Posts Tagged ‘dublin’

It was never going to last forever; summers in Ireland rarely do, but when we had it, we had it good. The forecast suggests that we’re back to the four seasons in one day we know and love but who knows what lies around the corner; a couple of weeks down the line we might actually have blue skies that aren’t the catalyst for rucks out in Portmarnock… Here’s a few snaps I took this weekend on a couple of cycles that spanned Dublin Bay from Killiney to Howth.

bikes Starting on Sunday, a skip down the coast-road as far as Killiney. It looked like half of Dublin had the same idea as the road to Bray (our intended destination) quickly resembled something like the M50 at rush hour. Getting up and down the hill at Kiliney is hard enough at the best of times, trying to skip between Range Rovers and convertibles made it all the harder. We called it a day at the spot above and headed slowly back.

towerThe Martello Towers along the coast are something I’ve always meant to look at in depth but haven’t gotten around to in yet. Here’s a view through the trees of the one on Dalkey Island.



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“The delights a stroll around Dublin can bring you. I’ve always carried my camera around with me, but have only recently started to take it out and not give a shite that I look like a tourist.” And so said I a long time ago, and several times since. With the ever- epic Tivoli Jam taking place this weekend, I had it in mind  to go check out a few graf spots I’ve covered before, so dropped down to the lane behind the Bernard Shaw and wasn’t disappointed. (Nothing got to do with this post, but if you’re in Dublin this Saturday (18th May), check out the Tivoli Theatre car park off Francis Street for a day of world-class graffiti artists, skateboarders, BMX bikers, DJs and MCs in the Liberties.) Anyways, as usual, snaps below.


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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!

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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!

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On August 7th 1912 four women- Gladys Evans, Mary Leigh, Jennie Baines (under the nom de guerre Lizzie Baker) and Mabel Capper were sentenced at the Green Street Special Criminal Court in Dublin accused of “having committed serious outrages at the time of the visit of the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.” The trial lasted several days during which police came under fire for initially refusing to allow admittance to women. Given the nature of the case, this act was met with steady and mounting pressure until the ban was repealed.

The “acts of serious outrage” have been mentioned in passing here before in an article on the Theatre Royal. The visit of Asquith to Dublin in July 1912 was met with defiance from militant suffragettes, some of whom (including the four above) had followed him over from England. On July 19th, a hatchet (around which a text reading “This symbol of the extinction of the Liberal Party for evermore” was wrapped) was thrown at his moving carriage as it passed over O’Connell Bridge. The hatchet missed Asquith but struck John Redmond, who was travelling in the same carriage, on the arm. There was also a failed attempt at setting fire to the Theatre Royal as he was due to talk on Home Rule in the same venue the following day. A burning chair was thrown from a balcony into the orchestra pit and flammable liquid was spread around the cinematograph (projector) box, and an attempt made to set it alight. It caught fire, and exploded once, but was quickly extinguished. The Irish Times, as below, reported the attempt which, in any case was foiled by Sergeant Durban Cooper of the Connaught Rangers who was in attendance:

At this moment Sergeant Cooper saw a young woman standing near. She was lighting matches. Opening the door of the cinematograph box, she threw in a lighted match, and then tried to escape. But she was caught by Sergeant Cooper and held by him. She is stated to have then said: “There will be a few more explosions in the second house. This is only the start of it.” (Irish Times, July 19th 1912)

Taken from "Votes for Women," August 9th, 1912

Taken from “Votes for Women,” August 9th, 1912

The four women mentioned above were accused and charged over both actions. The then Attorney General for Ireland, C.A O’Connor conducted the prosecution, and the case was presided over by Judge Madden. It seems that the authorities were at great pains to quell the burgeoning suffragette movement, and so set out to brand the women as highly dangerous provocateurs. O’Connor spoke of the horrors the fire in the Theatre could have caused, and Judge Madden, upon passing sentence on the women, rendered it his “imperative duty to pronounce a sentence that is calculated to have a deterrent effect.” Large crowds had gathered inside and outside the court for their sentencing upon which, as seen in the Evening Post clipping below, applause rang out around a largely hostile room.


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It took longer than I imagined it might to get down to Windmill Lane for this, the third in a series of posts looking at some of Dublin’s lesser known street art spots. I’ve been to Richmond Villas and Liberty Lane in the first two posts, and am on the look out for other gems. Strange though it may seem, given Windmill Lane’s historical connection to U2, that amongst the thousands of tags that cover the street, I couldn’t find one “Bono is a pox.”


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“The delights a stroll around Dublin can bring you. I’ve always carried my camera around with me, but have only recently started to take it out and not give a shite that I look like a tourist.”

If you like graffiti, and well, taking pictures of graffiti like us, there are some hidden gems around Dublin. The Tivoli Carpark is one that we generally return to, as the annual Jam there always provides… Below is another, the lane behind the Bernard Shaw, Richmond Street. I’ve only put up nine snaps, I could have taken a hell of a lot more but this post would have been very long if I did… I’ll have another photo piece in a couple of days from another spot just around the corner that’s worth checking out. Click “continue reading” to see the full post…


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Whereas today, the words Donnybrook Fair elicit visions of Ross O’Carroll Kelly characters buying tiger prawns, Perrier and “gourmet goods” in a store whose business surely boomed during the Celtic Tiger years, look up the word Donnybrook in the dictionary and you’ll see something like this:

don·ny·brook [don-ee-brook] noun (often initial capital letter) an inordinately wild fight or contentious dispute; brawl; free-for-all.

For the original Donnybrook Fair was not the food store that services D4 residents, but a Fair established by the Royal Charter of 1204 “to compensate Dubliners for the expense of building walls and defences around the city.” It  lasted fifteen days from the latter end of August until mid-September, was held annually for over six hundred years, and by the mid 19th Century would become the most important fair on the island.

Erkine Nichol, “Donnybrook Fair,” 1859

Originally billed as a horse fair, the run up to the event would see traders of everything from exotic fruits to horse manure set up their stalls on Donnybrook Green. Calling it a horse fair was slightly misleading, as horses were rarely on show, and those that were, were said to be fit for little but the glue factory. As sparse as the display of horses was, the actual buying and selling of wares was a cover for what was, in essence, a fortnight long drinking session.

By the time it was dissolved by Dublin Corporation in 1855, it had become a cacophonous event famed for music, heavy drinking, cock-fighting and shillelagh swinging. Walter Bagehot in his book The English Constitution of 1867, references the Fair by saying “The only principle recognised … was akin to that recommended to the traditionary Irishman on his visit to Donnybrook Fair, ‘Wherever you see a head, hit it’.” Another quote that gives some idea of the pandemonium appeared in the Freeman’s Journal on 31st August, 1778:

“How irksome it was to friends of the industry and well-being of Society to hear that upwards of 50,000 persons visited the fair on the previous Sunday, and returned to the city like intoxicated savages.”

Traffic to and from the Fair was said to have caused a continuous dust cloud the whole way from town for the two weeks of its duration. Alongside references to open displays of drunkenness, promiscuity (Charles William Grant wrote that “Dancing and flirting took place all round, and love making took place publicly”) and a general lack of respect for authority, historically, Donnybrook Fair is largely remembered for its’ fights and its contribution to the English language dictates this. The daily madness often subsided to nightly slumber, and when stallholders shut up shop at around midnight, participants, too drunk to make their way home would simply sleep on site and the party would just continue where it left off the next morning. A favourite past-time of younger Fair go-ers was to buy cheap treacle tarts known as “treacle tillies” and walk around sticking them to the backs of unsuspecting revelers.

A ‘Fair Fight.’ Samuel Lover, from “The Neighbourhood of Dublin,” by John Joyce.

By the second half of the 19th Century, the establishment had enough of the annual bout of debauchery in Dublin’s suburbs, and a committee, imaginatively called “The Committee for the Abolition of Donnybrook Fair” was established with the aim of raising the £3, 000 required to purchase the license for the fair from it’s holder. One of the members of the committee was the then Lord Mayor of Dublin, Joseph Boyce. The rest, as they say, is history.


Further Reading:


Blacker, Henry Beaver: Brief Sketches Of The Parishes Of Booterstown And Donnybrook. Dublin, 1860

Sweeney, Clair L.: The Rivers  of Dublin. Dublin, 1991.

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Hard as it may be to imagine, there were more worrying times for League of Ireland fans than the present. As tough as the declining crowds and folding of clubs appear to a staunch and loyal fan base these days, events at the turn of the millennium really didn’t bode well for our League.

First came Wimbledon’s proposed move to Dublin, one which could well have destroyed the domestic league here. Thankfully, this fell through. Next, came the formation of Dublin City FC, a new team that threatened to usurp those fans that sit on the fence with regard which team they follow in Dublin, but make up the bumper gates on big match days; that didn’t go too well for them either. And thirdly, something which may seem insignificant, but Manchester United’s Superstore and Café on D’Olier Street really could have had a knock on effect as the fate of Ireland as a nation of barstool football fans may well have been sealed.

Clipping from the Irish Independent, August 19th, 2000.

The premises, on the junction of Westmoreland Street didn’t come cheap, but the prime location and massive footfall that came along with that encouraged the club to splash out on a 25 year lease on the building, before investing a reported £1m in fitting out the store which was split over three floors – the ground and first being the store itself and the Red Cafe, a Manchester United themed cafe in which games would be streamed live, in the basement. (Games could be watched whilst munching on a Beckham Burger, with Man. Utd. Ketchup.) The building, then owned by Treasury Holdings would set them back €400, 000 a year. Their previous ventures on these shores, spurred by a pop-up shop opened by the legendary Bobby Charlton in Roche’s Stores on Henry Street were booming, so perhaps it seemed like a license to print money for the club. They were wrong.

The store opened quietly in August 2001, with its official opening not happening until mid October to a huge fanfare, with the bottom of O’Connell Street, D’Olier Street and Westmoreland Street shut off in expectation of crowds of up to 5, 000. The opening reportedly ran three times over budget, a bill footed by Roche’s Stores, who ran the Club’s five stores in the Republic. Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Mark Bosnich were in attendance, along with Sir Alex Ferguson  himself.

