By Noel Coogan
Many GAA supporters walking along Jones’s Road close to Croke Park are hardly aware that the street is called after Frederick Jones, popularly known as ‘Buck,’ a flamboyant character who lived in the area in the 18th and 19th centuries and whose ghost was allegedly seen in the locality in later times.
Frederick Edward Jones was born in Dunboyne, Co. Meath in 1759 and after attending Trinity College in Dublin, pursued a career in the theatre. After acquiring a lease of a music hall on Fishamble Street in the city, ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ and ‘the Irish Girl’ were early productions in 1793 with casts made up of amateur actors.
Then Jones moved to a theatre on Crow Street to which he gave a lavish and expensive remodelling.
The opening production was ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in early 1798 and after selling one eighth shares to a couple of investors, he left Dublin for London in the early 1900s.
After arriving in the English capital, he became co-manager of the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, an impressive facility which could seat over 3,000 people.
The theatre was the brainchild of Irish-native playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who bought a controlling share in it in 1776. A big fire in 1909 caused its closure for a while.
That forced Jones to return to Dublin and resume management of the theatre on Crow Street. But he returned to law suits and riots and after the licence expired, he was refused a renewal.
During his younger years, Buck was considered to be a very handsome man and was noted for his stylish form of dress and good manners. He lived in Clonliffe House on Clonliffe Road, later to become Clonliffe College from 1854 on. The grounds provided parking facilities for supporters going to Croke Park for many years.