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The Mero (explanation wanted)

28 Oct 01 - 04:35 PM (#581528)
Subject: The Mero (explaination wanted)


English is not my native language and therefore I have some problems with the lyrics of "The Mero".

What is the sense of "The Mero"?

Kind regards Rainer

28 Oct 01 - 06:27 PM (#581569)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: Snuffy

try looking in this thread for lots of information LYR REQ: The Mero. There are several other threads requesting the same info, but they all ultimately lead back to here.

Wassail! V

29 Oct 01 - 03:48 AM (#581769)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: GUEST,Rainer

Thanks, but I have read it already. There are just some explanations for the slang words. I am just looking for the sense of this song. Is it a song about the war between North-Ireland and the Republic? And what does this cinema mean "The Mero".

Kind regards Rainer

29 Oct 01 - 04:40 AM (#581780)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: GUEST,Stavanger Bill

Hi Rainer,

I think "The Mero" is a place in Dublin. Within the text there is a reference "Bang, Bang shoots the busses with a golden key". I was once told by someone from Dublin that Bang, Bang was one of Dublin's street characters. He had suffered some form of mental illness (probably shell shock) during the First World War, he had been decorated and been given the freedom of the city of Dublin (the golden key). He was to be seen on the streets of Dublin shooting at the busses with his key, in the same way that small boys used to do with sticks while playing "cowboys and indians", up until he died (I think in 1957).

All the best, Bill.

31 Oct 01 - 04:02 PM (#583356)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: GUEST,Rainer


I am still trying to get the meaning of this song. Give me a try: The song is about the troubles (North Ireland/Republic of Ireland). Some people want to solve the problem with alcohol and some people are going to the church. Everyone is getting crazy (they're all playing bang-bang) about this situation. Am I right, or not? I am not sure!

Kind regards Rainer

31 Oct 01 - 05:00 PM (#583396)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: GUEST,Paddy(1)


This song has nothing to do with the troubles in the North.
It is an amusing ditty which sketches some everyday occurrences in Dublin over a period.
I recommend you go to the link listed further up this thread.
The MERO was the slang name for a particular cinema, I have no idea which, but the song is suggesting nothing more sinister than a visit to a cinema !

01 Nov 01 - 02:02 AM (#583668)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)


In the link listed further up are just some slang words explained, but not the meaning of the whole song.

If it is just about visiting a cinema what means the first verse and why they are talking about a church and all those people in Dublin? In the first verse the narrator seems to be nervous, I do not think that it is just the fear about someone under his bed. So why is he really nervous? The song said Dublin has changed since the pillar was going down, what does that mean?

Perhaps I am thinking about it in a complicated way, but if it were just a song about a cinema then there would not be such infomations about the church, the people (bang-bang) and the narrator himself.

Kind regards


01 Nov 01 - 02:19 AM (#583674)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: GUEST,Navillus

The pillar refers to Nelsons Column which was pulled down in Dublin. It is also referred to in the song "The Rare Ould Times". I was told that the Mero was a district in Dublin.

01 Nov 01 - 05:18 AM (#583700)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: GUEST,Rainer

Some people mean the Mero was a district and some people mean it was a cinema. I think the most people are thinking that The Mero was a district in Dublin.

What is Nelsons Column? I am sorry, but I do not understand it.

Now my conclusion: The Mero is a song about a district in Dublin where a lot of people had lived, like crazy people like Bang-Bang or well known like Brendan Behan. The narrator is talking about his life and his life in this district. The narrator do not visit the church and like to drink. Am I right? What is about the violence in the 9th verse and fear in the 1st verse. What mean the phrase "Who is your man?"?

Kind regards Rainer

04 Nov 01 - 06:06 PM (#585890)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: MartinRyan

The Mero was a cinema in Mary St. in Dublin. Can't recall its proper name at the moment. The song is classic urban nostalgia, remembering days when the city was of a size which allowed a sense of community to survive. I know - I was there!