Peter Kenyon, then the club’s Chief Executive said of the store:

Manchester United’s historic links with Ireland and the huge support that exists today presents a unique opportunity to bring the heart of the club closer to those supporters.

Sir Alex at the official opening of the store, October 2000. From the Irish Times.

To bring the club closer to the heart of their supporters indeed, and to empty their wallets of their hard earned cash. But despite all the fanfare, the shop never really took off. Extortionate prices, a soul-less store and less than friendly staff saw the place become a ghost town. Row upon row of replica kits, shelf upon shelf of pencil cases, books, quilt covers, key rings, bath towels, teddy bears, quilts and even cricket bats, gradually gathered dust.

A selection of their “competitive” prices. From the Irish Independent, August 29th, 2000.

The store shut, quietly, in February 2002, being in existence less than two years. But the debacle didn’t end there, as their lease still had another twenty two years to go; it still has another twelve or so years to go in fact, as Manchester United Commercial Enterprises (Ireland) Ltd. are still down as the lease holders on the building. The firm tried their hand at damage control, opening Redz Bar, home to the Dublin MUFC Supporters Club. This venture didn’t last long and was supplanted by the notorious Redz Nightclub, now closed. Their debts last year were a mere €200, 000 or so, down €2, 000, 000 from 2010, due in part to the building being sublet by a new group, Lafayette, who seem to be trading steadily. So there you have it. Man Utd, it seems, were signing flops long before Eric Djemba Djemba, and for the League of Ireland, perhaps thankfully so.

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And so another Dublin institution comes to pass. No visit to Dublin by any man or woman over the age of 60 was complete without one of two things. A trip into Bewley’s on Grafton Street, this itself in danger only a couple of years ago, or nipping in to Guiney’s on the way back down Talbot Street to Connolly Station. Socks and jocks, towels, blankets and bed sheets; if you had them, chances are, the majority of them came from Guiney’s.

The phrase “you’d find anything in there from a needle to an anchor” was once used by my mother to describe the place and she wasn’t far off and I’m pretty sure the signs outside constantly proclaiming a permanent  “sale” broke some broke some law of commerce or another, but the shop was constantly packed with old women, who viewed the trip to Guiney’s as some sort of social occasion, rather than an opportunity to pick up a few bits and bobs.

Photo from the Dublin City Library digital archive

At approximately 17:30 on the 17th May, 1974, fourteen people lost their lives on Talbot Street, victims of the second of three explosions in Dublin that would later become known as the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Thirteen of the victims were women, a number of them found on the pavement outside Guiney’s itself.

Not this Guiney’s, the other one!

Clery’s around the corner has been saved, and with that, 350 jobs and the phrase “I’ll meet you under Clery’s Clock.” Owned by the Guiney family for over seventy years, it has now passed into American ownership. Sister store Guiney’s Home ware’s and their thirty staff aren’t so lucky though and another Dublin institution is set to disappear.

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The theft of the Irish Crown Jewels is a mystery that goes back over a century, and remains unsolved. The Jewels were not the equivalent of the English Crown Jewels, rather the insignia of the Order of St. Patrick, the British Order of Chivalry associated with Ireland and disappeared in June 1907.

Supposed to have been assembled from diamonds belonging to Queen Charlotte, they were presented to the Order by King William IV in 1831.The Order itself technically still exists, although there has not been a granting of Knighthood since 1936. The Queen remains the Sovereign of the Order, and the Ulster King of Arms, the position of the person entrusted with the safe keeping of the regalia, still exists today.

Taken from the National Archives, NAI CSORP/1913/18119

The Jewels, valued at $250, 000 in the clipping from the New York Times below, were stolen from a safe located in the Office of the Ulster King of Arms, in the shadow of the then Detective Headquarters in Dublin Castle. The theft occurred in 1907; they were last seen in the safe in which they were stored on June 11th of that year, with the theft not discovered until the third of July, three weeks later. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra were due to arrive in Dublin for the International Exhibition and plans were afoot to knight Lord Castletown during their visit. The process would have required the regalia of the Order and was postponed as a result. Although the King is said to have been angered by the theft, the visit went ahead.


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“The delights a stroll around Dublin can bring you. I’ve always carried my camera around with me, but have only recently started to take it out and not give a shite that I look like a tourist.”

The last couple of months have been busy, and I haven’t gotten out with the camera as much as I would like. Hence, I’m a little rusty. I hope to remedy this though, and over the next while, hope to get one post of pictures up a fortnight… I’ll start off with the below, looking down toward School Street from Earl Street South- “Fuck the System.”

“Dublin is in palliative care, drowning in oceans of Lynx and fake tan and fake people. Hipsters, bints, where have all the real people…” something, something, angry rant, something.

I hoped to have two scooters in this piece, one far more impressive than the one below, but an unfortunate incident of a disappearing memory card means there’s just this one. Just off Grafton Street, a beauty. The blokier version will appear in the next “A few quick snaps” post.


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