With weeks and possibly months of compulsory home-dwelling ahead I’ve decided to sift through years and years of photos and hoards of travel memorabilia. I found this old photo of Jammets Restaurant, 45-46 Nassau Street. I I must have taken it in my early twenties since I now know that restaurant was in Nassau Street from 1926 until it closed in 1967 – when my weekly wage would not have stretched to cover a starter. When a young John Lennon (in 1964) signed the visitor book he drew a caricature sketch of himself and wrote:“The other three are saving up to come here!”
WB Yeats loved the place, had his own table there in the 1930s entertaining fellow writers Brinsley MacNamara, James Stephens, Lennox Robinson, FR Higgins, Seamus O’Sullivan, Peadar O’Donnell, Francis Stuart,Frank O’Connor, Miss Somerville, JM Hone and Walter Starkie. Actors of stage and screen, James Cagney, Rita Hayworth, Danny Kaye, Peter Ustinov, Josef Locke, Richard Harris and Peter O’Toole.
Micheal MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards, dined there often, at least once with Orson Wells but dined mostly with Edward Pakenham, 6th Earl of Longford, founder of the Gate Theatre, who just about always payed the bill. Which brings me to a well known Dublin expression, still used today and may in all likelihood derive from the restaurant, alluding to someone getting something for nothing, you might exclaim, “you Jammy bastard.” Perhaps, I surmise, another example might have been Charles Haughey and his clique Arthur Gibney and Sam Stephenson architect who reaped both praise and criticism and permanently left their mark on the city from the Central Bank and the Civic Offices to the destruction of rows Georgian houses in Fitzwilliam Street to be replaced by new ESB offices.
Hard to imagine now, but there were not many restaurants in the city then. Thinking back, these would have been around in the 60’s: Nico’s, Dame Street; Trocadero, St Andrew Street; Unicorn, off Merrion Street; The Lord Edward, Christchurch Place and further out in Ballsbridge, The Lobster Pot. In Stillorgan, Beaufield Mews, said to be the oldest restaurant in Dublin is around. Out my side The King Sitric in Howth was a newcomer opening in 1971 and still surviving.
Today Jammet Restaurant is the Porterhouse and before that it was the Berni Inn and I could afford to bring the mot there. There was a second entrance to Jammets from Grafton Street through Adam Court, today that’s the entrance to Lillie’s Bordello.
For further reading: Jammet’s of Dublin 1901 to 1967, by Alison Maxwell and Shay Harpur. – Available to download to Kindle