Our friendly and excellent guides are available as Step On Guides for any visiting tour or coach operators who may like a unique, entertaining and educational tour of Irish History and the events of Easter Week 1916.

Friday, November 10, 2023






In their book, ‘Touching on Deaths: a medical history of early Auckland (2000)’, on page. 83 and referring to "DANIEL POLLEN (1813–1896), Laurie Gluckman, Ann Gluckman and Mike Wagg wrote that,

‘Pollen was born in Dublin although it is unknown whether he obtained his MD in Ireland or the USA. Similarly, it is uncertain when he reached New Zealand, but he signed the address of loyalty to Hobson at the Bay of Islands and witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. He entered practice in Parnell, in Auckland in 1841.’

According to the Irish Stew Podcast,

‘Daniel Pollen, the 9th Premier of New Zealand, was born in Ringsend in Dublin on the 2nd of June, 1812. Little is known of his early life until he arrived in New South Wales in Australia in the 1830s before moving on to Auckland, New Zealand in 1840.’

Political opponents questioned his medical credentials, fictional accounts of his father helping to build the US Capitol building and unfounded stories that Daniel Pollen spent time in the United States when in fact he was tending to the medical needs of his native Dublin.


On St. Georges Day, Saturday April 23rd 1796, one hundred thousand Dubliners crammed onto the quays around the newly built Grand Canal Harbour to view the official opening by John Jeffreys Pratt, the Earl of Camden acting as the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland appointed by King George the third. This would be the culmination of the building of the Grand Canal that linked the River Shannon across Ireland to the River Liffey and out into the Irish Sea. The section from Portobello to this new harbour, the final link, had been completed and it was hoped that it would open both trade and passenger services for those who could afford it. The owners of the Grand Canal Company did not envisage the arrival of the railways less that fifty years later than would make the Irish canals almost obsolete. The Earl’s vessel sailed in from the River Liffey through one of the three locks, each one named after a Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Westmoreland, Buckingham and of course Camden himself.


This is a painting of the opening by William Ashford hanging in the National Gallery of Ireland depicting the opening of the Locks.


And this is also a newspaper observation of the opening.

On the far side of the harbour the Lord Lieutenant’s ships enters through the lock into the harbour. But pay attention to the house with the smoke emanating from the chimney to the right of the ship. This was the home of the Grand Canal Company’s lock keeper and harbour master. The man appointed to the job was Hugh Pollen.

The house on the far side of the locks was the location of the original home for Hugh Pollen.

Hugh Pollen married Eliza O’Neill and they settled into a busy life in the harbour, looking after the locks and the commercial activities of the harbour, Hugh Pollen also operated small fishing boats and smacks that went out to the larger vessels in Dublin Bay to off load their cargos and bring them ashore. In May 1813, Hugh and Eliza had a son and Daniel Pollen was born. On June 3rd 1813, he was baptised in Haddington Road Catholic Church.


And this is the church book entry for the baptism. 

Daniel was still young as the country recovered having been engulfed by the 1798 rebellion and shortly afterwards by the Robert Emmet rebellion of 1803. The Act of Union abolished the Irish Parliament and the British authorities took a stronger control of how Ireland was governed.

Later in life he described his early years in Dublin,

‘In the closing years of the first quarter of this century, I was myself, as a boy, fighting with tiny weapons amongst those of my countrymen who were struggling for that freedom which they thought would be accomplished for them by what was then known as Catholic Emancipation. I can remember, too, with what determination I saved my pocket money how I stinted myself in the usual luxuries of sugar-stick and gingerbread — in order that I might have the delight, on the Sundays, of flinging the coppers that I had saved in the faces of my oppressors when I made my weekly contribution to what was known — in the vernacular of my country — as the ' rint '— ' the Catholic Rint.'

The Observer, 23rd May 1861[1]


Young Daniel went to Great Brunswick Street Select School for General Education. He then attended medical school ar Apothecary Hall 40 Mary Street, not far from the main thoroughfare of the city Sackville Street, later to be known as O’Connell Street. The Hall was part of the Royal College of Surgeons Dublin. He continued his studies in medicine and he qualified as an apothecary on September 17th 1833 having been examined by the Governor and Directors of the Apothecaries Hall, Dublin. Webster’s dictionary defines an apothecary as,

‘One who prepares and sells drugs or compounds for medicinal purposes.

In more modern times it referred to a pharmacist.

The Apothecary Hall records showing the qualification of Daniel Pollen September 17th 1833


He then returned to his native Ringsend and Irishtown where the Thom’s Directory lists the young Daniel Pollen as a Druggist and Apothecary, the old way of describing him as a chemist. He practised serving the local community from a house that stood here.

 His chemist shop was located along this section of Irishtown Road, where today you will find a betting office and a credit union office.

