Thursday, 27 February 2014

Part 5: My Story.

Nice Maurice and all that jazz......

The year was 1973 and on the face of it things couldn’t get much better I was 24 married to my dream girl. I had by this time interests Club Elizabeth, Sachs Hotel and Club Barbarella. I was dinning in the finest restaurants and enjoying my trips to London hanging out with my partner Louis Brown famous showbiz friends. Really life doesn’t get much better than this, so I thought.
It was around this time that The Sunday World newspaper was launched, it was Ireland's first tabloid newspaper published by Hugh McLaughlin and Gerry McGuinness. It broke new ground in terms of layout, content, agenda, columnists. Gerry, who I knew quite well, decided that it might be a good idea to do a profile on me and of course I was only too happy to oblige. He sent a reporter around to Sachs hotel to interview me, but when I discovered he was only a cub reporter on his first assignment I wasn’t too happy, in fact I called Gerry and insisted that i should at least be afforded the privilege of the owner of the paper himself conduct the interview (slightly full of my own self important by then me thinks!!!) I can’t remember in the end if it was Gerry or another more senior reporter who actually did the interview but all I know is that they a called me ‘Nice Maurice’ in the article and from that day on that name stuck!!!

The Irish economic boom that we were enjoying did not last for long. Industrial relations disputes, inflation from the oil crises of 1973 overspill from the Troubles in Northern Ireland, new capital taxes and poor management of the economy by the government took their toll and yet the rich didn’t seem to be that effected Club Elizabeth and Sachs Bar where still booming and attracting the society of Dublin. My clients included some of Ireland’s biggest names in business. I allowed companies to open accounts which was at the time a good move as many of the executives who visited the club were allowed to simply sign their bills and at the end of the month an account would be sent out and paid. This encouraged much higher spending.

Casting my mind back there were many memorable nights. One of them had to be the night that we had an electricity break down
leaving Elizabeths bathed in darkness, the glow from the candles on tables was the only source of light, as romantic as it was but with no music it meant no dancing. The late Dermot O’Reilly-Hyland came up with an idea to solve this problem by backing his brand new white E Type Jaguar into the kitchens and by turning up his 8 track stereo to full volume, we had music, Problem solved!!! Another problem was angry wives or girlfriends turning up at the door demanding to come in to see if there husband was inside. Diplomacy was the order then as we instructed the condemned men to leave the club through the kitchens.
Over the 7 years I had Club Elizabeth I remember very little trouble in fact I only remember ONE row in the club when the Irish rugby hooker Ken Kennedy threw a punch at one of the French team. It was over in seconds, hands were shaken and champagne ordered.

I was a great rugby fan so you can imagine how thrilled I was when one Tuesday evening I arrived at the club to see it full with famous rugby players from UK, Wales and Scotland. Some of the biggest stars at the time where enjoying there night out including JPR Williams, Gareth Edwards, Mike Gibson etc. One thing that was odd was there was no International planned for the net coming days and no matter who I asked why they were here there answers were the same shrouded in secrecy. It was only the next day when Irish captain Willie John McBride ran out with Ulster (I think) when Eamonn Andrews host of BBC’s This Is Your Life stepped out from the tunnel with the famous red book in hand announcing those famous words; “Willie John McBride, THIS IS YOUR LIFE!” And that folks is why so many famous rugby stars were in Elizabeth’s the night before, sworn you secrecy.

Talking about Eamonn Andrews reminds me of the time my father called me and invited me to join him at the Russell hotel, then Dublin’s most elegant 5 star hotel, for dinner. It was unlike him to simply call me out of the blue to invite me for dinner. As I drove to the hotel I kept wondering why he was so insistent that I come straightaway. I was shown to the table were my father, mother and their friends were sitting. As soon as I sat down my father began to explain why the urgency. Leaning forward, almost in a whisper he explained although he was sworn to secrecy he wanted to warn me. “Warn me of what?” I asked. He then told me to slowly look behind me. I turned around and to my surprise Eamonn Andrews was sitting there chatting to a friend. Turning back I whispered, “So?” My dad leaned forward and asked; “You know what day it is?” I was confused wondering what he was getting at. “It’s Wednesday, why?” I hadn’t a clue what he was going on about and why we were whispering: “ As you know Wednesday is the day they televise This is Your Life and tonight Eamonn is going to come over to this table and surprise you!” I nearly fell off my chair. I was shocked sat still waiting for the big moment when Eamonn would say those famous words “Maurice Boland This is etc etc” After about 10 minutes I saw Eamonn leave the restaurant and my dad and his friends fell around laughing. Boy was I embarrassed. You see my dad was a great practical joker and to think I was big headed enough to fall for such a stupid wind up!!

