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Famous Dublin Street Characters Part 2 – The Diceman

The Diceman, Thom McGintyPhoto: Copyright Wally Cassidy 1991, get more info here.

We at the Fountain your favourite online newswire recently put an article up titled “Bang Bang” and we hope you enjoyed it. We decided to expand this subject by adding in some more characters that where once part of our street scenes. Using his ability to stay perfectly still for long periods of time, like a statue, only to move at the last second to startle people. He quickly became a favourite with passersby on that busy shopping street.

Related Stories:
Famous Dublin Street Characters Part 3 – Arthur Fields, The Man On The Bridge
Famous Dublin Street Characters Part 1 – Bang Bang

Thom McGinty, aka The Diceman, was born in Glasgow in Scotland, and came to work in Ireland in 1976 as a nude model for art colleges. He got his name from his employers “The Dice Man” game shop. During his time spent in Ireland he lived in Galway and Dublin. He became very well known when he began to busk on Grafton Street. At this stage of his career, he was a mime and dressed in all sorts of creations from the Mona Lisa to politicians of the day.

He got work here and there as human advertising. One of these shops was Bewleys, where he used his charisma to get shoppers to pop in for a brew. The shop on Graton Street shut down, but he managed to be there for the grand opening of a new Bewleys shop which was opened in the Square in Tallaght, which demonstrates how much a mascot he had become for the company. He then worked for various shops in and around Grafton Street, but mostly he worked as a street performer dressed as The Dice Man, a costume that was specifically like a harlequin covered in dots.

The Dice Man got in trouble with the law after he wore a costume showing his bare backside, and when he stood up in court he declared the he was “living art”. Dubliners had taken a strong liking to this eccentric who bemused child and adult alike with his antics, whether it was his slow run away from the Gardai or well crafted costumes.

Thom Mc Ginty was also an accomplished actor in his own right. He acted in a number of productions among them Genet’s “The Maids” and Oscar Wilde’s “Salome”, which was later transferred to Edinburgh festival in Scotland. Adding further dept to his character, Mc Ginty was politically motivated, raising awareness for the Birmingham Six, the Tibet occupation and Gay rights as well as HIV awareness. In 1990 he himself was diagnosed with H.I.V. and he passed away in 1995, having spent nearly 20 years working and living in Ireland. His coffin was carried the length of Grafton street were a loud applause was heard for several minutes by the people of Dublin, who had made the Dice Man, one of their own.

The Mona Lisa by Thom McGinty aka The DicemanThe poet Paul Meehan in the poem “Dharmakya” wrote the following lines about the Dice Man;

“Become a still pool
in the anarchic flow, the street’s
unceasing carnival
of haunted and redeemed”

Related Stories:
Famous Dublin Street Characters Part 3 – Arthur Fields, The Man On The Bridge
Famous Dublin Street Characters Part 1 – Bang Bang

3 Responses

  1. C.S. Carroll says:

    Hi Alan, nice article. Just letting you know before anyone else chimes in, the picture you have there isn’t actually of Thom, but of myself. I wrote and performed a one-man show this time last year in the theatre at Bewley’s, telling the life story of the Diceman, which is why there are photos of me in his image floating around. It was an incredible experience getting to know his story and sharing it on Grafton Street; and rest assured, I’ll take it as a compliment that I managed to pass for him!

  2. Hi Christopher, cheers for pointing that out! We had spent a while trying to source a nice colorful pic, and the one that was presented seemed like the perfect one to use! Now that you pointed out the mistake, it actually seems very obvious.

    Apologies for the mixup, and thanks again for pointing it out. We have now switched the pic, and the original Thom is now featured in the image above 🙂

  3. Tony Gorman says:

    Dublin Characters 13th April 2014 by/Tony Gorman

    The characters of old Dublin we’re proud of them all
    As their ghosts on the websites give us all a rallying call
    Reaching out on still photos and in old movie strips as well
    Revived from the archives for the stories that they tell

    Of the Diceman and his movements deliberately slow
    With his face all painted white and his dice like spots on show
    For his slow motion actions were just to keep us all amused
    And to those that didn’t know him they’d be totally bemused

    And with old Johnny Forty Coats the feelings were the same
    And the dress code he decided on it soon shot him to fame
    I guess he was a lonely man with no relatives to care
    And to spend his life in destitute it wasn’t really fair

    Bang bang was loved by everyone using a key as his top gun
    He’d aim it and shout out bang bang it was his sort of cowboy fun
    He’d do it from a bus platform so everyone would see
    And I’m proud to say that there were times he aimed his key at me

    There was the scary and dancing Mary’s who were different then each other
    One danced around everywhere the other made kids shudder
    There was hairy lemon with his clothes in rags and a beard right down his chest
    A harmless character with an odd ball way to list down with the rest

    And it’s only in old Ireland that these characters could claim fame
    As the people took them to their hearts christening them with their nickname
    And we honour their place in folklore as their names went far and wide
    They were part of Ireland’s history and we’ll remember them with pride

    Though Dublin is filled with history those characters of our past
    Will fill the gaps in pages with the stories that they cast
    And as we sit in a Dublin pub their stories will ring out
    We’ll raise a glass in an Irish toast and give them a rousing shout

    Here’s to all our old characters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Bang Bang, The Diceman , Johnny Forty Coats, Scary & Dancing Mary and Hairy Lemon and all the rest.
    May they never want for anything again in their new life?

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