05 Nov 01 - 06:23 PM (#586266)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: Brían

If I am correct, Pete St. John, who wrote the song, was a native of Dublin who worked various jobs around the world.It would make sense that the songs he wrote were nostalgic and talking about the changes he sawn Dublin. I had always enjoyed this song, assuming it was about The Irish Civil War. I was surprised when, after years of listening to the recording, I opened the liner notes to the cassette and found a lot of information about The Mero and Bang Bangs as Martin has affirmed.


05 Nov 01 - 06:30 PM (#586271)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: MartinRyan

James Joyce once managed the Volta Cinema in Mary St. in Dublin. I imagine that was what later became the "Mero"


05 Nov 01 - 11:14 PM (#586434)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explaination wanted)
From: Brían

The Church and the Pub would be the social centers of the narrator's life. As well a being sources of inspiration and outlets for his life, both the Cinema and the Pub would come under crticism from the Church, which would explain why he "does not visit the church and likes to drink".


06 Nov 01 - 06:54 AM (#586600)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Rainer

Thanks for your help.

But about what is the narrator worrying about in the first verse? Does he worry about the changes in Dublin?


06 Nov 01 - 11:12 AM (#586731)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan

I think that first verse is actually an adaptation of a childrens game-rhyme. In fact the tune is similarly borrowed, now that I think of it.


07 Nov 01 - 03:49 AM (#587239)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Rainer

And now another riddle. In the first verse the narrator says he has not visited the church for about 20 years. So he should be at least 21 years old. But later in the song he says his langers need a patch. Langers are the short pants which were used by young boys. So he should be about 14 years. And now the question: Is he a man or a boy? Or am I thinking in a too complicated way?



07 Nov 01 - 04:07 AM (#587243)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: MartinRyan

Yes, Rainer - you are! Think of it as a jumble of half-remembered snatches from childhood looked back at from old age/adulthood.


07 Nov 01 - 02:33 PM (#587626)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)

The Pillar / Nelson's Column / the statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson on O'Connel's Street, similar(?) to the one standing on Trafalgar Square in London, was exploded "on the eight day of March in Dublin City fair ... one thirty in the morning (as stated in 'Nelson's Farewell' by Joe Dolan; in the DT) in 1968, if I remember correctly!

AKS, Joensuu, Finland

07 Nov 01 - 09:36 PM (#587942)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: Brían

I tried to put it as simply as possible in my last post, though I admit I may not be as eloquent as some in this forum. In my opinion, the narrorator's anxiety is caused by the conflict he feels about the criticisms from the Church(which he refuses to go to, but may still govern his emotions) of the things which have given him pleasure/pourpose in his life, the Pub,and the Cinema.

I hate to overanylise a song, especially one like this which is very complex. Martin is right. The song is not in any particular chronology and does not tell one story, but a number of them which are not necassarily related, much like the previews and short features before a main feature at a movie.


08 Nov 01 - 02:56 AM (#588073)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Rainer

Thanks you all for your help!

Why did the Nelson statue explode?



08 Nov 01 - 08:37 AM (#588152)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: PeteBoom

Rainer -

Things explode when one detonates them. In this case, the IRA tripped the detonator which triggered the primary explosive which in turn opened that end of O'Connell Street very nicely, indeed. Or to put it more directly, the IRA blew it to kingdom come - a symbolic gesture linking themselves to the 1916 rising.

According to legend, IRA volunteers piled a stack of home made explosives, grenades, etc., at the base of Nelson's Pillar to blow it up. In reality, based on witnesses and survivors of the GPO, a question was raised on the effectiveness of their homemade grenades when one of them detonated in the GPO and did NOT kill the fellow holding it - just gave him some fairly serious powder burns.

In a flash of inspiration, ut was agreed that they could test the true usefullness of the weapons by piling a stack of them at the bottom of the pillar. If they went off effectively, the whole thing should have come tumbling down. They went off, it stayed up, so the inheritors of "the cause" finished the job for them some 50 years on.

Back to work -


08 Nov 07 - 11:06 AM (#2189005)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Ed

Bang Bang did not get shell shock from the first world war. He was just a simple Dublin Character. He carried a brass key to shoot people down while hanging from a bus. In later life he changed his name to Lord Dudley. He still carried his key around with him, which he showed me in the late sixties. He died in the care of the nuns in the early seventies.

08 Nov 07 - 07:40 PM (#2189395)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Gerry

There's a nice recording of this song by Australian Judy Pinder on her 1998 CD, Foreign Shore. More info by following links from

24 Nov 07 - 01:18 PM (#2201395)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Pete Cummins, Dublin

The Mero, cinema in Mary St Dublin "The Mero" is slang for Mary.
Clarendon St, Church in Dublin.
Johnny Forty Coats, Tramp who used to wander Dublin Streets, wore number of coats.
Bang Bang, another tramp in Dublin used to point at things as if to shoot and go "Bang Bang".
Hafners, famous sausage makers in Dublin.
Jacobs, Buiscuit Makers in Dublin.
Langers, Very Drunk.
Longers, Long Trousers.
The Pillar, Nelson's Pillar stood in O Connell St in Dublin until blown up in the sixties by the IRA, now the site of The Spire.
Hairy Lemon, another tramp in Dublin, named because of long beard.
Dolly Fosset's, Brothel in Dublin.
A Jar, a drink.
Pleanary Indulgence, Reward from Catholic Church for good works.

24 Nov 07 - 07:50 PM (#2201601)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,pattyClink

I can't see explaining the Pillar with sentences, when a song does it so well:
Lord Nelson

25 Nov 07 - 06:07 AM (#2201726)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: Declan

Rainer (If you are still around)

I would guess that the man in the song is fond of the gargle as we say in Dublin (Alcohol that is).

In the first verse he is in "The Horrors" or the DTs, i.e his nervousness is induced by alcohol from the night before.

I would regard the song as being mostly a bit of nonsense, do't bother trying too hard to understand it.

By the way Nelson's Pillar was blown up in 1966 the 50th anniversary of the 1916 rising.

25 Nov 07 - 12:22 PM (#2201837)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: Mysha

Hello Rainer,

Some songs are written with words that do not explain things exactly. The writer leaves some stuff out, so the listeners can explain it in the way they like best. This is such a song; it doesn't have a precise meaning. But, of course, we can write out what it more or less means.

English is not my first language either, but it's something like this:

When I was a child, I would be afraid that a monster was under my bed
I would get scared, and I would call for help.
Joannie would come and bring a light, and she would show that there was nothing to fear
And I would be happy, and then she would leave.

Just like when I was young, children still sing and skip rope.
But as I'm not so innocent, I go to church a lot now.
For twenty years I didn't pray at all or even sing happily.
For I was really not innocent; I sinned a lot.

And we used to go to the cinema. Who else would be there?
There was a beggar who wore all his clothes, for he was a desperate man
The town fool pointed at busses, and then pretended to shoot
And he would be happy, and then he would leave.

My father wanted an Irish Republic, even if Northern Ireland was left out of it.
My mother wanted a British soldier, and she would make love to the soldier.
Nora was working at the Biscuit factory and Mary was never at home.
And I joined a labour union, when they said I should protest when the bosses did things that were wrong.

And we used to go to the cinema. Who else would be there?
The mayor was there if he was taking a walk; he was a decent man.
The town fool pointed at busses, and then pretended to shoot
And he would be happy, and then he would leave.

At that time I would feel rich if I had six pence for the cinema, plus the money I got for my Confirmation that was saved for later.
If Mary would have gotten pregnant from meeting a boy in the cinema, she could have said the Cisco Kid made her pregnant.
I would have a hang-over the next morning, and my trousers would need repairing.
If I saw a soccer player, I would shout "I hope you win!"

My uncle used to have a big scary dog
But a guy on the water side caught it and took it one day.
We used to bring money to school for the poor babys in Africa, and I learned enough in school to finish it.
I have also brought money to a whore house, and learned other things there.

And we used to go to the cinema. Who else would be there?
A writer would be taking a walk, or maybe he would be on his way to a lover.
The town fool pointed at busses, and then pretended to shoot
And he would be happy, and then he would leave.

