History of JJ Smyth's

Here is a little history about the house that Thomas Moore was born in and what is now JJ Smyth's (JJ's). This article is copyright by Pelican marketing publications.

thomas mooreThomas MooreThe Irish National poet Thomas Moore was born in this house on the 28th of may 1779. This also became one of the cities oldest continuous licenses, which has remained on precisely the same site since the 1730's. In fact the first license appeared here about the same time as that of the Aungier Street Theatre which opened on March 9th, 1734 on the site originally proposed for the mansion house. The theatre was intended to replace the famous Smock Alley Theatre which was later rebuilt, causing Aungier Street to close within 13 years. But Aungier Street, which was in 1679 named after baron Aungier, Master of the rolls, came to prominence in the middle years of the 18th century as one of Dublin's most affluent commercial and residential thoroughfares and home to several members of parliament.

Kerry man John Moore arrived in the 1770's and enjoyed a fashionable patronage on his prosperous street. But before long John, like all wise Kerry men realized the emerging talent of his literary son and invested in all his hopes, profits and dreams in all young Thomas's advancements. It was here that Moore composed his famous melodies, and here that he studied by candlelight the law thought by day at Trinity College.

When Moore returned from abroad in the 1830's Charles J Reddy was doing a fine grocery and spirit trade from his house. Moore was accompanied by Dr. Petrie who years earlier had made the death mask for Moore's close Trinity friend Robert Emmett, and asked to see the house of his birth. On arriving at his house Petrie observed that Moore became deeply emotional and burst out into tears, I am looking Petrie he explained " for the little gable window by which I penned my earliest verses, the Melodies ".

bradysThe 1850's found Thomas Murphy trading as eager as a beaver from this pub and next-door at No. 11 was the Rev. T. Seymour of the Methodist Tabernacle, who by all accounts was just as eager in the salvation of souls.

By the 1870's both Thomas Murphy and the Methodists had passed on, Murphy being replaced by a well respected and active publican Thomas Healy, and the Methodists by a Reformed Presbyterian Meeting House. Now these chaps, teetotallers by religious persuasion, were not at all impressed by inebriated regulars staggering past their doors addicted to the wages of sin. But the wages of sin seem to have prospered on this occasion, for by 1895 we find that the Presbyterians had moved elsewhere and Thomas Brady was doing a large Grocery and Pub trade from his house. Brady was to spend nearly 40 years at this house and in the process see this nation pass from an integral dominion of the British Empire to one of national self-government.

During the 40's and 50's this house became the darling of Dublin street traders and singers and often reverberated late into the night to the sounds of young Brendan Behan and his mother Kathleen. But the cellar man's lot was not a happy one in this era as the house did not then possess a ladies toilet, which forced the ladies to obey a call of nature on the grating outside the premises. And this was very bad news for the unfortunate storekeeper if he happened to be working in the cellar underneath. Today several years and owners later we find JJ Smyth and his wife Carmel trading from the same house that produced Tom Moore. jjsketchJJ left the security of farming life in order to obtain this business. You'll find the pub dated in that it still represents the Formica era, but judging by recent unpredictable trends in the pub trade we may yet see a return to this idiom. The upstairs is by nightfall a music haven but you won't hear many of Moore's melodies unless of course they have been adapted to Blues/Jazz airs.

The downstairs bar is a real drinking emporium of good crack, slagging and banter without even the slightest air of rancor. In many ways this house is an epitome of a once familiar Dublin pub life which as all too sadly been absorbed and overshadowed by the advent of the cosmopolitan super pub. Come along and savour this old house, and I may suggest that you leave your Louis Copeland 'tin of fruit' at home! Gargle a few pints and discover the true characteristics of the Dub: precious, welcoming, witty, superior in a non-condescending way - but most of all indignant.


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