On This Day-Drivetime-18.7.1822 – The new Theatre Royal in Dublin opens

 

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Like the famed Horsemen of the Apocalypse there have been not one but four establishments named the Theatre Royal in Dublin since the first incarnation opened in Smock Alley in 1662. That particular version was managed in the 18th century by Thomas Sheridan, father of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan who proved his Colganesque powers of persuasion by enticing the likes of David Garrick and Peg Woffington over to Dublin to perform.

 

That manifestation of the Theatre Royal closed in 1787. It wasn’t until 1822 that another theatre of that name opened in Hawkins Street. It had 2000 seats and cost a gargantuan £50,000 to build. Its first claim to fame was that it became the scene of one of the most famous riots in a Dublin theatre – placing a decent third after the Abbey’s Playboy of the Western World disturbances of 1907 and the Plough and the Stars convulsions of 1926.

 

This particular flap has gone down in history as The Bottle Riot – it happened in December 1822 and was sparked by the perception that the Lord Lieutenant, Marquess Wellesley – brother of the Duke of Wellington – was insufficiently interested in keeping Catholics in their proper place. A disaffected spectator, spotting the Viceroy in his box, threw a bottle and then a rattle at Wellesley – presumably the latter projectile had come from his pram. As a result fighting broke out among the Orange and Green members of the audience. For the record, the play on stage, which became a bit of an irrelevance really, was Goldsmith’s She Stoops To Conquer. This was, in effect, how the Lord Lieutenant chose to react to the missile attack. In a bit of extreme over-reaction for the attack on his exalted personage he had three of the rioters charged with conspiracy to murder. Juries in Dublin at the time being overwhelmingly unionist, the charges did not stick.

 

Before Theatre Royal 2 burned to the ground in 1880 it had hosted, among others, Paganini, Jenny Lynd and the original Tyrone Power.

 

TR3 opened in 1897 on the site of its cremated predecessor – it too had a seating capacity of over 2000. One of its claims to fame was that, in 1906, a young Charlie Chaplin performed there as part of an act called The Eight Lancashire Lads. The other seven have never been heard of since. It was demolished in 1934.

 

TR4 – the final horseman, was an impressive art deco building which could house almost 4000 paying patrons. Not that it did so with sufficent regularity. It was at a disadvantage because of its size and the lively competition from the nearby Gaiety and Olympia theatres. One of its most famous fixtures was its dance troupe, the Royalettes. Despite attracting international acts of the caliber of Gracie Fields, Jimmy Durante, George Formby, Max Wall and Judy Garland – and despite doubling as a cinema – the theatre found it hard to make ends meet.

 

The fourth and final Theatre Royal finally closed its doors in 1962, three hundred years after its Smock Alley incarnation. The magnificent art deco building was demolished and replaced by the magnificent multi storey office block Hawkins House home to the magnificent Dept of Health.

 

The second Theatre Royal, opened its doors 192 years ago, on this day.  

 

 

 

OTD-DT-18.7.1822 – The new Theatre Royal in Dublin opens

 

Like the famed Horsemen of the Apocalypse there have been not one but four establishments named the Theatre Royal in Dublin since the first incarnation opened in Smock Alley in 1662. That particular version was managed in the 18th century by Thomas Sheridan, father of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan who proved his Colganesque powers of persuasion by enticing the likes of David Garrick and Peg Woffington over to Dublin to perform.

 

That manifestation of the Theatre Royal closed in 1787. It wasn’t until 1822 that another theatre of that name opened in Hawkins Street. It had 2000 seats and cost a gargantuan £50,000 to build. Its first claim to fame was that it became the scene of one of the most famous riots in a Dublin theatre – placing a decent third after the Abbey’s Playboy of the Western World disturbances of 1907 and the Plough and the Stars convulsions of 1926.

 

This particular flap has gone down in history as The Bottle Riot – it happened in December 1822 and was sparked by the perception that the Lord Lieutenant, Marquess Wellesley – brother of the Duke of Wellington – was insufficiently interested in keeping Catholics in their proper place. A disaffected spectator, spotting the Viceroy in his box, threw a bottle and then a rattle at Wellesley – presumably the latter projectile had come from his pram. As a result fighting broke out among the Orange and Green members of the audience. For the record, the play on stage, which became a bit of an irrelevance really, was Goldsmith’s She Stoops To Conquer. This was, in effect, how the Lord Lieutenant chose to react to the missile attack. In a bit of extreme over-reaction for the attack on his exalted personage he had three of the rioters charged with conspiracy to murder. Juries in Dublin at the time being overwhelmingly unionist, the charges did not stick.

