Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

City Hall is an open door, but like most open doors in the city the locals don’t tend to wander in. If you do walk in though you’re rewarded by the sight of a beautiful rotunda, the centrepiece of the 1779 building designed by the architect Thomas Cooley. There are a whole series of excellent murals to view inside the building, telling the story of Dublin. Work on these murals began in 1914, and was undertaken by students of the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, under their Headmaster James Ward. I sent Paul Reynolds of Rabble fame in to photograph them, lacking anything even resembling a camera myself!

Philip McEvansoneya has noted that “The subject matter was suggested by Alderman Thomas Kelly, the senior Sinn Féin councillor on Dublin Corporation.” The Corporation would have had a strong nationalist prescence even in the years prior to the Easter Rising, refusing to officially welcome several Royals to Dublin in the early twentieth century. McEvansoneya has noted in Irish Arts Review that there seems to be three themes running through the murals – “Dublin legends and history, Irish christianity and the historic struggle for Irish independence.”

'Saint Patrick Baptising the King of Dublin in 448 A.D' (Paul Reynolds)

‘Saint Patrick Baptising the King of Dublin in 448 A.D’ (Paul Reynolds)

The first reference to the murals I can find is a letter from James Ward to the Dublin Corporation in October 1913 offering to provide students and designs for paintings in the Rotunda of City Hall. The Irish Times reported that “On the motion of Alderman T.Kelly, it was resolved to accept the offer, provided the designs were of historical subjects connected to the city, and that the Corporation approved of them.”

Irishmen oppose the Landing of the Viking Fleet, 841 A.D (Image: Paul Reynolds)

Irishmen oppose the Landing of the Viking Fleet, 841 A.D (Paul Reynolds)

By January, 1915, the same newspaper were reporting that the first two of the murals were in place. The first depicted the arrival of Saint Patrick in Dublin, while the second showed the coming of the Norse.The murals were not completed until 1919, when the Corporation thanked Ward at a function below the paintings, over which the Lord Mayor presided.

Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf 1014 A.D (Paul Reynolds)

Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf 1014 A.D (Paul Reynolds)

My favourite of the murals depicts the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, and shows an aged Brian Boru upon a horse. There will be much focus on this moment in Irish history next year, an event around which much mythology and folklore has grown. The arrival of the Anglo-Normans is also depicted, with Richard de Clare, or Strongbow, arriving at the gates of Dublin.

Parley between St Laurence O'Toole and Strongbow outside Dublin, 1170 A.D (Paul Reynolds)

Parley between St Laurence O’Toole and Strongbow outside Dublin, 1170 A.D (Paul Reynolds)


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Image Credit: Luke Fallon.

Image Credit: Luke Fallon.

Last week we posted an image from Croppies Acre memorial park, which commemorates those who fought in the United Irish rebellion of 1798. The image, showing a pile of used needles, was a pretty good insight into the life of the park today, which has been locked to the public for well over a year owing to anti-social behaviour and drug use. In recent days Luke Fallon climbed the wall and took a series of photographs for us to post on the site here. He was actually knocking around town experimenting with a film camera for something entirely different, but decided to hop into the wall and see if it was as bad as the image posted here made it seem. In his own words, it’s worse. The memorial itself is beautiful however and this post will hopefully give many readers their first glance inside the railings.

As is often the case with monuments to the republicans of the 1790s, the French language appears alongside Irish and English.

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

This interesting little Wolfe Tone memorial below grabbed my attention, as it’s dated to 1898. In the past we looked at Wolfe Tone on the site, and in that post noted that in 1898 a crowd of 100,000 marched to Stephens Green for the laying of a foundation stone for a Wolfe Tone monument. Is this it?

On 15 August 1898, ‘Wolfe Tone Day’, 100,000 people came onto the streets to see the laying of the foundation stone for a monument dedicated to Wolfe Tone. The foundation stone began its journey in Belfast, in many ways the ideological birthplace of Irish republicanism as it was there that the United Irishmen were formed.

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

It’s obvious that the park is actually dangerous in its present state, with needles abandoned in both the walkways and the grass. Along with the presence of human bodily waste, the risks to children, pets and others in the park is huge.

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

With so much talk of history at the moment and the centenaries aplenty, it’s an ideal time for the OPW to take control of this park again and open it to the public.

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

Image Credit: Luke Fallon

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Pere-Lachaise in Paris may hold the remains of Oscar Wilde, and may be known for its beauty and grandeur, but in Dublin, we have several cemeteries to match it in splendor, and one that holds amongst many others, the remains of Wilde’s direct descendents. Mount Jerome Cemetery, like many of Dublin’s burial grounds, sits innocuously behind high stone walls in the middle of Harold’s Cross. But behind the walls lies a resting place of almost 50 acres that has seen over 300, 000 burials.

You don’t generally think of a cemetery as a place to go sightseeing, but Mount Jerome, bought by the then newly formed General Cemetery Company of Dublin in 1836 and receiving its first burial in September of that year is an example of Victorian affluence worth a look for the enormity of some of the tombs alone. Hidden Dublin by Frank Hopkins notes that while it was envisaged that the cemetery would host both protestant and catholic burials, the first catholic burial did not take place there until the 1920’s, when Glasnevin Cemetery was closed due to a strike. James Joyce mentions the exclusion in Ulysees, saying

Then Mount Jerome for the protestants. Funerals all over the world everywhere every minute. Shovelling them under by the cartload doublequick. Thousands every hour. Too many in the world.


Imposing structures, like the Cusack family vault below can be found across the graveyard. One of the most imposing structures in the cemetery, it was built to house the remains of James William Cusack, doctor and prominent member of the Royal Dublin Society in 1861, and continues to receive the remains of his descendents, E.P.C. Cusack Jobson was the last to be buried there, as recently as 2004.


Judging by the family crest on the door, the below vault belongs to someone by the family name of O’Shaughnessy; it stood out because instead of a family name in the centre, “per angusta, ad augusta” appears. From Latin, translated it means “through difficulty, to greatness.”


There are various parts to the cemetery, and you can see from plot to plot how burial customs changed over time. From statement making vaults like the Cusack one, to the less grandiose, door into the side of a hill one’s like the O’Shaughnessy one. There are several paths leading down below ground level to lines of doors like the ones above and below. The graveyard is still in use, so the variation between crumbling tombstones and collapsing ground and modern twelve by four graves makes it a walk through time.

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The first post from me in a while this, and a bit of a mixed bag. The first four are from the Tivoli carpark, post-this years grafitti/ skate jam. The second two are dropped in to break up the post, the first a sign  spotted at the council offices in Rathmines, and the second, a group of workers abseiling down the side of Liberty Hall. The second lot of graf pictures is from the back of the Bernard Shaw, easily the best spot in Dublin for ever changing talent. Inside and out, the walls are covered with pieces from Dublin’s best artists, including our good friend Maser; the “Swim” piece is his, and was a work in progress at the time the below was snapped.

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Sometimes we are lucky on CHTM! to get mails from people who share the same love we do for history. So after posting about the Mayfair Café shop frontage on Richmond Street South the other day, to get this mail in our inbox this morning was an absolute pleasure. I was going to edit it, but its worth posting in full; a huge thanks to Graham Stone for getting in touch, the words below are his!

Can’t help out a lot with Molly Tansey (the electoral register for 1962-63 lists her as Mary and I have spoken to one old-timer – grocery wholesaler George Cooke, born in 1924 down the road at No 46 and died a year or so back, his father ran The Delta Café at No 40 South Richmond Street 1939-44 –  who claimed to recall the Mayfair as “proper sort of place, neat and clean and well-turned out, like eating at home, good plain food and no pretensions”) but as for the location …

2 - 1869 Irish Times ad for J P Sweny

Before Portobello House opened in 1807 as the Portobello Hotel there were no buildings on the west side of Richmond Street, the land north of Portobello House used for storage by the Grand Canal Company. In 1840 (by which time there were three buildings at what today would be Nos. 38, 42b & 44), the stretch of land between the rear of Portobello House and Lennox Street was leased to builder James Henderson who used some to store his own building materials and sub-let portions to other merchants.  Around 1850 this area is described as “Portobello Market” which suggests itinerant trading.


