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18 Ormond Quay

Heading up the Quays many times I often wondered what was this run down, grubby building along Ormond Quay. 18 Ormond Quay has just been taken over by the Dublin Civic Trust and have huge plans to bring the building (dating from c.1740) back to it's former glory. The building has had an extensive history of uses over the centuries from a Gun Shop, hotel, a pub, Fishing tackle shop to an art exhibition space used by Mannix Flynn. Not in use since about 2006 the building has started to peel from the weather and when I rocked up to take pictures of the exterior, (The very knoweldgeable forman wouldn't let me inside due the state of the interior). He was enthused at this undertaking which involves restoring the building from top to bottom and putting back the original entrance in the middle arch at the front. The windows will be repaired as where possible too back the original. Recently the fantastic RTE journalist Philip Bromwell got acess (it's not what you know eh??!!) and did this fantastic report:


The pics here were taken just before the extensive works took place


These pictures show the task ahead for the Dublin Civic Trust. The scaffolding was erected today and works will continue for the next 3 years or so.

The pictures above show the uses and depictions of the building through the years. Most Dubliners will remember the Watts Fishing Shop that was located here until the 90s.


Below is an artists impression of the finished product after all works are complete. This is the most challenging and transformative building project the Trust has embarked on since its foundation in 1992. The future looks bright for this building with these plans in place.

This will include:

- Extensive structural engineering to consolidate the bowing side wall to Arran Street East

- Removal of pebbledash to facades, and repair and repointing of brickwork.

- Structural stabilisation of historic shopfront, repair of granite masonry, and reinstatement of original configuration with central entrance door and Georgian-type windows with cast-iron grilles.

- Upper floor windows returned to their original Georgian grid configuration using precise historic dimensions.

These works will be followed by repair of interiors, including plasterwork, joinery, floors and ceilings as well as a mechanical and electrical services.

A subsequent phase in 2018-19 will address the more complex 18th-century building to the rear on Arran Street East. This will involve careful investigative opening-up works to help determine the structural condition of the building and its original layout and purpose.

From me Mike O' Brien I wish everyone at the Dublin Civic Trust all the very best with this massive job. And make sure you keep the old Dublin street sign too!!  They are looking for donations to get this project completed so should you require any further information visit


We will keep you updated on progress on the project too as it develops.

Mike O' BrienComment
Has video killed the radio star?

Radio is a part of my life. It is a part of a lot of Irish peoples' lives. I am a presenter with multi city station Classic Hits 4fm and I have done stints on many pirates down the years. Sitting in a padded room with a box of CDs and talking in to a microphone may not be everyones' cup of tea but ask anyone in radio and they can't explain the buzz, the thrill of being on air. The interaction from callers, giving away tickets, making peoples day is what being on air is all about. Radio is a one on one medium to which we can engage with unlike TV. Ireland has one of the highest radio listenerships per head of any population in world. Simply; We like radio in this country. It's diverse and we get a lot of news from radio. Be it our local stations our national stations or even the excellent quality from community stations like NEAR FM there is a vast amount to choose from. We also like our radio personalities too. It makes the news if a presenter leaves his gig or defects to a rival station. Recently RTE Presenter Joe Duffy purchased a picture from the site, we got talking about radio, RTE and about Dublin.

I started by asking Joe what has been the highlights of his years presenting 'Liveline'.


'Every week brings something quite new on Liveline, but one of the more memorable moments was when we recieved a call from America, a woman who had been in a Mother and Baby home, she had made a life for herself in the US and she had heard that one of the women she had grown up with in the home had died and had been buried in a communal grave with no individual headstone. Her name was Margeret Bullen who was the longest resident in that home. We then recieved a call from a woman called Samantha Long who said Margeret Bullen was my mother and I didn't know she was dead. The had met their mother, they knew the circumstances but they had been adopted or fostered out which led a few weeks of talking about these homes and since then Samantha has been a campaigner for people who were in the Magdalen Laundries and Mother and Baby homes. More recent stories on Liveline were of Michael and Kathleen Deveraux who were seperated on going in to a nursing home; both had applied for the Fair Deal option, the home said yes to Michael and no to Kathleen. The day after Michael went in to the home Kathleen had a fall and ended up in hospital. They have been 63 years together and never seperated and within 10 minutes of making the call to Liveline the powers that be had Kathleen in the same nursing home the following afternoon. It was a memorable Liveline topic because of the voice of Michael Deveraux and the love he portrayed on air between the two of them was palpable.



