Archive for April, 2011

Pic: Lynsey Kiely

Four people were pulled from burning flats on Dublin’s Wexford Street early today. The blaze erupted on the first floor above Eddie Rocket’s City Diner at 4.15am.

It’s not the first time there’s been a late night fire on the street. Remember the panic that went with the fire in the Village nightclub back in March 2008?


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No Rare Old Times- but a city with a great story to tell.

The cultural landscape of Dublin will change this summer, when the Little Museum of Dublin opens at 15 St Stephen’s Green. This new non-profit museum will tell the story of Dublin in the 20th Century, and the collection will be completed with the help of the public. In other words it will truly be a people’s museum.

I stumbled across this yesterday by pure chance and have to say it’s quite an interesting idea. Of course many of our cities have museums dedicated to their own history, such as Cork and Galway. The Little Museum of Dublin looks set to open this summer.

In Dublin, we are obviously very lucky to have the National Museums, and also the Story of the Capital at City Hall. The fact the National Museums are free is a huge kudos too.

When on the job with walking tours, I normally direct tourists towards a few places if they want to get to grips with the city a bit better. There’s the Writers Museum, the prior mentioned Story of the Capital at City Hall, the folks at the Dublin Civic Trust and then a number of smaller specialist museums like the excellent Garda Museum or the GPO in-house museum.

I’m interested in seeing how this new venture marks itself out. It’s interesting to note they seem to be looking for people to become patrons of the Museum at this very early stage:

Become a member
As well as donating artefacts, individuals or companies can become Patrons, Life Members or Friends. We have an exclusive programme of benefits for those who support the Little Museum:

Patron (Annual subscription €5000)
Life Member (€1000)
Friend (Annual subscription €95)

A report in todays Irish Times suggests the museum will have a focus on twentieth century Dublin.

Come to think of it, we’ll consider anything to do with Dublin in the 20th century.

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Surely the best and cheesiest Dublin ad ever? Or at least since Dubliner cheese.

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I’ve a lot of time for some Irish rappers. We had Street Literature from the northside on here before, but I love what Nugget has been doing on this site of the river. Hailing from Ballyfermot, this is a cracker.

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This looks excellent, a really good idea.

Hollywood Babylon -Dublin’s Midnight Movie Film Club Running Saturdays fortnightly April to October 2011 and devoted to our favourite ‘disreputable’ movies.

Roughly speaking- movies best seen after Midnight, in company and with beer.

Curated guest screenings, re-imagined film posters by some of our favourite artists and designers, BYOB, intervals, trashy trailers, cigarette girls…

Hollywood Babylon, of course, is one of the best Misfits songs. Hollywood Babylon, we salute your name.

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It’s often forgotten that the late and very great Charlie Chaplin has a statue in this country, located in Kerry, where he spent happy times as a visitor.

In recent times, whenever I’m on the job and providing tours of the city to tourists, I’ve stopped at the statue to another great man, Jim Larkin. When I stand there I think of Austin Clarke’s wonderful words of tribute, when he wrote:

What Larkin bawled to hungry crowds
Is murmured now in dining-hall
And study. Faith bestirs itself
Lest infidels in their impatience
Leave it behind. Who could have guessed
Batons were blessings in disguise,
When every ambulance was filled
With half-killed men and Sunday trampled
Upon unrest? Such fear can harden
Or soften heart, knowing too clearly
His name endures on our holiest page,
Scrawled in a rage by Dublin’s poor.

One of the giants of Irish history, Larkin stands proudly and defiantly on the very street where workers he organised were hospitalised and even killed on a Bloody Sunday.

“Who is missing a statue here?” I always ask. The answer is Charlie.

It was through Emmet O’Connor’s wonderful biography of Larkin I first stumbled across a most unusual episode in Larkin’s life, which occurred when he was imprisoned in the United States. Larkin had found himself imprisoned for “criminal anarchy”, essentially a sentence placed upon him as a result of his radical politics.

While sentenced to five to ten years, Larkin found himself in Sing-Sing Prison. Among his more unusual visitors was Charlie Chaplin.

Chaplin wrote of the visit:

The last day in New York, I visited Sing-Sing with Frank Harris. Jim Larkin, the Irish rebel and labour union organiser, was serving five years in Sing-Sing, and Frank wanted to see him. Larkin was a brilliant orator who had been sentenced by a prejudiced judge and jury on false charges of attempting to overthrow the Government, so Frank claimed, and this was proved later when Governor Al Smith quashed the sentence, though Larkin had already served years of it.
Frank inquired about Jim Larkin and the warder agreed that we could see him; although it was against the rules, he would make an exception. Larkin was in the shoe factory, and here he greeted us, a tall handsome man, about six foot four, with piercing blue eyes but a gentle smile.

It was noted in O’Connor’s biography that Chaplin felt compelled to send presents to Elizabeth (the wife of the union leader) and the Larkin children after this visit.

More detail on the visit to the prison can be found on charliechaplin.com, where it is noted:

Other highlights of this tour included meeting Irish radical Jim Larkin and sitting in the electric chair for a few moments. Charlie visited this prison again shortly before his 1931-2 tour, presenting his new film, City Lights, free for the prisoners’ entertainment.

Something to think about this May Day.

Larkin upon his return from America.

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Six years later

For the week that’s in it. A great snap of Free State soldiers in Dublin in 1922 during the Civil War.

The flyposter beside them reads:



Notice the soldier’s sword as well.

© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

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