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Archive for the ‘Social History’ Category

… to organise the workers of Ireland for the attainment of full economic freedom.”

So reads a section of the rules submitted to the Registrar of Friendly Societies on 15th July 1924 by Peter Larkin for the creation of a new union, the Workers Union of Ireland. The trades and occupations organised by the WUI were listed as ‘dockers, coal carters, builders, bakeries, public services, distributive and productive and miscellaneous.’

The Union was in part a product of a very public falling out between the leadership of the ITGWU, (in particular General Secretary William O’Brien) and Jim Larkin on his return from the United States, where he served three years of a five to ten year sentence meted out in the midst of the first ‘Red Scare.’ Larkin’s return was well heralded, and there was an assumption on his part that he would walk back into a leadership role in the union, something which was not forthcoming. His stubbornness to adapt his anarchic oratory style and organisational methods did not endear himself to the leadership of the ITGWU, though in a short time many of that Union’s members would abandon en-masse to join the new Union, swayed by the personality cult around Larkin. Harry Pollitt, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain said of him around the time

Jim Larkin and his most immediate associates can think of nothing else but Jim Larkin. It is difficult to argue or venture any opinion that does not coincide with his own, and yet the man is undoubtedly a leader.

A bitter pay dispute between the Shipping Federation and the ITGWU added to the conflict, with the latter sensing (correctly) Larkin’s influence on a number of workers unwilling to accept a compromise won by the ITGWU on their behalf. A third factor was a dispute between the Union and one of it’s members who on being promoted, refused to give up their ITGWU membership. Strike action was approved at branch level in support of their case, but William O’Brien refused to sanction Strike Pay. Larkin was (again correctly) assumed the instigator, putting the final nail in the coffin. This incident led to an occupation of Liberty Hall by a group of men including Larkin. The occupation ended after Liberty Hall was surrounded by the new Free State army with truck mounted guns, and the men arrested and charged with trespass.

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The image that would immortalise Jim Larkin, taken by Joe Cashman in 1923

Following on from this incident, and with Larkin having left Dublin on 27th May 1924 to attend the meeting of the Comintern in Russia, his brother Peter announced the foundation of the new union- arguably despite instructions to the opposite. Regardless, Jim would join the Union as General Secretary on his return from Moscow on 25th August 1924. As previously mentioned, membership of the ITGWU temporarily hemorrhaged with upwards of 40, 000 workers deflecting to the new WUI, the latter now known now colloquially as ‘Larkin’s Union,’ and its members proudly identifying as ‘Larkin’s Men.’

There was to be nothing but acrimony between the two unions whose members would not work peacefully alongside each other as comments in this letter from William Smith O’Brien to Thomas Johnson show-

Things have gone fairly smoothly with us here, especially in the coal dispute where we are getting stronger every day that passes. We have now a very large number of men engaged and are putting on extra men practically every day. There have been a considerable number of attacks on our men, but the position is not as bad as we expected. A bomb was thrown last Saturday into the Custom’s House docks where a number of our men are housed, but no damage was done.

The dispute above occurred in July 1925, when the Coal Merchant’s Association, fed up of the constant conflict between members of the two Unions, temporarily locked both sets of workers out and refused to re-admit them until men employed in the coal yards could work amicably together. The ITGWU would break, with scabbing members returning to work under no little intimidation from WUI members- newspaper reports tell of ITGWU men and their families suffering harassment at the hands of their WUI counterparts, with fights a regular occurrence, and a near riot breaking out at Alexandra Basin where coal was being unloaded.

