A Hand on My Shoulder

Have you ever browsed in a book store, found a book that was interesting, purchased the book and when reading it discovered that it was more than interesting; that it was in fact a real treasure? I recently had such an experience.

I am a Dublin man. I was born on Dublin’s north side, lived at 57 Arbour Hill, Stoneybatter until 1960 when my family moved to 18 Manor Street. The move was prompted by the death of my Grandmother, Helen Brady and my mothers desire to look after my Grandfather. I lived at 18 Manor Street until I got married in early 1976. So, Stoneybatter and Manor Street are deep within my bones, as was the case for my father’s family, the Lennon’s, who had lived in Arbour Place, Stoneybatter during his childhood before later moving to Annamoe Park in nearby Cabra.

Stoneybatter is perhaps the most historic place in Dublin City with recorded history going back 1700 years. The alignment for the original Royal Road to Tara (Place of the High Kings of Ireland) ran from the Liffey, where it crossed at the Ford of the Hurdles, and continued upward through Stoneybatter, Prussia Street and along the then Cabragh Lane. In my time there, Stoneybatter was a unique Urban Village with a special character and indeed special characters all of its own.

Last Monday evening, I was in Read’s Book Store on Nassau Street. Whenever I am there I seem to be drawn to the Irish History shelves. I went straight to those shelves and started to scan the books, picked up one or two works fanned through them and moved on. I caught a glimpse of the word: Stoneybatter on the spine of a book. I pulled it out and noted its title: Stoneybatter Dublin’s Inner Urban Village authored by one: Kevin.C.Kearns. A quick fan through the pages was enough. Familiar faces, store fronts, houses, cottages; I was hooked. I purchased the book and could not wait to read it.

From the moment I got reading, I was enraptured. I was back in the Stoneybatter I had known and loved as a youth. The people, the alleyways, the sweet shops, old play areas were all brought back to life. As was the route, which as children we had rambled, through the Artisan Dwelling houses known as the buildings and up to the North Circular Road which always led us to the grand prize, our beloved garden – Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

For me, the books greatest treasure was to be revealed on page 101, when a lovely old lady named: Maisie Daly was recounting her fond memories of Stoneybatter and mentioned my paternal Grandfather. I am sure the Kevin Kearns will not mind my quoting the following short passage from what Maisie had to say:

***

“Stoneybatter was lovely; like a little country village. At the top of Chicken Lane were beautiful cottages and chickens and pigs and an old-fashioned dairy. I thought I was in the country. Mr.O’Tool used to deliver the milk with a lovely horse and churns all shining and gleaming. Mr.Lennon, a famous old Dublin cabbie, had a horse drawn cab and we used to love to have a nice little jaunt (scutting) as far as we could till he’d crack the whip and we’d get off and run away. “

***

My late father told us many a story about his childhood spent in Stoneybatter. A true Dublin man, he was born in the Rotunda Hospital, lived early life in Stoneybatter, moved to Cabra with his family in the 1920’s, back to Arbour Hill when he married in 1947 and up the road to Manor Street in 1960.

My father told how he had witnessed a British Army Tank trundle up from the keys to Stoneybatter and tried to turn right into Brunswick Street. The Tank tore a huge chunk out of the corner of the premises on the left hand side. My recollection of buildings in that location was O’Sullivan’s Shoe Store and in more recent times an EBS Building Society Office (sadly both now gone).

He told us of the local headquarters of the Black and Tans which was located at the top of Manor Street in the building which today stands above the Tiny Toes Crèche at No: 42. He told us also of an incident involving the Tans which took place at a house adjacent to where Kane’s Flower Shop used to be. Rapping on a hall door in the dead of night brought an innocent man to see what was going on. He opened the door to Black and Tans and was shot dead; mistaken for someone else. It was one of those unimaginable terrifying moments which ordinary Dublin folk had to endure, night after night and especially during regular curfews.

If you believe in angels or spirit guides then, on that day in Read’s Book Store, maybe there was a guiding hand on my shoulder destined to lead me to Kevin Kearns book about Stoneybatter, first published in 1989. Who knows?  For my part, I would not have missed it for the world.

Are you a Stoneybatter/Manor Street person?  Do you have any local Stoneybatter/Manor Street history which you might like to share?

Did you find this post interesting/entertaining?  If so please click the Like button at the bottom of the page. Thank you.

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About dubmantalks

Writer
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21 Responses to A Hand on My Shoulder

  1. MAI says:

    THAT WAS LOVELY TO READ I REMEMBER MAM [ANN LENNON ] TALKING ABOUT THAT LADY AND THE TANK NO ONE BELIEVED ME WHEN I SAID THEY HAD A FARM NOW I’LL SHOW THEM THIS THANK YOU FRANK FOR SHARING THIS WITH ME

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  2. Such a lovely idea that there was a guiding hand in your book selection. 🙂

    Like

  3. My great great great great grandfather Peter Bernard Toomey lived at 12 Chicken Lane in Dublin. This information has been passed down generation to generation. I am trying to help my uncle Jim Toomey find out more about our family ancestry. I currently live in Europe. While my family was visiting we flew to Dublin to visit Chicken Lane in Stoneybatter. Just like my uncle, I am hoping to find out more about our ancestry.

    A guy named Des was super kind and tried to share all he knew about the family home. He currently has horses in the stall at the Chicken Lane home. Tommy O’Gara from the pub across the street attempted to help too. Most of the family immigrated to Chicago, Illinois. Ironically, today my extended family in Boston are burying Jack Toomey my grandfather’s older brother. If anyone has information regarding the Toomey (or Tormey name) please reach out to me.

    Other family include:
    -Eliza Houston who married Patrick Toomey (Name may have changed to Tormey).
    -My great great great great grandfather Peter B. Toomey who married Mary Ann Johnson (her mother was a McShain or [McShane] from Wexford).
    -My great great great grandfather Peter B. Toomey who married Jane Lee from Dublin.

    Best regards,
    Mary Maureen
    mmkarstens@sbcglobal.net.

    Like

  4. dubmantalks says:

    Hello Mary, Thank you for the nice comment. You know it is possible that my late Father’s family, the Lennon’s of Arbour Place may well have known members of the Toomey family during the time they live in the Stoneybatter area. I wish you well in your quest for family history information and if I happen across and references to the Toomey’s of Chicken Lane I will certainly let you know.

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  5. Aideen Byrne says:

    I loved your article. It reminds me that once by chance I picked up a book in the library and found a photo of my grandather as a young man. I had never seeen a photo of him before. His name was Patrick Dempsey and his father, Patrick and grandfather,James, had a grocery shop at 12 Manor Street. But that was a long time ago during the 1800’s and no 12 no longer seems to be there. I wonder if there was ever a photo taken of that part of the street.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dubmantalks says:

      Hi Aideen,

      Delighted that you enjoyed the article. I have very little doubt that my father and his family would have known your great grandfathers grocery shop. My father lived in Arbour Place during his early life. The family moved to Anamoe Park in Cabra (1930’s I think) then after marrying in 1947 back to Arbour Hill and in the early 1960’s up to Manor Street. So, for all of his 84 years he lived in that most historic part of Dublin.

      You can find me on Twitter as: @DisparatePost

      Cheers.

      Like

  6. I’d love to read that book. I looked it up on Amazon and it would cost me about €22. What did you pay for your copy?
    As a child I spent 11 or 12 years living in Swords Street and attended Gaybos. I served mass in Aughrim Street.way back in the 40’s.

    Like

    • dubmantalks says:

      Hi Paddy,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I bought the book back in April 2012 in Reads Book Store, Nassau Street Dublin for: €15.29. It had been marked down from: €16.99.

      Have you tried your local Library? If they don’t have a copy they may be in a position to order one which you could then borrow.

      Best Regards –
      Frank

      Like

  7. m browne says:

    did anyone know the whelans or the duffys in arbour place

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  8. dubmantalks says:

    Hi M

    Yes. Our family would have known both. Certainly my Father’s family may well have known both during their time living at Arbour Place. As a child I would have known Eileen Whelan who’s married name was Murray, if I recall correctly. As a young person, I would have known her son: Michael Murray well because we shared some school days together either in Stanhope Street Infants School or in the Christian Brothers School Brunswick Street, or perhaps both.

    Hope you enjoyed the article.

    Best Regards –
    Frank

    Like

    • Hi Frank,

      The Christian Brothers were known to infuse their lessons with more than a healthy dose of Irish Nationalism and Gaelic Culture, but more than anything, they are known for instilling Christian thought, values and ideals. The men who emerged have Beautiful Souls. Would that all children benefit from such an education, the World would be a much better place than it is today.

      Best Regards –
      M.

      Like

      • dubmantalks says:

        Hi M,

        True to an extent. Unfortunately though, that particular order did not exactly cover itself in glory in another area (no references, no pack drill). But as you say, there were no doubt many good people who saw the Christian Brotherhood as a vocation through which they could promote learning and the imbuement of Christian values and to those good people, those of us who came safely through the system, must be thankful.

        Best Regards –
        Frank

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Frank,

        I do understand the gravity of the issues to which you obliquely refer, whose dark shadow casts a pall on an otherwise noble endeavor to instill in youth the best of all possible virtues, despite the worst of all possible Worlds. Educational systems, like most bureaucracies, are prone to internal
        corruption endemic to their unmanageable size. When “nobody’s watching the store” thieves come in the night.

        Rather than burning the store down, it’s certainly possible to restructure gargantuan educational systems and return them to the provincial level. It takes a village to raise a child, and it’s a lot easier for a village to keep a vigilant eye in the night. The night has a thousand eyes, and no one eye can keep an eye on it, not even if it’s in Rome, and Divinely ordained.

