Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

Within sight of O’Connell Street, a plaque adorns the wall of an innocuous red brick house that reads: ‘A tribute to the champion boxers and the people of the Sean McDermott Lr. Gardiner Street area 1930-1940.’ The house sits on the corner of the aptly named ‘Champions Avenue,’ the street taking its name from the several boxing champions the area produced throughout the thirties and forties. Gardiner Street and Sean McDermott Street spawned a good many talented fighters- Paddy Hughes, Peter Glennon, Mickey Gifford and Mylie Doyle among them. But arguably the most famous was John ‘Spike’ McCormack.

Though Spike would become synonymous with the north inner city, he was born in Listowel, Co. Kerry in 1919. The McCormack family moved to Dublin when he was eight and Spike would take up boxing soon after, fighting amateur by the early thirties. In 1939 along with Peter Glennon and Mickey Gifford he went to America with the Irish amateur boxing team to fight against the Chicago ‘Golden Gloves’ (amateur champions) in Soldiers’ Field, Chicago. The trio returned home as victors with the Irish team matching their hosts, gaining five victories apiece.

Either side of his trip to the US Spike enlisted in the British Army, his strength and physical fitness leading him to become a Commando. It was his sense of adventure that led him to join the British Army rather than the Irish one, his son Young Spike remembering him saying ‘Hitler took Poland by storm and Ireland by telephone.’ Initially stationed in Scotland, he boxed over there and was highly thought of, even receiving an offer from a promoter to buy him out of his service. Once, while there according to Frank Hopkins ‘the night before St. Patricks Day in Kilmarnock, he painted a statue of King Billy green to aggravate the town’s Orangemen.’


In 1943 during his second spell with the army, an expeditionary raid down the French coast ended in a short but brutal clash and Spike sustained an injury to his thigh from a grenade blast. He returned to Ireland and whilst recuperating in the Mater Hospital was approached to fight Jimmy Ingle in what was to be the latter’s last amateur fight but not the last fight between the two men who had a competitive rivalry throughout their careers. Feeling the exertions with the injuryhe was carrying he went down in the third round, exhausted. According to his son ‘Young Spike’ in Kevin Kearns’ Dublin Voices

They took off his shorts and saw this big hole in his side and they said ‘Jesus Christ, he shouldn’t have been able to stand. So Jimmy Ingle turned professional but my father said ‘I’ll get him back when I’m good.’ So my father turned professional- just to get back at Jimmy Ingle.


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DFallon recently uploaded a great document regarding the etymology of some Dublin place names and of a 1922 proposal to change some of them. One place name that skipped the Corpo’s attention in that report, and funnily enough ever since then (given that the name involved invokes little but hatred in most Irish people,) is “Cromwell’s Quarter’s,” an unmarked alleyway connecting Bow Lane and James’ Street.

Cromwell's Quarters, 1991. By Tom O'Connor Photography

You can just about make out the street sign in the top left of the photograph, but as you’ll see below, that wall no longer exists, and the street sign has disappeared with it; I’d love to know whose attic its in! Aptly enough, the lane was only renamed Cromwell’s Quarters sometime around 1892, having been recorded in places as “Murdering Lane” in the 18/1900s and “The Murdring Lane” before that, as far back as 1603. A bone of contention this one- whilst many Dublin historians call the haunted steps around St. Auden’s the Forty Steps, Cromwell’s Quarters can also go by the same name. Either way, its not somewhere I’d like to hang around at night…

20 Years later and not much has changed!

Any other references to the man Teflon Bertie once refused a meeting with British Foreign Minister Robin Cook because of in Dublin placenames? (Ahern was due to meet Cook in a room in which a portrait of Cromwell hung. He famously walked out and refused to return until the portrait of “that murdering bastard” had been removed.)

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Italia ’90 came just too early for me, and while I still have recollections of it, most of them more than likely made up as they are far too glorious for any six year old to have experienced. So, USA ’94 was more within my grasp and while I wasn’t a football loving child (oh how my ways have changed,) it was hard not to get caught up in the fever pitch that surrounded a national event like Ireland playing in the World Cup. Streets empty during games and lined with Olé Óle Olé chanting, pint swilling headcases after them.  Audacious thieves made a fortune ram- raiding shops during the games, safe in the knowlege their local Gardaí were most likely huddled around a portable tv in the station, blissfully unawares to the happenings in the outside world. The glory of Italia ’90 was impossible to recreate but the reactions to beating Italy and drawing with Norway were the same. Pure unadulterated lunacy.

