Posts Tagged ‘bear tavern’

The Oak Bar, established in 1860, at the corner of Dame Street and Crane Lane boasts a fascinating history.

The Dublin Street Directory of 1862 shows that the occupant of 81 Dame Street was a P.J. Burke, a grocer and home & foreign spirit dealer. In the early 1920s, the bar was bought by the Humphrys family. To this day, you can still see the original tiled floor sign at the entrance reminding customers of its old name.

Photo Credit - Humphrysfamilytree.com

After a re-decoration in 1946, the name of the pub was changed to The Oak. Why? The oak panelled interior of the bar was made with wood savalged from the RMS Mauretania, the sister ship of the RMS Lusitania. [1]

The Oak Interior. Photo Credit - Archiseek Ireland

The RMS Mauretania was launched in 1906 and at the time was the largest and fastest ship in the world. During WW1, it served as a troopship to carry British troops during the Gallipoli campaign. The ship was withdrawn from service in 1934 and its furnishings and fittings were put up for auction. More information on the ship can be found here.

RMS Mauretania. Picture Credit - MaritimeDigital Archive Encyclopedia

Crane Lane, the little street at the side of The Oak which connects Dame Street with East Essex Street, is also historic in its own right. This narrow thoroughfare, which is now most famous for housing The Boilerhouse gay sauna, was once the primary route to Dublin Castle before Parliament Street was built. It takes its name from a public crane used to unload ships which was erected nearby in 1571 beside the old Custom House, the site of the Clarence Hotel today. A previous crane had been put in place here by the Normans in the 13th century. [2]

Crane Lane (Looking towards Dame Street). From Daft.ie

Ireland’s first synagogue was founded in Crane Lane by Portuguese Jews. It was in existence from at least 1700 [3] (some sources contend that it was in fact founded earlier in the 1660s [4] ). The prayer rooms were said to have been in the house of a merchant called Phillips. Unfortunately, it is not known which building on Crane Lane Phillips resided in.

Dolphin House (at the corner of Crane Lane and East Essex Street) Photo Credit - Flickr User 'Ilkhanid'

During the 1700s, a drinking spot called the ‘The Bear Tavern’ stood in Crane Lane. In the later half of the 18th century, another “more frequented” tavern was run here by a Freemason named David Cobert, an “excellent musician” and leader of the band of the Dublin Independent Volunteers. [5] Another bit of history is that the ‘Dublin Gazette’ was printed in Crane Lane from 1705 – 1764 by Edward Sandys. [6]

I’ll leave you with this lovely snap taken in 1968 showing The Oak Bar and a pub opposite called The Crane (now Fogarty Lock & Safe Company).

[1] http://humphrysfamilytree.com/Humphrys/mick.html
[2] Paul Clerkin, Dublin Street Names, (Gill & Macmillan 2001), 48.
[3] Katherine Butler, Synagogues of Old Dublin, Dublin Historical Record, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Sep., 1974), pp. 118-130.
[4] Pat Liddy, Temple Bar – Dublin, (Temple Bar Properties, 1991), 93.
[5] Sir John Thomas Gilbert, History of the City of Dublin (McGlashin & Gill, 1859), 167.
[6] Richard Robert Madden, The history of Irish periodical literature…, (T.C.Newby, 1867), 233

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