The Bakery Boys’ mystery.
Sibling of Daedalus writes:
Ever since I first saw that photograph on Broadsheet (via the National Library) of two kids using the confusion of the Irish Civil War as cover for a daring heist on a bakery’s produce (some say they are ‘guarding’ the bread for the Irish Free State), I’ve been trying to work out its location. I thought that the name of the baker might help and I spent time studying the photo, trying to decipher it from the half-letters visible, but no joy.
Until, searching the National Library archives for something else, I found this:-
Taken on Lord Edward Street, during the Civil War, it shows a cart from the bakery of Peter Kennedy. The lettering on the cart corresponds to that half-visible on the one in the first photo above.
So, I decided to look into the history of Kennedy’s Bakery, if only to see if I could find anything about a daring schoolboy civil war bread robbery, but no joy there either and the lads above remain regrettably untraced.
Though what I found out about the bakery was interesting.
Kennedy’s Bread was a Dublin institution from as far back as the 1850s, when Peter Kennedy, the founder of the firm, took over an existing bakery in Great Britain Street (later Parnell Street). Subsequently another branch was opened in Patrick Street. Kennedys not only survived with aplomb the Great Dublin Bakery Strike of the 1900s, but (unlike Bolands’ Mills and Jacobs’ Biscuits, which supplied their products free of charge and without consent) made a bit of a profit out of the Easter Rising by providing paid-for bread to the forces in the GPO.
Around this time the firm started manufacturing one of their most popular products, the Bermaline malt loaf (“brown bread that invites closer acquaintance… a crisp delicious crust which you will enjoy biting into… its flavour is altogether worthy of its looks”) to accompany that most popular Dublin staple, the Vienna Roll.
In 1938 Kennedys’ Well-Fruited Sultana and Madeira Cakes won first prize at the International Bakers and Confectioners Exhibition in the Royal Albert Hall, London, losing out narrowly to a rival firm for the Irish Challenge Shield. And in 1953, just as rationing came to an end, the Kennedy Open Pan won first prize at the International Bakery Exhibition at the Mansion House, Dublin.
Things looked to be going well for Kennedys; but on Thursday the 3rd July 1971 breakfasters all over Dublin choked on their Bermaline toast at the announcement that the bakery end of the business, employing three-quarters of its 400-strong workforce, was to close.