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Larkin’s Sons Denis, Fintan, Bernard and Jim Jnr. leading the cortege at his funeral. Photograph: The Irish Times

The feud culminated in a Mill’s bomb (a type of hand grenade) being thrown into an ITGWU manned dockyard near Connolly station. Though without much damage or destruction, the incident could have been a lot worse. The blast, which rang out across the north inner city occurred near a shed in which the Union men, all but permanently stationed at the site were resting. An Irish Times article sub headed ‘Supposed Attempt at Intimidation’ reported

The eight coal workers were in their hut, just thirty yards from the office and close to the high wall and the ‘up’ platform of the station. It appears that only one piece of the bomb struck the hut. It pierced the iron side and buried itself in the bed of one of the men, who was on the point of falling asleep at the time. He had a wonderful escape, for the hole made by the bomb splinter was about two inches from his head.  (IT, 28/9/1925)

The report also spoke of the ‘professionalism’ of the attack- the distance and accuracy of the throw suggesting that the bomb was thrown by someone who knew what they were doing; unsurprising given the country wasn’t long out of the horrors of the Civil War.

In an attempt to gain the upper hand in the feud, Larkin struck a deal with a Welsh pit owner, and imported hundreds of tonnes of coal which he sold to WUI members and Dublin’s poor at cost price, killing two birds with one stone- providing affordable fuel which was dubbed ‘Unity Coal’ to Dublin’s needy, and part funding his strike in the process. Larkin would claim that provision of affordable coal to the poor of Dublin ‘taught the employers of Dublin the old spirit of militant unionism is not dead in this country.’ With Larkin’s Union owing £12, 000 to the pit-owner, supply was threatened- in return, Larkin argued that if the strike should fall, then there would be no money to pay for the coal; an argument he would win, though its highly probable no payment passed hands. The Lockout was not to end amicably- the workers returned to the yards but a bitterness between the two Unions was to remain for decades.

Many thanks to Aileen O’C and Donal for their help with this article. 

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The recent occupation of Moore Street brought to memory past struggles to save buildings and locations of historic interest in Dublin. The ghosts of Wood Quay and Fitzwilliam Street’s Georgian Mile sit on the minds of those involved in the campaign to save the terrace and rightly so; a blatant disregard for history and public interest has often been a feature of redevelopment in Dublin with countless significant sites permitted to intentionally fall into disrepair and dereliction and many more to disappear from our streetscape forever.

Mindful of this over the last couple of weeks, and in reading Frederick O’Dwyer’s excellent “Lost Dublin” I started to think about not only what we’ve lost architecturally and historically but what might have been in this city had history played out a little differently. We’ve already covered the rather ambitious original plans to build Hugh Lane Gallery across the Liffey and the stunning landscape of Abercrombie’s “Dublin of the Future” but what of other plans that for whatever reason fell by the wayside? Think the U2 Tower and the Liffey Cable Car but step back a few decades/ centuries…

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The Merrion Square Citadel, taken from The Irish Press

Prior to the construction of the North Wall, the East Wall and the Great South Wall, the Liffey meandered as it liked from source to sea. The construction of these walls and the reclamation of land they afforded, along with the construction of quay walls changed the landscape of Dublin to resemble much what we see today. 17th Century Dublin, as a result looked very different to the Dublin of today with the Liffey’s muddy banks allowed to find their natural course. Consequently, Merrion Square sat considerably closer to the banks of the Liffey than it does now, and in 1685 was the site for an audacious plan to replicate the Tilbury ‘Citadel’ Fort located on the Thames. The fort was originally planned in 1672 by ‘His Majesty’s Chief Engineer’ Sir Bernard de Gomme to sit closer to Ringsend, but on his death, a man named ‘Honest Tom’ Phillips proposed the location covering large parts of Merrion Square, Mount Street and Fitzwilliam Sqaure.

According to Frank Hopkins’ ‘Deadbeats, Dossers and Decent Skins’, “had it been built, the fort would have covered an area of thirty acres and would have been capable of accomodating seven hundred officers and soldiers.” The fort was to be brick built, faced with stone and encompass ramparts, ravelins, a curtain wall and overhanging bastions. The prohibitive cost of over £130, 000 along with a cessation of hostilities between the English and the Dutch caused the idea to be shelved.

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A 1934 drawing by L.F. Dowling showing the proposed Merrion Square Cathedral. From http://churcharchives.ie

Merrion Square was also the site for a proposed Cathedral in the nineteen thirties. As late as 1934 the then Archbishop Byrne is quoted as saying “Merrion Square has been acquired as a site for the Cathedral and on Merrion Square, please God, the Cathedral will be built.” The park had been purchased from the Pembroke Estate four years earlier for the sum of £100, 000. Of course the Cathedral was never built on the site and in 1974 the land was transferred to Dublin Corporation for use as a public park. The Pro Cathedral on Marlborough Street which had been altered and extended in preparation for the Eucharistic Congress remained the main Catholic cathedral in the city. (more…)

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The Proclamation first read aloud by Pearse on the steps of the GPO on Easter Monday is a document synonymous with Easter Week and the birth of the modern Irish State. Widely accepted to have been composed by Pearse himself, there remain very few physical copies in existence.

Though it was intended for 2, 500 copies of the Proclamation to be printed in Liberty Hall and distributed around the country, it is likely that fewer that 1, 000 actually were, and these were entrusted to Helena Moloney for transport to the GPO. Seán T. O’Kelly, the second President of Ireland would from here take these and billpost them around the north and south inner city. The paper upon which they were printed was of poor quality, so very few remain. Fewer still exist of a facsimile of the Proclamation issued by the Irish Citizen Army for the first anniversary of the Rising in 1917 of which there is believed to be a sole surviving copy.

The Proclamation in full

The Proclamation in full, from typefoundry.blogspot.ie

The responsibility for printing the document lay with Michael Molloy and Liam O’Brien, two Volunteers, and Christopher Brady who had until now overseen the printing of ITGWU Weekly, “The Worker’s Republic.” Compositor’s and printers by trade, these men were approached by James Connolly in the run up to Easter week and asked to forego the planned parading of Volunteers in St. Anne’s Park on Easter Sunday morning and to instead meet him in Liberty Hall for a task he had prepared for them. Upon arrival, Connolly and Thomas MacDonagh, also present, handed them a sheet of paper with the words of the Proclamation inscribed upon it and remarked “Do if you wish to, and if not we won’t be the worse friends.” All three accepted the job.

As the men launched into their work, it became obvious that they would not have enough print to finish the job. The machine upon which they were to perform their task, an old Wharfdale Double- Crown machine upon which the Irish Worker was printed was wholly inadequate for the task at hand, the paper of an inferior quality, and print for the machine severely lacking. Different fonts had to be used, (the wrong font for the letter ‘e’ is used in over twenty instances,) many letters had to be fashioned out of others (in several cases, a capital ‘E’ was made from fashioning the type out of a capital ‘F’ and adding wax,) and eventually the men realised they would not have enough type and would simply have to borrow some more.

The Three Printers of the Proclamation. Irish Press,  Tuesday April 24th, 1934.

Irish Press, Tuesday April 24th, 1934.

The type was borrowed from an Englishman named William Henry West, a printer whose premises were located on Stafford Street. Following the tradition of Wolf Tone, the protestant revolutionary who Stafford Street would eventually be named after, West appears to have been sympathetic towards the cause for Irish Freedom. Census returns for 1911 list West as 41 years of age, with an address at Brigid’s Road Upper, Drumcondra. His job title is “Letterpress Printer” and his religion is given as “Cooneyite.” Cooneyism was an offshoot of a home based church movement known as the “two by twos” which gained some traction in Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th Century in Ireland. It was known as an “itinerant” religion and its lay people called “tramp preachers” due to the homeless and destitute nature of their calling.

West was printer of choice for the ITGWU and appeared twice in the courts alongside Jim Larkin. In January 1913, he appeared as a co-defendant with Larkin in a case in which Mr. William Richardson was claiming a sum of £500 after allegedly having been libeled in the Irish Worker. In September of that year, he appeared in a bankruptcy case involving himself, with the creditor bringing the case again him the same Mr. William Richardson, still looking to eek out punishment for his alleged libeling. In examination of his firms accounts, William Henry West had listed the ITGWU’s debt as a “bad debt,” or one which he deemed unrecoverable. West’s examination by the prosecution is below:

Mr. Larkin owes you £227 for the printing The Worker- isn’t Mr. Larkin the proprietor of The Worker?

