The people, mammals, places and things that make Dublin special. A gang of lads. Shy, reserved, quiet. Just chewing the cud. Sure, every now and again there is a bit of jostling. Just like you would expect from a group of healthy young males. But there’s one thing you would not expect. And that’s the complete lack of interest in the women across the way. It’s almost like an old country ballroom. Men on one side. Women on the other. But come September, that will all change. Scents will be donned. Fights will be had. Women will be chased. Another generation will be born. So
‘Do you know the Five Lamps?’ If you’ve heard this question before - and been foolish enough to answer in the affirmative - you’ll know not to answer it again. Essentially it’s a peculiarly Dublin way to tell someone to shut-up or to feck-off: ‘Do you know the Five Lamps? Well go hang your bollox off them!’. No one actually knows how this old saying originated. Well, how could they? But hats off to whichever Dublin wit it was who came up with it. Now it’s part of inner city Dublin culture. The lamps in question are in Dublin’s North Strand area, situated at the junction of five streets: Portland Row, North Strand Road, Seville Place, Amiens Street and Killarney Street. There it is, sitting an island in the middle of the road: a decorative five-branched lamp-post.
There is a tendency, when you’re Irish, to take the celebrations of Saint Patrick’s Day for granted – until you spend it somewhere else. Last year, I was working in London’s Canary Wharf for Saint Patrick’s Day. Looking out the window of a fifteenth floor office, the only break of green in the glass and steel metropolis was some hastily painted inaccurate shamrocks on the windows of an empty pub across the street. With n’er a silly hat in sight, I was never more Irish than I was that day in London, listening to Raglan Road in my cubicle. Growing up, Saint Patrick’s Day was the day to break Lent and crack open the sweet jar, a day for your
1966 was the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. De Valera was president. Nelson’s Pillar was blown up. In the same year the Bishop of Clonfert protested about a guest on The Late Late Show who told host Gay Byrne that she hadn't worn a nightie on her wedding night. ‘66 also saw the opening of Ireland’s first shopping centre, in Stillorgan, south county Dublin. For generations of Southsiders – and especially their children - Stillorgan Shopping Centre was a place of magic, glamour and excitement. It gave us a glimpse of the USA: a wonderland of airy spaces and covered walkways arranged around a capacious car park.
“There’s always been a bit of an audience for Blues in Dublin” On a dark Wednesday evening you walk into the Leeson Lounge on Upper Leeson Street. It’s a great place to take refuge from the rain, the cold, or whatever is on your mind. You grab a stool and a pint. Some musicians are playing. At first you don’t take any notice. Then something happens: your left foot starts tapping. Some of the songs feel old, or of a different time, but here there’s new life being given to them. Very soon it’s hard to take your eyes from the stage. The band is Los Paradiso, and the music they’re playing is the
Phil Lynott, Dr Seuss and Eminem stroll into a bar. They sit down, have a few drinks and start to have a raucously good time. That’s the sort of vibe you get from writer and performance poet, John Cummins. John would argue that Bob Marley has a place at the table too. “Bob Marley was huge where I was growing up. You’d hear him out of literally every window. And sure Dalymount Park was one of his last gigs.” John cuts a curious figure. Skinny. Tall. Thin. Bearded. But with a wild braided bardic beard, not a hipster one. Overall there’s a gentle, affable groove to his tripiddy-hop style.
We’ve a bit of an aul obsession with statues here in Dublin, the nature of which has changed a bit over the centuries, years and months. First it was commissioning them, and boy did we commission them like they were going out of fashion, commemorating and solidifying in bronze the likenesses and memories of all the great political, cultural, fictional and notional heroes of our times. Then, for a short period there in the mid 80s, the 1980s that is, inspired by a reported 30 sightings up and down the country of statues of the Virgin Mary moving, we saw people, whether they went to mass or not, gathering at grottos outside churches all over the capital and its suburbs wan
Wrapped from head to toe against the hostile elements, surrounded by a riot of colour which cuts a sharp contrast with the grey February day, meet the flower ladies of Grafton Street. They say the ladies are “the heart and soul of Grafton Street” and what helps save the road from becoming just another English high street. You’ll find the ladies bringing both wit and colour to the corners of Chatham, Harry and Duke Streets. Tina Kelly tells us she’s been selling flowers all her life, starting off aged 12 helping her mother when Grafton St still had two-way traffic. She has seen a lot come and go from her perch on Duke Street. Tina tells Dublin.ie that one time she even met The Duke himself. “Yeah I met John Wayne.” “Sure I met them all,” she adds. “Sean Connery… I was talking away to him, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Lisa Stanfield. I met an awful lot of them. And sure Eric Clapton, well I was talking to him on the street for nearly two hours and I hadn’t a clue who he was.” A natural born story teller, you can tell Tina enjoys the banter that comes with the trade. Many of the customers are obviously regulars as there’s lots of first name usage. Sister-in-law Susanne, who mans the Harry Street corner, says “you have to enjoy talking to people.” And in case we hadn’t noticed, she adds: “Now I would be a talker!” The Kelly name is synonymous with flowers on Grafton Street going way back, Susanne says. “Now I married into the Kelly family,” she says adding that she comes from a family of boxers. My grandfather was Spike McCormick.”
