Turn back time

'Marriage, love, sex': A new documentary meets those who met under Clerys clock

Under the Clock features couples whose romance began on O’Connell Street.

Snackbox Films / YouTube

THE CLERYS DEPARTMENT store clock on O’Connell Street has been an important meeting point for Dubliners and visitors alike for decades. 

Young couples, first-time daters, GAA fans, “people from different sides of the city” all met under the famous two-sided timepiece, says director Colm Nicell, whose new documentary Under the Clock takes a look at this significant landmark and the people who met there. 

From the team behind documentary Older than Ireland, director Nicell interviewed 21 people for the film, including a number of couples.

“We wanted to find out, not just the romantic stories, but the other reasons why people met there, how their lives panned out since then.”

Romantic encounters

Nicell, who is originally from Blanchardstown and met friends at Clerys in his younger days, says he interviewed “people from all backgrounds” for the new film. 

Following the success of 2015′s Older of Ireland, for his new project Nicell wanted to look at recent traditions which have disappeared. 

“One of them was Clerys clock and people meeting under the clock. That way of dating that has gone by the wayside now.”

Ann Ball, from Old Cabra, met her husband Bernard under Clerys clock nearly 40 years ago. For Ball, Clerys clock is a significant landmark. 

“I met my Mother, I met fellas, I met friends. When I was stood up I spoke with everybody else who was stood up at Clerys.” 

Clerys Clock - Paddy Daly Paddy Daly in Under the Clock Snackbox Films Snackbox Films

First opened in 1853, Clerys closed in June 2015. The original clock was installed in 1922 and replaced with the current timepiece in 1990. 

Due to its convenient, central location, it makes sense to meet under Clerys clock. Most buses stop nearby and there’s shelter, says director Nicell.

But with the construction of the Spire on O’Connell Street and Clerys closure in 2015, the Clerys clock is no longer the meeting point it once was, he says. 

Under the Clock is a tribute to the clock as much as a lament for our changing means of communication and raises questions about how Irish society has developed over time. 

I’d like people to really think about where we are now as a society, about communication, our attitudes towards marriage, love, sex.

Under the Clock opens at selected cinemas on 5 October. 

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