Soccerball World Cup mascot, 1994

The football sure as hell wasn’t beautiful. The mind truly boggles to think that Ireland beat Italy with a team consisting of five defenders, two defensive midfielders and a man by the name of Tommy Coyne up front. But we did win, Ray Houghton netting in the eleventh minute before eloping on a mad run, tumbling like a toddler and emitting screams that put Marco Tardelli to shame.

Celebrations were short lived as Jack Charlton sent out the same side against Mexico and they were duly spanked 2-1. And still, we somehow managed to qualify for the second round by playing out a dull encounter against Norway that ended 0-0. Exciting stuff, the four teams in the group finishing on four points,  Ireland scraping through only due to their win against Italy.  Three games, two goals scored and two conceeded. You really do look back at these things with rose tinted glasses as reading that statistic shows it was about as far from total football as our Monday night kickabouts. But these were different times, Roy Keane was still a young man, we had squad members like Alan Kernaghan, Alan McLoughlin and John Sheridan and Gary Kelly was still a player with “great potential for the future.” We were tonked 2-0 in the next round and the dream was over.

Why am I harping on about all this you may be (or more than likely aren’t) wondering. Well, digging in the attic last week I came across a collection of cards Kellogs had produced for the occasion. You got free stuff in your cereal those days, generally useless plastic toys or reflectors for the spokes of your bike, but they came up trumps with these. I’m missing Bonner, Babb, Coyne, Eddie McGoldrick (remember him?!) and John Aldridge; Terry Phelan has lost his head. Anyone out there with swapsies?

The Kellogs freebies from USA '94, six shy of the full squad!

Gary Kelly; His profile says he has "great potential" and he hadn't won the first of his 51 caps yet

Ex- Bohs, and the only person in the world to have an All Ireland GAA medal for football and a FA Cup winners medal, Kevin Moran

The man who played 88 times for Ireland and scored 19 goals despite not having a drop of Irish blood in him- Tony Cascarino

Anyone who can provide the missing cards mentioned above, please get in touch- I’d love to get a picture of the full squad… Comment on here or e-mail me at ci_murray@hotmail.com …

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Someone on The Bohs forum recently posted a link to a nostalgia packed Panini Italia ’90 sticker album that brought memories flooding back. Co-incidentally, last Saturday, I managed to get my hands on an absolutely meticulous Euro ’88 era Ireland jersey for the princely sum of €1.60. Searching on-line, I found the very same jersey retailing here at £140 of your finest British pounds. Will I be flogging my jersey on? Not a chance. Where, might you ask though, did I find such a bargain? Well, Shelbourne Dog track oddly enough…

I picked this up for a bargain €1.60!

On alternating Sundays, Shelbourne Park and Harolds Cross play host to carboot sales. I hadn’t been to a boot sale for years and forgot that the general idea was to get there as early as possible.  Both of these bootsales open their gates at 8.30 in the morning, but following a busy day/ night on Saturday and a late breakfast on Sunday, we made in there at half two and unforunately most of the stalls were gone home or off to the beach to sun themselves.  Details of when and where the bootsales take place can be found here.

Bootsales; And the characters that run them. from Flickr

I played witness to some great conversations here, a couple of grannies delving into a box of religious memorabilia and muttering to each other “Jaysis, look, theres a lovely St. Francis Scapular.” (A scapular is like a set of felt religious dog-tags.) and “Lovely, three mass cards for a fiver.” Oddly enough this stall was run by a couple of young lads, not what you’d be expecting.

Anyways, a great day under the shadow of the magnificent new Lansdowne Road Stadium (I absolutely refuse to call it the Aviva; anyone who does, deserves a clatter on the back of the head,) on the best day of the year so far, along with the Ireland jersey, I picked up a St. Pauli shirt and a Dubliners 7″ with “Surrounded  by Water” on one side and “Dublin in the Green” on the other side. With a bit of shamelessness on my part, and the stallholder asking for a fiver, I told him I’d give him two quid for it. And he accepted. Good buzz! I’ll be heading along to the Harolds Cross one next week, I’ll let ye know how I get on!

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