From Vauxhall with Love, 1983


A Dublin tale more recent than most on this blog…

From the Times, October 12, 1983,

“A hoax holiday competition involving a middle-aged Dublin couple, Britain’s security services and Irish terrorists turned into an Irish “who-dunnit” mystery last night.

Was it MI6 which set up Mr and Mrs Tony Hayde as the contest winners in order to extract information on Irish terrorist groups while the couple enjoyed their “prize” under the Torremolinos sun?

Or was it a deep-laid plot by the enemy to discredit British intelligence?

From yesterday’s revelations, it was possible to choose either conclusion.

Certainly, the allegations against MI6 gained strength when it was learnt that letters sent out in connexion with the “free holiday prize” ostensibly from a holiday company called Casuro in fact bore the telephone number listed in internal Post Office records as belonging to No 60 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, the London “station” of MI6. And the address on the letters was merely that of a mailbox company service, on the other side of London…

One of the letters went to a reputable Dublin firm, Melia Travel, booking a week’s holiday for two at the Melia Costa Del Sol hotel in Spain. The other letter went to Mr and Mrs Hayde announcing that they had won the week in Torremolinos as third prize in the – bogus – contest. The couple, who live in Walkinstown, Dublin, are founder members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the political wing of the Irish National Liberation Army.

Melia Travel has confirmed not only that it received the holiday booking from “Casuro” – signed by “Frank Moate, marketing manager” – but also a banker’s draft for IR £100. Melia confirmed the booking in writing to Casuro’s London address and on September 2 this year received final payment of IR £462, along with instructions that the tickets should be sent to the Haydes.

Mr and Mrs Hayde say that after arriving in Torremolinos they went out for dinner with the holiday courier and other “prize winners” who all later said they were involved with British intelligence.

The couple, who admit to having met Dominic McGlinchey, allegedly INLA chief of staff and Ireland’s most wanted man, say that they were offered immediate cash and the promise of a further £10,000 in return for information.

Mr Hayde, aged 45, and his wife, Margaret, aged 41, declined, saying they knew nothing about terrorism. They immediately checked out of their holiday hotel.

Mr Matthew Corcoran, manager of Melia in Dublin, said that with hindsight the paperwork from Casuro looked a little strange. Another member of the firm said it was odd that Casuro had made no request for the 10 per cent discount due to travel agents.”

Picture credit:- Pinterest


Covered with Barnacles, Seaweed and Shells, Dublin Bay, 1903


From the Irish Times, February 21, 1903:-

“A discovery of a sensational and mysterious character has been made in Dublin Bay by Captain Fleming, commander of the Irish Lights steamer Princess Alexandra.   For the past week the Princess Alexandra has been searching in Dublin Bay, near Rockabill and the Kish Lightship, for the wreck of the Marlay, which foundered on the night of the 16h December… Arrangements were made for a survey of the position, and on Friday the wreck was found, at least, so it was believed. 

But on the divers… descending  an extraordinary discovery was made.  They found, not the iron steamship Marley, but a wooden vessel of large dimensions without masts or spars.  A close examination could not be made as the divers experienced extreme difficulty in descending owing to the unusually strong spring tides which prevailed last week; but the wreck is covered with barnacles, seaweed, and shells as if it had been a long time in the water. 

The vessel has probably lain there for some time, as there is no recent record of any missing ship having foundered off the Kish Bank, nor has the finding of boats or any wreckage been reported to Mr Protheroe, the chief officer of the Coastguards.  Nevertheless, the discovery of the sunken vessel has created considerable sensation along the coast, and the efforts of the energetic commander of the Princess Alexandra will be eagerly watched until the mystery has been solved by the revelation of the name of the vessel or her description and the nature of any cargo aboard.”

The piece provoked some responses from readers, including this one, which, in trying to solve one mystery, raised another:-

Sir, – Some time in the second decade of the last century my father was with some friends on the Hill of Howth near the Bailey Lighthouse.  The day was bright, but stormy.  Their attention was directed toward a vessel entering the Bay near the Kish bank.  A sudden squall struck her; she heeled over, and speedily sank.  Horrified at the sight, they returned to Dublin, and gave information of the occurrence.  Nothing was ever discovered as to the name of the vessel, the port from which she came, or anything about her. – Yours &c. FF CARMICHAEL, 23 February 1903.”

It is not clear whether or not the vessel found in 1903 was ever identified.  Perhaps it is one of the ones listed by Roy Stokes in ‘Between the Tides; Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast,’ Amberley Publishing (2015), which documents the many shipwrecks in Dublin Bay over the years.

Picture Credit:-  Edwin Hayes ‘Sailing Ship in Dublin Bay with Howth Head in the Background, 1850’ via Whytes

Remarriage a la Mode, 1865


Updated to mid-twentieth century, the following story would make a good Hollywood film plot: ‘Something’s Got to Give’ with a twist!

From the Irish Times, January 28, 1865:-

“[A]n officer in her Majesty’s service, whom I shall describe as Mr A, presented a petition for a divorce from his wife, on the usual grounds.  The faux pas of the lady (an Irishwoman, I should mention) occasioned much pain and surprise to her friends, as her conduct previous to the unfortunate denouement had been unexceptionable as a wife and a mother.  The co-respondent in the case, also an officer in the army, whom I shall call Mr B., made the lady all the reparation in his power and married her.  She was subsequently received in society in India, where her antecedents were not too critically examined, but in three years afterwards Mr B died and she was left a widow.  Having no longer any tie in India, she returned to England, wither she had been preceded by Mr A and his three little children.  Having taken up her residence in a fashionable town in a midland county celebrated for the curative property of its waters, Mrs. B soon obtained admission to good society as the widow of a British officer, and a very beautiful and attractive woman to boot.  Here, after an interval of nearly two years, she again encountered Mr A., and the result is that they have again married.  The children of Mr. A have not recognised their mother, and all they know is that “Papa married a widow.” The circumstances of this extraordinary case are related with critical accuracy; and were I to give the real initials of the parties, they could be easily identified.  They afford the only illustration on record of the ruling passion strong in divorce! – London Correspondent of Belfast News-Letter.

Picture credit:- Vasili Pukirev ‘The Unequal Marriage’ via Wikimedia Commons

The King and Queen of Ireland, 1838


From the Times, June 6, 1838:

“On the 22nd ult, an ancient tumulus, traditionally known by the name of “Cnoc Math Righ,” or “The Hill of the Good King,” was opened in the Phoenix-park, in presence of Sir W. Hamilton, the President of the Royal Irish Academy, Sir W Betham, Ulster King at Arms, Mr George Petrie, the Rev Matthew Horgan, of Blarney, near Cork, several fellows and professors of Trinity College, and other distinguished individuals. 

The first object uncovered by the workmen was a perfect cromlech, or altar tomb, deep within the centre of the mound, consisting of a rough unchiselled incumbent slab, 6 1/2 feet in length and 3 1/2 in breadth, resting on five pillar stones, 3 1/2 feet high each, two at either side and one at the foot, the whole forming a small chamber within, and the openings further secured by additional flag-stones, making the enclosure perfect, whilst covering the whole structure above and around it was a considerable collection of rubble or field stones…

On opening the small chamber above described two human skeletons were found in high preservation, in such a position as to seem to have been buried in a sitting posture; one of them was pronounced to be that of a male, the other a female, the latter being also of lesser stature.  Beside them were found portions of two earthen urns, evidently of a remote antiquity, and a quantity of small white periwinkle shells, the points or extremities removed so as to form holes by which they could be strung together, and thus form an ornament for the neck, doubtless of the female.  The situation of the tomb is a fine eminence, commanding an extensive view over the park, the city and neighbouring coast.  Tradition states that a King and Queen of Ireland were buried here, whose tomb would some time or other be discovered.”

Picture credit: Dublin City Council

A Love Letter, Kingstown, 1842


From the Freeman’s Journal, July 27, 1842:-

“The gossips residing in and about the neighbourhood of Kingstown have had ample materials furnished them for tea-table talk for the next three months, by the explosion of an affair of a very delicate character which has been in some measure revealed to the public within the last few days…

A gentleman residing at G___ Terrace, in the above fashionable locality, and who writes Sir Bart. before his name… and who is blessed with a beautiful young wife, had a servant man named John Smith, who for some fault or other was discharged from the service a short time since without a written character.  The servant at length made use of threats, at the same time alleging he had in his possession such a document as would compel the gentleman to grant his request whether he liked it or not. 

On making inquiry of Smith the gentleman ascertained that a letter had been given to him about five weeks ago by Lady __ (his mistress) with directions to deliver it to Captain R __ in person.  The servant suspecting all was not right, detained and opened the letter, and on perusal of its contents he was convinced that a very improper intimacy existed between his lady and the gallant son of Mars.  On stating this fact to his master (from whom he still sought the discharge) the latter became enraged at the imputation cast on the honour of his wife, and in no wise doubting her fidelity, he charged the servant with opening a letter entrusted to his care by Lady __.  Smith was accordingly taken into custody by the police on Saturday, and brought before Mr O’Callaghan, the presiding magistrate at the police court…

Smith had, int he meantime, produced the letter to his master, who was not only horrified at its contents, but at once acknowledge it to be the handwriting of his lady… It is said the infuriated husband has dismissed his spouse from his domicile… the lady is a mother, and some years younger than her ‘lord and master’.  The ‘happy’ captain is a ‘very find young man’ with remarkably black whiskers and hair, and lately held and important employment in the viceregal court.  The charge against John Smith was withdrawn, in consequence of Sir _ not wishing to have the letter in question put in evidence.  Our reporter has been favoured with a copy of the letter.  It is a curious document enough in its way – Morning Register.

[We have been authorised to give the most unqualified contradiction to the material facts stated in the above paragraph.  The knight alluded to is Sir William Leeson, and though circumstances have occurred that may give rise to a prosecution for a conspiracy against the honour of Lady Leeson, so far is the worthy knight from being convinced of “his own dishonour” that he and his lady are at this moment living on the happiest terms… This contradiction of circumstances, the truth of which would have placed an interesting and aimable family, together with a large circle of connexions, in the most painful position, will, we are sure, prove gratifying to the public. – Ed. F. J]

Picture credit: Fragonard ‘The Love Letter’ via Fine Art America

Music Hall Drama, Dublin, 1847


From the Irish Examiner, June 14, 1847, comes this account of goings-on at the Dublin Music Hall:-

Dublin Police, Henry Street Office – One of the Ethiopians concluded his engagement in Dublin with an extraordinary police embranglement.  He was the paymaster of the company, and on receiving the last payment (£44) for disbursement, he speedily accused the Irish public with having associated in its circles a person capable of perpetrating a robbery on unsuspecting strangers.   He demanded the aid of the police to trace the evil one, but, after a sharp scrutiny of the audience in the theatre, where he was supposed to be, nothing like a thief was seen. 

The constable employed was not, however, slow in suspecting a feint, and to the astonishment of the Ethiopian he proposed to search himself and his room in the hotel where the company lodged.  Amidst indignant denunciations the search went on, and the daring police officer appeared completely at fault, until he came to the folds of the bed curtains, in one of these, under the roof of the bed, a small hole was at length observed, and there the stolen money was discovered.   All was up – the Ethiopian first rushed to a case of pistols, and attempted to shoot himself, then he grasped a razor to cut the throat by whose strains he lived.  

Frustrated in both attempts, he was led off in custody, and when charged at the station house, gave his name as Franklin Fuller, a travelling one no doubt, and by this name was he called up before one of the justices of Henry-Street Office.  he escaped however through the difficulty of determining to whom the money belonged.  Mr Mackintosh, a respected and enterprising manager of the Music Hall, had paid the money to Fuller, as the usual paymaster of the company, but whether this would have been sufficient to have exonerated him from all claim would require a higher tribunal to decide… Fuller therefore escaped, but the case, so far as he was personally jeopardized, was most fully established.”

Picture credit: Antiqua Print Gallery

A Clerical Criminal, Milltown, 1886


From the Dundee Courier, October 20, 1886:-

“An extraordinary affair has come to light in Dublin, which has created much commotion in religious and clerical circles.  A pseudo-minister, known as the Rev Dr Keatinge, about June last year commenced to officiate temporarily in Milltown Church, near Dublin, and soon became very popular as an impressive and eloquent preacher. 

On the occasion of his leaving, about a month ago, a move was initiated to present him with a testimonial and address, and a cheque for one hundred dollars was to have been handed to him on Sunday night. However, when he was announced to preach at old Molyneux Church an announcement was made that Lord Plunket, the Archbishop, had withdrawn the licence for Dr Keatinge to use the pulpit, due to circumstances which had come to his knowledge. 

The same evening the stranger disappeared and, it is stated, left Kingstown by mail steamer.  it is alleged that Keatinge, alias Arthur H Moreton, had been several times convicted at Shrewsbury in 1878 of obtaining money by false pretences, at Guilford the same year, and at Worcester Assizes he was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment for forging documents and clerical credentials.”

Picture credit: Joseph Highmore “Pamela Shows Mr Williams a Hiding-Place for her Letters” via the Fitzwilliam Museum

Making a Pig’s Eye of It, Dublin, 1897

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From the Daily Nation, November 11, 1897:-

An extraordinary surgical operation, of a character quite unique in this country, was performed yesterday by three members of the medical staff of the Eye and Ear Hospital, Molesworth Street.  It consisted of the cutting off of an eyelid from a dying pig and attaching it to the eye of a man who has suffered for some time from its loss.  