But Dublin has changed since then: Nelson's pillar was blown up with explosives
And since then everybody has become much more agressive.
If we disagreed, we would hit eachother with clubs, but afterwards we would be friends again and drink together
But now they do just like the town fool, they point and shoot, but with real guns. People should not be killed just because they disagree.

If we now go into town, who else will be there?
My guardian angel must be with me; and everyone needs one these days.
Everybody is in a hurry, but I take the time to pray.
I will get rewarded by the church for my proper life, but I will get another drink as well.


25 Nov 07 - 05:19 PM (#2201991)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: Declan


Well done on a good attempt at explaining the spirit of the song.

To say that a Stater wanted an Irish Republic would cause something of debate here. They were prepared to accept a limited form of freedom in which the twenty six counties had self government but within the British Commonwealth and (this was a big issue at the time) swearing an oath of allegiance to the British Monarch (a King at the time). The other side in the Civil War who regarded themselves as the true Republicans were not prepared to accept a traty on those terms. Eventually the majority of them accepted the free state, came into power and changed the constitution in 1937.

A digging match and a jar - You're right about the jar but the digging match would be fists not clubs.

A pretty difficult song to understand if you don't know Dublin and in particular Dublin of the 1950s and 60s.

26 Nov 07 - 10:41 AM (#2202447)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: Mysha

Hi Declan,

Sorry about the "digging match". I took it to be a fist fight, but I was foolish enough to try and look it up, which made me settle on equivalent of "digging stick". I know I should trust my understanding, but sometimes I don't.

Thanks for the explanation of "Stater". I had taken to be the split of Ireland to be the most important bit, because they did managed to work out the bit about the level of independence before I was born, but not the problem of the two Irelands.

Dublin, well I know the Vikings were there once, and that it's the capital of the Irish Republic now, but that's about it. Oh, and there's a number of songs about it. (-:
But I've never been there. Still, who knows what may happen another year.


29 Nov 07 - 04:38 AM (#2204489)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Johan

Great job, Mysha!

But last verse is:

f we now go into town, who else will be there?
My guardian angel must be with me; and everyone needs one these days.
There is no need to hurry, since the pub is closed
I will get rewarded by the church for my proper life, but in the meantime, I'll drink wiskey out of a very small bottle

29 Nov 07 - 08:14 AM (#2204565)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: brioc

great discussion. It's frighteneing to imagine that every song that ever we may song, would be so analysed................especially Dublin songs.
When Nelson blew up, my littlest sister was a baby. My da said the noise (of the explosion) was her falling out of the cot.............
We went in to town the next day to watch the corporation balling the rest down. Whatever the politics, I still think he looked a lot better than the spike..........

29 Nov 07 - 08:16 PM (#2205178)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: Gulliver

Lookit, get a life! Just sing the song--don't analyze it to bits!


28 May 08 - 07:37 AM (#2350889)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)

I just came across this discussion while googling Dolly Fosset just after hearing this song on RTE Radio 1. I already knew Dolly's was a house of "ill repute" in Dublin's past, but was checking for exact location.
Meanwhile, most of the earlier questions have been answered. I actually saw (and boy did I also hear) Bang Bang in action just once. I was a small boy and had been brought into town (Dublin) to see some theatre show which I've long forgotten... but I still remember the sight of Bang Bang hanging from the back platform of a speeding bus (platforms were open in those days) and pointing his key at the pedestrians. His roar of Bang! Bang! was deafening ... and resulted in great street theatre as young men leapt behing lamp posts and dustbins to "return fire" with their fingers... but Bang Bang lived to fight another day.
As regards Pete St John (not his real name but I forget what that is) ... he is (or was???) a qualified engineer who preferrred music. He also wrote Dublin in the Rare Ould Times and The Fields of Athenry.

The reference to now we're all playing Bang Bang surely refers to the amount of real shootings now prevalent in Dublin ...

28 May 08 - 07:53 AM (#2350899)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)

Further to my reference to Pete St John ... he actually has his own website Pete St ... where you'll find out all you need to know about his songs

28 May 08 - 09:05 AM (#2350958)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: trevek

Of course the reason a writer might lave info out of a song is because the lyrics ar aimed at an audienc who might get the references (or at least give the listener such an impression).

According to legend the city authorities made a worse mess of Nelson's column than the IRA when they tried to remove what was left.

28 May 08 - 06:23 PM (#2351456)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,One-eyed adulterer

It's not a legend: it wasn't the city authorities, it was the army that blew up the remains of Nelson's Pillar. There wasn't much left of it anyway.

02 Aug 09 - 05:46 AM (#2692058)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: Gweltas

To Trevek, regarding your post, dated May 2008 .... the Dublin Corporation removed the rubble and balled down the remaining unstable bits at the top, in the interests of health and safety, but it was the Irish Army that were tasked with removing the remaining stump.
I was an 18 year old, Dublin based civil servant in 1966, when the IRA decided to remove Nelson from his perch on top of Nelson's Pillar, in O'Connell Street.
What amazed me the time (and chilled me to the bone!) was the fact that the IRA had not only succeeded in acquiring and then placing explosives in such a public place, but that that their technical skill with explosives was such that they reduced the Pillar to little more than a vestigial stump, without causing any significant damage to the streetscape on either side.
In contrast (after the rubble was cleared away) the munitions experts from the Irish Army spent a good long while setting explosive charges to demolish that remaining stump ........... and blew out practically every window in O'Connell Street!! It was a very sobering and very scarey thought that an underground organisation had managed to acquire and demonstrate such vastly superior technical knowledge of the tactical use of explosives than that displayed by our regular army !!
So, of course it was a huge political coup for the IRA, but in my opinion, the Pillar was part and parcel of our history, and blowing it up wasn't going to change that history in any way what so ever.
The Pillar was also a popular meeting point for young courting couples who lived in different parts of Dublin, when arranging to get together for a night out in the city centre.
On the very rare occasions that I pass through Dublin, nowadays, I still miss that soaring column and "the spike" and "the floozie in the jacuzzi" are very poor substitutes for what once was !

08 Aug 09 - 09:40 PM (#2696161)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: Gulliver

Ever since the Pillar was built, there were calls for it to be removed. See the Wikipedia article on it. It was an aesthetically ugly monument to British Imperialism erected just after the brutal repressions of 1798, to a man responsible for the massacres in Naples. It had no place slap bang in the centre of the capital city of an Irish republic. Across the road Clery's clock on one side and the GPO on the other were also places for courting couples to meet (if this was important).

12 Sep 09 - 07:28 AM (#2722184)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Anto Carroll

Mysha fair play to a foriegner giving the best explanation to an old dub song. i was talkin to my grandad and he was talkin about all the killings and murders going on today in ireland and he said how he and other men in dublin years ago used to have a fist fight to sort out their differences but the next day they would be sitting in the pub having a drink together and being the best of mates. as he was talking it reminded me of this song and i mentioned the song THE MERO and his face lit up as if he hadnt thought about it for years. he went on to tell me about the first film he seen in it (king kong, the old one) and how he and his mates and other people used to hate missing any of the film by leaving to go the toilet (i dont think it had a toilet) so they just pissed behind the seat in front of them. basically, this song is about someone who has grown up in dublin and has seen changes that they didnt like e.g. people using weapons (guns etc) to sort out their differences and how sad and afraid it makes them. he also told me he and his mates used to hang around DOLLY FOSSETS when they were kids just to do errands for the lady who owned the "house of ill repute". she used to give them six pence for goin to get milk and things for the "gentlemen" who visitd the house. i could go on for ages on just what my grandad told me about it but what he did tell me gave me a great understanding of this song. now i have it as the ringtone on my phone. before he explained the mero to me i never knew what it was. i had an idea what 'now they're all playin bang bang, thats goin too bleedin far',
meant. but now i fully understand the song and love it. and this was well before my time im only in my mid thirties. my grandfather is 87.

