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Picture : Outside Advance Records, off Grafton Street, near the Dandelion Market. Hanging out on a Saturday with the various punks and Black Catholics. 1979. I have a new black leather jacket (a la Ramones or Sid Vicious) and I am on the left.

Two years ago, Garry O’Neill published a fantastic book, Where Were You, which documented street styles and youth cults in Dublin, from the late 1950’s to the late 1990s. It particularly focused on Mods in the early 1960s and again in the late 70’s, the punk and skinhead scene of the late 70s and early 80s, of which I was a part. It is a treasure trove of snapshots, memories and fleeting young lives. The book includes an excerpt of an article I wrote in 1997 for the Irish Independent about the Dublin punk scene, and when Garry’s book was published in 2011, I wrote the article below. It can’t be written about enough and the time is long overdue for a proper TV documentary or film about it all. But in the meantime, an exhibition of photographs from the book is now on in the Little Museum of Dublin on St Stephen’s Green.

Sunday Independent   20 November 2011

They say the past is a different country — or city — but what a great place it was. And you can also see myself, hanging around Advance Records, part of the now vanished Dandelion Market off Grafton Street. With my leather jacket and spiky hair, I was a serious New Wave follower and went to see The Clash and The Jam in Dun Laoghaire’s Top Hat as well as The Ramones and The Stranglers in Cabra, not to mention countless small bands like the one we formed called Complete Chaos.

It was an exciting, formative time: of breaking out and rebelling against adult culture, and experiencing the first drink, the first kiss, and the first fight. And there were a lot of fights, alas, as you always had to defend yourself for “looking different”. No problem: there was safety in numbers.

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This photo above, taken by Patrick Brocklebank in 1979, is just one of hundreds of evocative images from Where Were You, a photographic celebration of Dublin’s youth culture, street style and teen life, from the Fifties to the Nineties.

We were snapped outside Advance Records on South King Street. I am on the left, and next to me are the Black Catholics, a notorious punk band/gang from Finglas, who later clashed with the equally-vibrant Virgin Prunes and the U2 set.

Indeed the girl in the photo, Sharon Blankson, would later become Bono’s long-time PA. The chap on the extreme left is Cieran Perry, now an independent councillor in north Dublin.

And just to show that old rifts have healed, the book will be launched by former Virgin Prune, Gavin Friday, next Thursday, in Dublin’s Gallery of Photography.

Compiled by Garry O’Neill and featuring up to 800 photographs, it is a fascinating visual record taken from a range of sources. Included is the work of established photographers such as Tony O’Shea, Derek Speirs, Bill Doyle and Fergus Bourke, as well as a diverse and eclectic mix of coverpersonal snapshots, photo-booth and Polaroid photos.

Ticket stubs, badges, flyers and newspaper clippings complement the photographs and enhance this unique social document of an overlooked aspect of the city’s past. In the photos, you can see Mods from the early sixties in Dublin, and from the Mod Revival of the late seventies, with their parkas and Vespa’s on Dublin’s South Anne Street. You can also see grinning skinheads from the late sixties, when this intimidating sub-cult emerged as a challenge to the then dominant and more middle class hippie movement.

The book features an introduction by Steve Averill, designer of U2’s albums and former member of The Radiators. Supported by Fujifilm Ireland, the book is available from http://www.wherewereyou.ie and bookshops priced €29.99

More on ‘Where were you’ on the Fred Perry website:

http://www.fredperry.com/blog/post/2013/03/11/where-were-you-by-garry-o-neill

http://www.littlemuseum.ie/

More pictures from Where were you:Image

Mods on O’Connell Street 1979

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Gavin Friday of the Virgin Prunes, right, with Tommy ‘Bottle of Milk’ McCann, editor of Almost Art fanzine

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