 

Before Theatre Royal 2 burned to the ground in 1880 it had hosted, among others, Paganini, Jenny Lynd and the original Tyrone Power.

 

TR3 opened in 1897 on the site of its cremated predecessor – it too had a seating capacity of over 2000. One of its claims to fame was that, in 1906, a young Charlie Chaplin performed there as part of an act called The Eight Lancashire Lads. The other seven have never been heard of since. It was demolished in 1934.

 

TR4 – the final horseman, was an impressive art deco building which could house almost 4000 paying patrons. Not that it did so with sufficent regularity. It was at a disadvantage because of its size and the lively competition from the nearby Gaiety and Olympia theatres. One of its most famous fixtures was its dance troupe, the Royalettes. Despite attracting international acts of the caliber of Gracie Fields, Jimmy Durante, George Formby, Max Wall and Judy Garland – and despite doubling as a cinema – the theatre found it hard to make ends meet.

 

The fourth and final Theatre Royal finally closed its doors in 1962, three hundred years after its Smock Alley incarnation. The magnificent art deco building was demolished and replaced by the magnificent multi storey office block Hawkins House home to the magnificent Dept of Health.

 

The second Theatre Royal, opened its doors 192 years ago, on this day.  

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HOW MANY IRISHMEN DIED IN WW1 WHILE SERVING IN NON-IRISH UNITS?

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[Note: This survey is intended as a supplement to some conclusions drawn on fatalities in the afterword of the new revised edition of my book Irish Voices from the Great War]

 

A SEARCH OF THE IRISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL RECORDS

OBJECT :

To ascertain how many Irish-born names are included who fought with non-Irish units and to deduct these from the Irish-born total of 30,986 (source: www.findmypast.ie)

 

PURPOSE:

To establish how many fatalities occurred among those whose service originated in Ireland. To establish a fatality / enlistment ratio for purely Irish recruits – i.e. those Irishmen who joined up in Ireland or those Irishmen already in Irish regiments like the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, i.e. in the regular army or reserve.

 

A caveat – some of the Irish-born soldiers who died in British or non UK units may also have enlisted in Ireland. In, for example, a random sample of 1000 deaths of Irishmen who died serving in English regiments c.3.5% had transferred from Irish units and may well have been recruited in Ireland.

 

An additional caveat – the numbers recorded in the INWMR of those Irish-born soldiers who died in British units may not be exhaustive. There may be other Irishmen who died in British regiments whose names are not recorded.

 

METHODOLOGY:

Use of the invaluable Ireland’s Memorial Records page on the ‘In Flanders Fields’ website [imr.inflandersfields.be/search.html]

 

Basic search terms such as ‘Canada’ ‘USA’ ‘Lancashire’ ‘Royal Engineers’ etc. were entered and these were used to identify the numbers of Irish-born soldiers in British, Colonial and American units who have been included in the Irish memorial records

 

In the records of some soldiers there is an indication of previous units in which they served. Only units with which soldiers were serving at the time of their deaths were counted – this was to avoid the risk of double-counting

 

Where no place of birth was indicated [7405 instances] the soldier in question was not included in any count.

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE – IRISH-BORN SERVING WITH UNITS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES

 

ENGLAND                              6044

SCOTLAND                             1290

WALES                                280

USA                                  13

CANADA                               53

INDIA                                11

AUSTRALIA                            20

NEW ZEALAND                          14

SOUTH AFRICA                         10

 

TOTAL                                7735

 

This means that 7735 names must be deducted from the total of 30,986 names in the Irish National War Memorial Records, designated as having been born in Ireland, in order to arrive at a tentative figure for Irish dead whose service actually originated in Ireland itself. As noted above this figure could err on the low side by around 3.5%.

 

30986

7735

———

23,251

 

However, it should also be noted when arriving at a tentative figure (no definitive figure is possible) that a significant percentage of the 7405 names in the INWM Records whose place of birth is not noted, were actually born in Ireland. On the basis of a ratio of 3:1 (Irish:Non Irish) for those whose country of origin is known we might well surmise that three-quarters of those 7405 men (5554) were born in Ireland.

 

This would give us an actual total of Irish-born of around 36,540 (30,986 + 5554)

 

From this we need to subtract 7735 – giving us a total of Irish-born serving in Irish units who died in the Great War of 28,805 – in other words an Irish fatality ratio of 1:7 – somewhat higher than the UK average of 1:8 (720,000 dead out of a serving complement of 5.7 million). It is worth noting that this figure is not far removed from the statistic of 27,405 given by the Irish Registrar General in the 1926 census as the number of Irish soldiers, excluding officers, who died on active service outside the UK between 1914-18. If deceased officers are added in the figure of 28,805 becomes even more plausible.

 

This of course does not take into account Irish fatalities in ‘colonial’ forces or in the US forces. The only figure that has, thus far, been independently researched, is that of Irish enlistment (c.6,000) and fatalities (c.900) in Australia undertaken by Prof Jeff Kildea. Work yet to be verified by this writer suggests that the equivalent US figure is 1200.

 

 

 

BREAKDOWN OF NATIONALTIES IN IRISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL RECORDS

(SOURCE: WWW.FINDMYPAST.IE –   http://www.findmypast.ie/articles/world-records/full-list-of-the-irish-family-history-records/military-service-and-conflict/irelands-memorial-record-world-war)

 

IRISH                      30,986

ENGLISH                    9,162

NONE GIVEN                 7,405

SCOTTISH                   1,357

WELSH                      314

INDIA  N                   82

USA                        41

CANADIAN                   36

AUSTRALIAN                 21

SOUTH AFRICAN              12

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On This Day -Drivetime -11 July 1792-Belfast Harp Festival

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Denis Hampson would have been a rarity in 19th century Ireland if only for his longevity. He died in 1807 but he had been born in the 17th century, probably in 1695. He is, therefore, one of the few men to have lived through the 18th century in its entirety.

But Hampson has another claim to fame, he was one of the great practitioners of an ancient Irish art which was dying out as he drew his last breath in the year Napoleon first made war on Russia and the Slave trade was abolished throughout the British Empire. Hampson was a harpist, a man who made his living collecting, composing and playing tunes for wealthy patrons.

What made his life even more extraordinary is that, like a number of the men who followed his trade, he had been blinded by smallpox at the age of three. Hampson was from the Magilligan area in Co.Derry and was first taught to play the harp by a woman named Bridget O’Cathain. He acquired a harp of his own at the age of 18 and spent most of his 20s travelling and playing in Ireland and Scotland. Many years later, on a return trip to Scotland, in 1745, he performed before Bonnie Prince Charlie, the pretender Charles Stuart. The harp, which became known as the Downhill harp after his last patron, Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry, who built the Downhill estate, is on display at the Guinness hop-store in Dublin having been bought by the company in the 1960s.

Hampson was also notorious for a swelling or a ‘wen’ on the back of his head. In 1805, when he was more than a hundred years old, Hampson was visited by the Rev. George Vaughan Sampson of Magilligan who wrote that ‘the wen on the back of his head is greatly increased; it is now hanging over his neck and shoulders, nearly as large as his head.’ Towards the end of his life Hampson was actually nicknamed “the man with two heads.”

He married at the age of 86, a lady described only as ‘a woman from Inishowen’, by whom he had a daughter and several grandchildren. Hampson once said of the marriage ‘I can’t tell if it was not the devil buckled us together, she being lame and I blind.’

In 1792 at the age of 96, Hampson was prevailed upon to attend the Belfast Harper’s Assembly, organized by, among others, United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken. It was the first such assembly for six years. A young Edward Bunting, who would go on to collect and record hundreds of traditional tunes, was engaged to notate the music played by the ten Irish and one Welsh harper, who gathered for the festival. Hampson was described as playing with long, crooked fingernails

Hampson was not a fan of the most celebrated Irish harpist and composer of harp music, Turlough Carolan from Meath. While much of Carolan’s repertoire featured at the Belfast Festival Hampson himself resolutely refused to perform the work of his great and more famous contemporary.

Denis Hampson graced the Belfast Harper’s Assembly with his presence, at the tender age of 96. The festival began 222 years ago, on this day.