He is, and he owes me £227.

Have you put that down as a bad debt?

Yes, because it is a bad debt.

Why?

Because I cannot get it.

Can you not recover it from Mr. Larkin?

I wish you could show me how. (laughter)

Has Mr. Larkin refused to pay the amount?

Well, he cannot pay.

He refused to pay?

No.

Did you ask him for it?

Of course, often. But he can’t pay what he hasn’t got.

You know that Mr. Larkin is Secretary of the ITGWU?

Yes, I have heard so.

And can you not recover this amount by suing him for it?

Do you think I would do that, when he’s my best customer? (laughter)

The case also makes reference to debt owed by other organisations, including the Labour Party and a drama class at Liberty Hall, and asked whether he could not sue for payment, to which he replied “I don’t believe in suing, I’ve never sued anybody in my life,” again to laughter.

The Witness Statement of Commandant Liam O’Brien states that on Easter Sunday, upon realising their shortage of type, Michael Molloy was ordered by Connolly to West’s printers along with a messenger and Citizen Army man employed by the Worker’s Republic who was known to him by the name ‘Dazzler.’ West provided the type, under the auspices that it was to be returned to him intact or compensated if lost- it was his livlihood after all. Of course, this wasn’t to be as Liberty Hall was first, pounded by shells from the Helga, and gutted by fire. When entered by British soldiers after the fighting had died down, they found the second half of the type still on the machine.

What happened to West after Easter Week, I can find no reference. But his is another story of the many from the Rising. The English protestant printer who supplied the type for the Irish Proclamation.

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There’s not much left by the way of pre-boom buildings on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. Row upon row of mis-matched shining steel and glass structures tower over the few remaining Victorian warehouses and enginehouses, relics of an era when Dublin’s docks bustled with industry. One warehouse that has managed to survive, a double gabled redbrick building that sits where the Samuel Beckett bridge meets the Southside boasts two unusual and very original features.

The warehouse at 30- 32 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay was built in the 1890’s and was once home to the Dublin Tropical Fruit Company, who occupied the premises for decades. It has played host to plenty of drama in its lifetime; in the mid-thirties, a young teenager fell to his death from the roof, the sixties saw a long running strike on the premises and the eighties saw a fire come close to gutting the building. On 16th April 1950, a ship named the Abraham Lincoln arrived into Dublin bearing tonnes of bananas bound for the warehouse. When the ship made port, it was discovered that its cargo of fruit was already too ripe for sale, leading the company to refuse it and the ship’s crew to dump tonnes of black skinned bananas overboard. Alexandra basin was lined with scores of people waiting for the chance to grab any that might float ashore, whilst rowboats set out from Ringsend with the aim of getting to the booty first. Gardaí struggled to maintain order as hundreds of children tried to force entry into the basin. (Irish Press, 17/4/1950.) The building later housed offices belonging to U2 and is now home to a software company.

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Representation of Anna Livia, photo credit- Simon Conway

Anyway, to the point of the piece. Over the doors of the building, hang two recognisable figures- two granite keystones representing Anna Livia and the Atlantic, replicas of which appear elsewhere along the River Liffey. Originally sculpted by the eminent (though self-effacing as some records state!) Edward Smyth, they had once adorned the archways of Carlisle Bridge, the structure that predated what we now know as O’Connell Bridge. The bridge was remodeled in the late 1870’s and the granite keystones were removed- Carlisle Bridge having had three arches with a hump rising high above the water below, Anna Livia and Atlantic were deemed too large to fit the lower elliptical arches of the bridge. The new bridge had arches which sat much lower over the water, and the keystones would need to be replaced. They were remodeled by Charles W. Harrison and the originals sculpted by Edward Smyth somehow ended up on the facade of the warehouse on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.

