Archive for the ‘Social History’ Category

Thursday, April 20th 1916, and with days to go until the Easter Rising, the Aud arrived in Tralee Bay, two days earlier than expected. The Rebellion was imminent, and with this in mind, Padraig Pearse along with his brother Willie made his way to Rathmines; with St. Enda’s not far away, they turned down Castlewood Avenue and into Doran’s Barbers. There they sat in silence as one after the other got their hair cut for the last time; it’s not so hard to believe that one of the brothers at least knew his fate.

 They did not speak much as they awaited their turn in the chair: but then, they never did, he remembers; and, whatever thoughts were in the minds of Patrick and Willie Pearse, the 20-year-old John had no foreboding that he was giving the brothers their last haircut.

John Doran, interviewed in the Irish Independent, March 28th, 1973.

The Pearse brothers are only a small part of the history of a business stretching back over a century. John’s brother James opened the shop on January 2nd 1912, then aged twenty four. The 1911 census lists him as a hairdresser, as it does John quoted above, fifteen when the census was taken. They were sons to Christina, (listed a widow on both the 1901 and 1911 census returns) and lived in a house on Chancery Lane, not far from Christchurch Cathedral. Their father was a hackney owner, and kept horses stabled nearby until his death sometime prior to 1901. John and James were just two of a family of thirteen.

Annual rent on the premises at Castlewood Avenue in 1912 was £52, and on opening, a haircut in the shop cost fourpence and a shave thruppence. Along with his wife, four girls and two boys, James lived above the barbers until the early 1930’s when the family moved around the corner to Oakley Road; born and reared above the shop, Jimmy and William  would go into the family business. Their father James didn’t retire until his late seventies and it wasn’t until then in 1966 and at fifty years of age that Jimmy took on the role of proprietor.

James and Willie Doran

James and Willie Doran

Jimmy, born in 1916, started cutting hair in 1930 at fourteen years old, with Willy starting at the same age five years later. Rathmines, and Castlewood Avenue was a different place then, the number 18 tram with it’s red triangle identifier passing the front door of the shop. The township of Rathmines existed as a seperate entity to Dublin City until 1930, when it was amalgamated into Dublin City Council.

I was born upstairs eighty six years ago, in 1916. I’m not a Dubliner though, I’m a Rathmines man. The oldest one around they say, though I’m not saying that. Dublin didn’t come here, to Rathmines, until the 1930’s. Rathmines Urban District Council made their own electricity until then.

Jimmy, in an interview with Rose Doyle, Irish Times, October 16th, 2002.

The tramlines were taken up in the forties, but Jimmy and the shop remained, unchanged. In the same manner as his father, Jimmy worked in the shop for sixty eight years, only retiring in 1998 and passing on the mantle to the shops current owner Robert Feighery who served his time in the Merchant Barbers, itself running for over half a century. Jimmy remained a regular visitor to the shop after retiring, dropping in a couple of times a week for a chat with the barber and his customers until his death on New Years Eve, 2010.

Doran Barbers.

Doran Barbers, estd. 1912.

The shop remains largely as Jimmy left it, with a polished wood floor, benches lining two walls, two wash basins and a large collection of historical memorabilia connected with the shop including framed electricity meter reading cards dating back to the shop’s opening, stamped with “G.F. Pilditch, M.I.E.E. at the Electricity Works, Town Hall, Rathmines,” a picture of Jimmy and Willie with Brendan Gleeson, and various clippings of the shop from books and newspapers it has appeared in.  Also on the wall is a large portrait of Padraig and Willie Pearse, and a selection of Bohs newspaper clippings, including one from the day after the League win in 2001; the Red and Black exterior evidence of Robbie’s footballing allegiance.

In the same interview with Rose Doyle quoted above, given in the shop in 2002, Jimmy said:

Sometimes a fella comes in and says ‘you cut my hair 30 years ago.’ Some are fifth generation customers, and there a number who are fourth generation. Famous people come and go, but everyone’s the same importance here. When a fella pays, and goes out the door, he’s all the same!

The Waldorf stakes a brave claim that it is Dublin’s oldest barbers, but I don’t think it can beat that.

Read Full Post »

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.

Door12 (more…)

Read Full Post »

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?

Read Full Post »

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! 




041 (more…)

Read Full Post »

With potential names for the new bridge across the River Liffey at Marlborough Street whittled from seventeen candidates down to ten recently, only two women’s names remain in the running- Rosie Hackett and Kay Mills.

Now it’s not as if Dublin is awash with bridges or in fact any landmarks named after women of historical importance. When you look at our abundance of waterways; the Liffey, the Grand Canal, the Royal Canal, the Dodder, the Tolka and the Camac, (and they’re only the ones that haven’t been forced underground,) you’d expect more than one name to pop up. I’m not going to include Victoria Bridge or the Anna Livia Bridge for obvious reasons, and Sally’s Bridge (an alternative name for Parnell Bridge) doesn’t exactly count either. So even at an approximate guess of the fifty or so bridges in Dublin City named after historical figures, and I’m open to correction, there is currently only one named after a woman, and that’s not even a decade old. The Anne Devlin Bridge was opened in 2004 to facilitate the crossing of the canal by the LUAS at it’s Suir Road stop. And even at that, they spelled her name wrong on the plaque.


“Ann” Devlin Bridge. Photo by hXci.

Anne Devlin was born into a family of nationalist stock near Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow in 1780; amongst others, she was cousin to famed Irish rebels Michael Dwyer and Hugh Byrne on her mother’s side. At the age of 17, and just a year before the rising of 1798, Anne moved to Inchicore where she became a servant of the Hempenstall family. Brought back to her homestead by her father in early ’98 she, along with the rest of the Devlin’s and Dwyer’s suffered at the hands of the British authories and watched as her father Bryan was thrown into jail without being charged of a crime where he was to stay for two years before a suprising aqcuittal on retrial. Two uncles and two cousins of Anne suffered the same fate and Hugh Byrne was executed having escaped and consequently recaptured.

Persecution drove the family to move to Rathfarnham, where they became neighbours of  “Mr. Ellis,” an assumed name of none other than Robert Emmet, who had taken residence there with the intention of preparing for his rising of 1803. Anne, along with Rosie Hope (wife of Jemmy Hope) took on the roles of housekeeper’s at Emmet’s house at Butterfield Lane, although in reality, they were much more than that. Anne was to become an advisor, messenger and confidante between Emmet and his partner, Sarah Curran. The failure of the rising, where numbers failed to materialise, and having lost control of his men in the Thomas Street area, who having spotted the Chief Justice, Lord Kilwarden in his carriage, pulled him from it and stabbed him to death with their pikes, caused Emmet to go into hiding.

The house at Butterfield Lane was searched, and finding Anne there, soldiers submitted her to questioning. Her repeated replies of “I have nothing to tell; I’ll tell nothing,” led to Anne being surrounded and advanced upon with fixed bayonnets. The piercing of her skin head to toe still didn’t break her, and she was taken outside where they half- hanged her from a tilted cart.  She still would not speak and was later arrested and taken to Kilmainham Jail where she was again questioned by Henry Charles Sirr. Sirr offered her £500 for the where-abouts of Emmet’s hiding places and co-conspirators to no avail and she was thrown in jail. Her entire family was imprisoned in an effort to wear her down, leading to the death of her  8 year old brother, and Emmet himself before his execution begged her to speak, knowing himself to be a dead man either way. She refused, saying she did not want to go down in history as an informer. She was eventually released in 1806 under an amnesty upon the change of British administration in Ireland.  

AD2 copy

Anne Devlin portrait, by Maser. Photo by hXci.

After her release, Anne found employment under Elizabeth Hammond at 84 Sir John Rogersons Quay, where she spent four years. She married a man named Campbell and had two children, a boy and a girl and made a living washing and cleaning. Campbell died in 1845 and Anne, whose children lived away from her, was left alone in a squalid residence at 2 Little Elbow Lane in Dublin’s Liberties. An appeal was made for assistance for Anne in the Liberty Newspaper in 1947, and while there was some response, it was far from adequate. She died in obsecurity on September 16 1851 and was buried in a paupers plot in Glasnevin before her body was exhumed by Dr. R. R. Madden, the chief historian of the United Irishmen, and re-buried in the plot she lies in today.

One from fifty is not enough. Sign the petition to have the new Liffey bridge named in honour of Rosie Hackett here:

And check out the Facebook here:

Read Full Post »

It may come as a surprise to some, but Daniel O’Connell, who although in his political life deplored the use of violence, took part in and won a duel in Bishops’ Court, County Kildare in 1815. His opponent was an experienced duellist by the name of John D’Esterre and it was widely regarded that O’Connell would lose. D’Esterre, a former royal marine was a crack shot of whom it was said he could snuff out a candle from nine yards with a pistol shot. It wasn’t his first duel, himself having challenged an opponent in court to a duel only two years previous, though on that occasion, he backed down at the last minute and the duel did not take place.

The cause of the duel was a political speech made by O’Connell to the Catholic Board on 22nd January, 1815 in which he described the ascendancy-managed Dublin Corporation as beggarly. D’Esterre, at the time nearing bankruptcy took this as a personal insult and sent O’Connell a letter demanding a withdrawal of the statement. When this letter went unanswered, he sent a second letter which O’Connell responded to, asking D’Esterre if he wanted to challenge him, why hadn’t he yet done so. D’Esterre set out to provoke O’Connell into a challenge, and at one stage ventured out onto the streets of Dublin looking for him, horsewhip in hand only to be forced into seeking refuge in a sympathetic home, such was the crowd that began to follow him around.

The Liberator, Daniel O'Connell

The Liberator, Daniel O’Connell

Days passed, and the bubbling tension between the two had become the talk of the town and finally a challenge was laid down by D’Esterre, and a letter sent to O’Connell’s second.  Jimmy Wren’s “Crinan Dublin” names  Sir Edward Stanley of 9 North Cumberland Street as D’Esterre’s second and an Irish Press article from 1965 names Major MacNamara a protestant from Clare as O’Connell’s.

The duel was to take place on Lord Ponsonby’s demesne at Bishops’ Court, Co. Kildare on the afternoon of the challenge and the weapons of choice were pistols, provided by a man named Dick Bennett, and both pistol’s had notches on their butts to denote kills made by the weapon. Both parties were limited to one shot each, leading Stanley to retort “five and twenty shots will not suffice unless O’Connell apologises!” A light snow shower fell as a crowd gathered and the men took their places. D’Esterre shot first, but miscalculated and fired too low, and in doing so, missed. O’Connell returned fire, hitting and wounding D’Esterre in the groin, the bullet lodging in the base of his spine. D’Esterre fell, and the crowd roared. As much of a crack shot as D’Esterre was, O’Connell was a better one, having trained in case such an eventuality might come about.

An engraving that appeared in the Irish Magazine, March 1815

An engraving of the duel that appeared in the Irish Magazine, March 1815

As they made their way back to Dublin, the news spread before them and the route home was lined with blazing bonfires. Although O’Connell boasted that he could have placed his shot wherever he wanted, he did not intend to kill D’Esterre, and was shaken to find that the man had bled to death two days later. D’Esterre, as was said was bordering on bankruptcy, and on his death, bailiffs moved in and seized anything of value from his home.  Saddened by the outcome, O’Connell offered to half his income with D’Esterre’s family but the offer was all-but-refused, however, an allowance for his daughter was accepted, which was paid regularly until O’Connell’s death over thirty years later. He would never duel again, and from then on often wore a glove or wrapped a handkerchief around the hand that fired the fatal shot while attending church or passing the door of D’Esterre’s widow.

Read Full Post »

The Charge of the Light Brigade, the infamous battle that took place in the midst of the Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) remains one of the worst displays of military recklessness ever recorded. We’ve talked briefly about Dublin’s link to the fateful event before, in that not only was the bugle that sounded the charge made here, but the bugle call was given by a Dubliner, William ‘Billy’ Brittain of the 17th Lancers, Orderly Bugler to Lord Cardigan, the commander of the Light Brigade. Of the 673 horsemen involved in the charge, it is believed over 100 of those were Irish.

But the Charge of the Light Brigade was only one of many tactical and military errors committed in a conflict lasting more than three years. David Murphy, in History Ireland (Vol 11, Issue 1) estimated that at the time of the war, approximately 30-35% of the British army was made up of Irish troops, and that somewhere in the region of 30, 000 of those Irish troops served in the Crimea. They left Dublin with a fanfare bordering on the hysteric,  with the departure of the 50th Foot regiment on 24 February 1854 as recorded in the same article

The bands of three other regiments of the garrison led them along the line of route, one of the finest in Europe; and vast crowds accompanied them, vociferously cheering, while from the windows handkerchiefs and scarves were waved, and every token of a ‘God Speed’ displayed.

Irish involvement in the war wasn’t confined to belligerents though. Civilian medics tended to the wounded, and in a war where “frontline correspondants” arguably played a role for the first time, Irishman William Howard Russell’s first hand reports on troop welfare led Trinity College to award him an honorary degree on his return. As the war drew on, and casualties mounted (albeit mainly through disease, as cholera and malaria were rampant) the support that was granted to it as troops left the country diminished.

That is not to say that, returning victorous, the regiments were not treated to same the pomp and occasion they received as they left. The Lord Mayor of Dublin, at the suggestion of the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Carlisle, called together a committee to organise a National Banquet to pay tribute to Crimean veterans stationed in Ireland. A subscription list was established, and over £2, 000 was collected within the first nine days of it’s inception. An Irish Times report on the centenary of the event claimed that the merchants and the traders of Dublin showed great interest in the project, with offers of assistance coming from different patrons including

…a gentleman, styling himself the Wizard of the North who offered to give a performance for the benefit of the National Banquet Fund.

His offer was kindly declined. Over 3, 500 guests were invited to the banquet, (3, 628 sat down for dinner) along with over 1,000 paying spectators and such numbers caused large problems with regards finding a location.

The Banquet. held in Stack A, Custom House Docks.

The Banquet. held in Stack A, Custom House Docks

The Rotunda, the Mansion House and several halls in Dublin Castle were examined but deemed too small to fit the purpose. There was a proposal to raise a purpose built marquee in the grounds of the Castle or Leinster House, but this plan too was dismissed. Finally, a Mr. Scovell offered the use of his bonding warehouse near the Customs House (the modern CHQ building in the IFSC.) Built as a “fireproof” tobacco warehouse in 1821, it remains to this day one of the oldest iron-frame buildings in Ireland. The date was set for October 22nd, and preparations for the Banquet were set underway.

The hall itself, which can still be seen almost in its original state, measures 260 feet long and 150 feet wide, with rows of pillars supporting a magnificent roof of iron framework painted in bright coloursfor the occasion. During the banquet, the walls of the building were covered in numerous national flags, some bearing the names of the major Battles of the War- Alma, Sevestopol, and Balaclava amongst others and decorative field guns on platforms guarded the entrance to the building.

The report continued

…the total length of the tables was 6, 172 feet. The viands supplied included 250 hams, 230 legs of mutton, 500 meet pies, 100 venison pasties, 100 rice puddings, 260 plum puddings, 200 turkeys, 200 geese, 250 pieces of beef weighing in all 3,000 lbs.; 3 tons of potatoes, 2, 000 half pound loafs, 100 capons and chickens and six ox tongues…. Each man was supplied a quart of porter and a pint of choice port wine.

There were guests from every regiment stationed in Ireland, along with “500 pensioners, constabulary and marines, and 60 gentlemen of the press.” Given that Ireland was in the grips of famine not a decade previously, it is surprising to read of the joy and excitement that the banquet generated. For while across the country people had starved, here you had the gentry feasting at what must be the largest number of people to have ever sat down to dinner together in this country; and yet there are several accounts of the vans containing the steaming food being cheered and applauded as they careened down Dublin’s North Quays!

The building of course was recently redeveloped at a cost of €50 million. It has gone on the market at a price a mere fraction of that… But that’s another story!

Read Full Post »

1989 doesn’t seem so long ago. But reading the Dublin Insight Guide first published that year gives an Insight into a whole different city, pre-boom, pre-bust. With segments on “Local Heroes,” “Street Characters” and “Games People Play,” it sculpts a city very different to the one we live in today. The guide places a lot of  emphasis on the twee side of Dublin, with pictures of old men in pubs, (anyone guess the one featured on the cover? Mulligans maybe?) horse drawn carts and street life. I’ve scanned and uploaded some of the better images, unfortunately the book spread a lot over two pages that wouldn’t scan correctly.

(c) George WrightA great snap below, taking in the city from the South East. Long  before the Marlborough Street Bridge was even thought of, notice the Odeon Cinema on Eden Quay and the lack of the Sean O’Casey pedestrian bridge.

(c) Thomas Kelly

The below snap comes from a section in the book called “Street Credibility” and looks like a game of handball although it just locates it as “a central Dublin Street.” It looks like the corner of Temple Bar at the back of Central Bank… again, Any ideas? Alongside the picture is a piece dealing matter-of-factually with Dublin beggars, saying “a slightly dilapidated third world capital, almost Asian in its colour, clutter and confusion, and unfortunately poverty. Many tourists are shocked to find Dublin is a city of beggars, many of them are members of Ireland’s traveling community- tinkers, itinerants or travelers as they are known, who number about 16, 000 in all.”

(c) Guglielmo Gavin

The top of Grafton Street below, with Robert Rice’s on the left and the Gaiety on the right. A stalwart of the Gaiety gets a mention in actor Micháel Mac Liammóir, quoting a time when, in full costume, he was sitting having a pint in Neary’s on Chatham Street. In full wig and make- up, and chatting to the barman, a disgruntled Dubliner bawled across at them “ah why don’t the two of ye get a divorce?” To which Mac Liammór replied “we can’t dear, we’re Catholics.”

(c) Thomas KellyHorses also get plenty of mention, both racing and workhorses, claiming “an interest, sometimes an obsession with horses has long been shared by members of all classes of Dublin society.”

(c) Thomas Kelly

In a two page article on Dublin’s bookshops, the below is captioned “Queuing for school texts in Greene’s.” Other stores of note that they mention to have disappeared are The Alchemists Head, (East Essex Street, “dealing with the supernatural, the occult and science fiction,”) and Zee Books (Duke Street, “a quiet basement place strong on second hand, arty and left-wing works.”)

(c) Guglielmo Gavin

“The state of the Irish economy is desperate, but doesn’t always seem serious… the summer festivals in every town, dedicated to various unlikely subjects, produce prodigious feats of drinking and dissipation.”

(c) Guglielmo GavinThe book goes into great detail about Dublin’s street characters. Bang Bang, the Yupper and Brien O’Brien, as does the famous author and character, Pat Ingoldsby below. Apparently the red bandana was a part of an outfit “”sixties-in-aspic, denim flowered and beaded.” A little bit different to now then.

(RTÉ)“Shopkeeper from Dublin’s closely knit Italian Community,” the below looks like it could be somewhere down around Smithfield. The book gives over quite a bit to market traders, hawking everything from fish to wrapping paper, and describes “the Dublin saunter” where people would “go to town on a Saturday afternoon with nothing more definite in mind that to stroll around, window shop and to share a drink or coffee with one of those friends you meet by chance on the street.”

(c) Guglielmo Gavin

The “travel tips” section at the back has some gems too, covering aspects of daily life in the city, giving food recommendations “under £8 -over £18,” and hotel recommendations “under £10 – over £100.” Some of the names have survived, many have not.

Thanks to Rose Murray for the book!

Read Full Post »

On Sir John Rogerson’s  Quay on the Southside of the Liffey stands a statue of Irish born Admiral William Brown. It was unveiled nearby in September 2006 by the Teflon Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, but was relocated here, with an added plinth and plaque in August 2012. The statue was lucky to have made it to these shores at all. Two bronze statues were commissioned to be cast in Beunos Aires, and then transported here for unveiling in Foxford, where the Admiral was born, and on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, where the below photograph was taken.

The statues were a gift from the Argentinian Navy to the people of Dublin and Foxford and was donated as part of the anniversary celebrations of their foundation. However, a mix up regarding who would pay for the transport of the statues meant that they almost didn’t arrive in time for their official unveiling. Given that in Argentina over a thousand streets, several hundred schools, a couple of towns and a football club bear his name, it would be a shame were he not celebrated here in the country of his birth.