Stand in one spot for long enough and you get to witness some pretty interesting stuff. The ground rumbles beneath my feet with the Luas works and its accompanying symphony of pneumatic drills and heavy machinery, played expertly by men in high vis jackets and hard hats. Lorries laden with cement and rubble pass left and right. Double decker after double decker stream from the quays onto the bridge. The middle-aged woman weighed down with Arnott’s bags runs past me for the stop, panting. Her bus is pulling away. She’s distraught. Maybe she has some sentimental link to that particular bus; another one with the same number is waiting at the lights on O’Connell Street, a minut
This library has more than just books as residents… Marsh’s library is located behind Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s Ireland’s oldest public library. Inside, the library is, for the most part, untouched, remaining beautiful. Marsh’s Library is one of the very few 18th century buildings left in Dublin that is still being used for its original purpose. It’s made up of two long galleries, joined by a small reading room. Books are shelved in bays on either side of the gallery. The interior of the library has elegant dark oak bookcases filled with old books. Bookcases are complete with rolling ladders and walking through the gallery almost feels like a journey throu
It’s an addiction. It’s life threatening. It’s awesome. Huddling together in the bitter cold, on Friday the 13th, under a weak and feeble January sun, they all argue that there’s nothing better. Sure, there’s dramatic stories of nearly dying. But the group is adamant that the buzz is worth it. Great, they say, for the mental health. “It’s the perfect anti-depressant,” photographer Barry Delaney says. Listening to them, you hear the language of addiction, of love, of religion even. Welcome to Sandycove’s famous Forty Foot and its crew of year-round swimmers. It’s almost like a cult. But the freezing water keeps things real.
In James Joyce’s most famous work ‘Ulysses’, Leopold Bloom quips that a good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub. Clever ad man that he is, Bloom is always coming up with brilliant ideas and this is another: the world’s first anti-pub crawl. The puzzle stumped Dubliners for years. Until 2011 when it was solved by software developer Rory McCann. Six years on Dublin.ie decided to check out the route to see if it’s still pub-free. But before we got started, we wanted to talk to an expert – preferably someone who’d done the route before. We f
The people, places and things that make Dublin special. Tucked away on Lincoln place, in the heart of Dublin’s south inner city, is Sweny’s pharmacy. It was made famous by the James Joyce novel, Ulysses. Sweny’s is no longer a working pharmacy, but a key part of Dublin’s culture and nostalgia. It’s run by volunteers to maintain its original 1850’s Victorian style – made obvious by the mahogany counter and old glass cabinets outlining the room. Shelves of unopened medicine bottles and old photographs sit in the cabinets, still waiting to be collected. The original chemists sign is still intact, proving that this place has not lost its charm!
Remember where the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood took place? Or Hansel & Gretel? Well, these days, it’s not stories of the deep, dark woods parents try to spook their children with, but the bright lights of the city. Maybe they’re afraid of them growing up too quick, of venturing out into the big wide world. It’s all futile, however, because for a kid reared out in the suburbs, the ambition always is to be able to go into town one day, sans parents. It was interesting speaking to one such teen, Eric, now at the ripe old age of 16, to see how much has changed and how much has stayed the same. He recalled with us he and his friends’ first excursion, and ex
Remember when whether you lived on the Northside or the Southside of Dublin was a really big deal? Like, practically life-or-death? No? Well then either you’re not originally from around these parts, or you moved around in circles that never saw you encountering anyone from the other side of the Liffey. God forbid. So how deep did this, this rivalry we could call it, go? Well, think of it like this – there are those who would refuse to go to Dunne’s Stores in the Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre if they hadn’t got the slippers they were after in Dunne’s Stores over in the Ilac. We’re talking garlic-to-a-vampire type of aversion here. The side of the Liffey on
The people, places and things that make Dublin special. Set on 260 acres of parkland in the seaside town of Malahide, 16 km north of Dublin, Malahide Castle was home to the Talbot family from 1185 to 1975. The atmospheric castle – yes, there are ghosts – is furnished with period furniture and a large collection of Irish portraiture on loan from the National Gallery. Four main rooms are open to the public: the wood-panelled Oak room, the Small and Great Drawing Rooms and the Great Hall, where an exhibition records the history of the family who lived at the castle for almost 800 years.
Through losing stage and screen legends, 1916 Rising commemorations, The Boss in Croke Park, the birth of a baby elephant and retaining Sam Maguire. It's been quite a year for the county. True, every year has its ups and downs. But surely 2016 was more uppy and downy than most. So let’s kick off with an up - about 20 storeys up, as it happens.
“Christmas comes but once a year”, they say, to which I always reply, “But Christmas Eve comes first!” Not just because of the fact it comes a day earlier, but because it happens to be my favourite day of the year. As some friends and colleagues sleep off the night before and relish their lie-ins (which won’t feel as sweet given that Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday this year), I’m up and out the door, observing my own personal tradition of taking a long walk out into the middle of Dublin Bay or, in other words, along The South Wall. The view from the lighthouse at the end of the pier is stunning at any time of the year, but it’s something special on this particula
“The Abbey is your national theatre. We are here to tell your stories.” These were the words of Neil Murray, recently appointed alongside Graham McLaren as one of the Abbey’s new directors. And the Abbey itself has long been part of our city’s story. Nestled in the bustle at the heart of Dublin 1, amidst the comings and goings from Busaras and Connolly station, the Luas clangs past its door, and the Liffey’s squawking seagulls are within earshot. President Michael D Higgins regularly attends opening nights, a straight run for him down the quays from the big house in the park. The last time I wandered down that d
Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And there’s nothing more likely to get you in the spirit than Christmas carols. Carols have the power to awaken the inner child in all of us. The hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention. You start to feel what can only be described as a warm, fuzzy glow. So at Dublin.ie, with our inner child getting restless, we decided to try and identify some of the very best places to hear Christmas carols. Our first stop is the National Concert Hall. With concerts, presentation and setting can be everything. And that’s what makes Carols by Candlelight on December 22nd so utterly charming. Enjoy an exquisite collection of carols and seasonal classics - all staged in full 18th Century costume in an evocative candle-lit style setting. You really won’t want to miss it.
The Live Crib at the Mansion House is a Dublin Christmas Institution. I have fond memories of visiting it as a child. It was always the grand finale in a day of staring at wonder at the shop windows of Arnott’s, Clery’s and Brown Thomas. The crib, now in its 22nd year has even more to offer the families of Dublin this winter. Visitors to the Live Crib will now walk through a wonderful Winter Wonderland to reach the crib. You will walk by baubles so big you will feel like you have shrunk. You can rest legs weary from Christmas shopping in Santa’s sleigh before posting your letter to Santa through the wonderland’s direct link to the North Pole. Listen closely and you might even hear it whoosh away.
You walk up the side stairs of the International Bar. On Wicklow Street. You stroll into a dark room. You pay a fiver. You instantly hear laughter. You’ve just made the smart move to go the Dublin Comedy Improv. Going since 1992, DCI is a true institution, a little gem in the city. Kicking off at 9pm, it’s been up there adding big grins to grim Mondays for 25 years. I’ve seen a lot of lesser acts labelled ‘cult’ over the years. But this crew earn the accolade. Looking at these dudes
Fairview has been a part of suburban Dublin since the 1800s. In the beginning it was a refuge for well-off people seeking solace from the bustling city. The area originally bore the same name as neighbouring Ballybough. But in 1856 a church was dedicated to Our Lady of Fair View, giving the surrounding area the name used today. Walk through Fairview and you’ll feel its unique vibe. It’s like a cross between the Liberties and Clontarf. Trendy bars and eateries sit comfortably alongside hardware stores and charity shops that have been here for years. Families who have been in the area for generations live happily alongside a metropolitan mix of young professionals.
When Justin Timberlake’s parents were there, where was Justin? This is a legitimate question when you look up at the Leo Burdock's Hall Of Fame. Justin’s parents are listed on the wall, while he himself is notably absent. The chipper is renowned for pulling in big names and listing them proudly on its wall. Spandau Ballet, Ray Charles, Ben Kinsley, even Edith Piaf. A possible supergroup? Bruce Springsteen was there just a few months ago. And he’s been before – the Boss is known for his love of fish and chips. They pull in other names too. Local ones, maybe less well known, who come time and time again.
A stone’s throw from the city (this could depend on one’s throwing arm), there’s something extreme going on. Tyres hitting gravel and muck at speed. That’s all we’ll say for the moment, we’ll let Niall Davis from Biking.ie do the talking. Quick note: a “spin” for the uninitiated, like ourselves, is going out on your mountain bike. Dublin.ie: Tell us a bit about Biking.ie? Niall: We’ve two locations, one in the Dublin mountains [Ticknock] and one in the Wicklow mountains [Ballinastoe]. From both those hubs we run bike rentals, lessons, tours, and we act as an information or
A series of colourful traffic signal boxes has added art to the streets of Dublin city as part of the Dublin Canvas project. It’s probably the first time most of us have even noticed these boxes; their old dull appearance was nothing to admire. Now works of art, they showcase the artistic talents of people across Dublin. Dublin Canvas is a community street art project, its main goal to make the city more beautiful, and it has definitely achieved it. David Murtagh, the project coordinator has given us some background on the project. Dublin.ie: When did the project start? David: The project started in 2013.
