Three plaques unveiled in March and April 2024

Dublin City Council is pleased to have unveiled three plaques over the past two months.

On 20 March the Lord Mayor and the Assistant Chief Fire Officer unveiled the third in a series commemorating Dublin firefighters who were killed in the line of duty.

Fireman John Kite died on 20 March 1884 while attending a fire at 10 Trinity Street; he was the first member of the Dublin Fire Brigade to be killed in the line of duty.

On 23 March the Lord Mayor, Daithí de Róiste, and the President of the GAA, Jarlath Burns, unveiled a plaque at the Drumcondra AFC club house, Richmond Road, commemorating Clonturk Park as the venue for the All Ireland finals in 1890, 1891, 1892, and 1894.

Most recently, on 5 April 2024, the Lord Mayor unveiled a plaque to mark the site of Devlin’s Pub, one of the main locations for meetings of GHQ Headquarters of Intelligence during the War of Independence.

The next plaque to be unveiled, on 21 May, is for James Plunkett, author of Strumpet City.

Dublin writer Maeve Brennan to be honoured by Dublin City Council

On 6 January 2024 at 11 a.m., Dublin City Council will unveil a commemorative plaque for the writer Maeve Brennan, at her childhood home in Ranelagh.

Speaking at the ceremony, and alongside the Lord Mayor, will be writer Sinéad Gleeson, who is a great champion of Maeve Brennan’s work.

Born in Dublin on 6 January 1917, the writer and New Yorker columnist lived with her family at 48 Cherryfield Avenue, Ranelagh, until 1934, and many of her short stories are set in the house.

The unveiling takes place on Maeve Brennan’s birthday, happily coinciding with Nollaig na mBan.

Plaque marking the original RHA Gallery unveiled

The building which originally housed the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts (RHA) has been memorialised by a Dublin City Council commemorative plaque.

Photograph of Councillor Vincent Jackson and Dr Abigail O'Brien at the unveiling of a plaque marking the original RHA Gallery at 35 Abbey Street, Dublin.
Councillor Vincent Jackson and Dr Abigail O’Brien at the unveiling of a plaque marking the original RHA Gallery at 35 Abbey Street, Dublin. Fennell Photography 2023

The Royal Hibernian Academy was founded in August 1823 and from 1825 to 1916 had its home at 35 Abbey Street.

35 Abbey Street was designed by the architect Francis Johnson, the second President of the Royal Hibernian Academy. As architect to the Board of Works from 1805, Francis Johnson worked on several of Dublin’s major public buildings, including the Chapel Royal and Record Tower in Dublin Castle, the vice-regal lodge (now Arás an Uachtárain) in the Phoenix Park, and the GPO and Nelson’s Pillar on O’Connell Street.

Johnson was a great support of the Academy and designed and paid for the gallery building himself; it cost around £15,000. He laid the first stone in a ceremony on 29 April 1824, and the first annual exhibition opened in the gallery on 23 April 1826.

Built in the neo-Classical style as a four-bay, three-storey building, the building was destroyed in 1916 but the front façade was retained and largely rebuilt around 1920. For many years it was the premises of CIE Travel.

Speaking at the unveiling of the commemorative plaque, Dr. Abigail O’Brien President of the RHA said “All of us at the RHA are delighted with the renewed focus on our origins and in celebrating this building which was such an integral part of our foundation. We appreciate the significance of this recognition by DCC and welcome this plaque as a monument to our beginnings and a reminder of why we do what we do; with passion and care for the Arts and all Artists.

Representing The Lord Mayor of Dublin at the unveiling, Cllr Vincent Jackson said, “This plaque is a small recognition of the two centuries of care and protection of the Arts that the RHA has gifted the people of Ireland with. Without their steadfast stewardship, tutelage and attention to detail, the creative landscape of Ireland would be unrecognisable today. For a land of writers, poets and artists, we owe a great debt to the RHA for the endless compassion and support they have given our creatives for the past one hundred years.”

James Connolly plaque to be unveiled by Dublin City Council

James Connolly, socialist and signatory of the 1916 Proclamation, is to be commemorated by a Dublin City Council plaque.

Born in Edinburgh in 1868, to Irish parents, Connolly became a key figure in the Irish trade union movement and socialist politics, particularly after his return to Dublin from the United States in 1910.

From December 1910 to May 1911, Connolly and his family lived at 70 South Lotts Road, where the plaque will be unveiled at 11.30 a.m. on 31 July 2023. (The house is one of two surviving in which Connolly lived in the city.)

Connolly then moved to Belfast as organiser for the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), where he saw at first hand the sectarianism that blighted Belfast and the North East generally.

In 1912, along with William O’Brien and Jim Larkin, and others on the Dublin Trades Council, Connolly was instrumental in getting the Irish Trades Union Congress to establish a political wing, giving birth to the Labour Party.

Connolly returned to Dublin from Belfast during the 1913 Lockout and following Larkin’s departure for America in 1914 he became acting General Secretary of the ITGWU and the leader of the Irish Citizens’ Army.

Following the Rising and aganist the background of the First World War, Connolly became increasingly militant and in 1915 threw his lot in with the IRB, who were planning an insurrection.

Joining forces with the Volunteers, Connolly was one of the signatories of the Proclamation and fought alongside Pearse in the GPO.

Following the surrender, and badly wounded and unable to stand, he was executed in Kilmaimham by firing squad, while sitting on a wooden box.

The plaque was proposed by historian Dr Conor McCabe, Queen’s University Belfast and approved by Dublin City Council’s Commemorations & Naming Committee.

Cyclist Shay Elliott commemorated

Photograph of Paul Kimmage, Councillor Carolynn Moore, and Councillor Paddy McCartan, with the fron of a house and a commemorative plaque in the background.

Dublin City Council has unveiled a commemorative plaque celebrating cyclist Shay Elliott, the first Irishman to win a stage in the Tour de France and to wear the Yellow Jersey.

The event took place at 96 Old County Road, Crumlin, on 23 June, with Councillor Carolynn Moore unveiling the plaque on behalf of the Lord Mayor Sports journalist and former professional cyclist Paul Kimmage was the guest speaker.

Dubliner Shay Elliott made history on June 1963 when he won the third stage of the Tour de France, taking the overall lead and wearing the ‘maillot jaune’ for three days. 

The stage-win also made Elliott the first English-speaking rider to win a stage in each of the Grand Tours, adding to his victories in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. 

It would be another 15 years before an Irishman won a stage and a further five years before an Irishman wore the Yellow Jersey in Le Tour, when Sean Kelly took it with a victory in stage 9 in 1983.

Shay Elliott was born at 96 Old County Road, Crumlin, Dublin, in 1934, and having served an apprenticeship as a panel beater, became a professional cyclist in 1956, following success in the amateur ranks. In 1955 he became the first foreigner to be ranked top amateur in France.

In 1958 he narrowly failed to win the Paris–Roubaix and Paris–Brussels classics due to mechanical faults and lost a sprint stage in the Tour de France by being blocked. Professional cycling could be ruthless.

Elliott rode as a super-domestique for nearly ten years with the five-time Tour de France winner, Jacques Anquetil, as his team leader. The team was widely regarded as the Galaciticos of professional cycling such was the quality of its riders. 

In 1962 Shay competed in Salò, Italy for the World Road Race Championship. He won the silver medal, losing out to Jean ‘Stab’ Stablinksi, a teammate, best friend and godfather to his son, Pascal. Shay later claimed that Stablinski paid other riders to chase him down when he attacked on the penultimate lap thus denying him victory. The consensus among his peers was that he was cheated out of gold.

Deprived of certain victory in the 1965 Paris–Luxembourg stage race by one more betrayal by Stablinski, a devastated Shay left the team and joined Jacques Anquetil’s greatest rival, Raymond Poulidor at Mercier. Sadly the move proved to be a disaster. Looking to the future Shay invested his life savings in opening a hotel in Brittany. It haemorrhaged money and his marriage failed as a result. Faced with bankruptcy he returned to Ireland leaving his wife and son behind. 

In the years that followed Shay rebuilt his life, setting up a garage on South Princes Street, Dublin, where he also lived. He regularly tuned into French radio to listen to the cycling coverage. He even dreamed of one more victory on the bike. With the near miss at Salò never far from his mind, he looked to competing in the World Road Race Championship in Leicester in 1970. Sadly, he never got to the starting line. Less than a year later and within weeks of the death of his beloved father Jim, Shay was found dead in his home. He had suffered a shotgun wound to the chest.

60 years on from taking the Yellow Jersey as race leader of the Tour de France, Shat Elliott should be remembered as a pioneer, a man who set many firsts in his cycling career, and achieved 50 race victories. His legacy is one that inspired future Irish legends to conquer the roads and the mountains of Europe. 

Dublin City Council to unveil commemorative plaque celebrating the history of women’s tennis in Dublin.

