Dublin 1982: What a difference thirty odd years makes?

This is the Dublin I remember in 1982. The lighting gives it a slightly dour feeling, and you need to stop it every now and then to get the detail. The old cars, VW Beetles were once ubiquitous on southern roads in a way they never were north the border.

GM cars were sold in NI as Vauxhall were badged in the Republic as Opel, with each model having different names. There generally seems have been much more French and German built cars on the road, which were all driven for much longer than we did in Northern Ireland.

In my first job at the semi state NIES, it was a point of pride amongst middle aged employees that they bought brand new which often meant changing the car every couple of years. Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 12.00.56

The number and modest size of the filling stations, the decrepitude of some of the older buses (inn fact my memory is the that the public transport busess were in better conditions than ours). But most of all, compared with even the Dublin of today, is the relative scarcity of traffic.

What a difference thirty odd years makes.. Do people think the place is more or less different to NI these days?

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  • I’ll never forget going down to Abbeyglen Castle Hotel for my summer holidays in 1994 and 1995. The core memory remains for me the roads – how winding they were – and the cars that were on those roads.

    And of the cars I remember distinctly that it was opel where it was normally vauxhall and that the cars where as Mick has said, a lot older. I remember especially that there were a lot of really old fiestas.

    It wasn’t 30 odd years ago, it was just under 20 years ago and even that time period has witnessed a massive change.

  • Home Rule for England

    They certainly drove fast in those days.

  • Zig70

    Twas in Dublin on Friday night drove down and up again from Belfast. Home at a reasonable hour and Temple bar was hiving. Actually heard lots of dub accents for a change.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s still quite distinctive; the camera starts in or around Dún Laoghaire, then along the N11/Merrion Road, past Blackrock and on into town; past the Israeli embassy and onto Northumberland Road, then to St Stephen’s Green via Mount Street. I’m not sure where after that but I think it’s down Grafton St (then unpedestrianised), across Nassau St, then then eventually back down Baggot St and to the canal again around Northumberland Rd.

    It’s a nice little route to drive, or even cycle around. Some of my nicest memories of Dublin when I lived there are cycling around these parts of town; or further out, around Dalkey on a balmy summer’s day.

  • Harry Flashman

    Just for reference sake Derry and Belfast didn’t look too hot in 1982 either.

    Certainly one of the most notable differences between North and South was the cars. Even the more familiar Fords and British Leyland models all came in somewhat different colours than their British-made counterparts (am I right that BL and Ford had their own assembly plants down south?). The colours were odd creamy browns or dark blues which added to the fact that Irish people at the time thought washing their cars was some sort of protestant innovation meant they looked shoddier and gloomier.

    The CIE buses too were older than those in the North (although around the time of this video Derry was relying on ex-London Transport single deckers after the Pennyburn Depot had been firebombed, good old Verner Heubeck[sp], remember him?). They also came in the same mustard shade that many of the cars came in. And who can forget those funny boxy Renaults that the Free State loved so much? Hino seemed to be the only truck supplier in the South too.

    Still and all, as I mentioned above Dublin seemed like a paradise compared to the North back then, even if it did take a bumpy, twisty four hour drive through the charms of Aughnacloy (one-hour wait at the checkpoint on St Patrick’s Day weekends) and Castleblayney. The sound of jet aircraft flying over was very exciting (more interesting than the drone of helicopters) and the yellow streetlights gave it a glamour that the white street lights of the North at that time lacked.

  • feismother

    I went from Derry to Trinity in the late seventies and can concur that Dublin was has a haven of sophistication in comparison. Coming back in 1980 at a particularly horrendous time was quite demoralising. I knew somebody who drove one of those bright yellow Renault 4s round Dublin at that time and I think I saw a green Citroen Diane as well.

    Public call boxes were still of the Press Button A/B variety and were always so full that we used to reverse the charges when phoning home. Mind you I remember in those days if we wanted to phone our Donegal cousins (just a few miles over the border) from Derry you had to book the call with the operator and wait for about an hour until you were rung back.

    Husband (a contemporary of mine at Trinity) and I were in Dublin a few weekends ago and remarked again as we’ve done over the past few years how different things are. In the 1970s the south side closed on Saturday afternoons (as did some parts of Belfast – my daughters don’t believe this) and you’d be hard put on a Sunday to buy a pint of milk – I remember from living in rooms in Trinity. Now it’s all go with everything open and loads to do.

    We still can’t get our heads round the traffic on the Green going the WRONG WAY!


  • Harry Flashman

    Don’t forget the Bernie Grill in Nassau Street for a steak and chips and all the trimmings, or for the young at heart Captain America’s in Grafton Street (I think that’s still there).

    Mum and Dad can get a nice Irish Coffee in Nearys while we make do with a Club Orange and the Tayto crisps that never tasted as good as Golden Wonders, no matter how much Free Staters go on about them, and then if we’re very good a trip to the proof that Dublin was the hippest place in Ireland; MacDonalds.

    If you want to get a good idea of what Dublin looked like in the early eighties watch the movie Educating Rita which was shot in Trinity and Dublin in 1981.

    No Christmas would be complete without going to see the display in Switzers’ window and then on to the RDS for Funderland.

    And then back to dreary Derry in January. In the 1970’s.

    Jesus, is it any wonder half of us have drink problems?

  • feismother

    I remember the first Irish MacDonalds opening on Grafton Street in about 1978 although there was already Burgerland on O’Connell Street which was a MacD type place. I also remember the kerfuffle when the British Home Stores opened on O’Connell Street at about the same time and the first Marks and Spencer. I used to get a bus on the quays with all the English girls over to do the training who were, I think, staying in the Tara Towers.

    Can’t agree with you about Tayto v Golden Wonders. Even the three daughters have to stock up when they come home from London.

    I have fond memories of the Derry/Dublin bus. Traffic could be excruciating getting up the Whitworth Road on a Friday evening. Yes, Aughnacloy, I knew every house beside the checkpoint. Coronation Park was it?

    The big difference in the journey between then and now was that in those days the Derry/Ballygawley portion was infinitely better but now that has been turned on its head and the road improves beyond that – they’re currently working on the last bad bit between Emyvale and Monaghan.

  • Mark

    Ah Harry , The Bernie Inn ….. Best steak in town unless you travel further south to Kingstown to the Mirabeau but you’d need a few pound for that .

    Dublin 1982 ….. Were there even drink driving laws back then ?

  • Roy Walsh

    Road reversal, used to be off to Monaghan, Cavan and Meath each weekend, you knew when you hit Monaghan as the road surface turned from smooth to pitted, all changed today with better surfaces in the free-state.
    The cars, Dublin always had a wealthy element which bought new cars frequently, while in the six counties this was the preserve of security force members and lawyers.
    And you could get drink on a Sunday.

  • Roy Walsh

    Mark, drink driving laws in 1982 were, ensure the sergeant is not in the bar, if he is make sure he has the squad car with him then buy him a couple of pints.

  • Harry Flashman

    “When does the pub close?” asks the tourist.

    Landlord glances at watch, “Ah sure about October some time”.

    I took the Derry Dublin bus the last time I was back and was delighted that even though the bus was super swanky we still had the fifteen-minute stopover at Monaghan Bus station. The joy of being transported back a quarter of a century was delightful, a cup of scalding hot yet oddly weak tea in the same crockery they’ve been using since at least 1985, then a pee in the coldest toilets in Ireland and back on the bus again.

    Strangely enough on the way back the driver didn’t stop at the bus station but instead parked at a well-accommodated Centra supermarket where for fifteen euros I could pick up a decent bottle of red wine and some fine turkey and beef sandwiches thus obviating the need to go out for dinner that night in Dublin.

    As regards the roads, although the South’s roads looked unkempt they were pleasantly wide and sweeping thus allowing you to actually overtake once in a while. The North by contrast whose fine roads were the proud sign of their inherent superiority were fussy, over-signposted (do we really need to know the name of a roundabout?), narrow and presbyterian with everyone driving their well-cleaned Austins frustratingly within the speed limit.