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Posts Tagged ‘U2’

There’s not much left by the way of pre-boom buildings on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. Row upon row of mis-matched shining steel and glass structures tower over the few remaining Victorian warehouses and enginehouses, relics of an era when Dublin’s docks bustled with industry. One warehouse that has managed to survive, a double gabled redbrick building that sits where the Samuel Beckett bridge meets the Southside boasts two unusual and very original features.

The warehouse at 30- 32 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay was built in the 1890’s and was once home to the Dublin Tropical Fruit Company, who occupied the premises for decades. It has played host to plenty of drama in its lifetime; in the mid-thirties, a young teenager fell to his death from the roof, the sixties saw a long running strike on the premises and the eighties saw a fire come close to gutting the building. On 16th April 1950, a ship named the Abraham Lincoln arrived into Dublin bearing tonnes of bananas bound for the warehouse. When the ship made port, it was discovered that its cargo of fruit was already too ripe for sale, leading the company to refuse it and the ship’s crew to dump tonnes of black skinned bananas overboard. Alexandra basin was lined with scores of people waiting for the chance to grab any that might float ashore, whilst rowboats set out from Ringsend with the aim of getting to the booty first. Gardaí struggled to maintain order as hundreds of children tried to force entry into the basin. (Irish Press, 17/4/1950.) The building later housed offices belonging to U2 and is now home to a software company.

annalivia

Representation of Anna Livia, photo credit- Simon Conway

Anyway, to the point of the piece. Over the doors of the building, hang two recognisable figures- two granite keystones representing Anna Livia and the Atlantic, replicas of which appear elsewhere along the River Liffey. Originally sculpted by the eminent (though self-effacing as some records state!) Edward Smyth, they had once adorned the archways of Carlisle Bridge, the structure that predated what we now know as O’Connell Bridge. The bridge was remodeled in the late 1870’s and the granite keystones were removed- Carlisle Bridge having had three arches with a hump rising high above the water below, Anna Livia and Atlantic were deemed too large to fit the lower elliptical arches of the bridge. The new bridge had arches which sat much lower over the water, and the keystones would need to be replaced. They were remodeled by Charles W. Harrison and the originals sculpted by Edward Smyth somehow ended up on the facade of the warehouse on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.

atlantic

Representation of The Atlantic, photo credit- Simon Conway

Smyth (1749- 1812) was a sculptor and modeler who served an apprenticeship under Simon Vierpyl (Clerk of Works  for the Casino building in Marino) and later worked for a Dublin stone cutter named Henry Darley. His work was mainly ornamental, according to the Dictionary of Irish Architects, that is until Darley recommended him to one of the leading architects working in Ireland at the time, none other than James Gandon in the early 1780’s. James Gandon being one of the most sought after architects of the time, Smyth rose to prominence under his patronage and went on to sculpt some of the most recognisable features on some of Dublin’s most famous buildings. From humble beginnings he was to become a wealthy man.

The building at Sir John Rogerson's Quay, photo credit- Simon Conway

The building at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, photo credit- Simon Conway

Looking out over College Green from the roof of the Old Parliament, stand his figures of Justice, Wisdom and Liberty. His works are dotted around the Custom House; the 14 keystones representing 14 Irish rivers on the building are his, along with the Arms of Ireland- a Lion and a Unicorn standing either side of the Irish Harp. He was also responsible for work on a number of churches throughout Dublin, ornaments, statues and coats of arms at Kings Inns and you can add his name to the debate on something we’ve looked at before- who sculpted the anthropomorphic figures playing billiards and other parlour games on the windows of The Kildare Street Club? In her “This Ireland” column in the Irish Times in March 1975, Elgy Gillespie noted that it wasn’t until the 1950’s that discovery of Smyth’s keystones on the building at Sir Rogerson’s Quay was made, quoting Harold Leask (architect responsible in part for the reconstrucion of the GPO) in the Royal Society of Antiquaries Journal on their discovery. That column, and anything I’ve read on the subject, neglects to mention how the heads managed to make their way from Carlisle Bridge and onto the facade of a building on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. Another reason why, when walking around this city, you should keep your head up because who knows what you might find!

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Over 100 people attended the History Ireland discussion yesterday afternoon on ‘Dublin Punk & New Wave’ in the late 1970s as part of the Phibsboro Community Arts Festival (Phizzfest). The final line up was Pete Holidai (The Radiators From Space), Eamon Delaney (Ex. Punk & current Indo columnist), Billy McGrath (UCD Ents 1976/77 & manager of The Atrix), Dave Donnelly (Ex. Black Catholics) and Cllr. Cieran Perry (Ex. Punk).

The response was overwhelmingly positive with the only complaints focused on the lack of female participation in the panel and no chance for a questions and answers session. Hopefully, this will be the start of a number of public discussions on different aspects of Dublin youth/music culture e.g. Skinhead, Rockabilly, Mod/Soul and Dance/Rave.

Here’s my playlist from yesterday. Would you have chosen differently? Left out any particular song? Added in something else?

1. The Radiators From Space – Television Screen (1977)

2. The Boomtown Rats – Lookin’ After Number One (1977)

3. The Vipers – I’ve Got You (1978)

4. The Vipers – No Such Thing (1978)


5. The Boomtown Rats – Rap Trap (1978)

6. U2 – Stories For Boys (1979)

(more…)

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This one, from the History Ireland Hedge School, looks interesting. Sam in particular has frequently uploaded slabs of classic Dublin vinyl to the site here, and the blog has been known to be a bit nostalgic for a period, although not being old enough to recall it ourselves! We’ll be on hand at this event to provide the noise, so come along. I can hear you now, “Really, is that them?”

The event is taking place as part of the Phizzfest in Phibsborough.

Date: Sunday, 12th September 2010
Time: 3pm
Title: ‘Dublin’s late ‘70s New Wave scene’
Description:A History Ireland Hedge School-Blasting back to the70’s.
Venue: Phibsborough Library,
North Circular Road,
Dublin 7.
Tickets: N/A, show up on the day.

Tommy Graham from History Ireland will host the event, joined by a varied group of individuals, including our favourite journo Fintan O’ Toole, Counciller Cieran Perry, Eamon Delaney, David Donnelly and Billy McGrath. Each of these people bring something unique to the discussion, ranging from organising concerts at the time, to an understanding of the diverse youth cultures and cliques that emerged from the scene at the time, sometimes quite literally clashing. Some of the bands that emerged at the time remain household names, the likes of U2 coming to mind instantly. Others have become cult classics. Bands like DC Nien, The Atrix and their kind still hold pride of place in many vinyl collections.

If this period interests you, check out previous posts here like this one on DC Nein or this gem from our first week in existence, looking at some of the main first-wave Dublin punk singles. When you’re feeling nostalgic (Maybe you were there?), write the date down and come along on the day and share a story. If you’re younger like ourselves come along and hear a story or two. Regardless, come along.

The History Ireland Hedge School will be hosting some historical discussions at this years Electric Picnic too, a slighty more muddy setting than Phibsborough.

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