#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 4°C Friday 21 January 2022

Stephen Roche, Swingball, Big Time bars: Ireland in the 1980s (pics)

From the Enniskillen bombing to the divorce referendum, from Theresa Lowe to Ray Houghton…. images of eighties Ireland.

IT’S FIFTY YEARS since the Late Late show hit our screens, and it’s got us thinking about all things nostalgic.

The eighties aren’t just remembered for mullets and Wham!, especially here in Ireland. There was the rise of U2, trouble in the North, John Treacy at the Olympics and swingball in the back garden…

Stephen Roche, Swingball, Big Time bars: Ireland in the 1980s (pics)
1 / 33
  • Ray Houghton scores against England in Stuttgart

    "Who put the ball in the English net? Ray did! Ray did!" Ray Houghton scored against England with a header six minutes into Ireland's historic opening game of Euro '88 in West Germany and a nation rejoiced. Image: Duncan Raban/Duncan Raban/EMPICS Entertainment
  • Henry Hippo

    Precious pound notes and 50p pieces were squirrelled away in the Ulster Bank hippo banks, which held the communion and confirmation money of Irish children safe until it was time to buy a new space hopper or bike. Image: Ulster Bank
  • John Treacy at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

    Ireland's John Treacy leads Great Britain's Charlie Speeding in the closing stages of the marathon, to claim Silver and Bronze medals respectively Image: PA
  • Queen at Slane Castle

    The crowd enjoy themselves at the Queen concert at Slane in July 1986. Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Ladybird books

    The Enormous Turnip, Rapunzel, Billy Goats Gruff and countless other Ladybird books soothed Irish kids to sleep in the seventies and eighties
  • Where in the World with Theresa Lowe

    Do you have your homework done? Because once Glenroe is over it will be time for bed and then it's back to school on Monday morning! Shudder! Theresa Lowe was the Sunday night quizmaster on RTÉ in the late eighties. Where in the World contestants could win a holiday... or an umbrella.
  • Aftermath of the Enniskillen bombing

    1987: The Cenotaph at Enniskillen with the devastated community centre in the background. 11 people died and more than 50 were injured in a massive IRA bomb explosion just before a Remembrance Day ceremony took place in the Co. Fermanagh town of Enniskillen. Image: Press Association
  • Calls for Charles Haughey's extradition

    Anti Charles Haughey and extradition pickets opposite the GPO in Dublin in 1989. Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Space hopper

    It hurt your legs and your bum and you were always falling off it. But everyone had to have a space hopper. Image: Lee Osbourne via Creative Commons
  • The General

    Criminal Boss Martin Cahill, aka The General, leaving the Four Courts in Dublin in July 1988. Image: Photocall Ireland
  • Swingball

    Remember those heady days of summer when the sun was always shining and beating a ball around a pole on a piece of string was all the rage? Image: Ramones Karaoke via Creative Commons
  • 20p

    The 20p piece was introduced in 1986 and was nice and big and shiny and you could buy not one, but TWO Big Time bars with it. Image: Creative Commons
  • Welcome home Stephen Roche

    1987: Tour de France winner Stephen Roche is given a hero's welcome in Dublin as he travels in an open-top bus along a packed O'Connell Street. An estimated 250,000 people lined the street 20 deep to watch the 27-year old Dubliner, who conquered the world's top bikers, be driven in triumph through his native city. Image: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images
  • Battleship

    Long before Rihanna was starring in the film version of this classic game, kids all over Ireland were blowing up ships and making their own explosion noises... Image: Steve Berry via Flickr/Creative Commons
  • Glenroe

    It just wasn't a Sunday night without Biddy, Miley and the gang... Image: Photocall Ireland
  • U2 in Croke Park

    1985: A U2 roadie throws water on fans during a concert in Croke Park in Dublin Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland!
  • Bono at The Point 1989

    New Years Eve 1989: U2 rang in the new decade in style in a concert that was televised on RTÉ. Image: Photocall Ireland
  • Dempsey's Den

    Zig and Zag made their first appearance on Dempsey's Den with Ian Dempsey in 1987. Image: via tuwoa on YouTube
  • Johnny Logan wins the Eurovision for the first time

    In 1980 Johnny Logan won the Eurovision for the first time for Ireland, singing What's Another Year in The Hague. Image: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images
  • Johnny wins again

    In 1987 Johnny did the double as a performer at the Eurovision in Belgium. Hold us now Johnny, hold us now. Image: via Hall3010 on YouTube
  • Hunger Strikes 1981

    H Block protesters block O'Connell Street in Dublin during the hunger strikes in 1981. Image: Photocall Ireland
  • Where's Shergar?

    1983: Image of the name plate from Shergar's stable box. The racehorse was taken on Tuesday 8th February from the stud farm in Ballymany, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland. Shergar was never found and no one had been charged with the theft. Image: Press Association
  • Ronald Reagan visits Ireland

    1984: In January American president Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy visited Reagan's ancestral home in Ballyporeen in Tipperary. Image: Photocall Ireland
  • Divorce Referendums 1986

    1986: Anti-divorce posters at the Father Mathew Hall on polling day for the Divorce Referendum on 26 June. Image: Photocall Ireland
  • 1985: Supporters of Charles Haughey

    Supporters of Charlie Haughey during the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis 1985. Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • 1989: Zig, Zag and Albert Reynolds

    Zig and Zag with Fianna Fáil TD Albert Reynolds at the Television Awards in 1989. Image: Photocall Ireland
  • 1985: Barry McGuigan

    Barry McGuigan, right, ducks to his left as American Bernard Taylor attacks during the World Boxing Association Title fight in the Kings Hall, Belfast, on Sept. 28, 1985. McGuigan retained his title after Taylor's corner threw in the towel in the eighth round. Image: AP Photo/Staff/Dear
  • Big Time Bars

    How many teeth were pulled out thanks to one of these monsters? Deliciously chewy, and yours for only 10p, they were a particularly joyous after-school treat. Image: Cafferys
  • 1985: Live Aid

    Bob Geldof leads the final song of the evening with George Michael, David Bowie and Bono on 13 July 1985 Image: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Image
  • 1986: Showband legends Dickie Rock

    Irish Singing Icon from the showband era Dickie Rock preforming in Dublin. Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • 1985: Brendan Grace AND Red Hurley, together

    Eighties Ireland superstars Brendan Grace and Red Hurley in the Gaiety's 1985 panto 'Robinson Crusoe'. Image: Photocall Ireland
  • 1989: The Gorbachevs pay a visit

    Raisa Gorbachev poses with the Nolan School of Dancers during her visit to the Bunratty Folk Park near Shannon, April 2, 1989. The Gorbachevs paid a two hour visit to Ireland en route to Cuba. Image: AP Photo
  • Wanderly Wagon

    Judge, Mr Crow and co aired on RTÉ from 1967 to 1982, but we're fairly sure the re-runs kept us going all the way through the eighties. Image: Via YouTube

What have we missed out on? What other images remind you of Ireland in the eighties? Let us know in the comments section below…

About the author:

Emer McLysaght

Read next: