Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Corkcentric Print Ads (1956)

The ads below come from Blarney Magazine, Summer, 1956. It's not a publication I know anything about other than what I can glean from the sole issue I found in my possession. The advertisements in it have a simple elegance. These ads, mainly for Cork based companies, also give an insight into what consumer items were available in Ireland in the middle of the last century. Not being overly familiar with the People's Republic I can't tell if any of the advertised local firms still exist although of course Paddy Whiskey and Smithwick's Ale are still available in Cork as elsewhere. The most peculiar ad, to my mind, has to be for The Leprechaun cafe, illustrated as it is with a seemingly angry, malevolent leprechaun.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Discovering Northern Ireland (1950 and 1971)

Here's an advertisement for the Ulster Tourist Development Association from 1950. It featured in a guide book to Dublin and environs published in Britain. It's probably obvious why I posted this advertisement, but in case it isn't, I shall explain. The slogan "Ulster opens her doors to all" is replete with irony as the Northern Irish state at the time, while perhaps welcoming to tourists, wasn't all for opening doors to a substantial swath of its population. Catholics, who comprised around 1/3 of the population at the time, were in many significant ways treated as second class citizens. Similarly, a generation later nobody was describing the "quiet serenity" of the place.

Since the Troubles commenced in the late 1960s, promoters of tourism in the north have had a uniquely difficult job. Even today, fifteen years after the Good Friday Agreement, there's a stigma with some potential visitors associating the north, and in particular Belfast, with sectarian division and violence. Indeed, Belfast exploits its dark tourist potential with black taxi tours of political murals on both sides of the divide being a popular tourist activity.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Song Of Swords (1916)

This poem relates to labour-related goings-on in my home town in 1913 which are elaborated upon hereThe poem was written by GK Chesterton, the English polymath who is perhaps best remembered in Ireland these days for the oft-recited lines, "For the great Gaels of Ireland, are the men that God made mad, for all their wars are happy, and all their songs are sad" which feature in his epic poem, the Ballad Of The White Horse. 

Main Street, Swords, c.1900
(Image courtesy of Swords Historial Society via Gaelart)


  "A drove of cattle came into a village called Swords;
  and was stopped by the rioters."—Daily Paper.

  In the place called Swords on the Irish road
  It is told for a new renown
  How we held the horns of the cattle, and how
  We will hold the horns of the devils now
  Ere the lord of hell with the horn on his brow
  Is crowned in Dublin town.

  Light in the East and light in the West,
  And light on the cruel lords,
  On the souls that suddenly all men knew,
  And the green flag flew and the red flag flew,
  And many a wheel of the world stopped, too,
  When the cattle were stopped at Swords.

  Be they sinners or less than saints
  That smite in the street for rage,
  We know where the shame shines bright; we know
  You that they smite at, you their foe,
  Lords of the lawless wage and low,
  This is your lawful wage.

  You pinched a child to a torture price
  That you dared not name in words;
  So black a jest was the silver bit
  That your own speech shook for the shame of it,
  And the coward was plain as a cow they hit
  When the cattle have strayed at Swords.

  The wheel of the torrent of wives went round
  To break men's brotherhood;
  You gave the good Irish blood to grease
  The clubs of your country's enemies;
  you saw the brave man beat to the knees:
  And you saw that it was good.

  The rope of the rich is long and long—
  The longest of hangmen's cords;
  But the kings and crowds are holding their breath,
  In a giant shadow o'er all beneath
  Where God stands holding the scales of Death
  Between the cattle and Swords.

  Haply the lords that hire and lend
  The lowest of all men's lords,
  Who sell their kind like kine at a fair,
  Will find no head of their cattle there;
  But faces of men where cattle were:
  Faces of men—and Swords.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

John Hinde Postcards Of Ireland (1950s - 1980s)

John Hinde (1916-1997) was an English photographer who set up shop in Ireland in the 1950s, after a stint in the circus. Hinde produced postcards of the Irish landscape and city streets. He favoured a lurid style often with posed, explicitly nostalgic subject matters. His postcards became immensely popular with tourists and locals alike and are fondly recalled to this day. In Britain, Hinde is best remembered for producing postcards of Butlins but his company produced postcards from all over these islands. Although Hinde sold his company in 1972 it continued to produce postcards into the 1980s, most of which were in his very particular house style.

I've posted two samples from the Hinde postcard collection. The first one is to my mind atypical of Hinde, featuring an almost futuristic nightscape of Dublin with the ghostly trails of traffic and the illuminated advertising for Club Orange, Texaco etc. It's a beautiful postcard and one I'm trying to find a physical copy of. The second is much more typical of the style Hinde became famous for. It's a presumably posed, kitsch and colourful representation of the Irish landscape featuring an archetyal buachaill and cailín rua as well as a trusty donkey, carrying turf from the bog. More of Hinde's Irish postcard collection can be viewed here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dalkey, Co. Dublin (1834)

This article was published in the Dublin Penny Journal issue number 85, Volume II, dated February 15th, 1834.

The Island of Dalkey, of which the foregoing is a view taken from Bullock, is divided from the mainland by a channel called Dalkey Sound, in which ships may safely ride at anchor in eight fathoms of water, sheltered by the island from the north-east wind, to which every other part of Dublin Bay lies exposed. This island is said to contain eighteen acres, and, although covered with rocks, is esteemed an excellent pasturage for cattle of all kinds. It is curious to see the people conveying black cattle hither from the mainland. They fasten one end of a rope about the beast's horns, and then tie the other end to the stern of a boat, which is pulled with oars in the direction of the island. By this means they drag the animal into the sea, and force it to swim after the boat across the sound, a distance of about a quarter of a mile. Besides good pasturage, Dalkey island produces some medicinal plants, and there is a ruin on it, said to be that of a church, but (the belfry excepted) no lineament survives that would induce a person to suppose it the remains of a place of worship. I much doubt its having ever been used for one. The side of the structure where some traces of an altar might be sought for, presents no such appearance ; but, on the contrary, a fire-place and chimney are to be seen where the altar should stand, had the building been for ecclesiastical uses. There are also visible in it vestiges of its having been lofted. It is therefore probable that the fabric, which is small and in the form of a parallelogram, was used for domestic or commercial and not for religious purposes.

Tradition informs us, that when the city of Dublin was limited by a plague in former days, some of the citizens retired to this island as an asylum from its desolating effects. It is certain that Primate Usher retired with his family from the same calamity to Lambay, and that he introduced a clause into the leases of that island, that, in case Ireland should again be visited by plague, the Lambay demises should be void, in order to ensure a safe retreat for his family.

There is a battery mounting three twenty-four pounders on the Island of Dalkey, whose highest point is crowned by a martello tower that differs from any I recollect to have seen elsewhere. The entrance to the tower is at the very top of the building, while the doors of most others stand no more than twelve or fourteen feet from the ground. Dalkey Island is uninhabited, save by the military stationed in the batteries. 

The engraving which accompanies this article also exhibits a view of part of Dalkey common, which extends from the village of the same name on the west, and the Government quarries on the south side to the sea. There is a dwelling house of a most extraordinary kind now being completed on a portion of this common. It is seen in our drawing, two stories in height, standing alone, with the front door opening within a few feet of a craggy mountain- precipice, and its rere (sic) wildly hanging over a dreadful rocky steep washed by the boisterous sea. The erection of this extraordinary edifice was a strange vagary of the projector. The first glance of it at once suggests to the imagination, ideas of the amphibious retreats of desperate smugglers, or cruel pirates of bygone times, rather than of the rural summer haunt of a peaceful citizen. The occupier might repose in it as it is said the celebrated Granuaile used to do in Carrickahooly castle, where her shipping was moored to her bedpost, for the purpose of preventing surprise. 

The name of Dalkey common is perpetuated in the convivial song called the Kilruddery Hunt, written in 1774 by Father Fleming, of Adam and Eve Chapel, and of which a copy is said to have been presented by the Earl of Meath to King George the Fourth, when he visited Ireland. The expression, " Dalkey-stone common," in that song, leads me to remark that there was formerly a druidical rocking-stone in the neighbourhood of Bullock or Dalkey. I find mention made of it by some old writera and also by Wright, in the Guide to the County of Wicklow : but although I have devoted several days to searching for it, I am with regret obliged to say, I have not been able to find it. 

The Government quarries on the common are at present worked by the respectable firm of Henry, Mullins, and Mc Mahon, who have contracted for the completion of Kingstown harbour. The largest blocks of granite, raised in the quarries by the force of gunpowder, are lowered (to the long level of the railway where the horses are yoked to the trucks) by a succession of three inclined planes, in the following manner. A large metal wheel with a groove in it, and revolving freely on an upright axis, is fixed at the head of each inclined plane. Over the groove a strong endless chain is passed, and from thence carried down a railway to the bottom of the inclination, where, running over friction-rollers, it returns up another rail road, parallel to the former, back to the wheel first mentioned. When a laden truck has to be lowered, it is brought to the verge of the descent, and there attached to the chain. At the same time, an empty track is fastened at the bottom of the descent to the ascending portion of the same chain. The laden truck is then pushed down the sloping rail-road, and by reason of its weight (from five to seven tons) proceeds rapidly down, drawing at the same time the empty truck up from the bottom of the parallel railway. There are generally three laden and as many unladen carriages moving up or down the steep in this manner at the same moment. Should the motion become too rapid, a man at the top has the power of regulating it by means of a friction-band, which, with the help of a compound lever, he can close upon the grooved metal wheel. The same contrivance serves to stop the descent altogether, the instant the trucks have arrived at their destination. Thus, by the aid of a simple combination of mechanic powers, a single man is enabled to move and controul (sic) the motion of six heavy carriages, bearing an aggregate weight of granite of about twenty tons, a task which it would require twenty-seven horses, with the ordinary modes of conveyance on common roads to accomplish. 
The village of Dalkey stands about seven miles from Dublin, at the northern side of Dalkey hill, on which was formerly a telegraph, now dismantled, and nearly undermined by the quarrymen in the neighbourhood. The village was formerly a place of great importance. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was a repository for the goods imported or to be exported by the merchants of Dublin. The ruins of several castles are still remaining here; they were built for the protection of trade against the hordes of land and sea robbers that infested the country at a remote period. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"No Connection With The Jews" advert, The Leader Newspaper (1905)

This advert appeared in The Leader newspaper, in December 1905. The Leader was the mouthpiece of one D.P. Moran. In the paper's pages he espoused his views on the form an independent Ireland should take. I have a collection of issues of the paper and there are ads throughout. Most of these ads trumpet Irish made products and their superiority to imported alternatives. Many of the ads are for Catholic literature and for things like Irish language lessons. The above ad caught my late father's eye a number of years ago for its declaration that the firm has "No connection with the Jews."  My brother pointed out that the general Camden St. area was the centre of Jewish life in Dublin (often referred to as "Little Jerusalem") and indeed at the time there was a synagogue a short distance away at 52 Camden Street.

Although the firm was called Sinn Féin Ltd., I don't know what, if any, association it had with the political organisation of that name and would appreciate any information any reader has about it. The Sinn Féin political party only got going weeks before this advertisement was published so presumably the term enjoyed some currency at the time beyond the nascent party. It's probably worth pointing out though that the party's founder, Arthur Griffith has often been accused of being an anti-semite. It's also worth noting for context that the Limerick Pogrom was ongoing at the time this was published.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Destruction Of Dublin As A Great European City (1988)

I found this article in The Canberra Times, dated March 17th, 1988. It's a state of Dublin piece related to that year's "Millennium" celebrations. That year Dublin went Viking mad, we had 50ps galore and this single was released. It refers to the then Lord Mayor Of Dublin Carmencita Hederman and the writer Frank McDonald. McDonald has been a long time advocate for more considered planning of our urban environment and is the author of books such as The Construction Of Dublin and Chaos At The Crossroads. The article also includes a contribution from Senator David Norris , erstwhile Irish Presidential candidate, most recently notable for the Fannygate imbroglio. The article was written by Carol Craig. I'm happy to report that number 26 Fishamble Street is still extant. Despite the passage of a quarter century many of the issues raised in this piece still resonate, hence my posting it here. Since this article didn't come replete with too many images I've found some Dublin 1988 images to augment this post.

Getting the year wrong is the not the worst thing facing Dublin's millennium celebrations. Among the razzmatazz and the genuine outpouring of affection is a chorus of voices crying that what was once one of Europe's most beautiful capitals is fast losing the right to claim that it is even a shadow of its former self.

Dublin's Lord Mayor, Alderman Carmencita Hederman, underlined the point this month when she awarded the first of the "Millennium Medals" to those who tried, and failed, to save the site of the thousand-year-old heart of the city, the first Viking settlement at Wood Quay.

Some who have already made the millennium tour comment that the fabric of the historic city centre is badly frayed, but add, thank God, traditional Dublin warmth is still alive and talking in the pubs.

Irish journalist Frank MacDonald, author of the book The Destruction of Dublin, says "We don't really have a city to celebrate. A total of 160 acres in the centre of Dublin are derelict, in addition to a host of tumble down buildings and vacant and potentially vacant buildings. The inner city has essentially been abandoned. The population of the inner city has been halved in the last 25 years."

City Manager Frank Feely was a guest at the millennium medal ceremony. As the city's chief bureaucrat, Feely is frequently blamed for the activities of the city's road engineers. According to Ireland's respected conservation group, An Taisce, road widening is now the single biggest cause of the destruction of the city's historic buildings.

At the beginning of the year, Lord Mayor Hederman led the city council to defeat a highly unpopular scheme to run a six-lane ring road past Dublin's second oldest cathedral. However, the 800-year-old St. Patrick's is still going to have to endure four lanes almost at its front door if the engineers have their way.

It is not that Feely, a large man with charm and a sense of humour, has no concern for the city. It was his idea to hold the millennium celebration in the first place.

"I saw it has having three threads, literature, history, culture, stimulating interesting in Dublin and something harder to put your finger on, something abstract. To inspire confidence, a bit of pride."

Having missed the chance to celebrate the founding of the city, now put at 841 AD, and having almost a decade to go before the 1000-year anniversary of the granting of the first city charter, Feely suggested celebrating the year in which an Irish king defeated the Viking king of Dublin and forced each household to pay him tribute of an ounce of gold.

Historians have now pointed out that because of a change in the calendar this actually happened 999 years ago. Commenting on the mistake, Irish Senator David Norris said, "like all these things there is an element of fiction, no city ever started on a particular day. I rather like the idea of celebrating the one year in which nothing happened." Norris adds, the central idea is to "harness the energy for the good of the city."

Feely claims the corporation is doing that, pointing to the construction of badly needed pedestrian malls, the revamping of the shop fronts on Dublin's main thoroughfare and the planting of thousands of trees. But, warns An Taisce, too much attention to these could cover up the real problem of the city - the fact that there are a number of historic areas still under threat.

An Taisce's spokesperson for Dublin, Ian Lumley, puts a warren of narrow streets leading from the south side of the River Liffey in the centre of the city at the top of the list. Called Temple Bar after its main street, a modern map of the area is almost the same as the one from the 18th century shown on the back of the Irish £10 note. The buildings are a mix, houses built in the 1700s, turned into shops in the eighteen hundreds, a few early 20th-century factories thrown in. Many of the streets are still cobbled and the sidewalks still made of granite blocks.

In the past five years it has become the closest thing Dublin has to New York's Greenwich Village or a Parisian Left Banks. Rents are cheap and, says Christine Bond, chairman of the board at Temple Bar Studios, the only low rent studio space for artists in the city, "It is a place where lots of younger people could get in and get something going."

The area was scheduled for road widening but plans have changed. Now the threat is the fact that the government transportation company which owns 8 per cent of the buildings in the area is being urged by the central government to sell them off to deal with the cash crisis caused by Ireland's huge national debt. Agents for large developers are already looking over the area.

On the edge of Temple Bar is one of the oldest houses in the city. Number 26 Fishamble Street probably dates from the early 1700s. Its owners, the Casey family who have had the house for at least 190  years, received one of the "Millennium Medals" for maintaining their house against the odds. Last year it almost fell down when the corporation demolished a house next door it claimed was unsafe, apparently destabilising number 26 in the process.

Commenting on the corporation action, Mrs Enda Casey said, "Really and truly it is maddening what they have done to the city." Frank MacDonald thinks the attitude towards the preservation is a "cultural problem". Dublin's golden age was the 18th century. Dublin Georgian architecture is largely domestic rather than monumental. It is houses, shops, pubs. It was built largely for the enjoyment of the British-linked Protestant rulers of Ireland while the majority of Catholic Irish lived in hovels and slums. For many Irish the buildings of the period are a symbol of the colonial past. "It is tied up with the idea of 800 years of oppression and the like. The Georgian heritage wasn't really seen as Irish despite the fact that it was all built in Ireland by Irish workmen."
By the early 20th century many of the old Georgian buildings had become slums. "For years since [Irish playwright] Sean O'Casey's time the perception of the inner city was that it was just a slum. The idea has been that people, for the good of their health, need to be cleared out of it."
Describing the situation at the end of English rule, Feely refers to "rich town houses being turned into tenements."

"It made us into the disgrace of Europe in terms of disease and infant mortality," he said. "It made housing a top priority. The first thing you've got to do in any city is give people the basis of living."
The argument between the corporation and conservationists is how much of the basis comes from history and heritage. Frank MacDonald says he has seen students in tears over what is now happening in the city.
"I think there is a sense that the younger generation of this city feel they have been robbed of something very precious - the possibility of living in a great European city," he said..
Senator Norris, who has almost single-handedly saved an entire Georgian street and who believes Dublin can return to something of its former glory, hopes the millennium celebrations may have an effect: "The 360 odd days of 1988 will be used to change attitudes, to go into the next decade with something of hope rather than pessimism."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ireland from the Life archives. (1940s-1970s)

Not life as in real life but Life as in the American photo journalism weekly whose heyday spanned from the late 1930s until the 1970s. The publication really came into its own during World War II and was the source of the seminal WW2 kiss photo, which may or may not have been sexual assault. Here is a selection of interesting images depicting Ireland that I gleaned from the magazine's archives. They date from the 1940s until the 1970s and as can be seen, vary widely in tone.

Here's a comely barmaid at the bar in Shannon Airport, 1948. This photo was taken at a time when Shannon was becoming an important refueling stop in transatlantic aviation. In the year of the Gathering I'm sure images echoing this one abound.

A 30 year old Mr. Brendan Behan taking a wee sup sometime in 1953.

British soldiers in Newry, Co. Down, c.1972. A reader kindly identified the church in the background as Newry Cathedral.

 Here's the picturesque harbour at Carna, Co. Galway, in 1946.

 This is the Falls Road, on the corner of Waterford Street, in 1941. In the archives it is described as a "Catholic Ghetto".

Ormond Quay, Dublin, 1943.
This image has probably been reproduced a lot in recent weeks since the 50th anniversary of JFK's visit to Ireland occurred recently. It's John F Kennedy being snogged by his cousin in Dunganstown, Co. Wexford and of course dates from 1963.