The experiment was carried out in the Garden Lane stores of the well-known bacon curing establishment of P Kehoe, Francis Street, of which Mr Michael Roche is the proprietor.  The eyelid when taken from the pig, just at the moment of death, was quickly transferred to the patient, and it is hoped the operation will prove a successful one.  

Similar operations have been, ere this, performed in Germany, but this is the first of its kind performed in Ireland.  The patient is aged 45 years, and is an army man, named John Ryan.  He was in the Clonmel Union Hospital for some time and was sent to the Ear and Eye Hospital for treatment for ophthalmia, from which he had been suffering for some time owing to the absence of the eyelid.  

As it was found impossible that his eye could be cured or that if it were exposed to light without the protection of a lid the disease would not return, Dr Maxwell, who had him in charge, determined to make the operation.  He obtained the assistance of Dr Mooney and Dr Large.  Having obtained the permission of Mr Roche he visited the premises and a healthy pig was selected.  

At a quarter to eleven the three medical men arrived at the premises with the patient in a cab.  A screen was erected which enclosed a chamber open to the direct light from the sky.  The pig was stuck in the usual way and as it poured out its blood at the throat Dr Maxwell with a swift stroke of the lancet cut off its eyelid.  The patient was at the moment in charge of Drs Mooney and Large, and a line of the eyelid where the attachment was to be made had been cut.  Quick as thought, Dr Maxwell wheeled around, and whilst the little piece of pig was still living, attached it to the man’s eyelid.  The piece was instantly made fast by stitches.

 The patient endured the operation bravely.  He was detained in Mr Kehoe’s for a little time to recover after the eye was bandaged, and he was then removed back to the hospital. The operation so far as been completely successful, but it will take three or four days before the newly-attached eyelid will adhere.”

Picture credit: Dublin Surgery’ (1817) via wikimedia commons

A Young Artist, Rathmines, 1888


From the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, January 14, 1888:-

“In a fashionable part of Rathmines, Dublin, says the Freeman’s Journal, there resides a family consisting of a mother, who is a widow, two or three sons and three young ladies, sisters – at all events they were supposed to be so.  The family were held in the highest respect and esteem, and until this incident occurred the household was undisturbed by any out-of-the-way occurrence.  

Two of the young ladies were very prepossessing in appearance, and gifted with some accomplishments.  The third – the eldest, we believe, was not devoid of good looks either, and possessed a certain amount of musical culture, which was displayed effectively at numerous reunions, parties and evening assemblies about the neighbourhood.  She also developed a remarkable talent for drawing.  She was frequently met with at social assemblies and places of entertainment, and was admired everywhere for her good looks and accomplishments.  She was an admirable tennis player, and was altogether and agreeable figure in the set in which she moved.  

About a couple of months ago it was announced that she was about to proceed to London to complete her studies in the South Kensington School of Art, and, naturally, the news caused some interest among her acquaintances.  She came back at Christmas, and many ladies who were acquainted with the family called at their house to see her.  What was the astonishment of the visitors when the mother calmly announced that her “daughter” was a boy, and then the quondam miss entered the room dressed in masculine attire, having completely abandoned the character in which she, or he (as we must now call him) had been so long assuming of a girl.  The incident gave rise to great perturbation amongst the acquaintances of the family and, as a result, no little unpleasantness has occurred.  

Those who knew the young gentleman as Miss are extremely astonished at the turn affairs have taken.  They find it hard to believe that such a deception could have gone on for years without any suspicion of the real circumstances being entertained.  The young man has been regarded as a girl from his infancy.  He went to school as a girl, entered society as a girl, dressed as a girl and behaved as a girl, so that the sudden announcement of his true position in society has naturally caused some commotion among the acquaintances of the young man.”

Picture credit: William Powell Frith, “The Artist’s Model” via Pinterest.

House Collapse, Grafton Street, 1879

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From the Glasgow Evening Post, September 24, 1879:-

“An extraordinary scene was witnessed in Dublin’s Grafton Street last night.  A house of five storeys, No. 111 Grafton Street, occupied as a jeweller’s establishment by Mr John Brunker, fell with a crash.  The house adjoining had been taken down, and was in the process of being rebuilt. Mr Brunker’s house showed signs of giving way yesterday, and chains were placed across the footpath.  Four men had been engaged during the day in removing the valuable property from the shop. At nine o’clock last night the whole building came down with a crash, and the whole neighbourhood was enveloped in a cloud of dust.  When this was cleared away it was discovered that a tramway-car passing at the moment had been caught and blocked.  No lives were lost, nor was any person injured.”

Picture credit: Illustrated London News (1853) via ebay