Admiral William (Guillermo) Brown

Admiral William (Guillermo) Brown

Born in Foxford, Co. Mayo June 22nd, 1777, William Brown was brought to Philadelphia at the age of nine. Irish was his first language, with his first education having come from his Uncle, the parish priest in the village of his birth. Three years after arriving in Philadelphia, in an area already heavily populated by Irish immigrants, he began work as a cabin boy. Within ten years of this, his status had risen to Captain of a US Merchant Navy vessel. He was press-ganged into the British Navy, and fought several battles against the Spanish. Respect for his skill at sea grew, and in his mid-twenties, he was already the master of a large schooner.

Shortly before the Battle of Trafalgar, his ship was captured by the French and Brown was imprisoned. He was first placed in a prison in Verdun, where he contrived to escape having charmed the governor’s wife into handing over a warders uniform. He was re-captured within hours and was transferred to Metz, where he managed to burn a hole in the roof of his cell using a hot poker, and escape using a rope of knotted bedsheets and made his way to England via Germany. He was heralded a hero on his return, fell in love with the daughter of a wealthy family and married.

But the his adventures at sea were only beginning. Brown and his family relocated to Argentina at a time when the South American colonies were in revolt, with Argentina no different. Brown made his base in the town of Ensenada, not far from the captial Beunos Aires. He established several trade routes, but was constantly harassed by the Spanish navy.  This provoked Brown to take a hand in the revolt, and the Spanish quickly learned they had made a bad enemy. After several raids, with his ship was finally impounded by the Spanish, Brown made his way to shore where he procured two small fishing vessels. He rounded up as many English speaking sailors he could; Irish, Scottish and English and with a dozen or so men in each boat, he sailed out into the Estuary where a well armed Spanish Cruiser was anchored. The men boarded the unsuspecting vessel, overpowered the men aboard and captured her.

Statue of “Admirante Brown” in Argentina

His exploits earned him praise from the highest levels, and Brown was asked to take control of a small band of ships to lead the naval resistance against the Spanish. To say he succeeded in his role would be an understatement. Several times in the face of adversity with a small ragtag bunch of ships, he stood up to Spanish warships and was victorious, capturing many, burning others. Once, having taken control over a narrow estuary, he cut a new deck into one of his largest ships, lined the new deck with canon, ran her aground on a sandbank, and simply blasted an oncoming naval flotilla to smithereens.

Another occasion, on Patrick’s Day 1817, along with the assistance of another Irishman, James Kenny, forced the retreat of Commodore Romerate, one of the Spanish Navy’s prized officers. But it was not only on the sea that Brown helped the fight for independence. Any spoils he earned were sold via a businessman and friend by the name William White, and the proceeds for these bought guns and ammunition for ground assaults. And while his battles are too numerous to mention, the ones that earned him most plaudits were at Martin Garcia and Montevideo. After the declaration of Argentine independence, he went on to help the Uruguayan cause sailing against the Brazilian navy in his merchant vessels.

William Brown died on May 3rd 1857. His funeral oration, delivered by later Argentine president Bartolomé Mitré read: “Admiral Brown bears with him the admiration of all patriots, and the love of all good men; and the Argentine Navy remains orphaned of the old father who watched over it’s birth in the bosom of the River Plate, the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Plate and the Paraguay will be forever the immortal pages on which will be read his greatest deeds. And while one sloop floats on these waters, or one Argentine pennant flies above them, the name of William Brown will be invoked by every sailor as the guardian genius of the seas.”

Read Full Post »

There was once a stage where I’d go out at least once a week with my camera, but the long dark winter nights never did anything for my productivity or enthusiasm and as such, I’ve failed miserably over the last couple of months. Now that the evenings are getting brighter, its time to get back on the horse (read ‘bike’) and get the camera out again…The snaps below were taken over two nights, one recent, the other not so recent.

The Docklands is a great place for a wander with a camera. Its less than five minutes cycle from O’Connell Bridge, but its a world away. I’ll hopefully have another piece up next week from the area around the port itself. Below, I never noticed that you could see Lansdowne Road from the Liffey before. I took this at the time, and then on a bus the other day with Donal from this here parish and he saw it and said “that’s a great snap…” Well, here you are. A bit grey but…


Apologies for the quality of the below snap, it was taken from the other side of the Liffey and daylight was starting to fade. For the sheer size of the piece its worth a look, must be at least thirty foot long. Sam has previously published a series of articles on Dublin graffiti artists, and the entry for UEK can be found here.

