Pat and Jude’s talk this morning had me cast my eyes on other days.
I must be one of the few people who can remember seeing Tipperary
beat Dublin by one miserable point in the All Ireland Senior Hurling Final
in Croke Park in 1961, the very last year Dublin qualified for the final, and
also remember Ireland’s 1948 Triple Crown Winners captained by Karl
Mullen, play in Lansdowne Road in 1949. As I remember Mullen had his
shorts pulled down and was Briefl Briefless Mooning at the Bay.
And I can remember more local incidents.
On the 12th of July 1960 (16 and a half months before the inauguration of RTE) ! was in the Cock Tavern in Howth watching the BBC live coverage of of an Orange Parade in the North, which, to the best of my recollection took some hours. Sitting on a stool near me was a holidaymaker from Glasgow, repeatedly uttering “effing Bastards.”
 Every Summer during “Wakes Weeks” Dublin was inundated with industrial workers from Lancashire,and Glasgow, on alternate weeks. 
The Lancashire lot were well behaved, in the main, while the other lot could be fractious.
Our Catholic Parochial Hall used accommodate some Glasgow families.
In those days Catholics were forbidden by their Church from attending the Protestant Church services, including the weddings, funerals and baptisms, of friends and neighbours.
A high proportion of Howth’s population were Protestants and good neighbourly relations were the norm.
We bought our groceries from Findlaters, our fuel from Heatons, milk from Campbells, all Protestant
concerns, although there were Catholic alternatives.
Until the end of 1959 all bus and train services to Howth were run by the Great Northern Railway
with headquarters in Belfast, as had been the Hill of Howth tram, replaced by a bus that year.
Consequently there were many Northern working-class families in Howth as well as local Protestant merchants, professional men and women.
Since about 1900, the Gaelic Athletic Association, a voluntary, autonomous and democratic association, had a rule banning its members from playing or attending “Garrison Games” – Cricket, Rugby and Soccer.” The Ban was inspired by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, to discourage fraternisation with the Royal Irish Constabulary and other Crown Forces.
It is an irony that Michael Collins was an enthusiastic supporter of the Ban, whereas De Valera
(and Kevin Barry) were keen Rugby players, Cathal Brugha a good Cricketer, Oscar Traynor
an International soccer star, and that the Dublin Brigade IRA were largely soccer men.
In Howth in the 1950s and 1960s most GAA men ignored the Ban. A “cute hoor” of a Kerryman,
Garda Mairtin de hOra togged out with Ben Edar’s one day, and the next with Suttonians Rugby
Club as Martin Hoare.
Each GAA club was supposed to have a Vigilance Committee to enforce the Ban. Ben Edar’s
had no such committee. The duty fell to one man “Brud” Campbell. Brud was a Protestant,
one of seven brothers.
His father used lead an Orange parade each July 12th in Howth in the early 1940s.
A few doors from us lived Tommy McKenna, Commodore Thomas McKenna, head of the Naval
Service. He used travel on the tram and one of the conductors might have been mistaken for an
admiral, with shoes highly polished, trousers so tightly pressed that he might have shaved himself using them as mirror and razor, and, in summer. a non-regulation white cover of his cap. while the Commodore could be mistaken for a tram conductor.
I had imagined that the Conductor was an ex-Sergeant Major in Britain’s  Brigade of Guards.
I was perhaps stereo-typing him because he was a Protestant.
In fact he had been a part-time member of the Irish Volunteer Force set up by de Valera in the
1930s, to harness martial energies which might otherwise be exploited by the IRA, and as
a discouragement to elements of the Free State Army which might be tempted to stage a Blue
Shirt Coup.
The Orange Order was established by the British Government in the 1790s to counter the United
Irishmen. Simultaneously Maynooth College was given an annual British subsidy.


  1. Kieran McCarthy June 7, 2023 at 11:02 am #

    a lovely piece of history there Donal!