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.

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.

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