermon everybody then began leaving singing and gathered in a crowd outside, we must have been a thousand singing “To Jesus Heart All Burning” and “Faith of our Fathers, Holy Faith”. We marched down towards Great Strand Street, to the headquarters of the socialist and anti-Fascist groups in Connolly House. I was inspired, of you could use that expression, by the message of the Jesuit. There was no attempt by the police to stop us”

This, and other insightful accounts, can be read on the fantastic ‘Ireland and the Spanish Civil War’ website located here.

Connolly House, the headquarters in Dublin of the Irish Revolutionary Workers Group was set on fire after an attack made on the building by several hundred young men. Twenty were injured in the disturbances.

Photo shows:- Police officers on guard in one of the rooms after the attacks. Note the tin of petrol left by the raisers.

Grif March 31st 1933 PN.

Two stamps on the back of the photograph point to News Media companies in both London and New York.

ACME, Newspictures, Inc.
220 East 42nd St. New York City


The Communist Party of Ireland site notes, in its biography to Charlotte Despard (an unlikely rebel, owing to her brother being none other than Lord Lieutenant of Ireland John French) that:

“On the 29th the mob attacked Charlotte Despard’s house at 63 Eccles Street, also home to the Irish Workers’ College and Friends of Soviet Russia, but a defence had been prepared in the form of a large crowd of workers, and it escaped with broken windows. Also attacked were the offices of the Workers’ Union of Ireland in Marlborough Street and the Irish Unemployed Workers’ Movement in North Great George’s Street.”

On a lighter note, notice the can of petrol left behind by the mob is ‘BP’, or British Petroleum. You couldn’t make it up.

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The Swastika Laundry operated from the Shelbourne Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 for 75 years.

It was founded by John W. Brittain (1872 – 1937) from Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim who was one of the “pioneers of the laundry business in Ireland” having founded the Metropolitian and White Heather Laundries in 1899. He was also the owner of a famous horse called Swastika Rose which was well known “to frequenters of the Royal Dublin’s Society’s Shows“. (The Irish Times, March 27, 1937)

(c) Life Magazine. David E. Scherman, 1943.

(c) Life Magazine. 1943, David E. Scherman.

An Irish Times advertisement from Thursday, March 15, 1928

The fact that people still talk about the laundry today is, for the most part, based on the fact that a swastika was used for their logo. As you can see from the title and picture above, the laundry was founded in 1912, eight years before the German Nazi party decided to formally adopt the symbol. (This important detail was promoted by the company at the outbreak of WWII when they changed the company’s name to The Swastika Laundry (1912) to distance themselves from the NSDAP)

Swastika Laundry van. Date unknown.

"A street scene in Dublin during the war". Marshall Cavendish Corporation, History of World War II, 2005, p. 610

In his travel memoir Irisches Tagebuch (Irish Diary) (1957) the future Nobel Laureate, Heinrich Böll had an unpleasant run in with a Swasika Laundry van. He notes that he

was almost run over by a bright-red panel truck whose sole decoration was a big swastika. Had someone sold Völkischer Beobachter delivery trucks here, or did the Völkischer Beobachter still have a branch office here? This one looked exactly like those I remembered; but the driver crossed himself as he smilingly signalled to me to proceed, and on closer inspection I saw what had happened. It was simply the “Swastika Laundry”, which had painted the year of its founding, 1912, clearly beneath the swastika; but the mere possibility that it might have been one of those others was enough to take my breath away.

The vans used by the Swastika Laundry didn’t operate on diesel or petrol, they were electric, quite ahead of their time.

"Observed in Shelbourne Road, Dublin, 1960s" - http://www.photopol.com/signs/swastika.html

The Spring Grove Laundry bought the company out in 1987 and sold the land for redevelopment in the early 2000s. The only reminder of the Swastika Laundry at the site today, now known as The Oval, is the huge chimney, now a protected structure, which was emblazoned with a huge swastika until the late 1980s.

The Oval. Chimney on the right. (The Irish Times, Wednesday, March 28, 2007)

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