Description

Bang Bang (real name is believed to be Thomas Dudley) was an eccentric elderly gentleman in Dublin in the 1950s and 1960s who achieved fame as a character in the city. A fan of cowboy films, Bang Bang used to travel the buses and trams of the city staging mock shoot-outs with passing people (hence his nickname). He carried a large church key in his pocket which he used as a 'gun'. Dubliners, who enjoyed his good natured antics, used to participate in his games, sometimes "returning fire" by pretending they had a gun in their hands and shouting "bang bang" back at him, or by falling down "dead" on the city streets when he suddenly appeared at the back of a bus or tram and "shot" them. On occasion Bang Bang even interrupted plays on stage by "shooting" the actors, generally to the amusement of actors and audiences alike. "Bang Bang" died in 1981[1] but is widely remembered by some of the older Dubliners.

Little is known about the actual man in question. It is suspected that he may have had some form of mental illness. Comparisons have been drawn between him and San Francisco's Emperor Norton I of the United States, who was so revered in his eccentricity that the police used to salute the "Emperor" as he walked the streets in full imperial uniform.

Bang Bang was said to be heartbroken at the death of John Wayne. 'Me pal is dead', he is reported to have said.

In later life he was taken in and cared for by the Rosminian Fathers in Drumcondra. He died in their care and was buried in their cemetery.

Bang Bang has entered the folklore of Dublin as an eccentric but harmless individual who amused the city's citizens with his games. He still is mentioned in books and broadcast programmes. In the 1970s the Abbey Theatre performed a play about the history of Dublin entitled From the Vikings to Bang Bang.[2]

He is mentioned in the lyrics of a children's "skipping song" We all went up to the Mero published by Pete St. John. One verse reads: "And we all went up to the Mero, hey there, who's your man It's only Johnny Forty Coats, sure he's desperate man Bang Bang shoots the buses with his golden key Hey hi diddley I and out goes she"

Source: Wikipedia

Item Type

Still Image

About this item

Subject

Dublin characters

Provenance

11.30.2007

Date Added

05.08.2009

Citation

"Bang Bang (Thomas Dudley)." Lifescapes: Mapping Dublin Lives, Item #172 (accessed September 22 2017, 10:54 am)