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Feb 7 11

Website puts old stories on the map

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DID you ever hear the yarn about the unsolved theft of the Crown Jewels, the adventures of famous boxer Dan Donnelly’s right arm, or the boy who faked his own death?

Two Dublin-born filmmakers have decided to tap in to the Irish gift of the gab by creating an online map which tells the many tales of our capital city.

The new website will allow tourists and locals alike to explore the streets of Dublin from the comfort of their own homes while watching or listening to the stories about events that occurred on, or are linked to, those street corners.

The website — www.storymap.ie — was the brainchild of filmmakers Andrew Flaherty and Tom Rowley, who also hope to create an application for smartphones.

Mr Rowley explained that the stories are told by people from “all walks of life”, such as shopkeepers, publicans, actors, musicians and comedians.

“We hope to expand by a story a week. It is a mix of the personal and the historical. Everything from a guy who pretends to be blind to get a girl in the pub Flannerys, to the time James Joyce thought his wife was being unfaithful,” Mr Rowley said, who urged anyone with a tale to tell to contact them through their website.

“We’re looking into all stories, even ones that show a negative side to Dublin.”

Maureen Grant (84) dips into her life story and the stars she encountered during 63 years in the Olympia Theatre.

The bar manager recalls how she hid her children — two often sleeping in a box — as under the law at the time married women were not allowed to work.

“I’d have them all over the place and nobody every caught me on it,” she said, sitting in Maureen’s Bar, which is named after her and where there are photographs of her with dozens of famous performers.

Singer Kris Kristofferson dedicated a live album to her, while other celebrities she has had a fondness for are Bono, comedian Billy Connolly, Westlife and duo Laurel and Hardy, whom she regaled with tales of the Olympia ghost.

Christiaan Feehan, a tour guide at Dublin Castle, tells the tale of the one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all — the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels from Dublin Castle in July 1907.

Reward

A stg£1,000 (€1,186) reward is still on offer for the return of the jewels — the insignia of the Order of St Patrick — which disappeared from a safe in the castle’s Bedford Tower.

Arthur Vicars, the Ulster King of Arms, later lost his job over the costly disappearance.

“Those jewels today would be worth several million euro and they were the property of the King of England, King Edward VII,” Mr Feehan explains on the website.

“Many historians believe Vicars’s claims that the scandal was whitewashed by authorities and he was made a scapegoat. One of the suspects was Francis Shackleton, the younger brother of the explorer Ernest.”

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