Entertainment Banter

Saturday 23 March 2019

Copper Face Jacks: 8 of the most memorable stories about the legendary nightspot

Copper Face Jacks has been a rite of passage for decades
Copper Face Jacks has been a rite of passage for decades
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Much as we love to take the proverbial, Copper Face Jacks, or Coppers as it's affectionately known, is a beloved Irish institution, but one which may soon join the likes of Renards and Lillies in Dublin Nightspot Heaven as it goes on the market after 23 years.

The haunt favoured by nurses, gardai and GAA fans (and else anyone hoping for a late pint and the shift of a Thursday night) has been put up for sale by owner and ex-garda Cathal Jackson along with the Jackson Court Hotel.

Mr Jackson envisions Coppers going to the "next level" with the new owners (who will shell out around €40m to buy it) but we're not sure we want it to go to the next level.  It's grand as it is, which is pretty much the same way it has been for more than two decades.

Currently you can attend line dancing classes at Coppers.  There was a teachers' mid-term blow out.  They hosted Bingo Loco, 'Ireland's only bingo rave'.  On Valentine's they embraced "chancers, charmers and cheesy chat up lines".  Sure where else would you get it?

Everyone has a Coppers story.  Maybe it's where you first clapped eyes (and lips, at the same time) on your spouse at the shifting wall or maybe you're the guy who fell asleep on the bar or the other fella who ordered, and received without question, an entire pint of milk.  Or maybe it's where you simply threw the best shapes of your life.

Anyone who has been there will likely remember it fondly, if they remember it at all.  Here are some of the most memorable stories about the legendary Harcourt Street venue...


The 'See yiz in Coppers' call to arms

According to Ronan Moore in his brilliant book, Irishography, when ex-Dublin captain Bryan Cullen "uttered those immortal lines ‘See yiz in Coppers!’ while accepting the Sam Maguire in 2011, he opened the floodgates for Dubliners to flock to this Harcourt Mecca.

"Up until that moment, those from the capital had been largely absent. However, after BC’s public endorsement, their presence soon added to what had long been a favourite of country-born city-dwellers for nigh on a generation, who would come here on the weekend, remember their own local disco back home, sing Maniac 2000 and get the shift."


Phil Babb and Mark Kennedy's run in with the coppers

Paul Howard, the man behind Coppers: The Musical, which is returning for a second run this summer, revealed to Independent.ie that he was at Coppers on the night former Liverpool defender Phil Babb and former Manchester city winger Mark Kennedy caused a bit of drama outside.

“There was always something happening here, always great excitement,” he said.  “I was here the night Phil Babb and Mark Kennedy were arrested outside for running across the bonnets of the cars, just before a World Cup match in 2000 or 2001.  And of course what a place to do it – there was like 300 guards in here at the time!”

Kennedy told the story on Off the Ball in 2017.  He recalled the night starting with a Smirnoff Ice and ending in Coppers...

"Babbsy used to do this, it was called Death Stuntman. He would roll over the bonnet of a stationary car, but demonstrate a stuntman getting hit at sixty miles an hour. You had to see this to believe it, but it was really good!" he said.

"But basically, Babb did Death Stuntman, and he damaged the bonnet of the car. Now bizarrely, and stupidly, he did this on Harcourt Street, which is probably the biggest police station in Dublin, and the car that was damaged was the Ban garda's, who was on security."

Needless to say they were cuffed and Kennedy recalled being placed in a holding cell.  The news was everywhere the next day and a highly unimpressed Mick McCarthy dropped them from the squad ahead of the qualifier against Holland.

We've all been there lads.


The baby conceived after a night at Coppers

Back in 2008, a woman called 'Roisin' approached radio presenter Ray D’Arcy, then with Today FM, to help find the father of her little girl, a man from Birmingham she had met at Coppers in April, 2007. 

Then in 2016 another woman launched an appeal via Ryan Tubridy's radio show to find the father of her then 11-year-old son.

The woman sent an anonymous letter to the show explaining that she became pregnant after a one-night-stand at Bewley's Hotel in Ballsbridge with a man she had met earlier that night in Coppers.  It was Friday August 2, 2003 and it was the night before Laois played Armagh at Croke Park.

They went their separate ways and the only detail she had was the man's name, Sean, and the fact he was from Armagh and might have had an earring.

"I want nothing from him, he has his own life but I just wanted to let him know. We all do stupid things but I have no regrets," she wrote.

“My son is 11 and he has brilliant stepdad now and everything is great. That night woke me up in life and made me grow up. Everyone does these kinds of things when they are young and this has been on my mind for years wondering what I could do to find this person without a second name. I thought I would give your show a try.”

'Do you know who I am?'

Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll is not known for being a diva but trying to get past those bouncers sometimes required a little persistance.  In his autobiography the rugby star admitted he had tried the highly cringeworthy 'do you know who I am?' tactic on a member of the security staff while trying to gain entry to the upper level of the estblishment.

“As soon as I ask the question I know it sounds bad. ‘Sorry – you know me, right?’” Brian wrote. “The way it comes out jars, like I’m putting myself on a pedestal rather than reminding (the bouncer) that we’ve met before. He’s not impressed, he shows me downstairs again. Proper order.”


The tattoo tribute

Hands up who hasn't pointed a tourist eager for late pints and some crack in the direction of Coppers?  The tourists love it every bit as much as we do, although they're more demonstrative in their affection for the place it seems. 

One Canadian visitor was so enamoured by Coppers during her time in Dublin that she honoured it with a tattoo.  No, she didn't emblazon 'COPPER FACE JACKS' across her backside, but she did ink herself with the coordinates.  The venue asked, 'Is this real?', but they checked it out and found it to be genuine. 

Charlotte Metein shared the image of her tattoo on Instagram and asked Coppers if it "might just be worthy of a gold card?"  Given a gold card grants free entry to the holder and a friend any night of the week and allows you to skip the queue they're in extremely high demand...


The Coppers song

Such is demand for the elusive gold card, that comedy duo the 2 Johnnies made their bid one with their Coppers Song, shared in 2017. 

Here's the chorus:

"Teachers, students, nurses, guards, I told her I was going to score from 90 yards,

"County colours, jersey pullers, not the kind of girl you take home to your mother,

"Cheesy tunes, mighty craic, grown men dancing to Westlife tracks,

"Pints and bombers and girls with loose morals, you'll find them all in Coppers..."


Can't Cope, Won't Cope's Aisling learned the ropes in Coppers

Before tackling the role of girl-about-town Aisling in Stefanie Preissner's brilliant series, Can't Cope Won't Cope, actress Seana Kerslake hit Coppers in order to research for the role. 

"We wanted to see what the environment was like and the crowds. It was mental. It was about 12-ish," she told The Herald.  "It wasn't carnage but it wasn't where everyone was sober. It was all for research purposes."

Writer Stefanie wrote an open letter to the club in the Sunday Independent, accusing them of trying to 'gaslight' her with a Gold Card.

"I'm writing to you to take responsibility for my part in the crazy relationship we had, but I'm also going to highlight to you how you could have succeeded in your attempt to destroy me if I'd let you," she wrote.

She said the "intoxicating" nightclub wooed her with their "nostalgic 5ive Megamix and 90s music" and "benefited hugely from me practically moving in".

She also said the boys they hang out with are "knobs", the addition of an ATM machine chipped "away at my future security without interruption" and she "brought my own drink in Capri-Sun pouches" despite being given a gold card.

Copper Face Jacks responded with their own open letter on Twitter:

"We really don't want to make this one of those personal attacks, like the whole Taylor Swift/Ed Sheeran thing, but we must admit your letter did hurt," they wrote.

"The way the whole relationship played out, left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.  Maybe, you just didn't realise how much we were into you."

The letter addresses the gaslighting-with-a-gold-card accusation, "In truth, it was our desperate attempt to pin you down.  Kind of like a proposal if you will.  We were never good at expressing our feelings but this was merely an attempt to keep you in our life forever."

The letter concludes, "Our feelings towards you, Stefanie, are not filled with hatred, but regret.  What might have been?"

Stefanie retweeted the letter with the caption, "Getting an open letter from @CopperFaceJacks is most definitely the highlight of my career to date #cantcopewontcope"


Copper Face Supermacs

Back in 2016 Coppers announced they were teaming up with early morning soakage hotspot Supermacs for 'Copper Face Supermacs' and no marriage had ever sounded quite to wonderful. 

There would be a new branch of Supermacs in the premium bar area of Coppers, they said.  It would be worth around €10m a year they said.

Owner of Copper Face Jacks Cathal Jackson said, “Just last week I was asked by a Guard from Clare in the nightclub ‘Where is the nearest Supermac’s?’ Now, we will only have to point customers towards the Supermac’s branch in our Premium Bar where they can end their night the ‘traditional Irish way’!”

"A new 7 ½ oz Supermac’s Fresh Beef Burger with an additional bun for extra soakage has been introduced which is exclusive to the ‘Copper Face Supermac’s’ menu," they said.

In further good news, patrons of 'Copper Face Supermac’s' would be able to buy heavily discounted 'entry & meal' deals, with holders of the mythical Coppers Gold Card entitled to one free Curry Cheese Chips per night, which Supermac's owner Pat McDonagh claimed would 'almost guarantee them the shift'."

Alas, it was an April Fools' and hopes were cruelly dashed.

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