1835 Thom's Directory

He lived just up the road from his shop at Number 4 Tritonville Road but he found his work appearing the newspapers on May 7th 1836 ‘Saunders Newsletter’.

Freeman’s Journal May 1836

Daniel was one of eight children born to Hugh and Eliza Pollen. Daniel born in 1813, Thomas in 1814, James in 1817, John in 1819, Henry in 1824, Anne Catherine in 1831 and finally Hugh in 1834. Just three years after the birth of his namesake, their father Hugh died in 1837 and was buried in the grounds of St. Matthews Church in Irishtown. The role of lock master was taken by his son Thomas who was born a year after Daniel.

 The death of his father Hugh in 1837 may have been the catalyst to take the young medic abroad. It is likely that the lure of New Zealand was over whelming. But while he would leave the tumult of Ireland, he would arrive into the turmoil of New Zealand.


In early 1839 he first made his way to Sydney, Australia, which at that time would take between three and four months to complete. On November 30th he left New South Wales bound for the Bay of Islands on board The Martha.

Wednesday December 4th 1839, The Sydney Herald


According to the Australasian Chronicle[2], Pollen travelled from Australia to New Zealand with a group of French Catholic Missionaries including Fr. Joseph Chevron who would continue onto Tonga to spread the gospel.


He would not be the only Irishman to have an immediate impact on New Zealand life.  From the south of England port Plymouth, the Druid was being captained by John Spenser Churchill. He was the great granduncle of Sir Winston Churchill, the future UK Prime Minister. The Druid sailed on 25 August with Waterford born William Hobson and his family on board, arriving at Port Jackson, Sydney on 24 December. Hobson had already been to Australia and New Zealand some years earlier in command of HMS Rattlesnake as tensions mounted between the British settlers and on the North Island of New Zealand.


Hobson spent three weeks in Sydney, became acquainted with his immediate superior, George Gipps, the then governor of New South Wales, and selected his staff. Leaving his family behind in Port Jackson, Hobson sailed on the Herald on 19 January 1840, arriving at the Bay of Islands on 29 January. During the voyage he had heated arguments with the captain, Joseph Nias, who was obstructive of Hobson, apparently out of envy.


According to the New Zealand Government website,

‘The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document. It takes its name from the place in the Bay of Islands where it was first signed, on 6 February 1840. This day is now a public holiday in New Zealand. The Treaty is an agreement, in Māori and English, that was made between the British Crown and about 540 Māori Rangatira (chiefs).

Growing numbers of British migrants arrived in New Zealand in the late 1830s, and there were plans for extensive settlement. Around this time there were large-scale land transactions with Māori, unruly behaviour by some settlers and signs that the French were interested in annexing New Zealand. The British government was initially unwilling to act, but it eventually realised that annexing the country could protect Māori, regulate British subjects and secure commercial interests.’


Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson had the task of securing British sovereignty over New Zealand. He relied on the advice and support of, among others, James Busby, the British Resident in New Zealand. The Treaty was prepared in just a few days. Missionary Henry Williams and his son Edward translated the English draft into Māori overnight on 4 February. About 500 Māori debated the document for a day and a night before it was signed on 6 February. Pollen was one of the witnesses to the signing of the Treaty by the Māori leaders,


By May 1840, just months after his arrival this letter from Pollen appeared in the newspaper self-reporting that he witnessed the signing of the treaty.

Published May 5th 1840.

With the treaty in place and business in the new British colony beginning to expand, Pollen was one of the merchants behind the creation of New Zealand’s first bank.


The idea of a New Zealand-based bank was first raised in 1840s, and at a meeting in the Bay of the Islands on 2 May 1840 the first offering of shares in New Zealand was launched. The bank was established on September 1st 1840 at Kororareka in the Bay of Islands with about  £7,000 of capital. Half the shares were held in Sydney and the other half by residents on the Bay of Islands. The manager was Alex Kennedy and the first directors were Gilbert Mair, Edward Williams, Henry Thomspon, James Reddy Clendon, Daniel Pollen, John Scott, William Mayew and Philo Perry.


After the move of the seat of government to Auckland a branch was set up in Auckland in 1842. An attempt was also made to move the principal office to Auckland but this was unhappily ineffectual. The failure of the move decided the fate of the enterprise, and although it struggled on it finally succumbed in 1845. The bank was wound up and all liabilities to the public were paid, although the final capital was not returned to shareholders until February 2nd  1850.


 Pollen moved from Kororareka south to Auckland. Pollen immediately became part of the life of  Auckland where in 1842 his residence is listed on a list of potential jurors as Princes Street. Pollen was then appointed Coroner for Parnell in 1844.


In Part Two, Daniel will find a wife, take a more active role in the politics of New Zealand and for the boy from Ringsend, and reach the pinnacle of Kiwi politics becoming Prime Minister.
















