‘D’you Remember Yer Man?’ is the first book from 27-year-old writer and musician Bobby Aherne. The book was first released in October 2014, and has recently been reprinted and in the words of Aherne himself “is re-hitting the shelves”.
The book tells the stories of a hundred of Dublin’s most loved characters renowned for their unique personalities which have cemented their respective places in Dublin folklore.
Aherne said he was inspired to write the book by his own personal curiosity about the city’s famous characters. He said: “I realised that there was an abundance of interesting characters in Dublin and I personally wanted to find out more about them, and thought it would be as easy as buying a book about them or getting one out of the library but I realised that nobody had done that to this point.
“So, I made a decision to do it myself and I went out and found out about them the hard way by researching them and gathering them all together into this little volume. I was inspired to write it for myself really because I wanted to know more about all these people and find out just how many of these beloved characters had existed throughout the years.”
The research process was no easy feat. It took Aherne roughly two years of sifting through newspaper articles, films, books, archives and “any sources I could find at all” to gather enough material.
However, as with much folklore the oral tradition was Aherne’s starting point.
“I initially talked to people who grew up in Dublin and who knew more about Dublin than I did and from that I began to notice that the same names came up time and time again and I was able to whittle down these strange names to a list of one hundred and from this list I set about researching stories,” he said.
Aherne explained some of the characters who can be found in his debut book:
“The Liberties is the heart of Dublin in terms of most of these characters. There’s a guy called the Bird Flanagan who has a pub named after him in Rialto and he’s famous for a prank he pulled outside a butchers on Thomas Street where he tricked a police man into chasing him down the street but it was all just an elaborate practical joke for the Bird Flanagan to get his own kicks.
“Bang Bang was always around The Liberties shooting people with his key back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Zozimus and Lugs Branigan as well, he was one of the most famous Garda of all time and he was well known for keeping the peace around The Liberties, he was a much feared and respected character in equal measures,” Aherne added.
D’you Remember Yer Man? is inspired by The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges and Aherne states that it is the mutual appreciation of this novel that resulted in his friend, illustrator and designer Ruan van Vliet, getting involved in the book.
“In my head from the start this book was going to be modelled on The Book of Imaginary Beings which is an alphabetical collection of anecdotes about loads of different mythical creatures and I thought that that would be a fun model to base this book on.
“At some point, Ruan started up a blog online drawing these characters who appeared in Borges’ book and I thought it was a nice coincidence because Ruan is very talented as an artist and a designer and he also had a great interest in this old book of imaginary beings so I thought he would be a great guy to collaborate with on this book. He did a great job of making [the illustrations] because all these people obviously were real people but some of them were just so weird and wonderful, he has such an exaggerated approach, he made them larger than life and made them almost like cartoons or comic book characters in a nice way.”
D’you Remember Yer Man? is available now online through its publisher New Island.
Follow Matthew on Twitter at @_Gogery