I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Dublin stories

What Big Hands You’ve Got

The poet Patrick Kavanagh was a familiar figure in mid-twentieth century Dublin. Along Baggot Street he stepped out like a real countryman come up to town, long strides and hands swinging. Many young women were a bit afraid of him, but he could well have been putting it on a bit.

Seeking a Safe Haven

Ireland’s Jewish population, which increased dramatically around the turn of the twentieth century, differed from earlier influxes in that it was not focused on occupying land but was predominantly urban. Newspapers here kept the public well-informed about the horrors the Jews were fleeing.

Noises Off: Dublin’s Contested Monuments

Peter Sirr takes a walk about Dublin, looking up, sometimes looking down, at the ways in which the city has tried to commemorate its notable citizens, historical and imaginary. Statues, he finds, may be moving, may be moved elsewhere, and in extreme cases be removed by explosives.

A pase around old Dublin

John Speed’s 1610 Dublin map is one of the best-known images of the city, a picture of an intimate medieval town which was soon to embark on its modern expansion. Speed himself, writes Peter Sirr, may never have visited Dublin, rather having, as he cheerfully admitted, ‘put my sickle into other mens corne’.

In the Double City

Dublin, says Peter Sirr, has never bothered much with Thomas Street; it seems to exist in a state of permanent neglect, many of its fine old buildings on the brink of collapse. Yet it survives, tough, resolute, working class, with a bohemian sprinkle of cafés near the art college like a daub of icing on a crumbling cake.

Sparks from the Comet

Dubliners on Culture Night this year heard a talk about one of the most eminent Dublin newspapers of the early nineteenth century, delivered in the very heart of what was then the city's newspaper and publishing district.

In and Out of Fashion

James Clarence Mangan’s reputation saw a significant revival in the early twentieth century, and another around the bicentenary of his birth in 2003. Today he is seen as prefiguring some of the great poets of the later nineteenth century and is frequently read as something of a proto-modernist voice.

A Personal Vendetta

Thomas Dickson, one of three men murdered in 1916 by the possibly deranged Captain John Bowen-Colthurst, has been accused of editing an anti-Semitic Irish newspaper. The paper, ‘The Eye-Opener’, may have been scurrilous, but it is doubtful if it was anti-Semitic.


Many of the prescriptions and proscriptions of the Catholic church - in the days when it was able to lay down the law - appeared to make some kind of sense, while others were more mysterious. None more so than the disapproval of long engagements.

I do I do I do

A number of cases of bigamy which came before the courts in Edwardian Dublin demonstrate that the crime could be entered upon for a variety of motives, not all ignoble.

I’ll Mind Your Money

The wives of many of the Dublin poor received an unexpected bonus during the First World War while their husbands were away at the front in the form of 'separation money'. For many this was the first regular payment they'd ever had. Unfortunately not all of them spent it wisely.

Suffragette Unionists

It is quite well known that the supposed solidarity felt between the working classes of different nations melted away fairly quickly on the declaration of the First World War. So too, apparently, did English suffragettes' sympathy for the aspiration to Irish independence.