An Stad (Irish for 'The Stop') was founded at 30 North Frederick Street in Dublin in the late 19th century by Cathal McGarvey, author of the traditional Irish song Star of the County Down, as a meeting place for nationalists and Irish language enthusiasts. The activities that took place at An Stad included early morning pro-Independence rallies, Irish language storytelling and even reviews in Irish of works of art.
The house has existed since the very early 19th century, but it was just before 1900 that it began to have an association with the Gaelic revival and Irish nationalist movements. Some time before 1900, Donegal native Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927) established a tobacconist and pub on the premises. McGarvey was a well known humorist, storyteller and songwriter. His reputation spread quickly, and soon people were coming to An Stad at night to hear him tell stories, to smoke and to promote the Irish language. McGarvey's literary capabilities, anti-British attitude and magnetic personality attracted a mix of a literary and pro-nationalist audience. Public functions including poetry readings, literary discussions and official Oireachtas week activities often went on until sunrise, and sometimes ended with early-morning Pro-Independence rallies emerging onto North Frederick Street. McGarvey also established a guesthouse on the premises which helped to attract athletic visitors from the Irish countryside coming to Dublin to watch or play in the adjacent Croke Park sports ground. Among his guests was Michael Cusack, founder of the GAA and the man after whom Croke Park's Cusack Stand was named. At McGarvey's Gaelic evenings at An Stad, ideas for promoting Nationalism and Independence were proffered aggressively, from Arthur Griffith promoting Sinn Féin to Douglas Hyde espousing the idea of ignoring the British and establishing an Irish system of rulership without direct war, to Michael Cusack promoting Gaelic Games as a unifying force behind the Nationalist movement, An Stad was a place of lively debate and ideas. Being a literary hub, An Stad is mentioned in the Biographies and works of several of its guests, including Oliver StJohn Gogarty, James Joyce and others.
As the Abbey Theatre gained prominence in the early 20th century, An Stad's role as a literary centre gradually declined. Mcgarvey sold it in 1905. However, as the Irish War of Independence broke out in 1919, An Stad had a pivotal role as a chief guesthouse for republican activists including Michael Collins, and is now a stop on Sinn Féin's 'Rebel tour of Dublin'.
There is no evidence to suggest whether An Stad sided with Pro-Treaty or Anti-Treaty forces during the Irish Civil War, but after Irish Independence from the United Kingdom, An Stad retained its role as a centre for the Gaelic Revival, with authors frequently reviewing works of poetry and prose in the Irish language. It retained this role at least until World War II. In 1938, a dissident Irish Republican Army (IRA) group, in an attempt to force the Irish Government to fight for full Irish independence (the 1921 treaty established only a "Free State", retaining the King of the United Kingdom as head of state and keeping Ireland within the British Commonwealth), attempted unsuccessfully to destroy Nelson's Pillar on O'Connell Street in Dublin, less than a mile from An Stad, which they saw as a symbol of continued British sovereignty in Ireland. The IRA activists used An Stad as their safehouse, the perpetrators staying at and storing the gelignite at An Stad. The plan was cancelled at the last minute. Nelson's Pillar was eventually destroyed in 1966, but there is no evidence that they used An Stad as a safehouse at that time.
After World War II, there is no evidence that An Stad had any more association with the nationalist movement.
An Stad continued to operate as a guesthouse throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
An Stad was placed on Dublin's 'derelict building' register in 2011. In June 2015, Dublin City Council intervened in an attempt to prevent the collapse of the building, after a large section of the back wall collapsed following years of neglect. They closed off northbound traffic on North Frederick Street and attempted to stabilize the structure to prevent outright collapse.
A guest book was maintained from 1900–1904. It is signed by Eamonn Ceannt, and makes reference to Sean T O'Kelly, Maud Gonne and others. The original is long gone, but in his book 'An Stad-Croilar na hAthbheochana' (An Stad-The heart of the Renaissance), Sean O'Cearnaigh's copies of the original log are recorded in the Irish National Archives.
James Joyce was a frequent guest of An Stad during his student years in Dublin. While many people tried to convince him of the value of the Gaelic revival and others tried to convince him of the value of the Nationalist movement, Joyce was interested in neither and deeply suspicious of both, and eventually left Ireland entirely. However, his time at An Stad did have one lasting influence on Irish Literary history. His character 'The Citizen' in his landmark novel Ulysses is based on Michael Cusack, whom Joyce met at An Stad. Several other patrons of An Stad, including Oliver St. John Gogarty, recall being impressed or influenced by Joyce.
Michael Collins was a frequent guest at An Stad under different circumstances. After the Irish War of Independence broke out, Collins and other IRA/Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) members regularly hid at An Stad, and there are bullet holes in the house from a failed attempt by British agents to locate Collins in the house. Collins was very familiar with proprietor Mollie Gleeson, whom he asked to identify the body of Sean Treacy when he was killed by British agents in 1920. History books and personal accounts indicate that many different IRA agents under Collins's tutelage hid at An Stad when delivering messages or arms to Republican fighters. A Collins family lived at An Stad in the late 19th century, but they were not direct ancestors of Michael Collins. Anecdotally, in the film Michael Collins, during a scene where Collins and Harry Boland are seen cycling away from a British raid on leaders of Dáil Éireann, An Stad is visible in the background.
As early as the 1890s, Douglas Hyde was advocating the cause of Irish Independence. According to An Stad regular Oliver St. John Gogarty, it was during his time at An Stad that Hyde first formulated his plan for an Irish Free State based on the idea of ignoring the British, an idea that later greatly influenced Éamon de Valera and formed the basis of the first Dáil. Hyde's idea was that if the elected Irish members of the British Parliament instead formed a parliament in Dublin and created their own system of courts and of policing society, Ireland could rid itself of British rule. Hyde is regularly mentioned by other guests and was one of the first later-famous Irish people who frequented An Stad. His views were influential on the other patrons who viewed him as a senior member. Hyde later became the first President of Ireland under the 1938 Constitution.
" I knew him since the days when his first movement for freedom began in An Stad" – Oliver St John Gogarty, on Douglas Hyde
Referring to his time with William Butler Yeats at An Stad, Oliver St. John Gogarty said "I know no more beautiful face than 'Yeats when lit with song'" Yeats was a regular guest at An Stad as a young man in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His desire to open a theatre for Irish theatrical endeavours came to fruition with the opening of the Abbey Theatre.
Michael Cusack, founder of the GAA, was a regular guest at An Stad and made a great impression on many of the people he met there including James Joyce and Oliver St. John Gogarty, both of whom wrote about their meetings with Cusack there. Cusack was a regular at nearby Croke Park, and influenced the An Stad crowd with his beliefs in the promotion of Gaelic games as a unifying influence over the nationalist movement. In later years, the Gaelic Games movement would indeed play such a role, with nationalists playing amateur Gaelic football and hurling in the Phoenix Park and more formal games at Croke Park. One of the most famous incidents of the Irish War of Independence was when British troops in an armoured vehicle entered Croke Park and fired on players and spectators, killing 13 spectators and one player. Cusack is also the inspiration for the character "The Citizen" in James Joyce's novel Ulysses
Arthur Griffith, founder of Sinn Féin and leader of the delegation that negotiated the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty that established the 26-county Irish Free State, was a regular guest at Cathal McGarvey's Gaelic Language sessions at An Stad. Griffith was well-respected by the other patrons of An Stad, as recorded by Oliver St. John Gogarty, who said of him "We could all believe in Arthur Griffith". According to Gogarty, Griffith began visiting An Stad in its early days, before 1900. Griffith may have initially come to An Stad in pursuit of furthering his favoured early cause, the Gaelic League, but he had already formed a pro-Independence mindset. By continuing to attend McGarvey's late night sessions, Griffith could influence a mix of Gaelic Language Enthusiasts, Nationalists and people of influence. Not long after his documented time at An Stad, he founded Sinn Féin. Griffiths visits to An Stad overalpped with those of other nationalists such as Douglas Hyde, Michael Cusack and Eamonn Ceannt
William Bulfin, best known for introducing Gaelic sports to Argentina, was a key writer for the United Irishman and a key international promoter of the Irish Independence cause. In 1902, he met at An Stad with McGarvey, Hyde, Griffith and others, and is credited with introducing the members of the United Irishman to the later founders of the Abbey Theatre
Seán O'Casey, author of such plays as Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars was a regular at An Stad during the early 20th century
Sean T O'Kelly was the second President of Ireland (1945–1959). He was a member of Dáil Éireann from 1918 until his election as President. During this time he served as Minister for Local Government (1932–1939) and Minister for Finance (1939–1945). He also served as deputy prime minister of Ireland from 1932 to 1945, under the title Vice-President of the Executive Council from 1932 until 1937 and Tánaiste from 1937 until 1945. He is known to have stayed at An Stad
Eamonn Ceannt was a founding member of the Irish Volunteers and a signatory of the Irish Declaration of independence in 1916. After the 1916 rising, Ceannt was held in Kilmainham Jail until his execution by firing squad on 8 May 1916, aged 34. Ceannt signed the An Stad guestbook in 1904.
Besides the many nationalist and Irish language enthusiasts that lauded the An Stad movement, many were also opposed. The most noted of these was Padraig Pearse. He felt that the tobacco and alcohol stained atmosphere tainted the purity of his republican ideal. According to Pearse's biographer, Brian P Murphy, many of the leaders of the 1916 rising, looking to create a puritanical state, felt it necessary to marginalize both the revelers at An Stad and the Gaelic Football players of the Phoenix Park, from their movement.