Flanders Poppies and Easter Lillies: Commemoration of the First World War in Waterford, 1918-1939

This is the talk which I gave on Sunday afternoon during the History and Heritage weekend as part of the Imagine Arts Festival. The poem  to which I refer throughout is Isaac Rosenberg’s Break of Day in the TrenchesA reading of this poem prefaced my talk. Some of this material was previously written for The Dustbin of History, but was updated for this talk. Continue reading “Flanders Poppies and Easter Lillies: Commemoration of the First World War in Waterford, 1918-1939”

Imagine Arts Festival: Ballybricken

Ballbricken green from the 25" map of Ireland drawn up in the early twentieth century.
Ballybricken green from the 25″ map of Ireland drawn up in the early twentieth century.

This evening I attended the premiere of a new film looking at Waterford’s history from the viewpoint of Ballybricken, as part of the Imagine Arts Festival. I went with my family and we sensibly went well before screening time because before the film started, the entirety of St. Patrick’s Church (formerly a Methodist church, today used by Waterford’s Unitarian congregation) was packed out to such an extent that a second screening was set for 7pm. And having now seen the film, anyone who was turned away at 5 but returned at 7 won’t have been disappointed. Commissioned following the success of an earlier collaboration between documentary maker Mark Power and Waterford Youth Arts which looked at Barrack Street in the city, Ballybricken manages to give full life to a vital area in Waterford city and county’s history spanning from the 17th century to the present day. Continue reading “Imagine Arts Festival: Ballybricken”

From Letna to Dolicek: A Journey through Czech football

I’ve been working remotely in Prague for the past number of weeks and as I usually do when I’m here, I try to attend some of the local football. Being here for three weeks meant there was ample opportunity to catch games. In the past, I’ve been to a number of AC Sparta Praha games, in the main because they were closest to where I was staying and because, as the city’s biggest club, it was something of a no-brainer. Yet, the more I visit Prague, the more and more obvious it becomes that this is far from a one-club city. So, this time I decided to go beyond Sparta’s home turf of the Letna Stadion. Continue reading “From Letna to Dolicek: A Journey through Czech football”

From The Archives: Ireland v Bulgaria Paris Olympics,1924


As you probably know by now, Ireland became an independent state in 1922. As well as the GAA, athletes competing on the world stage at the Olympics, often under the flag of the United Kingdom, also did their part in promoting a separate national identity – especially in displays at the Olympics. That story is best told in Kevin McCarthy in his wonderful book Gold, Silver, Green: The Irish Olympic Journey 1896-1924 (Cork: 2010).

The Olympics got under way this evening with the women’s football and although football isn’t considered to be really what the Olympics is all about (it’s about this and this and this mostly), it is historically at least, very important to the story of Irish soccer. Continue reading “From The Archives: Ireland v Bulgaria Paris Olympics,1924”

From The Archives: Ireland v Yugoslavia 1955, When Football Became a Mortal Sin

One of the great bogey-men of the Irish twentieth century is former Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid.  His considerable influence is summed up neatly in  John Cooney’s 1999 biography, Ruler of Catholic Ireland where Cooney writes

Continue reading “From The Archives: Ireland v Yugoslavia 1955, When Football Became a Mortal Sin”

From The Archives: Ireland v Germany 1936

By David Toms

With the European hangover well and truly recovered from, and the World Cup qualifying campaign due to start in the not-too-distant future, it’s time to take a look back to when Ireland thrashed Germany 5-2. If nothing else, it might help to get the belief up after a fairly deflating summer on the international front. Famous now as much for the remarkable newsreel footage of the game and the infamous match-day programme displaying the Nazi flag, the game was an important victory for the Irish side and for the organisers of the game in the country. Continue reading “From The Archives: Ireland v Germany 1936”

From The Archives: Waterford FC v Manchester United FC

A while back, I wrote  a piece for Pue’s Occurrences, sadly a now defunct history website, about the football programme as historical source. Amongst my prize possessions are the programmes for the two legs of Waterford’s European Cup tie with newly-crowned European Champions, Manchester United, in 1968.With the first round of qualifiers for next season’s European football currently underway in Ireland, we thought it would be fun to look back at the year when Manchester United visited Dublin to play the men from the sunny south-east, Waterford FC.

In 1968, Manchester United won the European Cup by defeating Benfica soundly 4-1. This made them the first English winners of the European Cup and brought to an end a story that began with a plane crash a full decade earlier. That Manchester United team, probably one of the most celebrated in the history of the game began the defense of that title on the 18th of September 1968 in Lansdowne Road against Waterford Football Club.

Continue reading “From The Archives: Waterford FC v Manchester United FC”

From the Archives: Irish Free State League v Welsh League

Today, Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm passed away at the age of 95. Hobsbawm’s quest for writing history that mattered led him to write about everything from shoemakers, tradition, jazz and sports while also providing us with one of the greatest multi-volume histories of Europe ever produced and ever likely to be produced. Continue reading “From the Archives: Irish Free State League v Welsh League”

Football Objects: The Turnstile

Gainsborough Trinity-5

Before you get up to your seat to watch a game of football, you have to enter the ground, cranking through the turnstile as you hand over your money. Football as it exists today, could hardly exist without the turnstile. It is fitting that such a revolutionary object, itself revolves as you pass through it. Continue reading “Football Objects: The Turnstile”

A Deathly Business: Thompson’s Funeral Home, 1874-1929

Last week, you may recall, I took a look at the consumption of alcohol at funerals based on the recent digitisation of records from Thompson’s funeral directors in Waterford. This week, I’ve returned to the same sources, to consider a few more things which emerge from the records, which offer all kinds of insights into the business of undertaking from the late nineteenth century and on into the twentieth. Continue reading “A Deathly Business: Thompson’s Funeral Home, 1874-1929”