What makes Liveline capture peoples ears?


'Our crew are very aware that we (Radio 1) has been news heavy for most of the morning and the crew, a small brilliant crew lead by Aongus Mcanally look for something different for the programme. We feel our job is to give a platform, a voice to people who don't have a voice, we try and get a good mix, sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don't'.


What career advice would you give someone starting out in radio?


'The first thing I would say is if you want to be a journalist, be a journalist, if you want to be a radio presenter, be a radio presenter. People often ask me 'How I get in to to RTE?' I don't know is the answer, I say to people, go to your local station, go to your local newspaper. Start learning the craft as it were. Interview people, record it on your iPhone, send it in to stations. Start at the bottom.


The negativity that sometimes is directed at Liveline, How do you deal with it?


'Aren't we being talked about?? My mother said to me once 'you are never as good as they say you are and you are never as bad as they say you are'. When I'm in bad form I can take the bad stuff badly. When I'm in good form I say to myself at least people are engaged in the show and that is what it's about. The great thing about Ireland is that radio still does engage people in a national conversation. We still have a national discourse if we are looking for a conman last seen in Dublin and then appears in Donegal there is a very very good chance that Liveline has made people aware of him. Thats the positivity from Liveline.



Where do you see RTE in 10/15 years?


'I probably don't see us in Donnybrook for a start. The radio centre is way way too big and outdated and I don't think anyone knows about the 2 floors of cables and wires under the centre and nobody knows what those wires do and are terrified to cut them! I think what we will have to do is build a smaller centre somewhere near the M50, ideally I would like it in Dublin City and be part of the regeneration of the city. And for the handover we would shut down the old radio centre and do a countdown with Larry Gogan doing the handover! Everything in TV and indeed radio is changing each year, we need new hi tec studios and a new smaller site has to be a logical way to go.  What we have to also keep is the trust from the public too. When something big happens people will turn to RTE. We have to keep that trust and make sure that what we do is truthful and representative. We don't have hidden agendas, for example at the minute the government and water charge protesters think we are biased, we can't win! We have a contract and a vested interest to the the people of Ireland to keep that trust.



Where do you see radio as a medium in 10/15 years?


'I think what radio has for it is that it is a one on one experience, it's communal, we listen to it on your own, it's interactive especially with social media, twitter etc. We need more really really good content, The current Director General in RTE Dee Forbes is strong on good content, some of the BBC content is stunning. especially on BBC World Service. We have a good relationship with the BBC built up over the years and that stands to us. As regards DAB, it's a dead medium, I don't know anyone with a DAB radio and RTE were forced in to this by the government and it won't last. Internet radio is where it's at, on your phone, tablet etc......


What is your favourite Dublin landmark?

'I was reared in Ballyfermot, There is no reason to go to Ballyer as a tourist, it's a very self enclosed area. I was thinking to myself where did we as kids go to that was near Ballyfermot. It was The National War Memorial in Islandbridge. People say there is an incredible gardens there and there is only one entrance to the gardens, the main entrance, and that is on a motorway. You cannot stop your car near the entrance, you have to park your car in Ballyer and walk the mile back to it. They were designed by Edwin Lutyens, who designed New Delhi! He had originally envisaged a bridge over the Phoenix Park to the Memorial Gardens over the Liffey, like a vista. Imagine how beautiful that would look now. The Memorial Gardens is my obsession at the moment. A wonderful Dublin Landmark'.


Your new book 'Children of The Troubles'  tell me about it, as a follow up to 'Children of The Rising'


'I'm researching it at the moment, it is proving difficult as it is so recent, so raw to all involved, all I'm interested in at the moment is putting the information out there, for instance from 1969 to 1998 148 children were killed. Same criteria, all under 16 years of age in The Troubles in Northern Ireland. What struck me was the closeness of the people who died, you would discover that a child had died, 5 years later a cousin of that child had died etc... I have their names and stories andwill contact families and see how they are about talking about this issue because it is so raw, so recent. It's a big big project but one I'm looking forward to. I'm putting together a story of the worst years and the worst bombings over the course of The Troubles and the mental health of the citizens Northern Ireland is something that shouldn't be forgotten.



Joe Many thanks for your time and I will buy the coffee!!

here is the full interview with Joe Duffy on Soundcloud.







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Mike O' BrienComment
The Snapper Wha


What is it about Roddy Doyles' movie  'The Snapper'? What is it about the movie that when it is on TV our social media streams are full of quotes each trying to be as funny as the previous. Last night before the movie was shown we had a twitter discussion (@dubcityphotos) about your memories of Dublin in and around '92/'93. Most of our childhood memories were centred around Italia 90 and Packie Bonner. Others commented on the smoking in pubs in the movie that nowadays seems beyond crazy. It was the norm then. The pubs were the beating heart of Dublin where wit and stories were traded. Just after The Snapper was released Ireland was heading for changes that we as a small, fairly new nation couldn't have imagined. The seeds of the so called 'boom' were planted and we were all on the money train. Or so it seemed. Looking back at certain scenes in the movie, there aren't too many mobile phones, and the kids on the estate all seem to be playing football on the road and when those street lights came on it was time to go home. Life seemed simpler, and Dessie Curley deals with the pregnancy of his un married daughter in the way that any father of the New Ireland of the 90s would; with mostly compassion, care and above all love and welcomes The Snapper into the home. Dessie has the wit of a true Dub. In the scene where he is rushing in to the Rotunda with Sharon in the passenger seat he nearly knocks down a pedestrian and shouts 'get out of the way ya dozy bo**ix'. No other nation on the planet would find that funny. But we do. In the scene following The Snappers birth Dessie makes a call on a landline in the reception of the hospital to confirm the birth and that all is ok with Sharon. And then there is a queue of mothers waiting to use the landline. Even something as simple as that evokes memories of a different Ireland. Roddy Doyle picked a perfect snapshot of us Dubs in the movie and when Dessie is in the now closed Conways pub across from The Rotunda and he looks at a pint like its a 25 year old model, mutters to the punters in the bar '7 pounds 12 ounces'. To which, in classic Dublin wit retorts 'is that a turkey or a baby'? Dublin wit captured perfectly in 2 lines. 


'Yeah yeah... 7 pounds.... 12 ounces....'  


Of the Barrytown  trilogy The Snapper comes in the middle. The prequel 'The Commitments' showed Dublin as an even more rundown city where drugs and unemployment were huge social issues. The sequel to The Snapper was The Van. In which Dessie has been made redundant and picks up an old chipper van during the 1990 World Cup when the Irelands' spirit was lifted forever out of the doldrums thanks to David O' Leary and that penalty and as a 'nation held its breath'. The 3 movies are an absolute joy to watch, not only for the story and humour but for the social snapshot of us 25 odd years ago. If I was you I would read the books too. You will skip through them, laugh to yourself and will enjoy them immensely. 

By the way, can anyone remember the name of the dog?!!  




Mike O' BrienComment
Irelands' Arlington

When Glasnevin Cemetery comes up in news bulletins or online articles most of us say something along the lines of 'I must do that tour'. I implore you to stop reading this and head to their site right now and book yourself in https://www.glasnevinmuseum.ie/index.cfm?gclid=CJqNg_73g9MCFei97QoddCcHBw. What comes across on the tours is that the tour guides are really passionate about what they do. Having spent countless hours rambling around the gaveyard taking a few pictures for the site I find it a place of huge wonder and history. The places oozes grace and respect and even if you are not of a religious disposition you will be amazed at the mason work that is carried with some of the grave stones. From huge crypts to the imense sarcophagi that are dotted around the cemetery that are all still standng the test of time. Glasnevin Cemetery was consecrated and opened to the public for the first time on 21 February 1832. The first burial, that of eleven-year-old Michael Carey from Francis Street in Dublin, took place on the following day in a section of the cemetery known as Curran's Square. The original gate was at Prospect Square in Glasnevin just next to the famous Gravediggers Pub seen here on the left of the gate.

