At Hyatt Centric we understand that the heart of Dublin City is its people. Their warmth, their stories, their eccentricities. It is the characters of Dublin City both past and present that make it such a vibrant and colourful place to live and visit.
As one of Dublin’s oldest neighbourhoods, The Liberties has been home to many of Dublin’s most famous and well-loved street characters over the years. By sharing some of our favourite Liberties characters with you, we hope to ensure that their stories are retold and remembered throughout the world for many more decades to come.
Bang Bang was born Thomas Dudley in the Rotunda Hospital in 1907. When his father died in 1913, Bang Bang was sent to an orphanage in Cabra but he lived most of his life in Mill Street and The Liberties.
He loved cowboy films and it was by recreating scenes from his favourite westerns that he earned the moniker Bang Bang. He would jump on the back of buses and trams and instigate mock gunfights with passers-by by pointing his ‘gun’, which was in fact one of his many large keys and shouting “bang bang”. Bang Bang became famous for his shoot-outs and usually when he started a ‘gunfight’ people would join in.
In later life Bang Bang was taken in to the care of the Rosminian Fathers. He died on 11 January 1981 and was buried in an unmarked grave in St Joseph’s Cemetery in Drumcondra. However, Bang Bang’s legacy lived on as he was so fondly remembered by is fondly remembered by many people who witnessed his antics in the 50s and 60s and in 2017, 36 years after his death, a headstone was erected on his grave. One of Bang Bang’s keys is on display in the Pearse Street Library and there is a local cafe in Drumcondra named after him.
Johnny Fourty Coats
Johnny Forty Coats was born Patrick Joseph Marlow in James Street in 1887. He rambled the streets of The Liberties from the time he was a child and was known throughout Dublin City. He got his nickname because of the many layers of clothing he wore. A typical day’s attire could include four overcoats, seven waistcoats, two shirts, two undershirts and two pairs of socks!
He is said to have worn so many layers because he was a claustrophobic who slept outdoors. However, it didn’t matter what time of day it was or what the weather was like, he was never seen without his numerous layers.
Forty Coats made his living begging outside the city’s churches. He loved to read and would always carry comics and Penny Dreadfuls which made him very popular with local kids who he allowed to read them. He was regularly seen in local cafes but was barred from a few for spitting on the floor. Despite this habit he was known for his kindness and would give things to people who he thought needed them more than he did.
Forty Coats and his counterparts like ‘Damn The Weather’ would regularly be seen at Thompson’s Bakery on Bridgefoot Street, off Thomas Street. They would stand against the wall of the bakery to enjoy the heat from the ovens.
Jembo No Toes
Jembo No Toes lived in Garden Lane, near Francis Street, in the mid-20th century. He was a blind artillery man who had fought in the First World War.
He got his nickname because he suffered with bad feet and so cut the toe caps out of his shoes and would walk around with his toes hanging out. He was regularly seen around Patrick Street where he would sing:
I don't want to go to the trenches no more,
Where the alley man's guns shatter and roar.
Oh my! Oh me! Take me home over the sea,
Back to the Liberties.
Stony Pockets lived in Cole Alley, which was off Meath Street, in the early 19th century. He was a lifelong friend of Zozimus and often accompanied the blind bard as he recited his poetry on the streets of Dublin. Stony got his nickname as he would carry stones in his pockets to balance him when he walked because, he said, his head “was flying away with him”. Historians believe Stony was probably suffering from what we would know today as vertigo. Despite this he was known to walk for miles from as far as Howth to the Tower of Hook, now known as Hook Lighthouse in Wexford.
Unfortunately, when Stony Pockets died (date unknown) he suffered the fate that his friend Zozimus was so terrified of, the ‘Sack Em Ups’ came for him. The first time they tried they were chased by the police and Stony’s body was recovered but sadly the ‘Sack Em Ups’ came back a second time and successfully stole his corpse.