Entertainment Festivals

Monday 21 October 2019

Pride Festival 2019: Historic photos show how Dublin's first-ever pride parade started with 200 people

Gay Pride1980, picnic at Merrion Square. Photo by Thomas A. O'Shea.
It is a condition of use that all photos are © credited to the photographer, courtesy Irish Queer Archive/National Library of Ireland.
Gay Pride1980, picnic at Merrion Square. Photo by Thomas A. O'Shea. It is a condition of use that all photos are © credited to the photographer, courtesy Irish Queer Archive/National Library of Ireland.
Gay Pride Day Protest, 27 June 1974, outside the Department of Justice. Photo by Gareth Miller. It is a condition of use that all photos are © credited to the photographer, courtesy Irish Queer Archive/National Library of Ireland.
Tommy pictured at the Gay Pride Parade in 1984
The line-up for Gay Pride Week 1983
Tonie Walsh speaking at Gay Pride in 1983

Patricia Murphy

It’s been 35 years since Dublin’s first ever Pride Parade marched its way from St Stephen’s Green to the GPO and old photographs from the monumental day reflect just how much things have changed since June 1983.

Last year saw more than 60,000 people take to the streets of Dublin for the Dublin Pride Parade, but in 1983, just 200 members of LGBT community marched in sombre circumstances. Homosexuality was yet to be decriminalised and the community had recently been dealt a significant blow following the ruling in the case of Declan Flynn, who was died in Fairview Park following a brutal attack motivated by his sexual orientation.

Tonie Walsh, Independent Curator of the Irish Queer Archive at the National Gallery and an activist who spoke at the Gay Pride Parade in 1983, noted how the festival has grown throughout its long history.

“Less than 200 people marched in the first Pride parade in 1983, where Joni Crone lead gave the lead speech. Grafton Street had recently been pedestrianised, but we were told we weren’t to march down it. However, we insisted. We wanted our day in the sun. If I remember correct, the complete budget for Gay Pride Week in 1983 was about £300.

READ MORE Pride Festival 2019: 'You only have one life, don't live a lie' - young farmers on changing times for gay people in rural Ireland 

Although the parade took a hiatus for many years, the march has become a much-celebrated marking in Dublin’s diary throughout the past three decades and Ireland’s recent embrace of equality has made the occasion that much more special for the nation.

Toni said that the Gay Pride events in the Eighties had an “innocence” and consisted of picnics and even group trips to Glendalough.

“I remember being kicked out of a bar on Dame Street in 1981 for holding my boyfriend’s hand nonchalantly. The manager said ‘I don’t want your kind in here’. The picnics had sort of an innocence about them, and allowed the LGBT community, which was becoming ever more diverse year on year, to socialise without alcohol,” said Tonie.

READ MORE: Guide to Pride: everything you need to know about Pride 2019 

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