#lookUp: The Limerick Go-Go Club

In #rabble7, Culture, History, Print Editionby Paul Tarpey1 Comment

Photo by Wally Cassidy

Photo by Wally Cassidy

 In Limerick The Post Office Lane passageway is one of the arteries in which trade coursed through the i9th century City. Over decades the paths have settled into anonymity as the storehouses they once serviced disappeared. Paul Tarpey explores one of the dramatic and quietly significant stories they hold.


One well known one surrounds the famed Hanging Gardens, adjacent to the lane from Henry St. This was an exotic architectural combination of store and garden built by the banker William Roache in 1808. It is reputed that the visiting sea captains of that time, in a spirit of one–upmanship between themselves, delivered an amount of unusual plants and fruit to Roaches garden, which, one year, accounted for an unusual crop of pineapples on Henry St.

Today the only trace of this bankers Eden is a NAMA owned waterfall fueled by rain coursing through the shell of the failed shopping development, which was begun on the original site in 2008. A development that brazenly appropriated the title ‘Hanging Gardens’ in its PR before folding.

The waterfall greets Kevin Cummins each day as he opens a workshop operating from one of the old bonded wine stores. Cummins Framers has occupied this space for decades. Kevin also operates here as a curator because each year a small amount of visitors call in to ask him the same question ‘is this the Go-Go club?’

For a certain generation the site of the Go-Go club, now Cummins Framers, is sacred. It was here that the late 60s Limericks youth came to dance in one of the first social spaces removed from the boundaries set for them by the authorities. The simple act of membership alone was an act of defiance towards the parents and priests who then controlled the majority of youth dances in the city.

This was the Go- Go franchise a hip alternative to the showband scene. It had venues in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and a rulebook led membership scheme for teenagers who followed the eras left leaning ‘Beat’ bands. One of those scenes DJs, Danny Hugues spoke, in 1971, about the importance of a ‘choice of atmosphere’ for a generation who refused to accept that their youth should be socially mapped and monitored as a replica of something experienced in another era’s ballrooms by their parents.

The Go-Go club of Post office Lane, as it was known locally, hosted a radical mix of music including early line-ups of Limericks’ psychedelic heroes ‘ Grannies Intentions’ who alternated with local DJs such as Peter Jackson. As its popularity grew it opened a Sunday afternoon session for an even younger crowd called Club Ipanema.

The style of the place was a mix of UK and American fashions with an early leaning towards Mod themes. Fashion competitions to choose Limericks ‘Miss Mod’ were a popular feature. Such events consolidated the crowd’s ethos. By the time the club closed in the mid 70’s it was renowned as a key Limerick spot where the sounds and styles of those potentially vital years 1968-73 were celebrated. This is reflected in a charming remnant in the upstairs of the framers where the top of the actual club features murals painted by the last of its member’s remains.

Amongst the visitors who make the pilgrimage to the site of the Go-Go are those who say they left Limerick in search of the freedoms championed by the club. It’s a special moment for them to return and see the stairs and the actual toilets still working, while Kevin recounts tales from other visitors. He has created a quiet loop of memory in this space and is aware that this story of Post Office Lane ends with his retirement. When that day comes he intends to leave with the original Go Go door.


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