amazing 1915 film, courtesy of the IFI

Stunning footage of Dublin back in 1915, courtesy of Pathé and of the Irish Film Institute (the IFI)  3 minutes, 37 seconds long in total.    It depicts a city during WWI but far from the front, with civilians going about their daily business, at the bank, the shops, catching a tram, and so on.

The footage was all of course, originally in Black and White.  It has more recently been colourised and also given a basic “atmospherics” sound track, of horses hooves, tram bells, and other ambient city sounds of that era.    Not everyone is a fan of such interventions-  many historians feel they distort original source material-  personally I feel that both these two later interventions add to the experience, bringing it far closer, and making it far more accessible and immediate.

The short film starts as you can see, at the Wellington memorial in Phoenix park, then travels around College Green, Bachelors’ Walk, Sackville St/ O’Connell Street, Eden Quay and elsewhere.    On Sackville/ O’Connell Street (the street changed name around Independence) it is particularly powerful for an Irish audience to look at the GPO (General Post Office)  knowing what great and momentous events would unfold there, less than one year later.

For those interested in architectural history, the gigantic building on the right of Sackville/ O’Connell Street, with the enormous dome on top, towering over the surrounding buildings, was the DBC (the Dublin Bread Company) a chain of cafes in the capital.  This was their flagship store, and that huge overhead dome was a big attraction, providing a viewing platform inside for their customers, with panoramic views over the whole city.   This magnificent old building perished in the conflagration of 1916, when much of the street went up in flames.   Incidentally, one of the factors that made those fires of Easter 1916 so destructive, and so spectacular at nighttime, was the contents of a chemical store on teh street, called Hoyte’s.   Keep an lookout during the parts of the footage in College Green.  A tram passes, festooned in advertising.  Blink and you’ll miss it.  But the eagle-eyed will spot an advert for Hoyte’s on the front of a tram.

Anyhow, that’s enough commentary and interpretation from me!   I’ll leave you to savour this wonderful film.  Enjoy!

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Below:  O’Connell Street after Easter 1916.

Dublin History 1916


Dublin’s Medieval Walls: a circuit & exploration.

Our Medieval Walls Walk is a complete circuit and exploration of the medieval walls of Dublin, both in a physical sense, and as an exploration of the walls in the imagination and through Dublin’s history; through maps, conversation, story and historic detail.

Once a palisade of wooden stakes erected from 841 by Dublin’s Viking founders, and later re-built as thick, high stone walls by the Anglo-Norman conquerors, the walls delineated and defined the city for generations of medieval Dubliners. Citizens of the city felt their reassuring presence, as they limited, protected and defined a sense of place for centuries.

We will follow their route along castle walls, down backstreets and side lanes, as the wall appears, disappears and reappears again, using maps, historic accounts, tell-tale street names and physical clues in the present city landscape to guide us along our way.

Along our route we will consider towers and gates, prisons and bridges, fires, plague, invasion and revolution. We’ll see the impact on the modern street plan, and contemplate how it helped shape the current-day city of Dublin.

We normally meet and start outside the West door of City Hall on Cork Hill (directly across the road from the Dublin Rates Office) We then walk a complete circuit of the ancient city walls, whether currently visible above ground or not.

This is an especially fun tour.  We hand out maps of the medieval walls to all our guests.  We then use these maps to trace the line of the old walls in the existing, modern-day streetscape.  This requires a lot of imagination, map reading, navigation and guess work, and at times has an element of hunting for clues about it.

A terrific tour, that will bring out the Indiana Jones in everyone.

This tour is run as a public tour from 3- 6 times per year and, like all public tours,  is naturally open to all.   If any of these Medieval walls tours are currently scheduled they’ll appear on our Public Tours Page.

Alternatively, we also offer and run the tour as a private activity for your own private group.

Please use the private tours contact form to inquire about Private tours.   (Use exclusively for inquiries regarding private tours only please)  Thank you.

from late-May to mid- October this tour normally includes the ancient church of Saint Audoen’s, established 1190 and the oldest continually- operating parish church in Ireland.  (The church is closed during the winter season)

Medieval Walls Walk Dublin Decoded image 2



images above: top left: at the Portlester Memorial in St Audoen’s church; top right:  artist Iain Barber’s superb painted image of Viking Dublin; middle right: the Seagrave and Spark/Duff Memorials in St Audoen’s church.  Bottom a group picture of a Medieval walls guests on a recent Medieval Walls tour, by the old church facade of St-Nicholas-Within.  Top and featured image: Gilbert’s map of Dublin from the Dublin Builder 1865.


Dublin: The Story of a City by Stephen Conlin and Peter Harbison, reviewed — Arran Q Henderson

Dublin: The Story of a City The publication of any book of drawings by Stephen Conlin is something of an event for any student of our capital city. This book is particularly welcome, bringing together as it does most of the artist’s most important Dublin drawings, made in a long career stretching well over 30 […]

via Dublin: The Story of a City by Stephen Conlin and Peter Harbison, reviewed — Arran Q Henderson


Arran’s blog, reviews & press

Dublin Decoded has featured on radio and in many newspapers, including the Journal (Dublin); the Dublin Inquirer;  the Wall Street Journal (link here); the Financial Times and of course, Arran has also written extensively himself, most notably his well-known monthly columns in “Totally Dublin” during the 2000s, Hidden Dublin.   However, it was a particular thrill to appear yesterday in the Irish Times, especially in Frank McNally’s consistently excellent, and much-loved Irishman’s Diary.  ( For overseas readers, this long running column appear on the letters and editorial page, and is one of the mainstays, a veritable institution, of our newspaper of record here.)

An added, extra satisfaction for me personally was that Frank McNally’s predecessor in this role (way back in the 1940s and 50s) was the legendary Flann O’Brien,  a literary hero of mine and many others and – according to some of the most discerning judges-  the finest comic writer in English language of the 20th century.    In any case, Mr McNally did us proud.    As far as I know, his column from yesterday is not protected behind a paywall.   So you should be able read it here .

Top section and banner only from Irish Times piece Wed 24 Thurs 24 JUne 2020


About Us.

Dublin Decoded tours’ owner and chief guide is the writer and street-level art historian Arran Henderson.  Arran is a passionate local historian and avid observer and writer on many aspects of  artistic, architectural culture and almost all eras of history.  He is a graduate of Oxford Brook Art History department, Ireland’s National College of Art and Design and the Dublin Institute of Technology and has spent additional time in the University of Rhode Island and and Central St Martins, London.

His blog, about everything from traditional cast iron coal hole-covers to the use of optical magnifying and projecting apparatus in 17th century Dutch art appears at irregular intervals.  It is titled simply Arran Q Henderson dot com. and you can see it here.

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