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Representation of The Atlantic, photo credit- Simon Conway

Smyth (1749- 1812) was a sculptor and modeler who served an apprenticeship under Simon Vierpyl (Clerk of Works  for the Casino building in Marino) and later worked for a Dublin stone cutter named Henry Darley. His work was mainly ornamental, according to the Dictionary of Irish Architects, that is until Darley recommended him to one of the leading architects working in Ireland at the time, none other than James Gandon in the early 1780’s. James Gandon being one of the most sought after architects of the time, Smyth rose to prominence under his patronage and went on to sculpt some of the most recognisable features on some of Dublin’s most famous buildings. From humble beginnings he was to become a wealthy man.

The building at Sir John Rogerson's Quay, photo credit- Simon Conway

The building at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, photo credit- Simon Conway

Looking out over College Green from the roof of the Old Parliament, stand his figures of Justice, Wisdom and Liberty. His works are dotted around the Custom House; the 14 keystones representing 14 Irish rivers on the building are his, along with the Arms of Ireland- a Lion and a Unicorn standing either side of the Irish Harp. He was also responsible for work on a number of churches throughout Dublin, ornaments, statues and coats of arms at Kings Inns and you can add his name to the debate on something we’ve looked at before- who sculpted the anthropomorphic figures playing billiards and other parlour games on the windows of The Kildare Street Club? In her “This Ireland” column in the Irish Times in March 1975, Elgy Gillespie noted that it wasn’t until the 1950’s that discovery of Smyth’s keystones on the building at Sir Rogerson’s Quay was made, quoting Harold Leask (architect responsible in part for the reconstrucion of the GPO) in the Royal Society of Antiquaries Journal on their discovery. That column, and anything I’ve read on the subject, neglects to mention how the heads managed to make their way from Carlisle Bridge and onto the facade of a building on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. Another reason why, when walking around this city, you should keep your head up because who knows what you might find!

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Gang violence has featured on Come Here To Me before; with the Pinking Dindies, the Liberty Boys and the Ormond Boys of the 18th century, through the various fracas’ of the Animal Gangs and on to the Black Catholics in the 1970’s and 80’s and onwards all making an appearance. Dublin has always had its fair share of troublesome groups and there’s always plenty to write about them.

One event we haven’t yet covered that jumped out at me recently while reading John Edward Walsh’s “Rakes and Ruffians,” was a three day riot involving both the Liberty Boys and the Ormond Boys which brought Dublin to a standstill in mid- May, 1790. Accounts of Dublin from the late 18th/ early 19th century are rarely without mention of the two groups whose infamy is still regarded to this day. Injuries, maimings and deaths are all purported to have taken place in this encounter, making it one of their bloodiest.

According to J.D Herbert’s Irish Varieties, for the Last Fifty Years: Written from Recollections, the Ormond Boys were the “assistants and carriers from slaughter-houses, joined by cattle drivers from Smithfield, stable-boys, helpers, porters, and idle drunken vagabonds in the neighbourhood of Ormond Quay,” whilst the Liberty Boys were, “a set of lawless desperadoes, residing in the opposite side of the town, called the Liberty. Those were of a different breed, being chiefly unfortunate weavers without employment, some were habitual and wilful idlers, slow to labour, but quick at riot and uproar.”

Weaver’s Square, home of the Liberty Boys, from John Roque’s map of 1754. Taken from http://irishhistoricaltextiles.files.wordpress.com

The Liberty Boys notoriety spread further than Dublin, and references to them can be found in several newspaper articles from across the water, including one in the Leeds Mercury from January 1867 which refers to them as French Huguenots who have “degenerated physically.” “They are the Liberty Boys of Dublin, the dwellers in ‘The Coombe,’ or hollow sloping down to the river, famous for their lawlessness, their strikes, and their manufactures of poplin and tabbinet. They do not seem at all favourable specimens of humanity as you watch them leaning out of windows in the tall, gaunt, filthy, tumble down houses around and beyond St. Patrick’s.”

The hostility between the two gangs often led to full scale riots between upwards of 1, 000 men and these occurred several times a year, but especially in the run up to the Mayday festival. The city would be brought to a standstill, with businesses closing, the watchmen looking on in terror, as battles raged for the possession of the bridges over the Liffey. Walsh’s book reports the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alderman Emerson as saying “it was as much as his life was worth to go among them” regarding such riots.