Club Elizabeth had some great characters as clients including John ‘Wheels’ O’Byrne who would spend the night going around the club selling top end cars or Jimmy Roach, Liam Flood, Nick Murphy and a gang of high rollers who would spend the evening drinking champagne whilst playing a game called Spoof where 3 coins were used and thousands of pounds lost or won. There was one particular multi millionaire who would always fall asleep and needed his chauffeur to come in and carry him out fireman style. One of our favourites was Dr Frank Dwane. (none of these names have been changed to protect their innocence because they were ALL innocent....I think!!) There was also an array of beautiful woman, mostly married to my best customers including Maureen ‘Mo’ Austin, Jennifer Jeffers, Irene McHugh, Norma Smurfit and Susan McDougall (all still stunning I might add)

As young as I was I used to have a driver then and a dark blue XJ series Jaguar. One night after shutting up the club I walked out expecting to see my driver Liam and my car but what greeted me was a white Rolls Royce.
Confused, I asked Liam where my Jag was, he explained that John O’Byrne had told him that I had agreed to try out the Rolls and that I was interested in buying it. Well I never had agreed anything of the sort but I knew this was his way of operating, lending a potential client a flash motor hoping he would then buy it. Was I angry? Not in the slightest in fact I
sent Liam home and decided I wanted to drive this stunning car myself Did I feel important as I drove this Roller the 25 miles home, you can bet your life I did!
As I got to about 3 miles to my house the car spluttered to a halt. I realised I had run out of petrol! After effing and blinding and threatening to kill O’Byrne , I decided I’d better try to get a lift to thenearest petrol station. Please picture this I was wearing a Tom Jones styled frill shirt, a long velvet coat, the sort Beau Brummell used to wear and my shoulder length I must have looked liked a freak out of a Frankenstein movie standing on the road thumbing a lift! After a few cars passed ignoring me, eventually a kind postman on a Honda 50 stopped and agreed to bring me to the nearest garage. I purchased some petrol the kindly postman drove me back to the car. How I would have loved a photo of me on the back of that motorbike. The next morning Wendy woke me asking why a Rolls Royce was parked in our drive and were was my car, I told her I was thinking of buying it. She told me that I could do what I want but she would never set foot into the car she said she felt it was to flashy to austintatious and we would be seen to be rubbing the noses in those who were struggling through the recession including some of our friends. That was it, NO roller. But I did manage to take it to Brittas Bay for the day!! (see photo, what a poser?) Mind you this was NOT the first time that lovable rouge O’Byrne did this to me.

One early evening whilst leaving Sachs Hotel John stopped me and handed me a car key saying: “Here this is for you.” I had no idea what he was up to, but knowing O’Byrne I was sure he was up to no good. He marched me outside and there sitting in the car park was a brand new blue Maserati Bora. He said “Go on try it, it suits your image.” And with that he tossed me the keys turned around and left. It was a beautiful summers evening the bars terrace was full of Dublin’s ‘In Crowed’ so I thought I’d look pretty impressive pulling off in front of that crowed. So I jumped in started up the engine, I was sure the roar could be heard a mile away as I prepared to set off home. Only one problem I couldn’t find reveres!!! How I lost all credibility when I had to get some of my staff to push me backwards so I could turn and leave. John O’Byrne was one of Dublin’s great characters, he died a few years ago and I’m sure is greatly missed by those who knew him.

During the rest of ’73 I was as busy as ever. Wendy had now stopped modelling as she was pregnant. Backgammon was the new
craze, we were winning and losing oodles of cash. After all we were a group of young entrepreneurs enjoying ourselves. Big homes, fast cars and plenty of cash. I also made my first entry into the Who's Who of Ireland.

As we approach June 1974 Wendy was in her final month of her pregnancy, are home was prepared for the arrival of a little boy and a blue themed nursery was ready. A fully uniformed trained nanny had taken up residency. We were all on standby. June 13th I had friends around for a game of backgammon. I was called a side by the nanny Joan to ask Eamonn, h my driver, to get the car ready as Wendy’s waters had broken and we must leave immediately for the Hospital. Nicholas Boland was born in the early hours of the next morning. I had become a father and my mum and dad had become grandparents for the first time. The Sunday World newspaper ran an article about the birth saying that: ‘Nice Maurice Boland had a camera installed in the nursery so that he could not only hear his new born baby cry but also watch it wee!!!! (see the cutting at the bottom of this chapter)

The Photo above of Wendy and myself with our first born son Nicholas was taken by my grandfather Joe Ross who with my grandmother ran Ross Studios St Stephens Green. It was said there was hardly a home in Dublin that didn't have a Ross Studio's photograph. My grandfather's nephew Edmund Ross continues to keep the Ross Studios name alive and he himself is one of Irelands finest photographers.

Throughout ’74 and ’75 it was business as usual. My partners in Sachs Hotel informed me that they had a decent offer for the hotel and wanted to sell and as a minor share holder I had no option but go along with the deal although I was far from happy.
By 1976 Wendy was pregnant again and was expecting in June.

One afternoon I received a call from a very powerful socialite asked me she could to rent Club Elizabeth for an entire
evening to host a VIP party in honour of Senator Edward Kennedy who was coming on a private visit to Ireland. This meant that the club would be closed to the public for that particular night. I agreed readably after all what incredible publicity for Elizabeth’s. But there was proviso, NO publicity before the event as security was a very high priority. Reluctantly I agreed, although it was difficult for me to keep shtum but somehow I managed it. The big day finally arrived and that afternoon I had to open the club to let the Kennedy security team check out the premises. It turned out to be an amazing evening with the guest list reading like the who’s who of Irish politics and a very special invited VIP list.

Approaching midnight I was called urgently to the foyer which was separated from the inside of the club by a highly guarded door, to my surprise Inspector Malone of the Harcourt Street Garda Station accompanied by a team of uniform officers greeted me: “Well Mr Boland what’s all this about warning me that tonight might not be a correct time to carry out an inspection?” He
enquired with a sarcastic tone. I apologised and explained what was taking place inside etc etc. Inspector Malone thankfully agreed and ordered his disappointed posse to leave the club. You have no idea how good that felt. The evening was a great success, the entire Kennedy party left more than satisfied and I was well pleased with myself especially showing my arch enemy Inspector Malone the door!!

I slept in late the next day and more or less decided to hang around the house and take the night off. All was well until I received a call asking had I seen today’s newspapers?. I hadn’t but I felt sure some very positive stuff would make the press front pages about the VIP guest and his visit to Club Elizabeth, although I was surprised it was reported so soon. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. All the press covered the story about me ‘ordering’ the police out of the club etc. Other reports described how I belittled the highly respected police Inspector !! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I just put the phone down, I was stunned. Who could have leaked last night’s incident at the door to the press? I just sat there with my head in my hands knowing this could be curtains for me and Elizabeths. I was immediately on the phone to my manager calling a meeting with him and the staff without delay. I told him I needed to find out exactly who had spoken to the press. Within the hour I was at the club greeted by a shocked staff everyone realised what this was going to mean. We sat there trying to figure out who stupidly leaked the story. The doorman then remembered that at that time the owner of another club was at the door and although to this day I could never prove it was him it added up. The next thing I had to do was to call Inspector Malone to request a meeting. He wasn’t a happy bunny to say the least but agreed to meet me out of uniform at Stillorgan Shopping Center. It turned out to be a very uncomfortable meeting; he was furious and rightly so. I, of course, did all but get down on my knees to apologise. He would have none of it believing I made him and his men look like idiots. He angrily explained that he had already been called up in front of his Chief Superintended. As he left his parting words were “You should never have done it”
I just sat there well after the police Inspector left feeling my world was about to close in on me. I knew in my heart and soul I knew it would only be a matter of time before Malone would seek his revenge!

To be continued......

Note: Since publishing the first chapters of My Story I have received emails with information and photographs from those who would like to add their memories to My Story. So I have been going back and adding this information to already published chapters. A big Thank you. My email address is and I would be delighted to hear from you.. I have just found this from a book about my old prep school St Stephens where I was a weekly boarder. It was written by my English teacher Aileen Finnigan. We later became friends, in fact her daughter was our children baby sitter!!!

This is from The Sunday World 1974 on the birth of my first child...

1 comment:

  1. Some the latest comments from my Facebook:

    Sylvia Foster Just read part 5 of your Story can't believe your eldest boy will be 40 in June he looks so much younger it must be in the genes observed 1996 think it should be 1976 June is a good month for Births. My Husband is watching Ben Fogle on tv when I saw your Part 5 on FB that's what I'm going to do read Your Story look forward to future instalments.x

    Irene McHugh Your story makes fascinating reading Maurice!So many names and places from the 70's -a fabulous decade ! You were The Man!

    Fiona Gardie Wow!! This is compelling ... Better than my 5 weekly doses of Corri!!! Looking forward to the next instalment Maurice!!