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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

Within and Without

In 1579 Dublin’s pig-warden is Barnaby Rathe, bellman, master and beadle of the beggars. His main problem is less the escaped pigs who must be rounded up or the beggars than the slippery citizens who won't pay him for his labours. Peter Sirr on Dublin's walls.
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Shop Girls, High and Low

The arrival of the department store at the end of the nineteenth century gave birth to a new social actor, the shop girl specialising in sales. Exploitation, of more than one kind, remained, but here was a figure with more pride and independence than the traditionally heavily oppressed grocery employee.
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The Costs of Technology

A tradesman’s demand for a fee that seemed exorbitant led ‘The Irish Penny Magazine’ back in 1840 to muse on the relative value of slaves in America and the children of the poor in Ireland.
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Eastward Ho!

Peter Sirr prowls the tangled history and contemporary reality of Dublin’s Docklands.
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Men at Arms

The differing attitudes of Irishmen in the period from 1914 to 1922 and beyond can be seen through a brief history of three men. One of them, Emmet Dalton, served with distinction alongside Michael Collins. He had previously been in the British army, and he wasn’t ashamed of that.
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Vanishing Dublin II

Flora Mitchell’s warm tribute – in words, ink and watercolour – to old Dublin, published in the mid-1960s, records the city at a time when much of it was about to disappear forever, a victim of better economic times and the optimism, and heedlessness of the past, that accompanied them.
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Vanishing Dublin

A beautifully illustrated book published in a small edition in 1966 featuring descriptions of numerous streets and lanes in the capital has become a collector’s item. In Stephen Street the street sellers called out ‘Some good fish here!’, perhaps leaving open the possibility that there were some not so good too.
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‘The Sentiments of my Heart’

John Rocque’s Dublin map offered an image of harmony, order and industry. It lied of course. But George II was so taken by it he hung it in his apartments. Perhaps on sleepless nights, Peter Sirr speculates, he climbed out of bed to count his way down Sackville Street or follow his little finger down the lanes of the old city.
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Take Her Up The Mendo

A huge influx of beggars displaced from the land frightened 19th century Dubliners: the benevolent were imposed upon, the modest shocked, the reflecting grieved and the timid alarmed, one observer wrote. In 1818 the Mendicity Institution in Hawkins Street was opened to deal with the problem.
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Digging In

An architectural competition for a design for a new church in Clonskeagh in Dublin attracted 101 entries. The winning entry, from a young architect with the OPW, was modernist in style. But the archbishop of Dublin wasn’t having any of it. Instead a ‘monstrous barn’ was built.
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‘O commemorate me where there is water’

Peter Sirr sees ‘literary Dublin’ as having been characterised by the famous remark, the ultimate put-down, the libel trial, products all of a particular kind of competitive maleness. Behind the posters and brochures aimed at the tourists was a male kind of city, hard-drinking and cordially vicious.
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Involuntary Icaruses

Before Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth in 1961 it was deemed advisable to test out the operation with an animal. The dog Laika became famous, but did not survive. An earlier test flight by balloon, in Dublin in the 1780s, also featured an unwilling passenger, a cat who sadly remains anonymous.
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What Big Hands You've Got

The poet Patrick Kavanagh was a familiar figure in mid-twentieth century Dublin. Along Baggot Street he stepped out like a real countryman come up to town, long strides and hands swinging. Many young women were a bit afraid of him, but he could well have been putting it on a bit.
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Seeking a Safe Haven

Ireland’s Jewish population, which increased dramatically around the turn of the twentieth century, differed from earlier influxes in that it was not focused on occupying land but was predominantly urban. Newspapers here kept the public well-informed about the horrors the Jews were fleeing.
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Noises Off: Dublin’s Contested Monuments

Peter Sirr takes a walk about Dublin, looking up, sometimes looking down, at the ways in which the city has tried to commemorate its notable citizens, historical and imaginary. Statues, he finds, may be moving, may be moved elsewhere, and in extreme cases be removed by explosives.
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A pase around old Dublin

John Speed’s 1610 Dublin map is one of the best-known images of the city, a picture of an intimate medieval town which was soon to embark on its modern expansion. Speed himself, writes Peter Sirr, may never have visited Dublin, rather having, as he cheerfully admitted, ‘put my sickle into other mens corne’.
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In the Double City

Dublin, says Peter Sirr, has never bothered much with Thomas Street; it seems to exist in a state of permanent neglect, many of its fine old buildings on the brink of collapse. Yet it survives, tough, resolute, working class, with a bohemian sprinkle of cafés near the art college like a daub of icing on a crumbling cake.
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Sparks from the Comet

Dubliners on Culture Night this year heard a talk about one of the most eminent Dublin newspapers of the early nineteenth century, delivered in the very heart of what was then the city's newspaper and publishing district.
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In and Out of Fashion

James Clarence Mangan’s reputation saw a significant revival in the early twentieth century, and another around the bicentenary of his birth in 2003. Today he is seen as prefiguring some of the great poets of the later nineteenth century and is frequently read as something of a proto-modernist voice.
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A Personal Vendetta

Thomas Dickson, one of three men murdered in 1916 by the possibly deranged Captain John Bowen-Colthurst, has been accused of editing an anti-Semitic Irish newspaper. The paper, ‘The Eye-Opener’, may have been scurrilous, but it is doubtful if it was anti-Semitic.
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