Archive for January, 2012

Prisoners outside burning Custom House, Dublin 1921 (NLI)

History Ireland have uploaded a video of the recent War of Independence focused Hedge School held at the National Library of Ireland.

I’ve never seen a waiting line like it at the National Library. Journalists, historians, the generally curious and Dubliners of every kind. Even a certain Vincent Browne was spotted walking away. They could have filled the venue for this one twice or even three times over.

The title of the Hedge School was The War of Independence: ‘four glorious years’ or squalid sectarian conflict? Chaired by Tommy Graham, the speakers are David Fitzpatrick, John M. Regan, Eve Morrison and John Borgonovo.

The video can be viewed here, at the History Ireland Vimeo account. It appears embedding has been disabled so click through.


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When I look out out my window, I think three things… One is the thought that I might not be in this gaff too much longer, with the bank now owning the place and actively trying to flog it to the highest bidder, the second less depressing thought is wow, this view still amazes me, and the third, hmmm, that Farrington’s place, wonder what that’s like.

Well, I had thought the third until a couple of weeks ago when I made a brief stop in there with a couple of CHTM! comrades. I liked it so much that I persuaded DFallon to call in with me on Friday for an early evening swift one; and its the perfect place for this. While from the outside, it can be compared to the Temple Bar only a few doors down, it exudes much less a “tourist kitsch” feeling, rather an “I know we’re in Temple Bar, have to appeal to tourists but we’re much more serious than that” feeling. If you get what I mean.

My favourite thing about the pub though? They stock Brewdog, and in particular 5AM Saint, an absolutely beautiful Red Ale, the kind of drink that you feel a little bit guilty about paying over the odds for but when you taste it, you know its worth it! They also stock a wide selection of Brewdog’s other bottled creations, Trashy Blonde, Punk IPA and Zeitgeist included, and the barman, who pulled up a stool beside us and had a chat, let us in on a secret… that they’ll soon be getting Punk IPA on tap, only the second pub in Dublin to have it. So I can see myself going back.

Internally, the pup reminds me somewhat of the Mercantile or The Oak, not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, and alongside Brewdog, they’ve a wide range of Irish Craft beers, unusual for a Temple Bar pub, where the staple is four Guinness taps in a row and Diageo branding all over the place, catering to tourists crying out for “a drop of the black stuff.” I went for the 5AM Saint, and tried another beer that they had on special, I think it was O’Hara’s, smoked golden ale (or something to that effect,) and at €5, it compares well with spening around €4.80 on a mainstream lager in any of the pubs around the place.

Its definitely a place I can see myself dropping into the odd time, a nice little spot for one or two pints and a look out the window on a rainy day. The bar was spotless and well run, empty glasses dispensed with as soon as we had fresh pints in front of us (a pet hate of mine is a bar the pulls the glass as soon as you’ve finished it,) the barstaff were spot on, for a pub in TB, it had locals, who all seemed friendly enough, oh and they do food too. I’ll drop in later on in the week to see if they’ve fulfilled their promise regarding Punk IPA, and if so, I’ll bang up a comment here.

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In this documentary screened on DCTV as part of Holocaust memorial day the Dublin Jewish community reflexts on Little Jerusalem and the history of their community.

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“Ohh, next door.” Brilliant. Well done to all involved in Unlock NAMA for a truly great and inspiring day yesterday! We say more of this kind of thing!

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The Unlock NAMA occupation today has really grabbed peoples imagination, and I thought it was a great touch that alongside the information on NAMA and the properties under its ownership, the group behind the occupation included a history of the building to show what it was in past lives.

One picture stood out instantly, taken from here at Come Here To Me. 66-67 Great Strand Street were occupied today, but right next door at 64 occurred one of the most unusual events of the 1930s in Dublin, in the form of the storming of Connolly House following a rather heated mass at the Pro Cathedral.

Bob Doyle, who went on to fight fascism in Spain, was ironically enough among the crowd who stormed Great Strand Street. He wrote in his memoirs years later:

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.

We’ve already looked at the event in some detail before, over here, but with the day that is in it I thought I’d repost the image as it appeared in the Unlock NAMA history today. Below is a rare image showing two police officers alongside the petrol cans used during the burning of Connolly House. It came into my possession as a gift, and I’m chuffed to share it.

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DFallon’s great piece on Ettie Steinberg yesterday got me thinking about another unusual tale regarding the Irish and the Second World War. That is the story of John McGrath of Roscommon who became the only Irishman to be imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp.

If you stand in the Schubraum section of the Museum Building in Dachau, you will see a large map of Europe on the wall. Over each country is a number,  indicating how many of their citizens were imprisoned in the camp. The number ‘1’ is marked over Ireland.

John McGrath (c1893 – Nov 27 1946), was born in Elphin, Roscommon and educated at the Christian Brothers’ Schools in Carrick-On-Shannon. Joining the British Army, he saw action in France in World War One.

John McGrath. Sunday Independent, Apr 17, 1932.

Returning home safely he worked, as an administrative staff assistant, with the Gordon Hotel in London and then was involved with the organising of the Grand Prix Motor Race in the Phoenix Park and the Military Tattoo in Landsdowne Road in the late 1920s

He became the first House Manager of the new Savoy Cinema in Dublin in 1929, staying there for two years. When the Savoy Cinema in Cork was opened, he was sent down to manage it and worked there for a further two years. Returning to Dublin, in 1935, to manage the Theatre Royal on Hawkins Street, McGrath was recalled up to the British Army, as major, at the outbreak of war in 1939.

Theatre Royal, Hakins St. nd. (Picture credit -Damntheweather)

Landing with the Allies in Dunkirk in May 1940, McGrath was one of the ‘small Allied band’ who fought in France after the evacuation. He was wounded twice in battle near Rouen, Normandy before finally being captured by the Nazis. McGrath, now a Colonel, along with other captured POWs were then forced to march over four hundred miles to Germany. At least two hundred of the captured men died of exhaustion en route.


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Below is a set of photographs from this morning’s activity at the Unlock NAMA building on Great Strand Street, Dublin 1.  I’ll stick up another report later on the meetings, which will be take place as below:

12 noon: Conor McCabe (author of Sins of the Father) on NAMA and Property Speculation in Ireland

2.30pm: Andy Storey (lecturer in politics and international relations) and Michael Taft (research officer, UNITE) on the Anglo: Not Our Debt campaign

4pm: Unlock NAMA: What buildings does NAMA have and how can we identify and gain access to them?

In we go....

Busy busy!

Media team at work...




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