Posts Tagged ‘Dublin History’

Writing a piece on the modern disappearance of Liberty Lane, got me thinking about other streets and alleys in Dublin that have since changed beyond recognition.

For hundreds of years, it was possible for Dubliners to cross from College Green to Fleet Street via Turnstile Lane and Alley.

The map below, kindly reproduced with Pat Liddy’s permission, shows in the bottom left side how this was possible.

Temple Bar, 1760s. 'Temple Bar - Dublin. An Illustrated History', Pat Liddy, (Dublin, 1992), p. 32

In the 1780s, Turnstile Lane was widened considerably and renamed Fosters Place after John Foster (1740 – 1828), the last speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Turnstile Alley was renamed Parliament Row c. 1775. A narrow alleyway still linked the two but this was finally closed in 1928 due to the construction of the Bank Armoury.

Parliament Row today. Nothing more than a Car Park entrance and a bottle bank.

The Irishman’s Diary in The Irish Times on May 30, 1928 noted that “the closing of the passage at the ‘back of the bank’ … is causing much inconvenience to the many busy people who found it a short cut”.

Another view of the modern Parliament Row.

The modern map of Temple Bar below illustrates just how much has changed not least the blocking off of Turnstile Lane and Alley.  The cobbled Fosters Place is now most familiar to Dubliners for its Starbucks, taxi rank and new Wax Museum while Parliament Row has nothing much to boast for except a Car Park entrance and bottle bank.

Temple Bar, 1990s. 'Temple Bar - Dublin. An Illustrated History', Pat Liddy, (Dublin, 1992), p. 67

Fosters Place today. The road that swings right used to once lead to Fleet Street.

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This is a nice find, from the Irish Municipal Employees’ Trade Union, 1942.

The back of the leaflet was clearly used in 1942 by someone dealing with union finances, as it is littered with figures and sums.

Union members are encouraged to attend a commemoration in memory of Connolly on May Day, and also to show up a demonstration on the 3rd of May, “…to participate along with other Trade Unions in procession, which will leave STEPHEN’S GREEN at 12.15 pm”

Of all places, it showed up recently in the books of the Dublin Fire Brigade Union, loaned to the DFB Museum. The things that show up in books eh?

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This article aims to provide a brief overview of the Pearse Street Fire of 1936. It is by no means a complete overview of events and I recommend anyone seeking more information on the incident consult ‘A Triple Tragedy in Dublin, The Pearse Street Fire, 1936’, by A.P Behan. That paper was published in the Dublin Historical Record (ISSN 0012-6861, Spring 1997). I have relied on it, and newspapers of the period, for much of the information below.

Men fight the blaze, image taken from Independent. This image was taken moments before an explosion in the premises.

Writing in the Irish Independent in the immediate aftermath of the event , Anthony Flynn wrote of the risks men in the Dublin Fire Brigade faced in the line of work.

The fireman himself thinks only of duty. That duty is clear and defined. And our Dublin firemen do not hesitate. In Pearse Street, as on countless other occasions, these men faced death. Three of them died, displaying a courage equal, if indeed, it does not transcend, that of the battlefield.

The premises of Exide Batteries, at 164 Pearse Street, had been the site of a horrific blaze on the night of Monday October 5th. Due to the proximity of Tara Street Fire Station, it took less than two minutes for the men to arrive on scene. The fire had been detected by the tenants above Exide Batteries at 10.50 p.m. In the definitive history of the Dublin Fire Brigade (The Dublin Fire Brigade: A History of the Brigade, the Fires and the Emergencies, by Trevor Whitehead and Tom Geraghty)they note that

Number 163 housed a barber’s shop at ground level and a private hotel occupying the upper floors. Number 164 had a retail shop belonging to Exide Batteries Ltd. on the front ground floor, vacant offices on the first floor and a family of seven living on the top floor. The basements, although not connected,were the location of a factory in which Exide batteries were assembled….

The fire was fought in terrible conditions. The water supply in the area was nowhere near adequate, for example. A.P Behan stated in his paper ‘A Triple Tragedy in Dublin, The Pearse Street Fire, 1936’ that

There was practically no volume of water and no pressure. Onlookers were incensed at the firemen having to fight such fire in these conditions, and the absence of adequate water supply had the result that the firemen had to get so close to the fire that their uniforms were scorched

Two explosions ripped the premises apart. Initially, two firemen were thought missing in the premises, but quickly it became apparent a third was missing. It was not until about 10 in the morning the next day that the third body was found. The three Dublin firefighters killed in the line of duty were:

Fireman Robert Malone– a veteran of the 1916 Rising who had served as a Lieutenant with “D” Company 3rd Battalion at Bolands Mills Garrison, under Eamon de Valera. He left a wife and child behind.

Fireman Thomas Nugent– who was engaged to be married.

Fireman Peter McArdle– who left a wife and seven children (His funeral mass card is shown below)


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I love this photo. Taken in 1900, it shows two tug-of-war sides. On the left, and boasting some quality custom ‘DMP’ shirts, we have the Dublin Metropolitan Police. On the right, and winning the war of the mustaches, the Dublin Fire Brigade.