Essex Bridge and Ormond Quay, where the main battles took place.

The battle this piece refers to though began on May 11th 1790 and lasted several days. The riot coincided with an election in the city, although an opinion piece in the Freeman’s Journal on the Thursday of that week described the violence as wanton, saying:

“The situation of the capital on Wednesday night was dreadful in the extreme; it was shocking to civilisation, for outrage was openly and without disguise directed against the civil protection of the city. On other occasions, grievance, from sickness of trade, from injury by exportation of foreign commodities, from the high price of provision and the low rate of labour, grievances from the want of employ and a variety of other causes were usually alleged for the risings of the people, but on the present occasion, no grievance exists, and the fomenters of disorder are without such a pretension. “Down with the police” is the cry and demolish the protection of the city is the pursuit.”

“In different parts of the town, prodigious mobs of people were assembled and the avowed purpose of their tumultuous rising was declared in the vehemence of their execrations against the police. “Down with the police, five pounds for a police man’s head.” They were the shouts which filled the streets.”

“In Mary Street, no passenger could escape the shower of brick bats and paving stones intended for the police. In St. Andrew’s Street, the scene was if possible more dreadful, for the mob not content in driving the Police watchman before them proceeded to pull down the watch house in which he took refuge. .. (The Men) were obliged to fire and three of the rioters fell.”

The riot only came to a conclusion on the Thursday due to military intervention, when a “party of men on horse dispersed the rioters and stood guard for the remainder of the night which prevented more bloodshed and massacre…. The blood of the unfortunate wretches who met their unhappy fate rests at the door of those few incendiaries who stimulated by their playful insignias unthinking persons to destruction.” And people think Love Ulster was bad!

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The way we drink in Dublin has been changing over the last few years; I can’t say evolving, so much as there has been a restoration of natural order. Craft beers vie for counter space alongside Diageo products and pubs like the Black Sheep, Against the Grain and The Beerhouse have sprung up to back up the Porterhouse in breaking the Guinness monopoly. Most importantly, our brewers are starting to brew again, with Five Lamps Brewery and JW Sweetman’s to name but two.

I say ‘again’ as while for decades Guinness and later their parent company Diageo would fully monopolise brewing in Dublin, ours was once an industry that could “present an unrivalled record to the world” (Irish Independent, 05/06/1908) and this city’s brewing was said, as far back as the 17th century to be “the very marrow bone of the commonwealth of Dublin.” (http://simtec.us/dublinbrewing/history.html) The excise list for 1768 showed returns for forty three brewers in the city, with many of these large operations employing dozens of workers.

Throughout the 1800’s, with the rise of Guinness’, Dublin’s breweries either amalgamated or closed so by 1850, there were twenty breweries left, by the 1870’s, there were ten left, and by 1920, there were just four breweries including Guinness’ operating in Dublin. One of the largest breweries during this time was Watkins’ Brewery, originally founded as the Ardee Street Brewery, and later known by the title of Watkins, Jameson, Pim & Co., Ltd.

Advertisement for Watkins' Brewers. From the Aonach an Garda programme,1926.

Advertisement for Watkins’ Brewers. From the Aonach an Garda programme,1926.

A date for the foundation of the brewery is hard to ascertain, but the Irish Times, in an article on Dublin brewers (21/01/1922) reported that Watkins’ “of Ardee Street Brewery hold the record of having paid the highest excise duty of any Dublin brewer in 1766”  so its going at least that long, with the excise list naming Alderman James Taylor as the owner. By the 1820’s, the brewery at Ardee Street was the third largest in Dublin, with an output of 300 barrels per week. It was bettered only by Guinness’ with 600 barrels per week and Michael Sweetman’s with 450 barrels per week.

By 1865 the brewery was exporting over 14, 000 hogsheads or approximately six million imperial pints of stout. (Findlaters: The Story of a Dublin Merchant Family 1774-2001, chapter 4.) The brewery was dissected by Cork Street, with the brewing house and offices on its south side, and 87 dwellings for their workers on the north side, some of which exist today, as can be seen in the image below. The houses were built at at outlay of £14, 460, with rents “from 2/6 to 6/-.”  (Irish Independent, Sept. 12th, 1913.)

Watkins' Buildings, and all that remains of the brewery.

Watkins’ Buildings, and all that remains of the brewery.

The Freemans’ Journal, (12/02/1904) spoke of rumours circulating Dublin of an amalgamation of two of its more prosperous breweries, namely Watkins’ and Jameson, Pim and Co., who would move from their premises between Anne Street and Beresford Street to make way for another Jameson: John Jameson and Son, the whiskey distillers. The article also reported that the Watkins’ family had “long since disappeared, and the business now carried on by Mr. Alfred S. Darley.”

The brewery saw action (although not much) during the 1916 rising, when it was occupied by Con Colbert (a teetotaller) and a garrison of 20 men- an outpost under the direct command of Eamonn Ceannt in the South Dublin Union. The outpost was ineffective, and the volunteers eventually joined up with the Marrowbone Lane distillery garrison. It was also tragically caught up in the events of the “Battle of Dublin,” a week of clashes in Dublin from 28th June to 5th July 1922, at the start of the Civil War that saw over sixty people killed. A cooper by the name of James Clarke who worked in the brewery was shot near Gardiner’s Row on the 6th July whilst walking a friend home. He took a bullet straight to the face and died half an hour after admission to Jervis Street Hospital.

O'Connell's Dublin Ale

O’Connell’s Dublin Ale

Towards the end of the twenties, Watkins’ Jameson, Pim and Co. acquired Darcy’s Brewery and it’s trademarks, including O’Connell’s Dublin Ale, which we’ve mentioned briefly on here before. The Findlaters book acknowledges the takeover of Darcy’s brewery, and also mentions that the company owned several Dublin pubs, “which it called Taps.” In March 1937, the financial paragraph of the Irish Times announced that the firm was in voluntary liquidation. The article shows that at the time, the brewery still employed over one hundred men, and blamed rising excise and falling exports for their downturn.The Findlaters book above also says that while the company outlasted many of it’s competitors, it closed down in 1939.

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We took a look at Dublin’s air raid shelters recently, and in 1943, the brewery was subject to a high court wrangle with a High Court judge quashing a warrant issued by a district justice who, under the “Air Raid Precautions Act, 1939” demanded that the Dublin Corporation be allowed enter the brewery, by force if necessary, to build a shelter in its basement. The demand wasn’t met. After this, as the excellent Wide and Convenient Streets concur, things get a little bit hazy regarding the brewery. In September 1951, there was a large fire at the site, and by 1954, advertisements pop up in various papers offering factory premises to let. With a history spanning three centuries, the brewery seems to have gone “quietly into that good night” along with the rest of Dublin’s breweries, which we hope to cover in the near future.

* Company records sites suggest there was a “Watkins, Jameson, Pim & Co. (1976) Limited”  set up on Wed the 28th of Apr 1976 and is still in existence at 10 Ardee Street.

 

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I was down on Charlemont Street yesterday to take some pictures of the going’s on down there, namely the tearing down of the flats, as well as Ffrench- Mullen House, named after Madeline Ffrench Mullen, the republican activist and feminist, and driving force behind the construction of nearby St. Ultan’s Hospital for Women and Infants in 1919. Ffrench- Mullen House has yet to be touched by the jaws of the machine below, but has been stripped back to a shell and it’s only a matter of time.

2charl1The demolition of the buildings is a controversial one, for while there was a planning application submitted for a regeneration and redevelopment project incorporating housing, offices and commercial units, permission has yet to be gained for all aspects of the plans.

2charl2Proximity to a main road, nearby homes and offices means the demolition is slow work, with the machine slowly munching it’s way through the roof and brickwork as seen in the images below.  Unlike yesterday, there weren’t many around watching the work, apart from a few women watching from balconies nearby. 2charl3

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2charl6Work, weather and interest permitting, I’ll try get down each evening until they’re gone.

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