003 copy

Below is a close-up of the sign you can see in the distance in the first image. A strange little area this, with locks and little bridges over docks off the Liffey. Looks like a great place for undisturbed midsummers drinking all the same…



Read Full Post »

Once a staple of this here blog, our “monthly” pub crawls have become somewhat sporadic of late. We only managed to fit in five last year, the last taking place all the way back in June, making it 114 pubs that we’ve visited on the crawls alone. Add in another 30 pubs or so that we’ve done on “Random Drop Inns,” I make it that (including the five pubs here) we’ve visited and reviewed 149 pubs in the city.

The back story… for anyone that doesn’t know the story by this stage, once a month or so the three writers behind this blog, joined by a small group of friends, visit five Dublin pubs and then write about our experiences. A different person each month picks the five pubs and makes sure not to give away any details beforehand. This month was my turn, and for the first pub crawl of 2013, I decided to drag people out to Ringsend, from where we could make our way back into town, stopping in a couple of spots along the way.  I’ve always loved Ringsend; standing on Bridge Street, you’re a fifteen minute walk to Grafton Street and less than that to Sandymount Strand. Perfect.

The Oarsman, from their official Facebook.

The Oarsman, from their official Facebook

Meeting the other two and KBranno in town at five, a Leo Burdocks and a taxi in the lashing rain later, we headed over the canal and into The Oarsman. A very busy spot this and my first impression was that… Christ, this place is a relic; but in a good way! The pub doesn’t appear to have changed too much inside or out for donkey’s years. There has been a business on this spot since 1882, and a pub here since the sixties. The original grocers shop became the snug area inside the door (where we were lucky to nab seats, kudos to Paul R for that,) and the pub was extended out the back. A long narrow layout means ordering a pint from the beautiful old wooden bar is awkward enough. The stairs down to the jacks is halfway along it on the right, meaning if the seats at the bar are taken and you’re ordering, chances are you’re blocking someone’s way. Nonetheless, we weren’t left waiting and ended up staying for a couple of pints apiece, at €4.45 a pop. The most expensive pint of the crawl but still, relatively cheap compared to pints closer towards town.  A lovely pub this and a place I’ll be back to, if just to try out the food they’ve recently started to serve.


Read Full Post »

In the depths of the Coombe in Dublin’s Liberties lies the memorial below. Dedicated to the memory of the many women who gave birth in the Coombe Lying-In Hospital, it has to be amongst the most impressive monuments in the city. The plaque at it’s base reads as follows:

“Towards the end of the 1825, two women in a vain attempt to reach the Rotunda hospital perished, together with their new born in the snow. When this became known, a number of benevolent and well disposed people founded the Coombe Lying-in Hospital in the year 1826 for the relief of poor women. Leading the charitable Committee was a Mrs. Margaret Boyle of Upper Street, Dublin.

The portico surrounding this plaque formed the entrance until the year 1967, when the hospital moved to a new location in Dolphin’s Barn. The old portico having been retained and restored by Dublin Corporation as a memorial to the many of mothers who gave birth to future citizens of Ireland in the Coombe Lying-in Hospital and also to the generosity of the staff and friends of the hospital.”

The Portico of the first Coombe Lying-in (Maternity) Hospital

The Portico of the first Coombe Lying-in (Maternity) Hospital

There had been a hospital on this site for close to 200 years, with the foundation stone for the “Meath Hospital and County Dublin Infirmary” being laid in 1770. This hospital operated in this guise for over fifty years until it was closed in 1823.  In 1826 Mrs. Margaret Boyle founded the Coombe Lying-In Hospital on the site, with the Guinness family as one of the hospital’s benefactors. It was Dublin’s second maternity hospital, the first being the Rotunda.

The old Coombe hospital closed and relocated to a newly built premises in 1967. The building was demolished in order to make way for Dublin Corporation housing. Interestingly, the steps at the back of the monument are a memorial to Dublin’s characters of old. Bang Bang and Johnny Forty Coats feature, along with a host of others.

006If you’re interested in taking a look for yourself, the monument can be found near the corner of the Coombe and Brabazon Street. 

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: