Posts Tagged ‘O’Connell Street’

I was looking through some old postcards of O’Connell Street and came across this one. It’s obviously depicting Dublin pre Easter rebellion, as I’ve circled the Dublin Bread Company on the right of the photo. The tower of the Dublin Bread Company was used by rebels during the rebellion to return fire to snipers from Trinity College Dublin, but it was never reconstructed following the rebellion.

Who is the statue circled in red? It’s William Smith O’Brien. I never knew he was positioned at the corner of D’olier Street and Westmoreland Street for a period. The statue, by Thomas Farrell,was unveiled in 1870.

William Smith O’Brien now stands proudly on O’Connell Street, across the River Liffey and among giants of Irish history.

O’Brien made the journey across the Liffey in 1929. A great article in the Independent at the time commented on the statue, noting it was “..about twice life-size” and “..is composed of Caravazzia marble”. The statue had first been unveiled on the southside of Dublin on Stephens’ Day 1870, before a large assembly. The Times in London remarked at the time “Why gibbet such a failure in monumental marble?”

In 1900, the statue saw the name “O’Brien” removed from its pedestal by Dublin Corporation, substituted for the current bi-lingual inscription. As noted in the Independent: “This was the outcome of an agitation aroused to remove the doubt that somehow got abroad that the statue was that of William O’Brien, the Irish Nationalist M.P, whose name was so much before the public at the time, and not that of the ’48 rebel.”

Will he be left in peace? Well, no. William Smith O’Brien is due to be moved again, though only temporarily. Collins Barracks is the location. The reason for his latest move is of course the Metro North project.

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What links this familiar ghost sign and my favourite street name in Dublin?

(Th)e Confectioner’s Hal(l), O'Connell Street. (Picture - Lisa Cassidy)


Or to be more precise, the Lemon family.

They were the proprietors of the above ‘The Confectioner’s Hall’, a beloved sweet shop for generations of Dubliners. Opening on that very spot in 1842, it only closed its doors in 1984. More on this history of the company can be read here, an excellent article on the Irish Architecture Forum blog by Lisa Cassidy.

One of my favourite street name in Dublin is Lemon Street, which is just off Grafton Street. It was named after Graham Lemon and his family who owned property in the area. (It certainly has a better ring to it than its previous name – Little Grafton Street).

So, what’s your favourite street name in Dublin?

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Occasionally, you pick up something nice along the way.

About a year and a half ago I bought a large collection of newspaper clippings at an antiques fair in town, for buttons basically. A varied bunch, they included snaps from the 1966 Easter anniversary events, snaps of Dev doing his thing in the 1970s, photos from after the bombing of Dublin during WWII and various odds and ends. The gems however, were these snaps from the day after Nelson’s Pillar was blown up.

They include a true Dublin entrepreneur going through the rubble hours after the explosion, and a great shot of the damage done at street level. Enjoy!

Front of The Evening Herald

Click image to expand

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Before Dublin’s Feminist Walking Tour on Sunday (see dfallon’s post above for more information), why not head down to the Spire at midday to hear Eamonn Campbell and others sing in honour of ‘Mad Mary’, the beloved Dublin street character who danced on O’Connell Street from the late 1970s to 2002. Due to a deteriorating eyesight Mary has had to hang up her dancing shoes and move back into her family home.

A facebook page called ‘WHO REMEMBERS THE WOMAN THAT DANCED ON O CONNELL ST BESIDE THE ANNA LIVIA’ has already attracted over 14,000 fans. The growth of the page and the flood of comments wishing her well has also prompted articles in the Irish Daily Mail and The Star in recent days. Though she might have been known for her conservative catholic views, no one can deny her importance in the social history of the capital.

Mad Mary, the dancing woman of O'Connell Street.

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Earlier this week, RTE broadcast a very well made documentary on the history of Nelson’s Pillar. The programme contains amazing archive footage along with contributions from Des Geraghty, Jimmy Magee and David Norris. If you missed it, viewers in Ireland can watch it on RTE Player until Monday, 15 February.

Though it focuses on the bombing of 1966, the documentary tells also tells the fascinating story of how in 1955 a group of UCD students, involved with the Irish National Student Council (INSC), occupied the pillar. Dropping a banner of Kevin Barry over the edge, they tried to melt Nelson’s statue with homemade “flame throwers”. Gardai used hammers to break into the pillar and tried to arrest the students but they had to be released after the gardai were attacked by sympathetic members of the public.

After the statue was blown up in May 1966, Nelson’s head was stolen by NCAD students from a storage shed in Clanbrassil Street as a fund-raising prank to help clear their debts. Wearing sinister black masks, they held a very civil press conference explaining their motives. The head made several secret appearances over the next six months including making its way onto the stage of a Dubliners concert in The Olympia Theatre!

Nelson’s head now rests peacefully in the Gilbert Library in Pearse Street.

“Not us says I.R.A.” Dublin, 1966.

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I stumbled upon a great new blog, called Jacolette, which focusing on vernacular photography, mainly Irish and amateur.

Most of these photographs were found in charity shops, skips or bought from online auctions and I am interested in the process whereby they have become separated from the families who once valued them.

Some gems include a picture of three Dublin men drinking that was “found in a skip on Oxmantown Road”, a number of Irish American mugshots that the the author bought on Ebay and some beautiful shots of O’Connell Street taken from Nelson’s Pillar in September 1942.

Hi-jinks in Dublin!

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A nice little find on Youtube. A 27 mins documentary in which “Brendan Behan acts as guide to Dublin as he tells tales about the city”. The programme, which was made two years after Behan’s death, was made up of ‘reconstructed’ commentary and interviews with relatives.

There are conversations with Brendan Behan’s father Stephen, his mother Kathleen and his widow Beatrice as well as beautiful old footage of O’Connell Street and the ‘Little Jerusalem’ area of Clanbrassil Street. The soundtrack is by The Dubliners.

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