Gay contribution to Temple Bar
Madam – I read with great interest the fascinating piece by Jerome Reilly about Temple Bar (Sunday Independent, November 17, 2013). I was, however, sorry to see that once again an essential element was left out. That is the role played by the gay community in the revival of this completely neglected area of Dublin.
After the dissolution of the Irish Gay Rights Movement and the loss of its disco and premises during a period of difficulty involving personal and political differences between some of the leaders of the movement, I moved into the entirely political sphere of seeking law reform. However, I was approached by a large number of people who wanted to revive the social side of life.
I went on a hunt, and eventually took the lease in 1978 of number 10 Fownes Street Upper. We opened that as a gay community centre, complete with the hottest disco in town, on St Patrick's Day 1979. Many famous people visited, including Elton John. We used the money generated from the disco to publish information leaflets about safe sex, to provide counselling for parents and families as well as young gay people, and to put on entertainment. We also did discos for other groups such as the Wood Quay people, women's groups, environmentalists etc, and it was a mixture of all these people who saw the opportunity, took up short-term leases and launched what became known as Dublin's Left Bank.