Dear, Dirty Dublin

John Johnson Marshall
Chapter IX

To return to the province of Leinster from which we wandered into Connaught, everyone is familiar with “dear, dirty Dublin,” which still continues to be applied to “the car-drivingest, tea-drinkingest city in the world.” The affectionate epithet of “dear, dirty Dublin” is usually ascribed to Lady Morgan, although the writer has seen it attributed to Mrs. Siddons. It is quite unlike a saying of that stately lady, and far more like a phrase uttered by the vivacious author of “The Wild Irish Girl,” whose receptions in the “tea-drinkingest” of towns were the pleasantest possible. W. J. Fitzpatrick in “The Friends, Foes and Adventures of Lady Morgan.” p. 119. says:—“Considering her great popularity in Ireland, it is indeed no wonder that Lady Morgan should so long have preferred “Dear, dirty Dublin,” as she herself called it, to a splendid house in Regent Street which the late Colburn offered her rent free.

“Tallagh talk” or “Tallagh hill talk,” is a term for a braggart, or brag gadoci’s talk. Formerly beggars were whipped out of Dublin as far as Tallagh hill, when there out of the jurisdiction they used to turn and abuse the mayor, aldermen and magistrates and say what they would do to them.

In the County immediately south of Dublin the Wicklow clans in bygone days were termed “the three scourges of the Saxons.” How they earned this appellation is sufficiently described by Thomas D‘Arcy M‘Gee in:—

Feagh MacHugh (O Byrne).

“Feagh MacHugh of the mountain—

Feagh MacHugh of the glen—

Who has not heard of the Glenmalure Chief

And the feats of his hard-riding men?

From Ardamine north to Kilmainham,

He rules like a king of few words;

And the marchmen of seven score castles

Keep watch for the sheen of his swords.”

An old chronicle states that the Normans landed at “the Bann (Bannow)” and remarks “that hereupon the rime runneth:—

“At the creek of Bag-an-bun

Ireland was lost and won.”

The explanation of this will be found in Keating:—“As regards Robert Fitz-Stephen he came to fulfil his engagement to MacMurrogh, and the number of troops that came with him to Ireland were thirty knights, sixty esquires and three hundred footmen, and they landed in the harbour of Banbh (Bannow) on the coast of County Wexford at a place called Bag-an-Bun. The year of our Lord at the time was 1170, and the seventh year of Roderick O‘Connor’s reign.”

Shakespeare in “King Henry V.,” Act I., scene 2, has the couplet:—

"If that you France will win

Then with Scotland first begin.”

The dramatist for his historical plays used largely Holinshed’s Chronicle (1578) and in that work it is given as “Whoso France will win, must with Scotland first begin.” Shakespeare no doubt, quoted from memory. Hall, an earlier writer from whom probably Holinshed adapted it has “He that will Scotland win, let him with France first begin.”