        Empires grown too large too fast collapse, whether secular or sacred, and Kingdoms are prone to fail from the bottom up as well as from the top down. “For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of the shoe the horse was lost, for want of the horse the King was lost, and for want of the King, the Kingdom was lost, all for want of a nail.”

        Though many blame Divinity itself when noble endeavors fail, and thus lose Faith, the fault is in the systems we devise, not in our Divine Master. It’s easy to curse the night and throw the baby out with the bathwater, but on the other hand, the problem isn’t that difficult to remedy.

        The fact that the World hasn’t fallen apart completely, given the corruptible Nature of Man, is proof enough God exists; we have only to look to the Kingdom within to find solutions that will protect the young from human fallibility, lest that horrible tragedy of which we speak recurs.
        Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.

        Best regards,
        Marie

        Like

    • m browne says:

      thanks for your prompt reply. do you have any idea where any of the families I enquired about might be

      Like

      • dubmantalks says:

        Hi M,

        You are welcome.

        I have no idea re the Duffy’s but I suspect that Michael Murray, Eileen Murray (Whelan) son may still be living in the family home in the Arbour Place area.

        Wish I could be more helpful.

        Best of luck with your research.

        Regards –
        Frank

        Like

  9. Caroline says:

    Frank,

    I found your blog when I was doing some research into my family and I see you’re related to the Lennons who moved to Cabra. I don’t really know too much about my Lennon family, the grandfather was Michael Lennon who lived in Cabra but then moved back to Arbour Hill. I’d love to hear any details you have on the Lennon family.

    Caroline

    Like

    • dubmantalks says:

      Hi Caroline,

      Lovely to hear from you and I am delighted that your found my article interesting.

      Are you on Twitter? If so please follow me at this handle @DisparatePost and I would be delighted to assist you in any way I can in relation to your family history enquiries.

      Here is a link to my home page on Twitter – https://twitter.com/DisparatePost

      If you are not on Twitter we can find another way of communication to facilitate follow up in relation to your enquiries.

      Best Regards –
      Frank

      Like

  10. Paddy Gallagher says:

    I came from Blackhall Place, the Stoneybatter end. My house was facing down Nth King St. Mr Wilson had a shop right facing our house [a tenement] My first childhood pal was Tommy Delaney who also lived in the same tenement. Other tennants I remember are Neddy Fagan, the Rooneys, the Coxs, Mrs Johnson [Granny Johnson we called her]. I remenber the McGuires, the Gunnings and the Doherty’s all living in Arbour Hill. Miss Soden had a sweet shop just around the corner fron Arbour Hill, I used to stop off there on my way to the Broadway cinema to get my Cleeves toffee. We left the area in 1957 but I never really left it as I still go back every so often, I often have a pint in The Glimmerman or maybe O’Garas after I have a walk around the streets of my childhood. For those few hours I’m home again, its almost like I never left, a nice feeling.

    Like

    • dubmantalks says:

      Hi Paddy,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I remember Soden’s sweet shop well. Stoneybatter of old was a true village where everyone knew everyone. My fathers side homestead was in Arbour Place and following his marriage he move not too far away to Arbout Hill and subsequently to Manor Street. So, a long family tradition in the Stoneybatter/Manor Street area of Dublin 7.

      Like

      • Paddy Gallagher says:

        I attended St Pauls School in Queen St [Queener] It was known as The Cardboard College by the lads going there. Before that I was in St Patricks girls and infants school in Nth King Street right facing Creans soap factory. You could smell the detergents as you approached the school, think I can still smell it now, not a foul smell mind you. They used to make a soap called Dirtshifter I was told by my older brother. Remember Bergins, on the corner of Smithfield? Tommy Gallagher [no relation] used to stable his horse in the yard attached to the tenement building we lived in and he used to send me down to Bergins to get a bag of oats for his horse. He gave me three pence for that, I only needed one more penny and I had the price of The Broadway or The Feeno, happy days.

        Like

  11. Paddy Gallagher says:

    Hi Dublinmantalks, do you ever go back to Stoneybatter? I go back for visits quite a bit. I was last there in Febuary. I like to stroll around the streets of my boyhood, pass by my old gaff or rather where my old gaff was, long gone now. I lived right facing Nth King St, beside Lombardi’s chipper, sadly the chipper is gone too. When I go back I usually go in for a pint. It could be The Glimmerman, O’Garas or maybe McGettigans of Queen St. Theres one or two lads still knocking around there and I love to bump into them, take a trip down memory lane. In my mind the old area is still stuck in the 50s, Roy Rogers is still roaming the west in The Feeno, Gene Autry is in The Broadway, the lads are hanging around the corners chattng, joking, having a laugh, all me ouls pals are out playing , trickacting, having fun, never bored, always something to do. Getting the urge to go back again, maybe next week.

    Like

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