Dublin Folk Tales back in print

Dublin Folk TalesSupplies of a reprinted Dublin Folk Tales are now with the distributors.
Dublin Folk Tales was the first published of the Irish county folk tales series from The History Press Ireland
It consistently goes in and out of stock in retailers.
This time, it went out of print.
It’s back now and will sell alongside my Little Book of DublinLittle Dublin 8152.indd
When you see it, turn it face out, please, for the jacket alone sells this book.


We’re staying here

Tfirebhe first sitting of Dáil Éireann was in the Mansion House on January 21, 1919.
Sinn Féin candidates won 73 seats out of 105 Irish seats across the whole island in the 1918 Westminster Election.
They refused to take their seats in Westminster and subsequently set up the First Dáil.
This assembly was not recognised by Britain, and led on to the War of Independence.
On January 21, 1919, the First Ministry assumed office. It lasted for 892 days.
The Mansion House itself was built in 1710 by the merchant and property developer Joshua Dawson, whose name is commemorated in Dawson Street;
The 18th century rent for what is Dublin’s Lord Mayor’s official residence was a yearly rent of forty shillings and a loaf of double-refined sugar, weighing six pounds, each Christmas.
Dublin was the first city in Ireland or Britain to have an official residence for its Lord Mayor.
On April 25, 1715, the City Corporation purchased the house at a cost of £3,500.

Champagne, hot whiskey and tea on Dame Street

It’s not every day the Central Bank pours out champagne on Dame Street, Dublin to queues of people awaiting a new currency.
In 2002, Ireland was one of the fastest of EU countries to adapt to the new euro and to consign its old currency to history.
puntfrontC Within a week of the introduction of the European currency on January 1, 2002, Ireland had embraced the euro for most monetary transactions.
The Central Bank on Dame Street, in Dublin, opened for New Year’s Day, though it is a public holiday.
At one stage, the line for cash stretched from the front doors for almost 50 metres along the street.
People waiting for new notes were served with champagne, hot whiskey and tea and coffee as they waited patiently to exchange their punts for euro.
The bank opened at 10am, but people were gathering outside from 7.45am. The average wait for cash was about one hour, though the champagne may have eased the wait for the hardy few.
On January 6, the first Sunday after the changeover, church collections were still made up of some 80 per cent  Irish money, but by the following  Sunday, this was down to less than 20 per cent old money.
There was to have been a grace period during which retailers would supply the new currency in change for purchases made with the old money; but many people simply went to banks and poured the old money onto the counter and exchanged it for euro.


Buy-to-let slums

Dublin’s early 20th century tenements were investment properties that would be described as buy-to-let investments in the modern climate.
At least they were from the point of view of the owners.
Many people made their money from rents collected from tenants. Such incomes were often shared as gifts with others: a bride’s dowry could be the collective rent of two houses filled with people.
Almost a quarter of Dubliners lived in one-room family flats, 100 years ago.
Those flats were concentrated in the area inside the ring of canals north and south of the city.
Not many new builds took place in the 19th century, following closure of the Irish Parliament and the transfer of society and influence to London.
The well-to-do who remained moved to the suburbs beyond the canals to Rathmines and Drumcondra and Inchicore.
Many were influenced in their choice of destination by the new tram lines emanating from the city centre.
The old Georgian houses had been built for one family and its servants.
But each housed many more as time passed and prosperity dimmed.
Large family rooms were sub-divided into smaller units, each housing a family of its own.
In a time of poverty and famine, poor rural people moved to the city swelling the population.
Some of the houses had so many one-family rooms occupied they were like small towns in themselves. The shared hallway being the Main Street.
Little or no maintenance was carried out to the structure of the houses by landlords.
DSC00086On September 2, 1913, numbers 66 and 67 Church Street suddenly collapsed into the street taking their occupants with them. Seven were killed.
They tumbled down at 9 pm, when darkness had fallen.
A pall of smoke and dust lay over all for 24 hours afterwards making it hard to see who was dead or injured, or, who could be rescued.
The situation was unchanged even in daylight.  Rescue efforts were hampered by a lack of certainty of how many were inside the buildings when they came down.
The funerals of the seven victims brought Dublin city to a standstill.
Elsewhere, an  official enquiry found that: in one place, 36 people were living and cooking on an open fire in a room measuring 32x13ft in 1913 when the houses in Church Street collapsed.

Extract from a forthcoming book on Dublin: A Little Book of Dublin by Brendan Nolan

Nobel calling Dublin

NobellitDublin has so far had three Nobel Laureates in Literature.
James Joyce was not one of them.
Dubliners William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett were all honoured.
Alfred Bernhard Nobel, whose legacy is the Nobel Prizes, invented dynamite and was a major manufacturer of armaments. He left a few bob for peace prizes and the like, to be awarded in his name, after he was dead.
He was not from Dublin. James Joyce was.
William Butler Yeats was awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature: “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.”
Yeats famously told a rioting audience, from the stage, at the Abbey Theatre’s 1926 production of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars: “You have disgraced yourselves again. This is O’Casey’s apotheosis.”
Dubliners have disgraced themselves ever since, as opportunity arose.
George Bernard Shaw the 1925 winner received his Prize a year late, in 1926. For, during the selection process in 1925, the Nobel Committee decided that none of the year’s nominations met the criteria outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel.
Shaw therefore confusingly received his Nobel Prize for 1925 in 1926, for his work; which the Committee said is: “marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty.”
Samuel Beckett, the 1969 Nobel prize winner, was denounced as a “bawd and blasphemer” by Oliver St John Gogarty’s counsel when, in his 30s, the younger Beckett gave evidence on behalf of William Sinclair, his late uncle-by-marriage, in a libel case against Gogarty for words used about the uncle and his twin brother Harry Sinclair in Gogarty’s 1935, As I Was Going Down Sackville Street.
The book is described as a semi-fictional novel-memoir telling the story of Gogarty’s Dublin through a series of interconnected anecdotes and lively characters sketches. Gogarty lost.
He was ordered to pay £900 in damages, plus court costs.
Gogarty appears in a fictional guise of Buck Mulligan in the opening pages of Joyce’s 1922 Ulysses, a book about a day-in-the-life of Dublin.
Beckett worked as Joyce’s assistant in Paris in the late 1920s.
His Nobel citation read: “for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation”.
Beckett was involved romantically with Lucia Joyce daughter of James for a while; but it came to nothing.
In 2013, the Irish Naval service declared that  two new ships would be named the LE Samuel Beckett, (delivery 1914) and the LE James Joyce (delivery 1915).
They did not say if Yeats or Shaw would be so remembered.
Still, they got a medal off the fella that invented dynamite, so there was that.

Extract from a forthcoming book on Dublin by Brendan Nolan

Honeymoons in Dublin

daggerhandWhen a newly-married couple told their Dublin wedding guests they were touring Ireland for their honeymoon, it meant they were going to an auntie down the country for a week, or, less, depending on funds and the auntie.
Income levels were not so high, at the time, so  couples couldn’t fly off to the southern hemisphere on their first married holiday together.
The  first week was often the biggest trial for a new couple.
If they survived seven days of one another’s unremitting company they were over the first hurdle.
For if they did not go away on a honeymoon they were supposed to stay indoors for a week.
Perhaps in the hope that people would think they were away somewhere if they were not seen in their usual haunts.
Custom dictated that a sharp knife was not to be used in preparation of food for that week. ­
This might result in near starvation and a severe trying of matrimonial bonds if the two people did not meet one another half way.

Extract from Dublin Folk Tales

A drop a wather

In Dublin, long ago, people used combs to rid their itching hair of nits. When they finished with the combs, they threw them away.
Many centuries later, the broken combs were dug up and discussed by learned people seeking clues as to how other people lived their lives in a different time.
Various assumptions were made about the life and daily customs of a people who did not have access to showers, bathrooms or Jacuzzis to help maintain a high standard of personal hygiene.
Few homes had a piped water supply and most relied on a communal standpipe or rainwater gathered in tubs.
Personal bathing may not have been as regular as modern citizens now expect.
Dublin has had an organised system for water supply for almost 750 years.
The rapid growth in population and commercial and industrial development in boom years in the Dublin region placed major strains on the water supply.
Dublin City Council announced, in 2006, that it would spend €120m on plugging water leaks in an effort to reduce the level of leaks from the city’s water system.
The money was to be spent replacing some of the cast iron pipes that made up the water mains, many of which were more than 100 years old.
The council estimated that some 28 per cent of Dublin’s water leaked out of these pipes before the supply ever reached taps.
It hoped the €120m upgrade would reduce losses to 20 per cent.
An earlier project costing in the region of €47 million reduced leakage from 42.5 per cent to 28 per cent.
Anyway, Dublin was built on a body of water, the Liffey, whence all stories and folk tales poured.

Where’s me niece?

On this day in 1695, a long time ago now, Narcissus Marsh, Protestant Archbishop of Dublin wrote in his journal:
“This evening betwixt 8 and 9 of the clock at night my niece Grace Marsh (not having the fear of God before her eyes) stole privately out of my house at St. Sepulchre’s and (as is reported) was that night married to Chas. Proby vicar of Castleknock in a Tavern and was bedded there with him – Lord consider my affliction.”
Narcissus lived as a bachelor in the Palace of St Sepulchre beside the Cathedral.
He had arranged for his niece, Grace Marsh, to keep house for him.
Grace (19) wished to enjoy life as a young woman might in seventeenth-century Dublin. She may have found her new surroundings, lifestyle, and the strict discipline of the archbishop’s domain constricting and sought excitement from another gentleman of her acquaintance.
She was, according to Narcissus, married to Charles before they were bedded, and he was, it appears, an ordained minister of some Protestant persuasion, else he could not have married at all. ­
The fear of God might be read as fear of the archbishop as representative of God, a fear which Grace seemed to have had none of at all. Or perhaps, she believed that if she had informed Narcissus of her plan to marry the vicar of Castleknock the archbishop might have demurred.
A consequence is that while Grace left a note for her Uncle Narcissus in a book in his home before she eloped, telling him of her proposed course of action, the learned man did not find that note in time, and never did.
Or so it would appear from his subsequent ghostly peregrinations through his huge collection of books in Marsh’s Library; to this day.
Extracted from Folk Tales of Dublin

The Dollacher walks again

Storymap, the online collection of Dublin stories told in situ has assembled Dubline a ramble of stories along selected routes.
My telling of The Dollacher story is included in the Christchurch section.