We’re proud of our vampire writers in Dublin. And we’re right to be. If you were selecting an all-time first XI of authors in this, well, vein, then Bram Stoker and Sheridan Le Fanu would be first and second on your list. Stoker, creator of the world’s most important male vampire in the world (Dracula) was born in Clontarf. Sheridan Le Fanu, creator of the pre-eminent female vampire (Carmilla), was born on Dominick Street. But then what happened? Was the city of their birth so thick with inspiration (Marsh’s Library, St Michan’s church, etc) that when they came to write fiction (mostly in England), vampires naturally suggested themselves as subjects. Or was there someth
We are lucky to live in a city where fantastic local produce is readily available, and game is no exception. Game season is well under way with venison in stores since September and grouse, pigeon and pheasant available from next week. People can often be intimidated by game. But it can be treated like any other meat. You can roast, pan-fry or braise it, just watch out for the shot! With such an abundance of options on our doorstep it would be a shame not to avail of this great resource. Dublin.ie visited some of the best places to buy game in Dublin to see what’s on offer, so that come next week you will be well equipped to cook a hearty, seasonal and local meal.
Four years and seven days ago I swore “never again”. I’d just completed the Dublin Marathon in 3 hours 51 minutes, and my right leg had swollen to twice the size of my left. You see, I’d been advised not to take part in intensive physical activities since breaking my leg in four places playing football, which had resulted in nine operations. But I’m stubborn I guess. And I was grand, after a few weeks of soreness and swelling. Six months ago, I decided that I needed to challenge myself again. I hate the gym. I’m not a fan of classes where you look steadfastly into your own pained face in the mirror for an hou
St. Michan’s Church is situated behind Dublin’s Four Courts on Church Street. It was originally founded in 1095 and is the oldest parish church on the north side of Dublin. The church was rebuilt in 1685 and contains a large pipe organ which Handel is said to have played during the first ever performance of his ‘Messiah’. The church is still a fully functioning church with mass every second Sunday. The interior is little changed since Victorian times but what lies beneath is even more fascinating. Under the church, through large metal chained doors and down a narrow stone stairway, are burial vaults containing the mummified remains of many of Dublin’s most influential 1
LINGO Festival is almost upon us. The spoken word festival will see some of the best artists from around the country take to stages across the capital. We briefly caught up with two performers, Alicia Byrne Keane and Özgecan Kesici. Both are fixtures of the local scene. Spoken Word, for the uninitiated, is essentially performance poetry. Most of it has a beat, but that’s not a rule. Some of it has music, but some doesn’t. Alicia Byrne Keane is performing for the second time at LINGO this year. We ask her who she’d pick out for us to see this year? “Kate Tempest”. That was quick. A nineteen-year-old Alicia first saw Tempest in
Half way down the South Wall pier at Poolbeg, Irishtown and you quickly realise you are somewhere very different. For one, you’re a good bit away from land. Could anyone hear you scream out here? Perhaps, but that’s a very strong wind. Then, when looking out to sea, you have the waves brutally crashing into the wall on one side, but the gentle lapping of Dublin harbour on the other. It can seem surreal. Turn around and there’s a stunning view either side of both the north and south side of Dublin. It’s at this point you realise how rare it is to see both sides of this bizarre city together, side by side. It’s here that the “Moonmen” do what they love.
Hodges Figgis is Ireland’s oldest bookshop, celebrating its 250th birthday in 2018. This iconic store has moved around a lot since its founding in 1768, from Skinners Row, to Nassau Street and on to Dawson Street. But it has always been home for Dublin’s booklovers. We spoke to Bookstore Manager, Tony Hayes to get to the bottom of what makes Dublin’s oldest bookshop a Dublin Treasure. Tony has worked in the book trade since the ‘70s and has in recent years returned to Hodges Figgis. Hodges Figgis’ iconic storefront would not look out of place in J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley and the magic doesn’t
It’s fair to say Mattress Mick is something else. You are probably familiar with the viral videos and with the persona of the madcap mattress salesman. Are there any rules to what they do? “We want to break the rules” says Mick. Yet within the madness there is something that resonates with us. And it’s this which makes Mattress Men, the new behind the scenes documentary, such a compelling prospect. In part, the film gives us the backstory. How did this madness come about? How could one man become so inextricably associated with mattresses and great deals? Mattress Men allows us to step back from the persona to see the creators at work. Dublin.ie w
Croke Park. It’s not just a stadium. As Tim Carey, author of Croke Park: A History says, ‘More than perhaps any other sporting venue, Croke Park represents something that is beyond sport’. The place has always had another agenda – one that’s intimately connected with the birth and evolution of a nation. ‘It is freighted with historical significance’, says Carey, ‘from the naming of the stands after various figures associated with the GAA to the momentous historical event of Bloody Sunday. Perhaps no other stadium in the world occupies such a central place in a nation’s psyche’. And perhap
Dundrum, home of the Ugg boot cult. When Dundrum Town Centre opened, Saturdays consisted of girls in Ugg boots shopping in groups of tens or twenties. Thankfully they seem to have outgrown this phase – and possibly their boots too. It certainly doesn’t feel like eleven years ago that Dundrum Town Centre opened. But then again I barely remember it before the shopping centre. Living across from the centre, as I did until recently, had its benefits. Sitting out at the fountains on a sunny day with a frozen yogurt from Mooch and music playing from the speakers feels like being in a theme park on holiday. Many times I’ve made a ‘quick dash’ to Tesco for milk and ended up
Montpelier Hill, better known as The Hell Fire Club to Dubliners, is a lovely place for a weekend walk. It has a variety of short forest trails and provides wonderful views of the city from the south-west. On the weekends you can find it busy with urbanites escaping the city and dogs running free. At the top sits a large hunting lodge where, if the stories are to be believed, some very strange things have happened. Originally there was a passage grave with a cairn at the top of the hill. Speaker Conolly, one of the wealthiest men in Ireland, built the hunting lodge on its site. Conolly is said to have destroyed the cairn while building the lodge, using a standing stone as the lintel of the fireplace.
Perhaps you seek refuge from the clamour of the city? Then head away from Stephen’s Green. Walk up Harcourt Street. Take a left. And approach the gates at the end of Clonmel Street. Enter. And breathe. Around you are green lawns. Trees, Fountains. Statues. A rose garden. A maze. A grotto. An elegant promenade. And, crucial to our purpose here, not very many people. Indeed, mid-afternoon of an autumn’s day you may very well have the place to yourself. The place is Iveagh Gardens. It’s a Victorian park. So is Stephen’s Green, of course. But the difference in the atmosphere is pronounced – a direct result of its history.
We asked two theatremakers, Louise Lowe & Owen Boss, to talk about their work and how it’s shaped by Dublin and its inhabitants LL: Together, we run a company called Anu Productions. We cross-pollinate between theatre and visual arts to create experiences – artworks, really – that will ask people to question themselves within the work. And the work that we make is about the history of contemporary life, in lots of ways. A lot of the time, we’re asking people to re-engage with a space, or a place or a community. And then to make up their own minds. We never tell people what they’
Our Dublin Photo Diary series continues with the remaining eight portraits of photographer Shay Hunston’s People Of Temple Bar project. Earlier this year, I began a project to photograph and document, street by street, the independent retailers in Temple Bar, one of the oldest parts of Dublin. As each street was completed an exhibition of the photographs was staged in the shop windows. A collage of the photographs was also displayed on each street. The project helps to create a greater awareness and promote the businesses and streets in the area. I started the project at the quieter, Christ Church end of Temple Bar, many of these cobbled and terraced streets such as
As part of our ongoing Dublin Photo Diary series, we showcase the best of Dublin based Photographers. This week we feature the work of Aidan Kelly. Having worked for such clients such as Mercury Prize nominee Gemma Hayes, Gavin Friday, Ruby works records, Brown Thomas, Jameson Irish Whiskey, U2, Sony, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Choice Cuts music with Candi Staton, Axis Ballymun for the Irish Arts Council, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Channel 4 UK with renowned playwright Martin MacDonagh, Oscar winning Fantastic Films, Ireland and many others, Aidan has certainly built a formidable reputation in the industry.
Being in The Dubliners always made you feel like a bit of an ambassador for the city. I mean we were all instantly recognisable, and I think people felt at one with us. There’s a nice feeling of unity about being a Dub. And Dubliners in general never made any great fuss of their own sons and daughters who became well known (laughs). When The Dubliners celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2012, I had been with the band for 48 of those 50 years. I served an apprenticeship as an electrician in the ESB, and worked there as a draftsman for a few years. But the music was always a hobby, and at a certain point I had to give it up and join the lads. It was precarious in the early days, but there was always a great sense of adventure about the whole thing. We were doing it for the craic as much as anything else, and gradually it became a living. I think anybody who can extend their hobby to the extent that it becomes their livelihood, that’s a real privilege. Especially anyone who’s making music.
Every Dubliner loves a local boy (or girl) made good. It’s that inescapable knee-jerk feeling of pride. You don’t necessarily have to like U2’s music, watch Colin Farrell’s films or, in the case of Conor McGregor, understand exactly what Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is to bask in the reflected glow of their achievements. It’s probably fair to say that for many Irish people, MMA didn’t exist before The Notorious came along. Now a day rarely passes when McGregor’s not making headlines, be it for the featherweight champ’s most recent exploits in the ring, his latest memorable soundbite, or his new Lamborghini.
I’m from Clondalkin, and I’ve recently set up a support group for people who are bereaved by suicide, having lost my own son Daniel to suicide in 2014. It’s been running for a couple of months now. There are no support groups out there specifically for parents, so I set up my own one. We have eight people in the group, and we meet up every two weeks locally, in a house connected to St Ronan’s Church
For the first in our Dublin Photo Diary series, we asked photographer Shay Hunston to talk about his People Of Temple Bar project. We’ve featured eight portraits in Part 1 with the remaining eight to be featured next week: Earlier this year, I began a project to photograph and document, street by street, the independent retailers in Temple Bar, one of the oldest parts of Dublin. As each street was completed an exhibition of the photographs was staged in the shop windows.
