Dublin After the Rare
A cultural commentary on a visit to Dublin
by The Irish Blogman in October 2009
Soundtrack is Mick Fitzgerald’s song, October, from
his recent album, Damage Limitation
(Pecha Kucha-style presentation -20 slides with text)
There were signs of
recession in Dublin:
bookshops, record stores,
cafes, even pubs had shut
down. There were a few
vacant shops on Grafton
Street, including a black
hole where the Thomas
Cooke travel agency was.
Very ﬁtting, since the
company perpetrated a
dark, dirty and abrupt
closure process on its
workers in August.
Some changes might be
classed as improvements.
The window of this former
wine shop in Temple Bar
was being used for an art
display by participants in
RADE -Recovery Through
Not far away from the RADE show, was this
provocative display. The Ryan Report of the
Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse had
all but disappeared from the headlines in
October. But some creative person/s set up
this performance art piece, pasting pages
from the report onto hoardings on this vacant
lot . It was a somewhat obscure location. I
wanted it to be more central and visible, say
outside the Dail or the General Post Office
Grafton Street is still Busker Central. This band took pole position at the
top of the street near St Stephen’s Green and entertained passers-by
Only one day of my visit to Dublin was marred by rain. I went to see the Dublinia exhibit at
Christ Church which gives access to St Michael’s Tower. The sun burst forth late in the
afternoon for a ﬁnal ﬂourish, as the rainclouds scurried away. That’s when I got this dramatic
photograph of the northside
Two more views from St
Michael’s Tower, one to the
south and one to the west
I took a stroll around my old stomping
grounds in the Liberties and the
Tenters.This is one of the very old
Dublin street names, harking back to a
time when country and city life were
closely intertwined. Around the corner
is Ebenezer Terrace where I grew up.
We lived in number 18 for many years
and then in number 24. It was the
same house but when six new houses
were built some residents got new
Years ago, one of the familes that lived
on Cow Parlour tried to get the name
changed. It was so undigniﬁed and
who cared about all that oul history....
Fortunately, their revisionist effort was
The corner of The Coombe and
Pimlico is a focal point of the
Liberties, one of Dublin’s oldest
areas. The legendary and unique
ﬁddler, Tommy Potts, lived on
These streets were home to a thriving
traditional music scene when I was
growing up. Now the area is one node of
Dublin’s new multi-cultural communities.
The most puzzling development in the old neighborhood was the re-purposing of this
building as a church. This was the site of O’Keefe’s the Knackers, a slaughter-house
whose foul smell permeated the whole area. On good days, the more pleasing odors
from the Guinness Brewery would overcome the putrid scents from O’Keefe’s.
My sister, brother and brother-in-law are
members of Kilcock Golf Club in Co Kildare.
It was at its best on this beautiful autumn
day while they golfed and I walked
Ranelagh is one of the most desirable areas
of Dublin. It’s within walking distance of the
city center. But then, almost all of Dublin’s
central area is eminently walkable. I walked
everyday or took a bus or the Luas --known
to many Dubliners as the Daniel Day.
The citizens are still adjusting to the Luas
street cars. There have been a number of
accidents with pedestrians, cars and even
The cafe at
of my favorite
places to visit
and hang out
St Stephens Green is Dublin’s Central
Park. It’s an oasis of cultivated calm
surrounded by city bustle.
Poet Paula Meehan’s new book of
poetry, Painting Rain, has a ﬁne
sequence of poems about the
sycamores in the Green.
Dublin is a friendly place still although an
increasing number of people choose to cut
themselves off from the city experience.
Driving when they could be walking,
Texting when they could be talking,
Living out their desperation,
Locked in I-Pod isolation.
That cohort of marooned individuals included
Roddy Doyle, who I spotted one day marching
along College Green with the tell-tale white
earbuds. Was he just taking a break from soaking
up the urban ambience?
If Emile Durkheim was still around, he might offer
this new term for alienation: I-nomie,
A form of self-imposed, social disengagement from
the essentially cooperative pact that underlies city
living. These folks are, in a word, I-blivious.
A new form of transportation was recently introduced in Dublin: bicycles
that can be rented and returned at various locations for travel around the
city. It has been well received by locals and tourists although there were
reports that some bikes had already been stolen.
Only a few Irish people have returned to working in the service industries.
Most restaurants and cafes are still staffed by non-nationals. One French-
style restaurant where I had an excellent -and very reasonably priced-
dinner was staffed by non-Irish but the chef was a solid Irishman, from the
Something was lost in translation
in the window of this sports bar
takes its name from the Japanese term
for the sound of "chit chat“. It is a
presentation format based on a simple
idea: 20 images x 20 seconds of
Dublin’s Third Pecha Kucha night was
Thanks for lending your eyes.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh!