At Play

“When the weather was fine, we used to play mothers. The pram was made of a white shoebox with a piece of string to pull it along; the baby was a brick, and we put a piece of cloth around it to keep it warm.”


“After 10 o’clock mass, we would go back to the Buildings and play skipping.

Cissie Shevlin and Rosie Pender would turn the rope for us.  Then we would play Relievio – me, Lally Murphy, Kathleen Burke and Mary Black.”


“Me and Mickser used to play cards in the shelters of the Custom House, beside Butt Bridge.

We played a game of Don or ‘Sixer’, as we called it. When we played cards, other boys from Monto – ‘Wicko’, Harry Bishop and the lads – were swimming in the Liffey and diving off Butt Bridge and the railway bridge.

The only times I can remember the cards being interrupted was when there was a body taken from from the Liffey – often the case.”


“We’d sit out in the middle of the road and play “tinny cans” and “jack stones”, which was my favourite.

We used to play “spin the bottle”.  In March, you’d play marbles.

At Easter, the weather would be starting to get warmer so we’d start skipping.  I enjoyed skipping.  In the summer we always used to play “beds”.  Then we used to play “round towers”.  We used to get a hurley and hit the ball and run around.”

Children playing

"We played a lot of football on the street in them days. Sometimes, a match would last for four or five hours outside the hearse yard in Corporation Street."


After school, we played games of marbles, we played with spinning tops which were spun on the footpath –

– we also played leap the frog – that was done by jumping over one another’s backs.


“We were kept busy during the summer.  We used to play ‘spin the bottle’ around on the ground and whoever the bottle stopped at, he got his kiss.

We used to go around to Emerald Street to the ‘poshie woshie’, where the ‘posh people’ lived.  We would tie their hall doors together with a rope and when we had them tied, we would bang on the doors and run.  There used to be a big commotion and they would be trying to open their doors.  That would be our excitement for the night.”


“Most of the lads down in sheriff street loved pigeons.

There would be great competitions going on between the different blocks of flats to see who had the most pigeons flying to them.  All the other lads who had pigeons would be looking at their flocks flying around.

Snaring Pigeons

I was involved in a pigeon loft.  We spent our time down along the dockside in search of pigeons which we could snare.  We used to climb up the big cranes that lifted the cargo off the big boats and if we had of luck there, we would heard into the Point Depot and then head over to Boland’s Mill on the southside.

Swimming in the Liffey

When the weather was fine and sunny, all the lads from Sheriff Street would head over to Spencer Dock (or the tar yard as we called it) to have a swim.  We would dive off the pier into the water and swim over to the half-submerged barge boat that was long abandoned in the dock.  It was great fun; there was always something to keep you occupied in the summer.”


We used to play cricket, football, relievio, handball, sometimes with a hurl up against a gable wall.

We used to play scotch rounders, all these games we played on the street.  I used to go swimming in the Tara Street baths.  I used to go once a week for lessons.   Afterwards, we would buy these ice pops – coloured ice which would leave a colour on your face.  I never actually swam in the Liffey but we used to catch crabs there.”

We used to go down to play where they kept cattle – the cattle pens before they would be shipped off.   There was a place called the bogs – it was off Castleforbes road.  We used to call it bogs because all the bogs of T & C Martin’s were stacked up one on top of the other, and these would go up the height of a three-storey house.  We used to play on these bogs and have great sport climbing up the sides, right up to the very top and running along it.  It was a hive of activity down by the docks.

Children playing
Railway Street 1930s
Children playing

Do you have family memorabilia or stories about life in the North Inner City? We’d love to hear from you: