Thomas Moore, The Bard of Erin (1779-1852)

On February 25th in 1852 “The Bard of Erin” Thomas Moore died. He is greatly under-appreciated for his songs, poetry, biographical works and contribution to the history of Ireland. His birthplace at 12 Aungier St would be known to many as J.J. Smyths the bar and jazz venue. It was redeveloped some years ago although it still notes at the front that it was the place of his birth.

moore tavern

He attended the famous Samuel Whyte school on Grafton Street and although Catholic, was allowed to attend Trinity College subsequent to the catholic relief act in 1793, and in college became good friends with Robert Emmet. After studying at Trinity he went on to London and later took up a post he was offered in Bermuda. During his time there the people considered him their laureate, as his talent began to show. In the early years of the 19th century with support he set about collating and publishing the Irish Melodies, which would become his most popular works, released in several volumes over numerous years. When you consider the equivalent in Scotland of Moore would be Robert Burns, the relative praise he gets in Ireland is poles apart.

Works such as the poem “The meeting of the waters”(Avoca, Wicklow) are well knownand “The Last Rose of Summer” has been and is still covered by many artists. His statue in Dublin, although in a busy area on Westmoreland St. is not in an ideal place and in front of what used to be public toilets. Luas works mean a temporary removal of the statue anyway it was somewhat obscured previously. Which wasn’t the case in earlier pics of the spot:

thomas moore statue 1910

Some of Moore’s relatives are buried in St. Kevin’s graveyard in Camden Row, Dublin, although he himself settled and passed away in Wiltshire, south west England. When birthdays of past Irish greats come around or anniversaries they are usually prominent in online media but hopefully in the future there may be a revival of interest in Thomas Moore and his legacy.

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Footage: Mary and Annie MacSwiney hunger strike Mountjoy prison 1922

Footage of the sisters Mary and Anne MacSwiney, on hunger strike in Mountjoy Prison. Mary was one of the founders of Cumann na mBan, and she and her sister Annie set up a school in Cork based on the same teaching principles as the likes of St. Enda’s in Dublin. In the year following her brother Terence’s death, she toured America in support of the Irish cause. Mary went on hunger strike twice and this footage is from November 1922. Annie supported her outside the prison, braving the harsh elements and would not eat until she was sure that her sister had been released. Undoubtedly one of the most influential and important Irish women of the time, as part of the executive of Cumann na mBan and when elected for Sinn Fein.

 

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Remains of Nelsons pillar removed by army explosion 1966

After the initial explosion, Irish army engineers were brought in to remove what remained of Nelson’s pillar and plinth in O’Connell Street. Although taking place in the early hours of the morning many turned up to cheer and dance as the explosion took place. Windows of several premises and the G.P.O. were smashed but no individuals were injured. Nelsons head is still on display in the Gilbert library on Pearse Street.

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Housing problem solved in Clontarf! 1921

Maybe present day Dublin should take this example from Clonfarf in 1921. Houses built in a mere four weeks, and sturdy by the look of it. The difference perhaps between these and several modern Dublin builds is that I’m sure this location is not a ghost estate! Just four weeks to construct them too.

 

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Footage: Turnover tax protests 1963

Introduced as part of the Finance Act of 1963, the “turnover tax” proved a controversial piece of legislation. Throughout the course of the year there were protests, meetings and rallies in all areas of the country from those in the sales industry as it was deemed totally unworkable. The sales tax of 2.5% led to huge fears of business closures and naturally caused political controversy at the time, but strongly defended by then Taoiseach Sean Lemass. This protest by approx 1,500 women was one of several in Dublin before the implementation of the statute, with exemptions sought for certain areas of business, as can be seen by the placards on show.

 

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Footage: Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society performance 1921

Scenes from “The Rose of Persia”, performed at the Gaiety theatre in December 1921 by the long established Rathmines and Rathgar musical society. The two act light opera was the last completed work of Arthur Sullivan(of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) aided by the writing of Basil Hood. The society were performing in aid of cancer research(the city of Dublin skin and cancer hospital in Hume Street) and got favourable reviews from the press, and in 1928 produced the same opera again featuring Nan McGarron, Florence Evans, Joseph O’Neill and others. The R&R musical society was established in 1913 and celebrated its centenary last year. It’s unfortunate  clips of this period have no audio(the talkies where a while away at this stage!) but interesting archive footage.

 

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Footage: Royal Hibernian Military School Phoenix Park fire 1925

Established in the 1760’s initially for the instruction and education of the children of deceased soldiers, the Royal Hibernian Military School was lucky to survive a fire that broke out in March 1925. The military school had by then been taken over as a barracks and hosted the first Irish speaking battalion of the Free State army. The fire started in a room beneath the clock tower and thankfully there was no loss of life as the fire spread quickly. Members of the army saved as much property as possible but the fire destroyed the roof and a considerable part of the upper floor. The fire brigade were quick on the scene but the weather was so cold in that March it hampered their efforts due to icicles forming on some of the hoses. The building, designed by Francis Johnston(see my earlier post in relation to him and the Richmond Gate at Kilmainham) now houses St. Mary’s Hospital after development in that direction by the Irish Army in the 1940’s.

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