From Dancing Policemen to Dancing in the Floodlights – Building Dalymount 1901 to 2021

Stephen Burke

July 1901 William Sanderson, Honorary Treasurer of the Bohemian Football Club, visited a friend in Phibsborough. Looking out a back window, he spied a disused piece of land behind the tram sheds: “… there she was, with a couple of old ‘nags’ grazing at one end and a disused cabbage plot at the other.” [1]

The house was 63 Dalymount (343 North Circular Road today) where Sanderson’s friend, William Hosking, resided who was also on the club’s management committee. Sanderson negotiated the original lease for the grounds at £48 per annum with the Reverend Henry Taylor, chaplain of the Female Orphan School and Church at 191 to 195 North Circular Road. 

One of the first things the club did was to surround the ground with an eight or nine feet high corrugated iron fence at a cost of £70, thus enabling the charging of admission.

A wooden pailing soon superseded a rope around the pitch, with a tent erected for a dressing room. [2]

7 September 1901  Dalymount Park is opened, Lord Mayor Tim Harrington kicks off the match between Bohemians and Shelbourne. Capacity at this initial match is estimated to have been about 3,000 people.[3]

Preston North End visited on 2nd November 1901, the first cross-channel club to play at Dalymount. There was already a stand on the reserved (North Circular Road) side to accommodate 600 spectators, and a wooden terrace on the unreserved (Connaught Street) side for 1,400 to stand on. [4]

This latter structure was completed only hours before kick-off “… and twenty big policemen were got from Mountjoy to dance upon it before it was allowed to be opened to the public.”[5]

14 March 1903  The first Irish Cup final at Dalymount, Bohemians v Distillery; 8,000 in attendance.

26 March 1904  The first international at Dalymount: Ireland 1, Scotland 1; 7,000 in attendance.

1905/06  The lease was extended to 1925. Development continued apace; an extra stand erected to hold 756 – behind the ‘city’ goal, (Phibsborough Road/Tramway End); other work, when completed, would give standing accommodation to 12,000. These plans included moving the stands on the sixpenny side (Connaught Street) so that the pitch could be moved 15 yards in that direction, with a big new stand to run the length of the field. A covered stand was planned for the members’ (North Circular Road) side, as well as a new pavilion with up-to-date bathing facilities.[6]

Capacity was now approximately 10,000.

1906/07  There were now stands behind each goal and a new one 30 tiers high on the sixpenny (Connaught Street) side. These wooden structures were for standing only, a cheap form of terracing created using railway sleepers and breeze infill.[7]

December 1907  “… there is now covered stand accommodation for close on 2,500 people…”[8]

1910 Large corrugated metal covered stand build on Connaught St side, centred on half way line. Capacity of the grounds is now approximately 16,800. This metal stand was moved in 1945 to what became known as Shed End. It is still standing and known since 2001 as The Des Kelly Carpets Stand.

January 1912  “… noticeable improvements include new banks at the St Peter’s Road end. When complete they should give an excellent view for 5,000. Quinn the groundsman is engineering the works…”[9]

10 February 1912  Dalymount hosts the Ireland v England international, an honour denied Dublin since 1900. There were 16 turnstiles in operation and the new banking at the Cabra End/School End of the ground was given a severe test by the 14,000 attendance. £803 was taken in gate receipts, excluding pre-sold tickets, surprisingly 3,000 below the ground’s record possibly because of the wet weather.[10]

16 June 1924 Dalymount’s first international under the auspices of the Football Association of Ireland; Ireland 3, United States 1. Capacity of the stadium is now around 22,000.

1925 Lease extended to 1955

August 1927  “… major redevelopments bring the capacity up to 25,000 … corrugated iron fence removed and replaced by a 10 feet wall of concrete… 20 covered stiles… the old wooden stands on the reserved side have been demolished, and in their stead is a large, covered, iron-framed structure containing all modern ideas, built to accommodate 1,600 people… the banking arrangements at other portions of the ground have been improved and extended, while the playing pitch has been relaid…”[11]

The iron-framed structure referred to is the main stand that the Jodi replaced in 1999.

1927/28  Other improvements; “The scrolls on the gates were also put up at his period.”[12]

This is probably a reference to the metal ‘Bohemian Football Club Ltd Founded 1890’ sign that now adorns the outside of the Jodi stand. It seems that there may have been more than one.

1931/32  Lease renegotiated for 150 years at £170 per annum. Architect Archibald Leitch’s services had been secured to oversee the future development of Dalymount. He was involved in a considerable extension of and improvement to the main stand in 1931, as well as to the concrete terracing on the other three sides of the ground and the installation of over 30 of his patented crush barriers. [13]

August 1931  A lot of work was undertaken on the main stand, a new section was added, with the gable filled in with glass. “A new cantilever roof has been added to the front of the stand, giving considerably more protection against the elements …”[14]

September 1931 –“The sunk terracing that has proven a novel and much appreciated structural improvement in the reserved enclosure … is being continued around the back of the school goal.”[15]

The sunken terracing on the south side of the ground was filled in during the construction of the Jodi Stand in 1999.

November 1941 “The concrete wall protecting the pitch in the reserved enclosure … has been continued the whole length of the popular side and behind the goals. The completion of the work has added a couple more steps to the terracing and increased the capacity of the ground by about 2,000.”[16]

The concrete wall referred to is still in place around three sides of the pitch, allowing the terracing to extend below pitch level.

1945 The large corrugated metal covered stand is moved from the Connaught Street side to what becomes known as ‘Shed End’. The highest attendance recorded this year was 41,238.

1951/52 –The terracing at the Tramway (Phibsborough Road) End was extended to add 3,000 to 4,000 to the ground’s capacity.[17]

March 1953 –New elevated concrete terracing was built on Connaught Street side.[18]

19 May 1957  World Cup qualifier: Republic of Ireland 1, England 1. 

Dalymount’s record attendance of 47,600. Reductions in capacity after this date addressed safety concerns after incidents at various stadia due to overcrowding.

7 March 1962  Dalymount’s floodlights are switched on for the friendly with Arsenal. Designed, erected and patented by Miller & Stables Ltd., Edinburgh, the drench-lighting met current international standards. The four pylons were 125 feet tall (38 metres), each holding 30 lamps, created with Irish materials and labour, with the structural steelwork by Smith & Pearson Ltd., Newcomen Works, Dublin. 

1984  Bohemian Football Club secures the freehold of Dalymount Park.

12 September 1990  Republic of Ireland 1, Morocco 0. Dalymount’s last full international. Capacity of the grounds is now 22,000.

Early 1993  The earth mound and the terracing it supported on the Connaught Street side of the ground is removed to make way for, initially, a training ground. It is now a large car park.[19]

14 June 1999 Construction of the Jodi stand commences replacing the wooden stand constructed in ‘27 & ’31.

October 1999  The Jodi stand is opened, Bohs marking the occasion with a 3-2 win over Sligo Rovers. The ground’s capacity is now approximately 13,000.

February 2001  UEFA’s insistence on all-seater stadiums from 2001 onwards contributes to reducing Dalymount’s capacity. Seats are installed at the School End/Shed End increasing the ground’s seating capacity by 1,485.

May 2001  The Tramway (Phibsborough Road End) terrace no longer in use, with deterioration of underfoot conditions a particular concern. This part of the ground is sold but is not developed. Bohemians continue to be allowed use of the old terrace to display supporters’ flags.

August 2001  Seats installed on Connaught Street’s elevated concrete terracing, increasing the ground’s seating capacity by 3,342. Dalymount Park is now an all-seater stadium with a capacity of 7,569.

April 2010  Final match with spectators on the Connaught Street side of the ground before the elevated concrete section is no longer deemed structurally safe. Capacity now 4,225.

3 July 2015  Bohemian FC members vote to sell Dalymount Park to Dublin City Council for €3.8 million. The deal is finalised in November 2015 with Bohemians a key tenant.

15 February 2021 Government announces €918,750 from Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund to part fund design and planning of a new 6,000 seater stadium. Shelbourne FC will be co-anchor tenants with Bohemian FC with provision for 1,000msq of community space. The new Dalymount Stadium will be a resource for the local area and wider city.

[1] [Sunday Independent, 15/12/1940] 

[2] Bohemian FC Golden Jubilee Souvenir compiled by Eamon J. O’Mahony (McEvoy Publishing Co.), 1942

[3] Freeman’s Journal, 9/9/1901; Irish Times, 9/9/1901; Evening Herald, 14/9/1901

[4] Dublin Evening Mail, 2/11/1901

[5] William Sanderson, former Hon. Treasurer, Bohemian FC, interview in Sunday Independent, 15/12/1940

[6] Dublin Evening Mail, 18/12/1905

[7] Dublin Evening Mail, 25/8/1906

[8] Dublin Evening Mail, 16/12/1907

[9] Dublin Evening Mail, 22/1/1912

[10] Dublin Evening Mail, 7/2/1912; Freeman’s Journal, 12/2/1912; Weekly Irish Times, 17/2/1912

[11] Evening Herald, 16/8/1927

[12] Bohemian FC Golden Jubilee Souvenir, 1942

[13] Annual Report of the Bohemian Football Club, 1932

[14] Evening Herald, 14/8/1931

[15] Evening Herald, 23/9/1931

[16] Evening Herald, 26/11/1941

[17] Evening Herald, 21/11/1951

[18] Annual Report of the Bohemian Football Club, 1953 & 1954

[19] Annual Report of the Bohemian Football Club, 1993 & 1994