By Martin O'Driscoll
16th Feb 2012
2nd in the series of articles on Dublin in the 1960's
I was eleven years of age. This was the year that my father, at the age of 37, died, boom, gone! Looking back at that sad and distressing period of my life I find it so unreal. I remember so little about it. I stayed with my next door neighbour during Dad’s funeral because in those days ‘kids didn’t go to funerals’. Honestly speaking I hadn’t a clue what was going on!
This was also the time when music started its mesmeric journey into my heart and soul. I heard a tune on the radio- “A Hard Days Night” by the Beatles. Wow! It was “something else”. It would go on to top the charts in both the UK and USA, featuring a prominent and unique opening chord.
“When I'm home everything seems to be right.
When I'm home feeling you holding me tight, tight, yeah”
Loved the music, the chorus, but did I understand the lyrics or their varied interpretations!
Very important events were occurring even though I didn’t realise it at the time. In March 1964 Flann O’ Brien (Brian O'Nolan, an Irish novelist, playwright and satirist who wrote under the nom de plume Flann O'Brien sometimes) remarked:
“The streets of Dublin are strangely silent tonight”: a reference to the death of Hellraiser and dramatist Brendan Behan.
Here are some of Behan’s quotes:
Ah, bless you, Sister, may all your sons be bishops.
All publicity is good, except an obituary notice.
I was court-martialled in my absence, and sentenced to death in my absence, so I said they could shoot me in my absence.
I am a drinker with writing problems.
I knew nothing about any of this or its significance. I was only a boy for Gods sake! I was the oldest of five brothers, the changing face of Dublin was just kicking in and I was too young also to realise the effect my changed family situation was having on me. However I soon noticed what does change. Music, girls and wanting my own “space” became my #1 priority.
Dublin in the meantime was also moving on again.
From the mid-1950s to the early 1960s the number of dwellings constructed by local authorities in Ireland declined. The number of new houses built in proportion to the population was lower than in every other European country with the exception of Portugal. This was against a background of an impoverished economy where emigration was taken for granted.
In the financial year, 1960-61, Dublin Corporation erected just 277 dwellings though it was estimated that 26 per cent of the dwellings in Dublin City had exceeded their estimated life expectancy (Wright, 1967). On the 2nd June 1963 the failures during previous years to do something about this problem came to a tragic focus when 20 Bolton Street collapsed killing Mrs May Maples, and her husband John. As if that disaster wasn’t enough to concentrate “the powers to be”, ten days later, two little girls, Linda Byrne and her friend Marie Vardy, out buying sweets (candy), were buried and killed by tons of debris. Dubliners were outraged by this and marched through the streets of the capital carrying banners exhorting Dublin Corporation to “clear the slums”, proclaiming“don’t wait for the houses to fall”.
In response, Dublin Corporation’s Housing Committee met and agreed that all housing priorities should be immediately suspended with priority now being given to families who had been displaced from dangerous buildings. This led to “The declaration of the dangerous buildings emergency”.
This resulted in another “doomed” housing plan when on the 12th June 1964, Dublin Corporation’s Housing Committee finally agreed to proceed with the building of the “infamous” Ballymun project. A new start for Dublin.Hingsight tells us a completely different story today!
Yet for the five O’Driscoll kids, none of this mattered. For us, “the beat went on”!
Joan Baez - There But For Fortune
The Beatles - Ticket To Ride
The Beatles - Help!
The Beatles - Day Tripper
The Beatles - We Can Work It Out
Cilla Black - You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man
Donovan - Universal Soldier
Tom Jones - It's Not Unusual
Bob Dylan - Times They Are a-Changin'
Now when I heard that song for the first time it summed it all up for me.
Next week I continue my journey through the sixties. Stay with me, it’s a long road!
To help you on your journey I have included a new video on the front page which will give you a historical background to Dublin city. Next week DPNlive will update that with a new one.Check it out on the front page. It’s called – Dublin History 1,200 years!
Fast forward to February2012! What’s on!
Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
16th February 2012 – 26th February 2012
Festival of Russian Culture
20th February 2012 – 26th February 2012
RBS 6 Nations 2012 Aviva Stadium
Ireland v Italy
Saturday 25th February 2012
Slán go fóill,
Copyright © 2011, DPNLIVE – All Rights Reserved