The ‘Godfather of Gay’, Tonie Walsh is back with his unmissable Lavender Walk, Dublin’s original LGBTQ+ history tour.
As founder of the Irish Queer Archive and co-founder of GCN, among many other contributions, Tonie has been a stalwart of Ireland’s LGBTQ+ civil rights movement stretching back to 1979. Topped off with an avid love of history and his natural skills as a master raconteur, Tonie is the perfect host to lead you through the city’s lavish and colourful LGBTQ+ history.
Running across Pride week, the Lavender Walk with Tonie Walsh has long been considered an indispensable part of the Dublin Pride calendar, and this year’s tours promise to be no different.
Recalling the first queer history walking tour he organised for Dublin Pride 2009, Tonie told GCN, “It felt like our own mini-parade! That year, almost 100 people followed me and David Norris around the back streets of the city centre. In the intervening years, the tour, now known as Lavender Walk, has become an indispensable part of Dublin Pride and also inspired others to research and produce their own distinct LGBT history tours.
“I’ve been celebrating Dublin Pride since 1980. A lifetime of activism has also afforded me the privilege of being a witness to extraordinary social, cultural and political change in Ireland. It’s something I put to use when I take my tour participants time-travelling. And depending on the size and mix of the group, it can often turn into a fascinating and sometimes poignant exchange of personal histories and lived experience.”
The tour kicks off behind Dublin Castle, setting the scene by exploring the language of pre-Christian Ireland. After whetting our appetites with pagan Ireland, Tonie delves into the scandals and debauchery of Victorian Dublin under British rule. From there it winds its way through the back streets of Temple Bar recalling the queer clubs of the ’80s and ’90s where Tonie honed his skill in becoming one of the country’s most prestigious DJs. Stopping outside the site of the old Hirschfeld Centre, Tonie pays tribute to the legacy of one of Ireland’s earliest dedicated LGBTQ+ spaces and the early days of the modern Irish LGBTQ+ rights movement.
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With plenty more exciting stops along the way, this really is one not to be missed. And if you’ve been before, there’s always more to learn so it is definitely worth revisiting.
As Tonie sums up, “No matter how many times I tell the same story, invariably some extra details are added or the colour and tone changes depending on the audience. It never ceases to surprise me how hungry people are for some measure of our LGBT history that was denied us to long. It’s that hunger and appreciation that gives me so much pleasure. I couldn’t imagine Dublin Pride without doing the walking tours.”
The tours are running daily from Monday, June 20 to Friday, June 24 at various times. Tickets are booking fast so be sure to secure yours early to avoid disappointment. For more information go to Eventbrite.
© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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