James Cassidy – artist, visionary and gentleman
The connection between Joyce and Mulligan’s was publicised on the façade of the pub in 1974 when the artist and sign-writer, James Cassidy, carried out considerable restoration work.
He used the front of number 10 as a large canvas on which he painted an elegant Mulligan’s overhead sign and a decorative roll commemorating Bloomsday with the insignia: Do chum Glóire Dé agus Onóra na hÉireann (To the Glory of God and the Honour of Ireland).
The phrase was also the motto of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association.
It also appeared for many years on the masthead of the Irish Press which copied it from the dedication at the beginning of the Annals of the Four Masters. Richard Levins and his staff applied their artistic hands to the façades of numbers 8, 9 and 10 in the summer of 2014.
In 1985, Liam Robinson wrote an article in the Evening Press outlining James’s vision, artistry and enthusiasm.
Painter launches a Golden Age
By Liam Robinson
Because he paints the outside of Mulligan’s pub in Poolbeg Street, Dublin, in the tradition of great craftsmen, the work of James Cassidy is known all over the world. The pub has been a subject for professional and amateur photographers, for years and has attracted post card and poster painters who made it a best seller.
Now James, an expert in colour, an artisan and an artist as well, has set about launching Ireland into a second Golden Age. He says that this effort is not searching for something in a crock at the end of a rainbow. The country is small enough. It has talent. It has the tradition. All it wants is a bit of a push. And he has set out to provide the impetus.
The President and members of the Dail and local authorities have been asked to help pave the way to make 1986 Ireland’s Golden Year and so get fifteen out of every hundred unemployed involved in creative work. With his daughter, Martine, as secretary, James has got off over fifty letters to legislators; and community groups have been asked to co-operate.
“So far,” he says, “the response has been most encouraging. There are many groups around the country bursting to express themselves. But they want an umbrella under which to operate. To designate next year as Ireland’s Golden Year is the answer. And a beginning has already been made. We have asked the Lord Mayor and City Manager, the President and Taoiseach to make Smithfield, Dublin, into a ‘Cobbles and Culture’ square of international importance.”
James met his wife at a Gaelic League club in Manchester and they now live with the six of their family in Finglas. They are all behind his proposed project. And so are the community organisations in Finglas.
ArtMart which they helped get off the ground in Smithfield has already taken part in two street carnivals, given two open art exhibitions and six exhibitions in Finglas library which culminated in a community environmental mural outside Finglas Main Centre.
James has demonstrated how murals can improve the surroundings of Smithfield and has taught pupils how to improve their own neighbourhoods with this particular form of art.
He says: “There are many grants, including ones from the EEC, which are not being used to put artistic talent to work. By operating under the aegis of a Golden Age project we can pool these resources and put new hope into a generous and outgoing people who deserve something better than standing at street corners and developing the mentality that drawing the dole is the most important activity in their lives.
“We visualise groups from everywhere, with a little encouragement, working for themselves and generating a new spirit of hop for the country.”
Evening Press, 18 November, 1985
John Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street by James Cassidy
Literary figures flowered
In John Mulligan’s bar.
Fame flourished fast
And travelled afar.
Was it the company
Or was it the drink
That prompted these people
To put pen to ink?