Explore when the Animals ruled Dublin in the 1940s

by Gazette Reporter

Gangsters are never far away from the capital’s headlines, these days – but there’s nothing new on our Fair City’s streets, with gangsters a common issue for many a long year.

In fact, one gang – the Animals – were a particular problem back in the day, in the 1930s and into the 40s, with Ballyfermot author Dylan Henvey turning to their exploits for his new work, Animals.

Described as the untold story of Francis Lawless, founder and sole surviving member of the infamous Animal gang, the 60-minute rehearsed reading promises to bring some fascinating insights into Dublin in the good old, bad old days back into the light.

Dylan’s looking forward to presenting his new work to Dublin audiences, with some startling tales from Dublin’s largely forgotten criminal world for Animals to draw from.

He says: “The Animals were a real Dublin street gang who first appeared in news stories in the 1930s and continued to make headline into the 40s.

“They were the Irish ‘Peaky Blinders’ – they are legendary Dublin folklore.

“I felt it’s about time their legend was told, and was brought to life.”

However, Animals is more than just the tale of gangsters, Dylan says, as it also nods at some of the changes and history in the city at the time.

He says: “It is set around the Printers’ Strike in Dublin in 1934. This is the start of a story which will take my protagonist, Francis Lawless, from innocent newsboy to founder of the legendary Animal gang, and head of the Dublin underground.”

That base of real-life struggle in the city influences Animal, with some famous Dublin and Irish figures also featuring in the tale, including Eoin O’Duffy, leader of the Blue Shirts; Frank Ryan, the famous Socialist and Republican, and even ‘Lugs’ Branigan, Dublin’s most legendary police officer.

Dylan says: “We have so much history in this city, but 90% of history goes undocumented or unnoticed and gets lost, especially Working Class history.

“The Working Class have a history; they had lives that mattered. They had adventures, they should be heard and remembered, not forgotten.”

See Animals at 4pm on Sunday, February 23 at the main space, Smock Alley.

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