Prospect Gate (The original entrance)

The turn of phrase 'Going for a jar' is a very uniquely Dublin phrase in that when the gravediggers used to dig the graves they would knock on the walls of the pub. The Publican at the time would give the 'Diggers' a jar instead of a glass so as they wouldn't break the glass. Hence 'going for a jar' became a Dublin phrase now used the world over. The history of the cemetery is absolutely massive and I could not possibly do it justice on a small blog for the site. I will say however that in my experience of the place I would turn up and go where the wind takes you. Amble through the place and take the time to soak it in, read some of the epitaphs and make the O' Connell tower your point of reference. please do note that the grave yard is still a working graveyard and respect is still order of the day here.

The graveyard is undergoing a constant 'rejuvination' so to speak as the cemeterys' own masons are carefully and stone by stone reconstructing some of the very early graves here. The work is to be admired as all graves are treated with utmost respect. The DVD ' One Million Dubliners' which is based on the workings of Glasnevin is availble to buy online  https://www.glasnevinmuseum.ie/index.cfm?gclid=CNe3q-v-g9MCFYGd7QodoFQIkA I cannot reccomend this DVD enough to anyone who is interested in the history, culture and the evolution of Irelands' Arlington. When I visited a couple of weeks ago there were two school tours that I managed to bunk on to, and what struck me was the awe that the students had for the dead leaders of Ireland, From Daniel O'Connell to de Valera,from names that they knew from their books like Larkin, Cathal Brugha, to be there at their graves was worth 20 hours in a classroom with their ooohs and ahhhs. One fascinting fact about the de Valera plot is that he bought the grave with the purpose of being in the shadows of Daniel O'Connell when the sun sets. 

The circle of life...
The most visited grave in Glasnevin. Michael Collins.   

The most visited grave in Glasnevin. Michael Collins.


Feel free to leave a comment and I would love it if you shared the post!! 

Mike O' BrienComment
St Annes Park

Ask any person in St Annes any day of the week as you ramble through what people think of it and I would be very confident that 99% of people don't like St Annes; They truly love it and all it has to offer. The park has a very rich history from Benjamin Lee Guinness family ownership to Sir Arthur Edward Guinness/Lord Ardilaun then to their nephew Bishop Plunkett who decided he could no longer afford the up keep of the estate and sold it to Dublin Corporation in 1937. In the 1943 the magnifcent Mansion which once stood at the end of the avenue was gutted by fire. The building was being lined up to be the official residence of An Taoiseach until the fire destroyed the entire building. Rumours were abound of arson as the local army held armament stores in the building during'The Emergency'. These rumours proved to be unfounded of course!

Demolition Mansion 1968375.jpg

As the above pictures show the mansion was a beautiful building and I asked Senior Parks Officer Mick Harford the reason why such a building was torn down. His response was that back in the 50s and 60s us Irish still had a loathing and and dislike for 'people in big houses' and as far as heritage and architecture was concerned nothing was further from their minds when these decisions were made. Mick also informed me that he has a few ideas as to what he would like to replace 'The Mound' that we see in the park there today. Let's just say he is keeping his cards close to his chest on his plans!

The Guinness family kept horses on the estate. A lot of horses. The Red Stables is now home to a cafe and and this building also has rich architecture. Original features are still in place in the stables includingthe original winch used for hoisting hay to feed the horses, the original range to heat the stables are also still in place. Olives Cafe is also on the site serving up the best ice cream during the summer months! http://olivesroom.ie/


The park has many features dotted over the 500 acres including St Annes Well to which the park is named.

Keep up to date with all the goings on in St Annes Park at


Credit for the photos of the mansion go to Mick Harford Dublin City Council Senior Parks Officer whom I also owe a gratitude of thanks for the tour of the not often seen areas of the park.  All other photography by Mike O'Brien and prints are available on


Mike O' Brien Comment