Growing up In Ringsend with Frank Hopkins

Growing Up in Ringsend with Frank Hopkins 02

Author Frank Hopkins (pictured) was born in Birmingham but moved to Ringsend in the late 1960s with his family. Frank’s first two books Rare Old Dublin and Hidden Dublin were largely based on columns that he had written for the Evening Herald. His third book Ireland 366 –A Story a Day from Ireland’s Hidden History was published in November 2013.

When he was a child, Frank lived at his grandparents’ home on Pigeon House Road. His grandfather Frank ‘Fleck’ Hopkins and grandmother Susannah Redmond were both native Ringsenders who were born and reared within three doors of each other on Thorncastle Street.

Susannah died only a few years ago at the age of 98.

Frank attended St Patrick’s National School and told NewsFour, “Apart from getting teased for having an English accent, it was a very happy time. I think Jack Hurley was the headmaster while I was there and I’ll never forget our teacher Mr Kelly who was a very kind and inspirational man.”

Ringsend is full of fond memories for Frank who spent most of his free time playing football in Ringsend Park, swimming at the Shelley Banks and getting up to all sorts of devilment on the Irishtown dump. Frank reminisces, “I remember being particularly intrigued with a local character in Ringsend known as Sandy the tramp. He lived in a makeshift, corrugated iron shack on the dump and I have a vivid picture in my head of Sandy clattering around Ringsend on his black bicycle with no tyres on the wheels, dressed in an old black coat tied at the waist with a piece of rope, ragged trousers and a battered pair of shoes with the soles flapping.”

Writing came late to Frank but he was always interested in Irish history. His first two books, Rare Old Dublin and Hidden Dublin both have approximately 100 short stories on life in old Dublin. Ringsend, Irishtown and surrounding areas are featured in both books.

In Hidden Dublin there’s a piece about plans that were happening in 1672 to build a massive star-shaped defensive fort in Ringsend covering over 30 acres and capable of providing accommodation for 700 soldiers. If this had gone ahead, the village of Ringsend as we know it today would have been obliterated.

Frank’s latest book Ireland 366 also has a few Ringsend stories. One of these relates to a tragedy that occurred at Ringsend on July 3rd 1905 when a pleasure boat containing six members of the Shelbourne Football Club sank off Poolbeg resulting in the deaths of all six. One of the dead was a nine year old boy called John Purdy.

A wealth of Dublin history arises in all these books and NewsFour asks Frank what’s next on his agenda. “I’m currently doing a bit of research for the next book. I can’t really say what it’s about or even when it’ll be finished at this stage, but I’ll let you know.”

Rare Old Dublin and Hidden Dublin can be bought at and Ireland 366 is in most bookshops or can be obtained direct from New Island Books at

By Donna Dunne