 Auld wans in a Dublin pub, c1953. This image as well as the image above of Brendan Behan were part of a series that accompanied an article on the playwright Sean O'Casey.

This image shows advertising for contemporary live entertainment in Dublin in 1943. Can anyone tell me which church that is in the background?

These lads were new army recruits, at the Curragh, Co. Kildare in 1940. Although the Irish Free State was neutral during World War II, many young soldiers, including perhaps some of those photographed above, deserted in order to join the British Army and fight against the Nazis.

Bachelor's Walk, Dublin, 1948. It's worth noting the relative paucity of vehicular traffic as well as the road being two way at the time. The Ha'Penny Bridge can be seen in the background to the left.

A British soldier, interrogating a stylish individual, outside a butcher shop somewhere in Northern Ireland, 1972. The graffito says "McShane wants to ---- anywhere." I doubt it is referring to Ian McShane. Next door there's a boutique.

Irish Soldiers cleaning an armoured car at the Curragh Camp, 1941. This vehicle would have been all that stood between freedom and Nazi domination had Operation Green ever come into effect.

 Trinity College Dublin, 1946. This was in the twilight days of the old trams.

 Ulster Defence Volunteers, being trained by the B-Specials, somewhere in Northern Ireland, 1941.

Lady hanging washing in a Dublin "slum", sometime in 1948. I'm not sure where this was taken.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Postcards Of Belfast (Early 1900s)

I've found that the postcard posts have thus far been my most popular so here's a selection of postcards depicting Edwardian Belfast. They show the city's oft-lauded industrial might, its grand architecture, its commerce, and scenic spots. These postcards bring to mind the fascinating photographs in the book Made In Belfast by Trevor Parkhill and Vivienne Pollock which describes the industrial and commercial vibrancy of Belfast at the time. I found the book somewhat of a revelation. I had been so used to seeing Ireland at the time, north and south, depicted as agrarian, bucolic or just plain primitive.

This post card shows Belfast Castle looking slightly eerie.
This grand looking building, completed in 1906, was the home of Belfast Tech, aka the Black Man Tech, until 2011. If you'd like to find out more about this educational institution here's a documentary I found that goes into its history.

I have no idea if the charming looking building still stands, perhaps a local reader can enlighten me, but I can safely say that the people enjoying themselves in the boat are long gone unless one of them happens to be Highlander.

This colourful postcard shows the Palm House in Belfast's lovely Botanic Gardens. It looks pretty much the same today, social media notwithstanding.

Belfast City Hall took 8 years to construct and was completed in 1906. It's a beautiful building and to this day serves as a fantastic focal point for Belfast. When I sat outside it a few years ago eating lunch a man offered to sell me a volume of Marvel comics that he produced from under his shirt.
Harland and Wolff's famous shipyards, what can I say that hasn't already been said? They're still a point of pride amongst many in Belfast. At the time depicted they were a if not the major employer in Belfast. Its most famous ship was of course the Titanic, which some contemporary visitors to Belfast expect to see there. Thankfully now their disappointment can be allayed by the recently constructed Titanic Museum. Other famous ships to come from the yards include the Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic, and the HMS Belfast which under the pretense of being a museum ship protects London from Cybermen and Daleks.

High Street, Belfast, with Belfast's answer to Big Ben or the Leaning Tower Of Pisa, the Albert Memorial Clock, in the background.

Queen's University in 1910. I can't think of anything else to write other than my dad attended the university roughly 50 years later and he and his pals used to congregate in the Student Union in order to huddle around a television to watch the Flintstones.
 Queen's Bridge around 1900 showing some of  the city's industrial activity at the time.
This postcard shows Belfast's main shopping thoroughfare, Royal Avenue. All the shops shown are now KFCs, McDonald's and Carroll's tricolour inflatable hammer dealers. The trams are in tram heaven.
Shaw's Bridge still stands, although it has long since been superceded by a snazzier more modern affair nearby. Here's the bridge from another angle.