When i-D Magazine launched in 1980, its Worldwide Real Guide section took to the cities to scour the streets for some action. They photographed and interviewed young cool natives and then wrote pen pictures and lists which provided an insight into the local youth culture scene. But when i-D visited Dublin in 1985 they found a backward and grim city beset by unemployment and emigration.
One of those interviewed was Helen Healy, who worked for Spec Magazine and was also involved with The Dublin Youth Theatre. Helen astutely described the Dublin scene as “very conservative, you’re either on the dole or holding down a respectable job and doing things part-time. So much of your individuality is stamped out here…50% of the population here is under 25 and there’s nothing to cater for them…the position of women legally is very bad too.”
Brayo, the singer with local punk group Paranoid Visions, was getting 32 punts a week on the dole when i-D caught up with him in Duke Street. When asked what pub serves the best Guinness, he replied, “I wouldn’t know, they don’t let me into pubs.” His photograph was the feature photo in the two-page article, and this tells its own tale. A spiky-haired punk wearing stereotypical apparel may have resonated back in 1977, but in 1985 it looked dated and stale – just like Dublin.
i-D interviewed John O’Reilly while he was hawking copies of Out, Ireland’s first commercial lesbian and gay publication, outside the National Gay Federation (NGF). Although officially the law on homosexuality is still pre-’67 (life imprisonment), “it’s rarely, if ever enforced”, says John. “I prefer the scene here than in London – not so sleazy.” His favourite pub is The Bailey.
Another singer interviewed was comedian and Father Ted star, Joe Rooney. Joe was then the lead vocalist with Guernica while also running Mac’s second-hand record stall in the Georges Street Arcade. He told i-D that, “there were only 2 to 3 places to play in Dublin.” His favourite pub was the Pygmalion, which along with Kehoes and Mulligans of Poolbeg Street, made it into the i-D top three pub list. (Note: this was the original Pygmalion on Stephen Street where the Hairy Lemon is today.)
The magazine also suggested Things To Do, a list of mundane activities more suited to its readers’ grandparents, which included Ballroom dancing at Jurys Hotel, listening to a piano recital at the Powerscourt Arcade, and afternoon tea at the Shelbourne Hotel.
For nightclubs, i-D had little to choose from but recommended Faces on Adair Street, The Cage at the Hirschfeld Centre, and Funktion on Pembroke Street. Funktion played good dance music (soul, funk, and electro) but the weekly ‘club’ took place in the lounge of a bar and finished at 11 pm! As another interviewee said, “after 11, there’s nothing.” That was Dublin 1985.
Photos and extracts from i-D magazine #22, February 1985.
Compiled by Marion Moisy with photos by Robin Ridley