Scanned image of item in the Dublin Daily Express of June 11 1879

The next Dublin City Council plaques will commemorate the world’s first national tennis championship for women, which took place in Dublin on 9 and 10 June 1879.

The plaques will be unveiled by the Lord Mayor at 12 p.m. on 10 June 2023.

The Dublin tournament was held on the courts of Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club, on Upper Pembroke Street, and preceded the Wimbledon Ladies’ Championship by five years. It wasn’t until 1884 that the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles were first held.

The first Irish tennis clubs were founded in 1877 with tennis quickly becoming a popular sport. Writing about the 1879 Irish championships, the Freeman’s Journal called tennis the “monarch of amusements”, noting that “no properly brought up young lady or gentleman … would dare to express herself or himself unacquainted with … the fashionable game”.

The championships were organised by the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club, which was founded in 1877, and another plaque, commemorating the founding of the club, will also be unveiled at the Club’s first home, 24-25 Upper Pembroke Street.

Although the men’s competition took place in public on the courts in nearby Fitzwilliam Square, the ladies’ matches were held in the grounds of the club, to keep them “as private as possible”, and entry was restricted to club members.

In the final Miss May Langrishe, from County Kilkenny, defeated Miss D. Meldon in three sets, becoming the first Irish national ladies’ champion.

Irish language writer Seosamh Mac Grianna

Photograph of the plaque unveiling

Dublin City Council unveils a commemorative plaque to the Irish language writer Seosamh Mac Grianna, at the site of his home in St Anne’s Park, Raheny.

Born in Donegal in 1901, Mac Grianna came from a storytelling background, and his brother Séamus Ó Grianna was also an Irish-language author.

Trained as a national school teacher in St Pat’s, Drumcondra, Mac Grianna was a staunch republican, took the anti-treaty side in the Civil War, and was interned in Newbridge camp.

In 1924 he began writing as Gaeilge and during 1924–5 he contributed many of his early short stories, including ‘Teampall Chonchubhair’, ‘Teacht Cheallaigh Mhóir’, and ‘Leas ná Aimhleas’, to the newly founded An tUltach. These later formed the basis of his first book, ‘Dochartach Dhuibhlionna & sgéalta eile’ (1925).

He also contributed numerous articles to a range of publications, including the Irish Press. Although his active literary career only lasted around eleven years, he made a significant contribution to the development of literature in the Irish language, publishing ten original works, translating twelve books into Irish, and also publishing a substantial number of reviews and letters.

Four particular books stand out within his body of work: An Grádh agus an Ghruaim (1929), An Druma Mór (1935/1969), Mo Bhealach Féin (1940), and Dá mBíodh Ruball ar an Éan (1940).

In the main, he ceased writing after 1935; in his own words “Thráigh an tobar” – the well dried up. Around this time, be began to suffer from psychiatric illness, which afflicted him for the rest of his life.

Mac Grianna lived in Dublin through the 40s and 50s, moving from place to place. Sometime around the early 1950s, he settled in a house on the coast road, in St. Anne’s Park, near Watermill Road. The commemorative plaque is erected on one of the remaining gate pillars of the house.

Speaking at the unveiling Cllr Donna Cooney, representing the Lord Mayor, congratulated the local Ciorcal Comhrá Raheny group who proposed that the plaque be erected, saying “comhgairdeas to the members of the Irish language group in Raheny who have ensured that someone who lived in our area and who contributed to the culture and artistic life of our City will not be forgotten.”

Also speaking at the unveiling was Proinsias Mac an Bheatha, whose father knew Mac Grianna: “Nuair a bhog Seosamh Mac Grianna isteach sa sean tí, laistigh de Pháirc Naomh Áine, ní raibh sé ag tabhairt aire dó féin.  Bhí m’athair, Proinsias Mac An Bheatha, ag cónaí congarach leis i gCluain Tarbh.  Mar sin thosaigh sé ag tabhairt roinnt airgid agus bia mar chabhrach dó ó am go ham.  Bhí an-mheas ag m’athair air mar scríbhneoir agus dúirt sé liom go minic gur saghas James Joyce é don teanga Gaeilge.” (When Seosamh Mac Grianna moved into the old house within St Anne’s Park he was not looking after himself.  My father, Proinsias Mac An Bheatha, was living nearby in Clontarf. He therefore he started to bring money and food to help him from time to time.  My father often told me that he considered Seosamh Mac Grianna as the James Joyce of the Irish language.”)

An tOllamh Fionntán de Brún, who has written about Ma Grianna said “Bhí Seosamh Mac Grianna (1900-90) ar dhuine de mhórscríbhneoirí Gaeilge an 20ú haois, scríbhneoir a shaothraigh stíl dhearscnaitheach phróis nár sáraíodh go fóill. Baineann na blianta a chaith sé i gCluain Tairbh leis an taobh tragóideach dá shaol. Is mór is mithid an t-aitheantas seo a thabharfar anois dó sa phlaic chomórtha” (Seosamh Mac Grianna (1900-90) was one of the most important Irish writers of the 20th century whose indelible prose style has never been surpassed. The tragic aspect of his life is inextricably linked to the years spent in Clontarf. The commemorative plaque is a timely and most welcome recognition of those years.”)

Dublin firemen commemorated with City Council plaque

Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy with the Chief Fire Officer and colleagues at the unveiling of a Dublin City Council commemorative plaque.

Two firemen who died attending a fire on the night of 20 May 1891 have been memorialised by a Dublin City Council Commemorative Plaque at 30 Westmoreland Street, now CCT College.

The plaque was unveiled by Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy and Chief Fire Officer Dennis Keeley on 19 May 2023.

In 1891, Graham’s chemist occupied the first two floors of the building, with Lafayette’s photographers on the next two, and living accommodation on the fifth floor. At approximately 2 a.m.  on 20 May 1891 a fire was discovered on the third floor. There were four occupants on the fifth floor, two of whom managed to escape to the street and raise the alarm but two women were trapped on the fifth floor.

During the fire service response Inspector Christopher Doherty, 25 years’ service in Dublin Fire Brigade, holder of three chevrons for bravery for saving life on previous occasions, and Fireman Peter Bourke, three months’ service in Dublin Fire Brigade, paid the ultimate price in their role as firefighters and lost their lives here while saving the life of a civilian.

Dublin City Council unveils commemorative plaque to Thomas Bryan, one of the Forgotten 10 of the War of Independence

Photograph taken at 14 Henrietta Street, showing Fergus Whelan, Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy, Jimmy Phillips (nephew of Thomas Bryan), and Councillor Micheál Mac Donncha.

Thomas Bryan, one of the ‘Forgotten 10’ volunteers, has been memorialised by a Dublin City Council Commemorative Plaque at 14 Henrietta Street.

Bryan, a 24 year old electrician, was amongst a group of young volunteers who on 21 January 1921, set out to ambush Black and Tans as they travelled into Dublin city from Gormanstown. Another volunteer was 19 year old Frank Flood, after whom the bridge at Drumcondra was named in 2021.

Having been spotted in Drumcondra the party tried to escape via Gracefield Road and Clonturk Park, but surrendered after one the men was shot and killed.

Tried and found guilty of High Treason, four of the men, Patrick Doyle (29); Francis Xavier Flood (19); Thomas Bryan (24), and Bernard ‘Bertie’ Ryan (21) were hanged at Mountjoy Prison.

Thomas Bryan was only recently married, and the pension application, submitted by his grieving family, reveals the poverty in which his parents continued to live at 14 Henrietta Street in the aftermath of his death

Speaking at the unveiling, Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy said, ‘In unveiling this plaque today we remember the sacrifices made by those who fought in the War of Independence. Thomas Bryan and his comrades, Patrick Doyle, Frank Flood, and Bertie Ryan, were young men who paid the ultimate price for their actions. They left behind grieving families who, certainly in the case of Thomas Bryan, had also to face the very real poverty that afflicted many Dubliners of the time.’

Historian Fergus Whelan spoke about Thomas Bryan and the events that led to his execution, saying: ‘Thomas Bryan is one of the so called “Forgotten Ten” who were executed in Mountjoy Gaol between late 1920 and early 1921. The “Forgotten ten” is something of a misnomer, for two reasons. First, the name of Kevin Barry who was executed in November 1920 is well known to us. Second, Thomas and his comrades were never forgotten by the loved ones they left behind.  Those loved ones did not just suffer the terrible loss of a family member to the hangman’s noose. They were denied the chance to bury their dead and a grave to grieve over for eighty years.’

The decision to erect the plaque was made by the Dublin City Council Commemorations & Naming Committee, whose chair, Councillor Micheál Mac Donncha, said, “The Commemorative Plaques Scheme allows the City to formally commemorate people who have made a significant contribution to the life of Dublin. We welcome suggestions from the public for people and events to be commemorated, and full details are on the Council website.”