Back in 1965, Smithfield square and other parts of the northside were transformed into Berlin, when Richard Burton visited Dublin (along with Liz Taylor) for the classic espionage film ‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’. Today, a visitor to Smithfield would learn this from the local history plaque which takes pride of place within the old drinking fountain, while sharper eyes might notice the sign above the Cobblestone pub, who sell a beer named ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ in honour of the areas Hollywood connection. The cost of bringing Berlin to Smithfield was reported to be £8,000, with “firemen on call in case the rain demanded by the script didn’t arrive.” This being Ireland, they naturally weren’t needed.
You can see Smithfield transformed in the trailer for the film here:
What became of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie after filming? Digging in the newspaper archives, I found this image. It shows the set in all its glory.
This photo shows 45-year-old Dublin businessman Bart Cummins, who bought the set and who the paper reported “is moving Checkpoint Charlie to the gate of his new galvanising works at Inchicore, Dublin.” Bart purchased the set for Cummins Brothers’ brass foundry. Bart was also heavily involved in local football club Saint Patrick’s Athletic, at a time when the club were in financial dire straits and at risk of collapse. The Cummins family had long been involved in the club from its formation, and continued to play a role in the club long afterwards.
Sean Lynch has written about Bart acquiring the famous set, noting that:
He re-erected a watchtower in front of his yard in Inchicore and appeared on national television as the man with the best known replica of the Wall. He gradually sold it off in sections. Some of the material was recycled to rebuild Saint Christopher’s School, the first Travellers’ school in Ireland. Situated in Cherry Orchard at the western edge of Dublin, the school was organised and run independently of the Department of Education by civil rights activist Grattan Puxon.
Does anyone from Inchicore have any images of this watchtower, or do they remember seeing it?