In my dream, the Blessington Street Basin fills with the Liffey’s stout-bottle waters, but still the swimmers come, in droves, on the stray sovereign of an Irish summer’s day. The river courses through the city, turning concrete roadways to canal banks that shrug their shoulders into dark water; a man rises, seal-like, in his caul of silt, to wave. At the sluice gate, where the river bends out of sight between toppling buildings, a black dog jumps, again and again, into the water. And there, at the edge of vision, my parents, ready to join the swimmers, gesture their cheerful farewells.
Whatever a CV says, we are born in rooms and grow up in houses. Cities come later, long after streets and shops and villages and churches and a signal box at the level-crossing on Sydney Parade where an elderly man with enormous ears, who is almost deaf from fifty years spent switching points on the coastal track, gives you a Victorian penny to insert in the slot of a thing never seen before in the whole wide world: a vending machine that sells British bubblegum called Zapper to twelve year-old schoolboys who wear short grey trousers in mid-February.
Why do any of us choose what part of the city we live in? Budget usually dictates, as well as practicalities – Is it near a Luas stop? What are the local schools like? – or sometimes, well, it’s just for random reasons. Occasionally, we’ll get a yen to live somewhere in particular, because we’ve decided we like its village vibe. When I moved to Harold’s Cross six years ago, my motivation was less notional and more prosaic. We’re talking about a room in a very nice house, with people I liked and most importantly of all, it was only twenty minutes’ walk into Dublin’s city centre.
Gerry Fay insists that he has no idea why he’s been nominated for a Good Citizen award, when asked he replies ‘’Your guess is as good as mine’’. A man with strong opinions and passionate beliefs, Gerry is modest to the core when it comes to taking any credit for his achievements. The facts however, tell a different story. For the past three decades, as Chairman of the North Wall Community Association, local shopkeeper Gerry has been working tirelessly on behalf of the locals in one of the inner city’s most historic areas.
For the love of spice bags... In Dublin pubs, the conversation has now evolved from queries of ‘What is a spice bag?’ and ‘Have you had a spice bag yet?’ to more pressing issues of etiquette and availability. Because everyone’s mother probably now knows what a spice bag is, that celebrated, moreish takeaway meal combo of chicken, chips and spices in a bag (foil or paper) and the occasional bit of onion and red pepper thrown in. She may have even eaten one. Once seen as something only millennials should let past their lips, it’s now gone properly mainstream, and was voted Ireland’s favourite dish at the Just Eat National Takeaway Awards last year. A mere culinary craze? We don’t think so.
Some weeks ago, I was leading a group of World Heritage masters students on a tour of the north city which began in St Mary’s Abbey Chapter House and finished in Mountjoy Square. At the end of the day we were invited in to view one of the houses on the square, and I found myself back in a ground floor apartment that I had first encountered decades earlier. At the age of nine, I was brought to visit my uncle who was living in a flat at the corner of Mountjoy Square and Grenville Street. I remember a vast bright interior with a beautiful bow window, and a raised sleeping mezzanine over the kitchen.
I didn’t get to Dublin until I was five but I embraced it, pronto. Either that, or the force of impact turned my California twang into a Dublin one, and my blonde hair mousey within a week. Aiming to please, and blend in, at all costs became a survival strategy for growing up in the Liberties, where intimate, narrow streets hosted hops heavy breezes from the Guinness brewery. There, they
I’m Eileen Adams, and I’ve lived in Ballymun around 40 odd years. I do a lot of voluntary work in the community, and have done since I came here. I’m involved with the youth, I’ve been on the board of the Poppintree Youth Centre since we set it up 20 years ago. It’s all about prevention, we don’t want the kiddies to get into trouble. We have a lovely centre, our own little space, and we cater for over 100 children. I’m also involved in Work4U, which is for people with disabilities, I’ve been with them a long time and feel it’s very important. It’s bad enough when you’re able to fight for yourself for a job, but when you have disabilities you need whatever help you can. I also was involved in the setting up of Ballymun Job Centre. I was on the board there for 16 years, and that was fabulous, because it got jobs for people in the area.
I’m a burlesque performer, bellydancer, producer, stylist and maker. I make a lot of my costumes from scratch; you might take an item, say a pair of shoes, and completely reimagine them. My sitting room is my studio, so half the time everything’s covered in sequens and glitter. I describe Dublin as a little powerful nugget of genius; there been an incredible influx of people from so many different cultures, we’re able to take those influences and put our own spin on it. It’s very important, especially in this centenary year, that people get out and engage with everything Dublin has to offer. There’s art, music, theatre, comedy, and it’s all very accessible. That’s the brilliant thing with the burlesque scene here, there’s such a diverse pool of performers from all walks of life. I’m very much about cross-pollination.
I’m Sandra Dillon, from Glasnevin, and I’m a mother of three children. I volunteer in mental health - I’m with the Suicide Support and Prevention Network, I’m a Sea Change ambassador, and I’m involved in helping children with special needs. My own son Nicholas has Asperger's Syndrome. He’s an amazing guy. We put the teenagers forward for nominations first, they don’t get any recognition. One of the parents said ‘We’re going to put you forward as well…’ and I said ‘No, please don’t…’ I can only presume they went forward and did anyway (laughs). They’re very kind. They don’t know how much they support me, as well. We’re all on the same journey. I’m honoured. And very humbled. Nicholas was nominated too - to be honest, I’d love to see him win.
I remember seeing the DART for the first time. I was 7 years old. It was 1984. I thought it was some impossible machine out of a science fiction movie. At that time, I lived with my family in the remote wilds of Blanchardstown, West Dublin, and as such, the DART wasn't likely to be a part of my daily life. But the very next year, we moved to Donaghmede. Howth Junction Station lay just around the corner from our house. And, from that moment on, if we were availing of public transport, we were hopping on the DART.
I blame my father. His Super 8 film projector got me where I am today. That, and his collection of one-reel highlights from all the great Disney movies. Since Cabra didn’t have a cinema anymore, I was forced to migrate...to Phibsborough. Today, the building is Des Kelly’s carpet showroom. Yesterday, it was the Silver Skate Ice Rink. But to me, it will always be the State Cinema, the jumping off point for a life-long addiction. The place where I saw Grease, Empire Of The Ants, The Cat From Outer Space and so many others. And then there was Star Wars, from which, I gather, none of us have never fully recovered.
My name is Pat Hooper and I’m a retired insurance manager, I’m also a former Olympic athlete and Irish marathon champion (NB: Pat represented Ireland in the 1980 Moscow Olympics). For my whole life, I’ve been involved in Raheny Shamrock Athletic Club both as an athlete and a coaching official. I’m also the treasurer - they’re in the process of building a new club house. I’m also involved in a few other local charities. I suppose one of my bestknown achievements is that I’m the founder and race director of the Axa Raheny 5 Mile Road Race, which is the biggest sporting event held in the Raheny area - last year it attracted over 4,000 competitors.
After living in Jersey City for the first decade of my life, we moved to my mother's hometown, Dublin. My parents had divorced and the neighbourhood we were living in was starting to deteriorate rapidly. My father stayed on in his native city and we hopped on a plane to Ireland. It took a long time for me to find my peace with this place. The food here in the 80's was brutal and I quickly realised why. There was nobody here of any skin colour that wasn't lily white and freckled. Consequently, no proper New Jersey pizzas, bagels and barbecued chicken. These had been my dietary staples. And although I was well used to tough city kids, on my own I was no match for the lads from Charlemount street and Swan Grove, who on my first day of school beat me up because I asked the teacher if I could please use the "bathroom."
I’m JP Swaine, and I’m the co-founder and director of the First Fortnight mental health charity, we run an annual arts festival and an art psychotherapy service. It all came about from me wanting to create a different approach to provoking conversations about mental health. I’m a mental health professional, but also have a family history of mental health problems, and have lost a sibling to suicide. I felt back in 2009, when we started to think about doing the festival, that mental health communication was still in what I call the ‘leaflet’ phase – you might find a couple of leaflets in a hallway, but it wasn’t something that people were actively engaging in, or being provoked to engage with.
I believed up until relatively recently that I was a mixed-race Dubliner. ‘My dad is a North Sider, and my mother is a South Sider!’ I would declare, explaining away my propensity for Chipstix-and-cheese bread rolls washed down with a carafe of Amerone. My brothers and I have always joked that my Coolock-born dad must have nicked our Dun Laoghaire-born mother’s handbag, led the chase north of the Liffey and eventually coerced mam into staying there.
From up here, says the bird, it is a city like any other, concrete brick machines glass, a river, a port. And look, over there, on the crest of the bridge, a boy. From up here, says the boy, it is a port like any other, filled with ships containers warehouses cranes. But it is not any other, it is Dublin. This bridge is Samuel Beckett, and the grey green river is called the Liffey. I asked when I first came. My English is better now. I make it a game to pass the time. Too much time. I watched the others, closing in, closing down. Down time, free time, free run.
My name is Jimmy Bolger, and I live in Crumlin. I belong to the Crumlin Youth Band we take kids off the corner and teach them how to read music and play instruments. We keep them safe, so they’re not running about the roads at all hours. The kids all love it. In years to come, the music will stand to them. The beauty of it is that a lot of them stay with us, there are a load of former band members on the committee.