After Henderson (who continued to reduce his own holding bit by bit until, in 1869, he disposed of the last piece of land, at the corner of Lennox Street, today home to the Aprile Café and the Bretzel bakery), members of the Sweny family – furniture dealers, hauliers, undertakers and fuel merchants, see attachments 1 and 2 from the Irish Times – occupied the site until at least 1880 after which the building housed a plumber, a greengrocer/fruiterer, a grocer, a hairdresser and a wholesaler before Mary Tansey set up her Mayfair Café in 1956.

6 - Sonny Knowles with Maxi, Dick & Twink at The Gig's opening in 1970

In 1970, musician Brian Carr (guitarist with the Royal Blues Show Band) saw an opening for a late-night dive where musicians could convivially gather after gigs and turned the Mayfair into one of Dublin’s earliest celebrity hotspots which he called The Gig’s Place. It attracted the likes of Sonny Knowles, chanteuses Maxi, Dick and Twink and bad boy of pop Dickie “Spit on Me” Rock,  and later Bono, Vinnie Jones and Ken Doherty. Over the next four decades, as late-night bars and eateries proliferated, business gradually declined (it had become the haunt of sleepless taxi drivers rather than the rendezvous of glamorous celebrities) and Carr sold up in 2005. It struggled on under new ownership for a further seven years before closing.

4 - The Gig's 1970s menu page 2

Number 43:

1840-49 – an undeveloped site, part of James Henderson’s builders’ yard

1850s – first building on site, date uncertain

1858-1860 – William S Sweny, “job carriage, furniture van, coal factor and funeral establishment”

1860-1880 – John P Sweny (William’s son?) “job carriage, furniture van, coal factor and funeral establishment”

1881-1903 – Patrick Byrne, plumber and gasfitter

1904-25 – Miss Walsh, greengrocer

1926-29 – Ed Brean, fruiterer

1930-36 – P O’Flanagan, fruiterer (also ran a dairy next door at No 44)

1937 – James Moore, grocer

1938-42 – Paul Kane, hairdresser

1943-45 – vacant

1946-55 – Patrick O’Connor & Co , wholesale provision merchants

1956-69 – Mary “Molly” Tansey’s Mayfair Café

1970-2012 – The Gig’s Place (1970-2005 proprietor Brian Carr)

2012-13 – closed and derelict


All images apart from the photograph of the Mayfair storefront came from Graham. Again, a huge thanks.

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Ah… the hidden layers of a city. The Gigs Place, the late night eatery on Richmond Street South closed down to some dismay recently. A contender for one of Dublin’s longest running restaurants it was 42 years young when it closed, having opened in 1970. But before the Gigs Place sat Molly Tansey’s “Mayfair Café” which occupied the spot from 1956 -1969. The building work being done on the building has led to the facade to be recently stripped back, revealing a shopfront from a different era.


I’ve searched and searched online but can find very little about the place, only that it was run by a lady called Molly Tansey from 1956- 1969. Newspaper archives are throwing up nothing and I’ve Googled it to death. Any of our readers remember the place?

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As small as Dublin is, and as much of it as I’ve covered traipsing around on my bike, the city never ceases to throw up surprises. Heading off on the bus to Dundalk from Dalymount on Friday evening (a beautiful evening on a hijacked double decker bus, ending in a rubbish defeat and getting home at silly o’clock on Saturday morning,) I spotted some graffiti at the entrance to the lane-way linking St. Peter’s Road with Cabra Park. Heading up for a look this evening, I wasn’t let down, with another trove of street art from some of Dublin’s finest. Sorry for the angles on some of the shots, the alley is so narrow as to make a head on shot impossible! 




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