Tug-of-war was a hugely popular sportstime in the early twentieth century, and The Irish Times of October 17th, 1908 noted that the Dublin Metropolitan Police team became the “World Champions” of the sport by overcoming the Liverpool Police at Ballsbridge during the August Bank Holiday.

In 1924, the Dublin Metropolitan Police team returned home from England with the ‘City of Hull Tramways Challenge Cup’ and, The Irish Times noted, were recevied by a large crowd which included Mr. Kevin O’ Higgins, Minister for Home Affairs.

Another 1924 report indiciates that along with the DMP, the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Royal Ulster Constabulary among others had strong tug-of-war sides.

While I don’t know the outcome of the 1900 encounter between the DMP and the Dublin firemen, the track record of the DMP in the sport means it doesn’t look good for the firemen. I’d love to hear from you if anyone knows more of their encounters!

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Click to visit official website.

On April 13th 1742, Handel’s Messiah, one of the most famous musical pieces in the world, was first performed on Fishamble Street in Temple Bar. We will commemorate this with a fun and uplifting outdoor event Messiah on the Street, as well as a range of highlights including an extra special performance of A Global Hallelujah by three national schools in Dublin. We are also very excited to be able to expand this year’s programme to include traditional Irish music; as well as offering dance workshops and an outdoor Movie on the Square. .

Some highlights:

10am: Handel & Dublin in 1742 – Talk By Professor Barra Boydell

What did Handel encounter when he visited Dublin?
Professor Barra Boydell, music historian and expert presents a fascinating talk about the life, times and music of Handel in 18th century Dublin.

Venue: The New Theatre, 43 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Tickets: FREE – No booking required just come along.

11am: Let’s Walk & Talk: Handel’s Dublin—Then & Now

Historical walking tour with Pat Liddy.

A walk around some of the Dublin streets that still echo with the sounds of George Friderich Handel’s visit in 1742/3 and finishing in Fishamble Street to hear the annual performance of excerpts from his Messiah.

Meeting Point: Wolfe Tone Park, Mary Street, Dublin 1 (beside Jervis Shopping Centre)
Tickets: FREE – No Booking required, just come along!

The full programme of events can be viewed

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Thanks to Rashers for uploading another gem.

Eamonn Mac Thomais takes you around by Dublin Port, City Quay Church, Spencer Dock and St. Laurence O’Toole’s school in Seville Place (where Joe Clarke who fought in the Battle of Mount Street Bridge was educated).

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The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854) at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War remains one of the most infamous events in military history.

It may come as a surprise to some people to learn that the fabled bugle that sounded the charge was not only made in Dublin but was sounded by a Dubliner.

The bugle was made at J.McNeill’s on Capel Street. McNeill’s was a celebrated music shop that started off operating from 148 Capel Street in 1834. Six years later, the business moved to number 137 before settling in a couple of doors down at number 140 in 1842. It traded from this spot for 162 years before relocating to Kilrush Co. Clare in 2004. (The premises is now a pub named McNeills)

From the 'Official Catalogue: Dublin International Exhibition of Arts and Manufactures 1865'

The man believed to have sounded the charge was Dubliner William ‘Billy’ Brittain of the 17th Lancers, Orderly Bugler to Lord Cardigan, the commander of the Light Brigade. Though it is agreed that Billy sounded the “walk”, “trot” and “gallop”, it should be noted that there has been ongoing debate whether the final order of “charge” was actually sounded. Brittain was mortally wounded during the charge and died, still clutching the bugle, in Florence Nightingale’s Hospital in Scutari, Istanbul a few months later.

Brittain's Bugle

The battered bugle remained in possession of Brittain’s family until 1905 when it sold to a publican, James Baker, in Newscastle to be displayed in his pub, The Percy Arms. In 1964, it turned up for action at Sotheby’s in London and fetched £1600. The buyers were Ed Sullivan, the American TV showman and Laurence Harvey, the Lithuanian born English actor.

After repairs and restoration, the pair presented the bugle to the Queen’s Royal Lancers – formed from the original 17th Lancers – to be placed on display at their regimental museum in Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire where it remains to this day.

Alexanders Toy Soldiers are selling a miniature, hand painted figurine of William 'Billy' Brittain for £39.99

– Dutton, Roy. Forgotten Heroes: The Charge of the Light Brigade. Wirral, 2007.
– McNeills Music Shop, Facebook page

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The Irish Women Workers Union. Liberty Hall.

Over the last couple of years, it’s been fantastic to see International Womens Day marked properly in Dublin. While it seems there is a wide range of events planned this year to mark the occasion, ranging from a showing of the fantastic I Was A Teenage Feminist as part of the (very much free) Progressive Film Club to the ever-popular and highly regarded Feminist Walking Tour hosted by Choice Ireland, the RAG collective and the Lashback collective (and more on that below), the event that’s grabbed my attention is undoubtedly the ‘Take Back The Night’ march planned for Tuesday night.

Event Poster

The march/vigil will meet at 7pm on Tuesday at the front square of the University.

Take Back the Night (also known as Reclaim the Night) is an internationally-held march and vigil that is organised with the purpose of unifying women, men, and children in awareness of sexual violence and rape. TBTN is about taking a stand against violence and making the night safe for everyone.

The event at Trinity is one part of many events being organised in honour of International Women’s Day. It will include speakers from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, One in Four, an Irish based support service for women and men who have experienced sexual abuse/violence, and Amnesty International, an international human rights organisation.

As a protest and indeed direct action against sexual assault and rape, Take Back The Night marches have occured all over the world in cities, towns and Universities.

As for the Choice Ireland/RAG/Lashback walking tour, I have to confess to not getting along to either of the previous Feminist Walking Tours of Dublin, despite hearing nothing but praise for both tours. Dublin has a tremendous social history with so many female figures neglected from popular history, but none the less inspiring. From the women who led the anti-apartheid actions at Dunnes Stores to the women of the Labour and Republican movements, there is a hidden history just below the surface. Hopefully the walking tour will help fill in some of the blanks for those who attend!

I should stress these are but two events occuring to mark the day and the week around it. Be sure to look around for more events, for example by checking the event guide on Indymedia.

Choice Ireland/Rag/Lashback Feminist Walking Tour
This Sunday, 1 pm.
Meet at the Central Bank , Dame Street.

Take Back The Night Vigil
Next Tuesday, 7PM
Front Square of TCD

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Citizen Army men and women gathered at Liberty Hall on Easter Sunday for the final mobilisation before the Rising. Here Connolly gave each a last opportunity of drawing back. No one availed themselves of this chance. ‘I never doubted ye!’ Connolly told them, his face shining

R.M Fox- From ‘Dublins Fighting Story’

This may well be of interest to many of our readers.

I inherited the 1916 bug from my father, without a doubt. Even today, only hours before writing this, I was standing on Northumberland Road like a Japanese tourist only moments in Times Square. I’m still amazed that for such a short historical event, there seems to be an endless amount of research and new finds related to Easter Week 1916.

The week is one of personalities. Like Winifred Carney, the suffragette and secretary to James Connolly, who would find her place in Irish history as the ‘Typist with a Webley’. Returning to Northumberland Road, perhaps no man on the republican side was to leave such a deadly mark on the week as Michael Malone, hiding out with a small group of men (and a moveable store dummy too!) in 25 Northumberland Road. Ultimately he and one other man, James Grace, would hold the spot. Who could forget to mention Sean Connolly of the Irish Citizen Army? An Abbey actor of great reknown, who had taken the lead role only a week previously in ‘Under Which Flag?’,a play penned by none other than James Connolly. Siblings of Sean, both male and female, would join him in the insurrection.

Michael Malone, killed in action at 25 Northumberland Road

The week is also one of great tragedy. There is the heartbreaking story of one of the Sherwood Foresters being taken aback to see his own family in Dublin, having fled Britain for fear of Zeppelin raids. He would never make it past 25 Northumberland Road.

Members of the Irish Citizen Army drill.

One must really see the sites to appreciate them. Even today, I learned this to be most true. When you look from Clanwilliam House down the street towards number 25, you get a clear sense of the Volunteers line of fire. Likewise, I can remember as a young lad being taken to see the Royal College of Surgeons and being amazed by the bulletholes still littering the front of the building.

This tour is one I’ve been told often enough to get myself along to. Carried out by the authors of one of my favourite studies of the week, for €12 you’re promised about two hours worth of a wander around some of the keysites of the 1916 Rising.

Of coure, one can not take everything in in two hours, for instance some of the Sackville Street lancers who fell under fire are buried at Grangegorman cemetry. The Rising has left us with historical sites all over Dublin worthy of visiting.

As a city centre tour however, the reputation of this one is one that, to me, renders Saturday morning worthy of an alarm clock.

….if you know me at all, that’s a huge achievement.

Saturday 20th February 2010
Meeting at 10 am at the International Bar, 23 Wicklow Street.

Facebook page for the 1916 Walking Tours

Eamon Ceannt, Commandant of the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers at the South Dublin Union, 1916

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Hxci’s fantastic post on things to do in Dublin other than sitting on a highstool getting wrecked is one of our most popular pieces, and people tend to stumble across it through a variety of humorous google searches, things in the same category as “I’m not drinking for a week in Dublin and don’t know what to do with myself at all” basically.

While he gave the National Library of Ireland a mention, it was only recently when knocking about it for college reasons I realised just how fantastic the exhibition on the life, times and work of W.B Yeats is. I remember visiting it a good two years back as it was initially intended to be a temporary exhibition. The decision to leave it in place was, for this city, an unusually wise one.

If you have broadband, and a half decent flash player (and we’re all Dubs here remember, no way any of you are living in one of those floodable, broadbandless North Kildare housing estates) you can check out the exhibiton from home.

Granted, it’s free in real life, and beautiful to walk around, but after visiting it I knew there were odds and ends I wanted another look at. The audio-visual aspects of the exhibition are there to view too.

A fantastic effort from the National Library, and unusual in this country. So much of the historical material and archives in the possesion of the state would do well to find an online home like this.

From the National Library of Ireland online, portraits of W.B Yeats and Maud Gonne circa 1900

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