Leo Burdock untold: Chips, war and hungry celebrities

A busy day at Burdocks (Image:

Nestled on the fringe of the Liberties, opposite Christchurch Cathedral, is an unparalleled success story, the rise of which seems to defy logic, and boggle the mind.

From humble beginnings, it has become a huge attraction, not only for the locals, not only for the whole of Dublin City and Ireland, not only for tourists from abroad, but also for world famous stars, from music, sports, acting, and entertainment.

Burdock’s Hall of Fame (Image:

Leo Burdock’s chipper on Werburgh Street in Dublin is a phenomenon that was built on the basic ideas of good food, value for money, and very generous portions.

The shop was a much-needed solution, over the years, for feeding your empty belly on a small budget, especially for struggling students and the working classes.


– Pedro, Spanish student

Burdocks is the oldest surviving fish and chip shop in Dublin, and it was opened in 1916, with Leo’s parents, Patrick and Bella, naming it after their 13-year-old son.

On the shop’s website it states: “Leo Burdock was a familiar face in the early morning markets, collecting fresh fish, potatoes and coal on his horse and cart.”

According to the Dictionary of Irish Biography, Leo, at sixteen years of age, witnessed events of the Easter rebellion in Dublin. He soon joined the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in November 1920 to fight for Irish independence. He was a private in C Company III Battalion, and carried out armed patrols of the C Company district of the south inner city.

Young Leo (Image:

In 1921, he was involved in a number of ambushes on Black and Tan lorries at Redmond’s Hill, Grafton Street, Harcourt Street and Dartmouth Road.

After the War of Independence, he continued fighting in the civil war on the anti-treaty side. In September 1922 he was involved in two attacks on the intelligence department of the Free State Army at Oriel House, Westland Row.

At the end of the war Burdock was arrested and imprisoned for a short spell in Mountjoy.

The shop itself used a coal fired fryer to cook its fish and chips until 1991, and was actually the last business in Ireland to cook its food in this way.

The success of the shop is largely down to a ‘word of mouth,’ self-made reputation, through quality, and not from huge, lavish, and expensive advertising campaigns.

The man himself (Image:

The list of its world famous patrons is staggering, and would give the Guinness Brewery a serious run for its money.

The list contains prestigious names such as U2, Liam Neeson, Sinead O’Connor, Daniel Day Lewis, Colin Farrell, Neil Jorden, Dara Ó Briain, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Def Leppard, Spandau Ballet, B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Snoop Dogg, Sandra Bullock, Ben Kingsley, Billy Bob Thornton, John Malkovich, Charlize Theron, Russell Crowe, Alan Rickman, James Spader, Patrick Stewart, Tom Cruise, Timothy Dalton, Helen Mirren, Lisa Kudrow, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jackie Chan, Captain himself William Shatner, Hollywood directors Ron Howard and Joel Schumacher, Billy Connolly, Trevor Nelson, American news presenter Katie Couric, Naomi Campbell, Marco Pierre White, Johnny Giles, Alan Shearer, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Jimmy White, and many, many more.

Burdock’s staff tell Trevor Nelson about Sandra Bullock

When asked about Leo Burdock, Sean Dwyer, 58, a local said: “I’ve been buying fish, chips, and batter burgers from Burdocks for as long as I can remember. My parents used to bring us up to the chipper since I was a nipper, with my sister. Happy days, happy times. My belly used to be bursting afterwards, but I loved it. Still do.”

Pedro, a tourist, and student, from Spain was also at Burdocks with his German girlfriend Tanya, and said: “We were having beer in a bar close to here, and some Irish people recommended here for food. They told us about Bruce Springsteen and Tom Cruise eating here. We thought they were telling us jokes, but it looks true.” Pedro added, laughing: “I do not think I can fit all my fries down, there are so many.”

Bruce Springsteen (Image:

Customers were unaware of the role that Leo played in the war for Ireland’s independence. He seems to be an unsung hero of history, ready to fight for his country when the chips were down, thank cod!

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