[2] December

[3] Saturday October 17th 1840

Thursday, October 12, 2023

The Pub at No24 Bath Street, Irishtown.


No 24 Bath Street

The Isles of The Sea were one of the most successful Dublin GAA clubs in the early part of the twentieth century. Based in the Ringsend and Irishtown area The club was founded in the late 1880s in the very early years of the GAA. They won the Dublin Senior Football Championship on three occasions 1890, 1895 and 1901. Their players from the club backboned the Dublin team that won the 1901 Senior Football title, with that final played on 2 August 1903. A number of club meetings were held at No.24 Bath Street, a popular bar in the Irishtown area. A year earlier advertisements noted that meetings of the Leinster Senior League would be held at No.24 Bath Street.

Back in 1870, James Dunne was the publican at No.24 and he was followed by his widow Elizabeth and later by his sister in law Mary Dunne. Elizabeth was originally from Haddington Road, died in 1894.

The Dunne’s were followed in 1892 by James Crutch, the pub being sold in September. Liverpool born Crutch was described in the 1901 & 1911 census as a ‘Clerk’. He was married to Louth born Esther Leslie. The couple lived on Sandymount Green for many years before his death

James Crutch was followed in 1897 as licensee by Anne Jane Graham. Anne Jane Leslie was born on August 27, 1859, in Dundalk, Louth, Ireland, her father, Richard, was 24, and her mother, Esther, was 29. She married Robert Ritchie Graham on November 27, 1876 and they had nine children over a period 19 years. She had three brothers and two sisters one of whom, Esther was married to the previous licensee James Crutch. Robert was a assistant supervisor at the GPO in O’Connell Street. While the pub was located on Bath Street, the Graham family lived on nearby Londonbridge Road.

In September 1899 Patrick Hughes took over the running of the pub but was gone within a year to be replaced the following September of Mrs. Mary Bourke. 

The 1901 Census listed Mary Bourke as being a widow and a ‘vintner’ with Edward Lemon listed as a ‘assistant’ as he worked in the bar. Lemon according to the Dublin City database lived as a lodger at 30 Harcourt Street.

In 1903, No.24 was in the hands of Laurence Donnelly. Prior to his arrival on Bath Street, the then twenty seven year old Carlow born Donnelly had been a barman in Fitzharris’s pub on Bridge Street in Ringsend. Donnelly’s remained in business for over a decade before the pub finally closed its doors to the public.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Leinster House..Not That One but the Pub in Irishtown

Having completed our public-house tours of the Stags Head, Dame Court, the pubs of Sandymount, Ringsend and Rathmines plus our history nights in O'Reilly, Sandymount for their 100th celebration, the Yacht in Ringsend for their culture event and most recently in Murphys of Rathmines for their 220th birthday, we begin a series of posts on the pubs of Irishtown, culminating with a history night in The Vintage Inn on Wednesday October 25th 2023 at 7.30p.m

‘Sean Lemass stood up in Leinster House and pleaded for support of Irish political prisoners.’


In the mid-19th century Richard Brady built a terrace of four houses and named them Leinster Terrace, Irishtown. Numbers one to three were houses while number four was opened as a public house. Today the terrace is no more having fallen into disrepair in the late 19th century and demolished to make way for St. Matthews Girls national school that was opened in 1903. In 1854 Brady sold the terrace as he intended to emigrate. In 1858 the pub at 4 Leinster Terrace was put up for sale with Arthur Torkington of Dawson appointed as the auctioneer. It was purchased by Edward Walsh but by August 1866, the Dublin Evening Post reported Walsh was insolvent,

‘Edward Walsh, Cook-street, city Dublin, web and tape manufacturer, and linen and cotton yarn merchant, sometime of Irishtown, county Dublin, vintner.’

This had been brought about by a slander court case in June 1865. The Dublin Evening Mail reported,

‘Patrick Hughes v. Edward Walsh. In this case the action was brought to recover damages for oral slander, libel, and malicious prosecution. The defendant complained that the plaintiff said of him, a I was at loss to know his residence or else should have issued summons against him for passing a bad shilling on my wife." Also, that the defendant spoke and published of the plaintiff, "You are forger and swindler; you passed bad shilling on wife and, further that the defendant caused a summons be issued against the plaintiff, and therein charged him with having feloniously uttered a base coin to the wife of the defendant, which summons was heard before a magistrate, and dismissed. The plaintiff alleged that by reason of the defendant's conduct and proceedings towards him he had been injured in his reputation and claimed £500 damages. The plaintiff is a commercial traveller, and the defendant, a publican, carrying on business at Irishtown. The defendant pleaded that he did not speak or write the words in the defamatory sense alleged, and that he did not do the acts complained of maliciously. The Jury found for the plaintiff on all the issues. Damages £20.’

It was purchased by Joseph Lemass and later run by his brother John (Sean). They renamed the pub as the Leinster House. Joseph Lemass was born in May 1839 to Peter and Ellen Lemass who lived on North Anne Street.  In April 1866 Joseph married Eliza Bowness.

In 1868 his name was attached to a petition for the release of political prisoners many of whom had been arrested following the failed 1867 Fenian rebellion. The Lemass family also had a lucrative side line operating the catering franchises for events including the popular Metropolitan Regatta held in Ringsend on the River Liffey. Joseph died in 1874 and the pub was put up for sale. The pub was now listed as 57 Leinster Terrace or Irishtown Road as the area expanded and new houses were being built. Joseph Lemass died on 8 October 1885 when he was 46 years old, his wife Eliza died the following March, she was just 39 years old and they left seven surviving children without parents. John Lemass died on April 10th 1916. Their cousin Sean Lemass, a veteran of the 1916 Easter Rising would become Ireland’s 4th Taoiseach serving the highest level of Government from June 1959 to November 1966. He was also the father in law to Charles Haughey another future Taoiseach. He died in 1971. 

The pub was purchased by Michael Lenehan. With the lease coming to an end in 1890, Michael Lenehan purchased the pub across the road from his known as The Eagle Tavern, known today as the Vintage. Without the need for two pubs, the pub at 57 Leinster Terrace was abandoned and fell into disrepair, listed in Thoms Directory in 1898 as vacant. The terrace of four houses were emptied and the terrace demolished. The land was purchased by St. Matthews Church of Ireland parish whose church was just across the road. In 1903, the St Matthews Girls national school was opened to compliment the boy’s school that was located on the corner of Church Avenue.

Throughout the latter part of the 19th century following the introduction of new public house licensing laws in 1850, there was fifteen premises licensed to sell alcohol in the Irishtown area, that was the trio of streets Irishtown Road, Bath Street and Pembroke Street.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Real Irish Public-house History - Laytown & The Seaview Inn


The Original Licence Transfer 

Brian Siggins was a well known local historian in the Sandymount and Ringsend area. The former teacher in Ringsend Tech, passed away a few years ago but his Gerard, knowing of my interest in public house histories has passed on some of his Dad’s archives to me. One of the recent deliveries was this unique piece of Irish pub history, an original pub licence transfer from Laytown in Co. Meath in 1895. This is the front and back of the licence. The small village was famous for its beach horse racing and had thrived with the opening of a station in the village on the new Dublin to Drogheda railway line.

The pub, The Seaview Tavern, was in 1893 owned by John Joseph Curran. Curran was born on June 1st 1865 to a Drogheda merchant and William Curran and his mother Elizabeth nee McGuinness.[1] With the assistance of his father, a very young Joseph Curran moved a few miles south seaside town of Laytown and became a publican purchasing the licensed premises that was being operated by John Bonham. The pub he bought was already a famous tavern based on the Irish Sea coast, featured in a painting that currently is available to view in the National Library. It was not long before the Curran’s new pub was appearing in the newspapers. This is from the Freeman’s Journal in 1885.

The pub was also a venue for a number of inquests when people were drowned in the nearby sea, whether swimming or in fishing accidents. In 1893, Curran decided to sell the Seaview Tavern and advertisements appeared in the newspapers. 

The following year it was sold to Philip McArdle. It was the transfer of licence that features at the top of this post. While McArdle advertised his re-opening of the Seaview Tavern,

Although just like Curran, the local constabulary were watching and shortly after taking over McArdle found himself in court after a raid for afterhours drinking.

Curran returned to the town of his birth Drogheda where he purchased a pub at 3 West Street which had been owned by the Moran family. This is an advertisement that featured in the Drogheda Independent for his new pub in Drogheda.

Joseph Curran is listed in the 1911 Census as being married to Elizabeth (nee Hughes) who was twelve years younger than her wine Merchant and Grocer husband. They had married on June 7th 1906 in Ardcath, Co. Meath. Joseph Curran died on July 14th 1934 in a Dublin nursing home. His wife had predeceased him in April 1929, aged just forty nine. They had three children Mary (born May 1908), William (born May 1910, died October 1918) and Gerard (born 1917).

The Seaview Tavern continued to trade in Laytown firstly changing names to the Seaview Bar which was successfully run by Eamon Lyons for many years. It was later in 1996 to be renamed the Coast Inn by Benny McLoughlin.

Brian Siggins c/o Gerard Siggins
The National Library
The Irish Newspaper Archives
The British Newspaper Archives
The Welsh Newspaper Archives
The National Archives
The National Library of Ireland

[1] He was baptised in October 1868 with godparents Thomas Collan and Eliza O’Shea