14 Sep 09 - 08:48 AM (#2723326)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Anto Carroll

the mero-a cinema on mary st
hairy lemon- a dog catcher in dublin
con maritn - a g.a.a.(dublin) player /soccer player, played for both ireland teams (north and south). played for drumcondra,leeds and aston villa.
dolly fossets- a brothel (i think around the winetavern st area of the quays.
bang bang - as explained by nollaigo.
brendan behen_ well known dublin writer.
fortycoats- a well known man who lived on the streets who was supposed to be a real gentleman. but people used to scare their kids by telling them johnny fortycoats will get them if they misbehaved (just like jonny darko or the bogeyman)
cisco kid- a popular tv western character.
hafner sausages- famous family (i think german who moved to dublin) butchers i have heard the sossies were absolutely delicious and a real treat to peopl at the time.
jacobs- buiscuit makers
tanner- an old brown note (money)
confo-confirmation (holy)
langers-drunk (now corkmen are langers slagging by dubliners)
longers- long trousers
alfie byrne- lord mayer of dublin
the pillar- nelsons column blown up by the IRA in   1966 was put in place in honor of the battle of trafalger. the corporation tried to remove it in 1876 but it was protected by the english government, so was not removed until the IRA blew it up.

14 Sep 09 - 09:52 AM (#2723348)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: MartinRyan

A "tanner" was a sixpenny piece.

14 Sep 09 - 11:53 AM (#2723424)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Anto Carroll

just had a brainwave. seems like this song is about dublin seen through the eyes of a bus driver/conductor.

25 Mar 10 - 10:37 AM (#2871523)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Josie

Was at a Pete St John concert last Saturday. He told about the characters that roamed the streets of Dublin in his childhood, the games thay played and life in general in a community close enough for everyone to know their neighbours and the general goings on in the district. The song the Mero (Mary Street cinema) is a nostalgic reflection of people and places long gone that he wanted to immortalise in song.

17 Nov 10 - 03:04 PM (#3034567)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,d

Thanks everyone who added to this thread.
I love hearing old stories about Dublin.

08 Feb 11 - 09:06 AM (#3091088)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: eftifino

My dad,( Noel Purcell)met the chap who blew up 'The Pillar'. He was a Frenchman brought in especially, as the IRA lads of the day weren't trained well enough to safely topple the Pillar with such precision down the middle of O'Connell St. and minimising damage to the Dublin Shops. The reason more damage was done by the Army was that the upper parts of the Pillar were brick, but the base was huge blocks of granite. The Mary Street Cinema was owned, I believe by a Mr Baum, who also owned the Adelphia Cinema in Abbey St. Hope this is of interest.

12 Oct 11 - 10:51 AM (#3237840)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,jd

mary st cinema the mero its real name the lyceum

12 Oct 11 - 10:56 AM (#3237844)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: MartinRyan

Yeah - The Volta became The Lyceum and was known as The Mero.
Click here

18 Dec 12 - 08:25 AM (#3453737)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)

It was indeed the Volta cinema in Mary Street that was known as the "Mayro" (Dublin abbreviation for Mary Street)

22 Mar 16 - 02:10 PM (#3780451)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Tom Finn

The Volta was the first Cinema ever opened in Ireland, in December 1909, by James Joyce. It closed in 1919 but re-opened in 1921 as the Lyceum but got the nickname 'The Mero' because it was on Mary St. It closed in 1948. It is now the site of Pennys (Primark) department store.

A tanner is indeed the old name for a silvery six pence coin (6d) not to be confused with a tenner which was an orangy brown ten shilling note (worth 20 times a tanner, two tanners making one shilling).

23 Mar 16 - 03:48 AM (#3780539)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,vectis

The out goes she" bit suggests that this started life as a skipping rhyme the same as "step it out Mary"did.

23 Mar 16 - 04:37 AM (#3780555)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: MartinRyan

Hi GUESTvectis

The phrase is indeed from a common children's rhyme. The author combines such fragments with his childhood memories of Dublin.


23 Mar 16 - 07:37 PM (#3780741)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Gealt

They say a true Dub never climbed to the top of the pillar, if true then I am a culchie, tho' born in Dublin. I was sorry to see it go. O'Connell Street deteriorated after 'the 8th day of March'.
Interesting letter recently in The Irish Times:

Nelson's Pillar – a 'public nuisance'?
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 01:08
Sir, – On this the 50th anniversary of the destruction of Nelson's Pillar, it is worth recalling that 75 years earlier, in 1891, it was under threat of removal from where the Spire now stands. A private member's Bill, promoted by my grand-uncle Adam and a fellow trader in Upper O'Connell Street, publisher Henry Gill, was passed in the House of Commons to have it moved to another site on the street. They considered it a hindrance to the development of retail trade on the upper end of the street.
The Bill was carried by a majority of five, the fifth being Charles Stewart Parnell, who strolled in as the bell rang, knowing nothing of what was going on, and voted in favour!
Tim Healy MP contributed to the debate: "Monuments in a public street are a public nuisance, and I should be prepared to support a Bill not only for the removal of this monument but also for those to O'Connell, Father Mathew and Sir John Gray. If it is desirable to commemorate the memory of the great dead, the statues ought to be placed somewhere where they will not be in the way of the living". – Yours, etc,

Co Mayo.

23 Mar 16 - 08:43 PM (#3780750)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: MartinRyan

Nice one!


25 Mar 16 - 10:57 AM (#3781111)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: mayomick

Bang Bang and the Dublin cinema

25 Mar 16 - 02:50 PM (#3781170)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Gealt

There was a guy in Galway City in the early 60s called Don Shoot who behaved in a similar way to BangBang.

29 Aug 17 - 08:01 PM (#3874234)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,Pat Dignam

I read the following article in the Irish Times, and it prompted me to google "The Mero" and I found this thread.

"Bang Bang" was a guy called Thomas Dudley, born 1906 and died in 1981. Now finally honoured with a monument at his resting place. I was aware of Bang Bang before now, but not the song The Mero.

30 Aug 17 - 08:35 PM (#3874394)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: GUEST,lou Judson

Never heard the song (link anyone?) and never been to Dublin, but I can't help hearing "Bang Bang Maxwell's Silver Hammer..." in my mind...

31 Jul 18 - 11:16 AM (#3940625)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)

Wow, this is just awesome. So full of information that make this amazing song come to life...

01 Aug 18 - 06:06 AM (#3940777)
Subject: RE: The Mero (explanation wanted)
From: Thompson

Is it a song about the war between North-Ireland and the Republic?

When was this war? I must have missed it.

Here are the lyrics; it's a nostalgic song that kind of starts as a skipping rhyme and goes on to cite cultural references from the city ("longers" are trousers worn by adolescence as opposed to the shorts little boys wore; "langers" means drunk, for instance). A "Stater" was a supporter of the Free State, the compromise government of the 1920s; a "Tan" was a Black-and-Tan, a member of a British paramilitary army remembered for its atrocities during the War of Independence in the early 1920s. A fancy man is a married woman's lover. Haffeners were Hafner's sausages. Jacob's was a biscuit factory and one of the sites occupied by the rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916. On the town means prostitution. Transport Union was James Connolly's Irish Transport & General Workers' Union; a brown nose suggests that you're licking the arse of the management. Brendan Behan was a Dublin writer who wrote in Irish and in English; póg mo thón means "kiss my arse". Ginger Man is a reference to a book about post-WWII Dublin by JP Donleavy. A tanner, sixpence in old money, was the price of a cinema ticket in the 1950s or 1960s, the era referenced by the song. Confo money is "confirmation money" - the tips given to a child by relatives and family friends at the time of Confirmation into the Catholic Church aged around 12; to have your Confo money (or worse, your Communion money) saved was jokingly considered the sign of an over-thrifty person. Con Martin was a GAA football star. The phrasing "We all went up to the Mero" references a song about Monto, the prostitution district of 1900s Dublin, but contrasts it with the innocence of the 1950s. The Cisco Kid was a western hero in films, radio serials and later TV shows. Hairy Lemon was another of the many Dublin "characters" who wandered the streets annoying the bourgeoisie at the time. I don't know what a Primo is; scapulars were religious symbols worn around the neck to show your commitment to a particular Catholic group. The Black Babies were starving African babies supposedly saved from hunger and introduced to religion and education by Irish children giving their halfpennies (pronounced hayp'nies) to the Catholic Church as well as collecting huge amounts of the silver paper that surrounded chocolate bars and rolling it into giant balls to give to the Church, which monetised it in some mysterious way. In the Irish worldview of the time such African politicians as Patrice Lumumba were to the credit of Ireland because they had supposedly been "black babies" educated and westernised in mission schools. Dolly Fossett's was a brothel. Alfie Byrne was a Lord Mayor of Dublin and beloved character (featured in a James Joyce story written for Joyce's grandson, The Cat and the Devil). Fasting before Communion proved you were holy. Olivia de Havilland was a ladylike sex goddess of the silver screen. Mandrake the Magician was a newspaper strip cartoon syndicated all over the anglophone world. Nelson's Pillar was the centre of Dublin - a 134-foot-tall pillar with a statue of Horatio Nelson on the top, erected by the grateful capitalists of Dublin and hated as a symbol of imperialism by Dublin socialists. In the idealistic nostalgia of the song, quarrels were solved by a fist fight followed by a drink, whereas nowadays drug families are wiping each other out with guns. The guardian angel was a Catholic concept of the time which suggested that every human had a specific angel whose job was to mind them and keep them safe - a children's prayer has the lines "Garda na n-aingeal ós mo chionn, Dia romhainn, agus Dia liom" - a guard of angels over my head, God before us and God with me. The "holy hour" was a two-hour break in the middle of the day when pubs were shut by law, originally designed to stop all-day drinking. A large one is a double whiskey. A plenary indulgence is a concept whereby Catholics who performed particular rites of prayer could win time off for good behaviour for themselves or others from Purgatory, a kind of way-station of Hell before admission to Heaven. A baby Power is a tiny bottle of Power's Gold Label whiskey (the corked bottles were often used to bring milk to school once they had been emptied of whiskey).

The Mero
By Pete St John

Somebody`s under the bed, whoever can it be?
I feel so very nervous, I call for Joanee
Joanee lights the candle but there’s nobody there
He Hi, Diddeleedai and out goes she

Skipping rope still turning, children at their play
In and out of Clarendon Street, in and out to pray
I haven’t prayed for twenty years or sung a happy song
Since praying went with innocence and the devil played along

And we all went up to the Mero; hey there, who’s your man?
It’s only Johnny Forty Coats, sure he’s a desperate man
Bang Bang shoots the buses with his golden key
He Hi, Diddeleedai and out goes she

Me father was a Stater and me mother loved a Tan
She loved her Haffenner’s sausages and her soldier fancy man
Our Nora’s up in Jacobs, and Mary’s on the town
And I joined the Transport Union when they said me nose was brown

And we all went up to the Mero; hey there, who’s your man
It’s Brendan Behan out walking, sure he’s the ginger man
A fainne up his arse hole and he’s shouting póg-mo-hone
Do you think you’re bleedin’ Mandrake, why don’t ya write a poem

I’ve a tanner for the Mero and me Confo money’s hid
If Mary’s in the family way, she can blame the Cisco Kid
I’ll be langers in the morning, me longers need a patch
Ah, Jesus – there’s Con Martin, I hope ya won the match

Me uncle had a wolfhound that never had to pee
But Hairy Lemon snatched it down on Eden Quay
Now I have me Primo and me Scapulars of Blue
For helping the black babies and Dolly Fossett too

And we all went up to the Mero; hey there, who’s your man
It’s Alfie Byrne out walking, now there’s a decent man
Communion every morning, here’s to the fastin spit
Olivia De Havilland has a freckle on her tit

It’s true that Dublin’s changing since the pillar was blown down
By the winds of violence that are buggerin’ up the town
We used to solve a difference with a diggin’ match and jar
But now they’re all playin’ Bang Bang, that’s goin’ too bleedin’ far

So we’ll all go up to the Mero; hey there, who’s your man
It’s only me Guardian Angel, get a large one for yer man
There’s no use bleedin` rushin’, sure now’s the holy hour
A plenary indulgence and another baby-power