Alex Findlater and Co. Tea Chest, 1940s

Pure Indiand Tea by Alex Findlater and Co's

Findlater’s was a well-known grocers

Alex Findlater and Co. started life in 1823, trading whiskey, wine and beer. The company expanded rapidly, adding general groceries to its alcohol trade, and became a major institution, with branches all over the city. Ultimately, pressure from supermarkets became too much for Findlaters’ more traditional service – as William Findlater had predicted at a 1902 staff meeting:

“This brings up the question of packet goods, which is one of the curses of the trade, unless they bear our own brand. If this is encouraged much further it will mean the passing out of the grocer, and he will be replaced by a mere hander-out of packet goods, or, we will have nothing but girls behind our counters, which may be unpleasant to many of the young men present!”

With thanks to Alex Findlater

Watch a short clip of the rapid progress of Dublin, showing clips from 1900 and 1991:

Bus Ticket Machine, 1980s

Bus Ticket Machine

This ticket machine was a common sight for most Dubliners

Buses were manned by the two-man bus crew of driver and conductor. When Dublin Bus was born in 1987 it was the beginning of the end for bus conductors and their ticket machines. While most conductors were retrained as drivers, a few stayed on, with one conductor still serving the 20b route as late as 2005.

With thanks to Dublin Bus


Watch footage of buses in 1980’s Dublin:

Emergency Gas Mask, 1939

WWII Gasmask

Gas masks were widely issued during the Emergency

Ireland chose to remain neutral in the Second World War, but there was still a fear that the country could be attacked. A state of emergency was declared (hence ‘the Emergency’), and gas masks like this were made widely available.

Permanent Collection

Watch a documentary on Irish neutrality during WWII:

Brendan Bracken by Sean Dixon (Pencil Sketch), 1941

Brendan Bracken Pencil Sketch by Sean Dixon, 1941Bracken was an adventurer who tried to disguise his roots (Dublin/Tipperary), claiming instead to be Australian

A Tory MP at the age of 28, he published both the Economist and the Financial Times, and was loyal to Churchill when the latter had been cast into the political wilderness after the First World War. In 1940, when Ireland practiced scrupulous neutrality, Brendan Bracken played a key role in Churchill’s succession as Prime Minister, and went on to serve as Minister of Information for three years. Viscount Bracken died in 1958 at the age of 57. He is the subject of an excellent biography by fellow Dubliner Charles Lysaght.

Civil War Propaganda Photo, 1923

IRA stops soldier in the street

A Free State soldier is overpowered by an Irregular

This photo was taken during the Civil War. It shows an Irregular (a Free State term for Anti-Treaty) soldier in plain clothes capturing a Free State Soldier in uniform . The photo was used by the Anti-Treaty side for propaganda purposes and was probably staged.

Permanent Collection

Watch a clip from an RTE documentary about the Irish Civil War:

White’s on the Green Matchbox, 1987

White's matches

Whites was a well-known French Restaurant

White’s on the Green was a French restaurant owned by Peter White and his wife Alicia. Head chef Michael Clifford admired nouvelle cuisine, and fans of his cooking included Charles Haughey and Karl Lagerfeld. While only open for four years during a bleak period in Dublin’s culinary history, the restaurant had an influence.


Permanent Collection

War News No. 3, 1922

War News no.3

Newsletter published by the Anti-Treaty forces at the start of the Civil War

The Anti-Treaty War News includes a report dated 29th of June: “The attack on the Four Courts… is a complete failure…Despite continuous heavy gun and rifle fire, the defences of the Four Courts are intact.”

In fact, shelling by the Free State Army, which began on the 28th of June and precipitated outright Civil War, brought about the surrender of the Anti-Treaty’s Dublin headquarters by midday on the 1st of July. Quite apart from the damage to one of Dublin’s finest buildings, the incident also saw the destruction of hundreds of years of Irish historical records.

Permanent Collection

Fianna Fáil Election Posters, 1948

Vote Fianna Fail

Workers vote Fianna FailFianna Fáil had a tangled birth in the Civil War, and first took power in 1932

Sinn Féin split into pro-and Anti-Treaty factions, with de Valera leading the Anti-Treaty faction. Anti-treaty Sinn Féin boycotted the Dáil for several years after the end of the Civil War until a faction around Éamon de Valera split and created Fianna Fáil.

The Party first came to power in 1932 and were long the most popular party in Ireland. The 1948 election was controversial as Éamon de Valera introduced the Electoral Amendment Act, which was seen as an attempt to ensure the continued dominance of Fianna Fáil. But de Valera failed to retain power after the other parties joined together to create the first coalition government.

Permanent Collection

Virgin Prunes Poster, 1978

Virgin Prunes

This is a poster for the post-punk band the Virgin Prunes

Bono joined the Virgin Prunes for a few songs at this gig in the Project Arts Centre. The Prunes were fronted by Gavin Friday, who was joined by fellow members of the ‘Lypton Village’ Guggi, David Watson, Strongman (Trevor Rowen), Dik Evans (brother of U2’s The Edge) and Anthony Murphy on drums.

With thanks to Gavin Friday

Listen to a radio interview with Gavin Friday:

Dermot Bolger’s Typewriter, 1980


This typewriter belonged to the acclaimed writer Dermot Bolger

This typewriter belongs to the playwright, poet and novelist Dermot Bolger, who was born in Finglas in 1959. Bolger has worked as a factory hand, library assistant and publisher. A respected voice in Irish literature, his novels include Night Shift and The Journey Home.

With thanks to Dermot Bolger

Listen to a reading by Dermot Bolger: