This is a bit of an abstract post, relative to our usual content – but I thought it worth writing.
It started innocently enough in the depths of COVID lockdown. Pintman №2 gets a text in one of his WhatsApp groups – a screenshot of a picture that pops up now and again of Andy Fletcher from Depeche Mode, supposedly sitting in a Dublin Pub beside a little old dear in 1983. It’s a fantastic snap! Two completely different worlds collided in silent wonder. But the picture, of course, begs the question – any idea what pub? And this is where the obsession begins.
None of us have a clue at the outset. Most of us weren’t alive when it was taken. The first port of call is to the original post – it had been uploaded by RareIrishStuff, an antiques dealer, on Instagram. A resounding agreement in the comments from people of the era will suffice as evidence for us – but it’s not to be seen here. The bulk of the comments are people tagging their mates.
So, I resort to Facebook. I’ve seen the image there in the past. I find it on in one of these Dublin Nostalgia groups I’m in and scour the comments to find a few lone suggestions, none of which, alone, will satisfy our curiosity but might lead us in the right direction.
“Could be Lowe’s”, says someone. We check. Lowes has moved location since 1983, it having previously been located on one of The Four Corners of Hell. We find photos of it back then and check it on Google Maps in its current location. No Joy.
The Stag’s Head
We start to forensically examine the picture. The beermats are certainly a clue – they clearly state: “Stag For Enjoyment”. Stag’s head, we dare to hope for a minute before agreeing that these probably refer to Stag Lager (correction: Stag was a cider, not a lager. Thanks to Jack Gleeson on Twitter for the heads up) and that this is not the Stag’s Head. We check Dame Lane on Google Maps, anyway and find that the ironwork outside the pub has an insignia similar in style to that of the one on the window in the picture. But the windows in the Stag’s Head don’t correspond.
This segues us nicely into the window, the most unique feature of the image. The insignia set into the centre of it is the logical first section to examine. We decide that it’s most likely to be intended to be street-facing, meaning that it’s back-to-front in the image. So we flip it to have a look at what it’s supposed to look like from the front. It seems to contain some sort of combination of letters: J and a C, for certain. Maybe a T too. The James Connolly? The Julius Caesar? The Jesus Christ?
J O Connell in Portobello, I wonder, half knowing that it couldn’t be. We check and find that the building doesn’t conform to the window shape. We then set about looking for old Dublin pub and publican names conforming to some assortment of the initials but tire of this easily enough. We park that and move on.
The Gig, The Venue & The Magazine
We know that the image coincides with a gig that Depeche Mode were playing so the location of the gig seems the next logical thing to look at. There are a few different suggestions as to where that was in the various comment sections of the various instances of the photo on social media – the most common of which are that is was in The SFX – the St. Francis Xavier hall on Dorset St. We set about confirming that and in doing so, find a scan of the original article that featured the picture in NME Magazine.
The magazine article, which is uploaded to a fantastic website called BrandNewRetro, makes no mention of name of the pub – nor the website post it is attached to. The post even asks readers if they recognise the pub. There’s a comment section where one of the commenters offers The Welcome Inn, on Parnell Street, as a possible solution. It’s proximity to the venue makes it worthy of checking out.
None of us had ever been prior to the pub closing down, so we have no first hand knowledge. Most historical pictures of the pub relate to the damage caused to it in the 1974 bombings which accompanied others in Dublin & Monaghan. We wonder whether the pub would have installed such ornate and decorative windows after such damage and ultimately agree that the shape of the windows don’t match those in the Depeche Mode image. Back to the magazine for clues we go. It comes by way of the name of the photographer
Photography: Adrian Boot, the article reads, in capital font – we type it into google and find a link to his Facebook page – not a business page. His personal profile. I hover over the Add Friend button for a moment. Fuck it, I think. I’ve come this far. To my surprise, the man who stood in this very pub and snapped this very picture adds me back almost immediately.
Instantly, I set about posting to his profile. I craft a graceful and complimentary paragraph to accompany the photo and ultimately ask him if he remembers the location. Moments that feel like eternities pass and a notification pops up. He has replied. I wait for it to load.
“haven’t got a clue”
Fuck ye in anyways, Adrian!
By now we’re weary. We decide we’ve probably exhausted every avenue and nearly agree that we’ll have to put the matter to bed. But not before one last check on the Instagram post to see if there are any more suggestions. And there we lay our eyes on a post that says:
“Hill16. The glass pane is now behind the bar in brannigans cathedral St. It was brought there by the previous owner from the hill.”
We’ve been in Brannigan’s a good few times but it doesn’t ring a bell. Google Images to the rescue. Lo and Behold, there it is in all its glory, the very same insignia in the middle.
We pull up a few historical pictures of the Hill 16.They are not close up enough that any details in the windows can be made out. But we count the panels in the windows facing onto the street and they seem to check out.
But then we notice that there’s a difference in the two. In the Brannigan’s one, the sections with the cross (the +) are on the outside. But they’re not so in the image of Andy.
It’s late. And we’ve been at this a while. Begrudgingly, we have no option but to accept that this is just a different window in the pub. We actually have exhausted every avenue now. We’re about 65% sure it’s the Hill 16. That will do. We need to sleep.
Big Jack Enters
Fast forward another two or three months and Ireland is set into grief and mourning upon the announcement of the death of Jack Charlton. I’m watching the news that night and in the middle of one of the many reports on Jack, they roll a clip of him holding a trophy on front of a pane of very familiar-looking stained glass.
I pull the image down from the RTE Player to compare it to that from 1983 and find that Jack’s one unarguably has only the 2 initials – J and C. No sign of a T to be seen. And it appears to be in a house, as opposed to a pub. So, I google Jack Charlton Stained Glass and the glorious floodgates open.
As per an Irish Independent Article, wasn’t the stained glass window only presented to Jack by the people who ran a pub, you’ll never guess which one! Wasn’t it only The Hill 16! The boozer happens to be the first and the last pub that Jack drank in at the start of and the end of his tenure as the manager of the Republic of Ireland football team. And as such, is mentioned along with a humorous anecdote from the pub in an RTE news report on Jack’s sacking. (Link Below)
And so there it was. Proven, as far as we were concerned, beyond a reasonable doubt. And Big Jackie Charlton, the man that launched a million sessions – his parting gift to us, as if he ever needed give us another. May he rest in peace.
We were overwhelmed by the response to this article after we published it. People really just can’t get enough (sorry). Anyhow, the internet really is a fantastic thing when you think about it, we had a reply to the tweet with the article from one Geoff Boyle. Geoff mentioned that The Hill 16 happened to be one that his father and his uncle “supported” back when he was growing up and asked if we’d like him to have a go at establishing the identity of the woman in the photo. We took him up on the offer, of course.
Geoff replied to us last night and told us that the woman was Lizzie Ryan. Lizzie was a street trader up on Parnell Street and she would pop in for a sup on her way home to Mountjoy Square after a day out hawking her wares.
So when you next get out to the pub and have a fresh pint on front of you, stick a bit of Depeche Mode on the Jukebox and raise your glass for Lizzie and for Big Jack.