Dermot takes his saxophone out of its case. It is as beautiful as ever. He hasn’t played for a year, since before he came here. He puts it to his lips. This audience looks unresponsive, slumped in their seats, and some asleep even. He’s played a fair few weddings in his time where half the guests were comatose before the band came on. The South City Jazz Band it was called. Originally Jimmy wanted “The Jimmy Devlin Jazz Quintet” but that got shot down pretty quick. Jimmy liked to think of it as “his” band even though he was only the vocalist. The rest of them would have to put him in his box. Dermot used to say to him
I make him tremble. The thought of me: I have causality. He is drawn to me. Torn. More than a tremor. A convulsive shudder and shake. Rock and roll. Slips and slides. Wants to hide. Looks up into the emptiness above, and then down, into my soul, the inviting deepness of me. Vulnerability bows those broad shoulders, venerable boulders. Hairy, leery atop the worn elbows of a charity shop find three winters ago. Now, he quakes. Shivers. Shows respect for the force that I am.
My name is Marius Marosan, and I’m trying to help my community, of Romanians living in Ireland. I guess that I’ve been nominated for this award for helping a lot of people. With a group of other people from Romania who are based here, I help in a lot of different ways; with translations, information, the filling out of forms, representing people at RPTB (Private Residential Tenancies Board) if they have problems with their landlords, or their employer, I try to give them advice. If somebody has died, I help them to repatriate the body.
Dubliners… Think you’ve seen it all? Cast your eyes skyward. As charming as Dublin’s skyline is, it’s never exactly been noted for its towering buildings. Quite the opposite, in fact, with the highest towers in Dublin reaching an average of 60 metres, although planning permission has been granted for ‘The Exo’, a 73m high structure that will sit alongside the 3Arena in Dublin’s Docklands. It’s perhaps because of Dublin’s low-rise nature that neither inhabitants nor visitors tend to look up very often. There’s also the likelihood that stopping and standing on a city centre street to peruse the vista above eye level is likely to really annoy harried Dubl
In a random (and completely unscientific) study I asked several people to name five of the best known statues in Dublin. Merrion Square’s Oscar Wilde was name checked, as was Patrick Kavanagh’s canal bank sit‐down.
I’m Esther McGrath, I live in Donnybrook, and I’m a member of the Beech Hill Community Group. I do some volunteering with the elderly in the area. I visit the elderly, and do their shopping for them. With a lot of people, their family live away from them, so I drop in and see if they’re all right, especially if they’re housebound. For ten years, we’ve been doing an elderly shopping trip on a Friday afternoon, a bunch of volunteers drive them there and back. I think people appreciate it. I do voluntary bingo for the senior citizens, too. I think quite a few of them nominated me. Why do I do what I do? Because I enjoy it. In my time, I’ve seen a lot of cutbacks in home help, so you try to fill that gap as much as you can - be it doing a bit of washing, bringing the dog for a walk, or making sure their milk doesn’t go sour. People have learned to trust me over the years.
I’m a romantic, I suppose. I like the shine of the granite and I like the stories. I like BTs’ bed linen for the softness, that’s my indulgence, and I like that I’ll never see the inside of Fitzwilliam Square. I’m a Dublin man. I used to believe that one day Maura’s ring would turn up. Every little squit of doodoo I’d look for that diamond. The other week, even, in Marks’s rooftop café, I was sitting there with my coffee and my pastry, and a seagull was knocking on the glass, trying to get to me. He was trying to say something. You’re the little gurrier, I said.
One of the reassuring signs of an economy in recovery is the proliferance of new bars and eateries in town. The microcosm of South Great George’s Street, moving into Aungier, Wexford and Camden Street is a good example. Recent months have seen several new venues pop up, and already they seem like they’ve always been part of the (shabby-chic) furniture - places such as the achingly hip Chelsea Drug Store, JT Pims and a brasserie-style extension to L’Gueuleton restaurant, which doesn’t seem to have a name of it's’ own and is simply signposted as ‘Bar’.
The other night, driving through the Phoenix Park, I remembered. Remembered what it is I love most about Dublin. Sometimes, it’s tough to retrieve all the good things about your native city – particularly when you’re surrounded by the aftermath of a general election, the consciousness of all those things that the city gets wrong, the awareness that so much about Dublin can be challenging. But on a lovely spring evening – the first, after a dismal, murky winter – the Phoenix Park unrolled itself in all its green, luscious glory.
The Dublin City Good Citizen Awards ceremony took place in the Mansion House on the 18th May. The awards acknowledge and celebrate the contribution made to Dublin city by countless hidden heroes of everyday life. Over the coming weeks, we’re presenting a profile of the winners who stood out in making a big difference to the lives of others. Liz won the Dublin City Good Citizen Award in the Children & Youth Category. This category recognises those whose work has a positive impact on the lives of children and young people.
The newest of the Liffey bridges is the Rosie Hackett Bridge of 2014. A bridge of its time, built of stainless steel and concrete, it caters for the living city, providing a crossing for the pedestrian and for public transport. In the name alone – it is the only bridge within the city limits named for a woman – there is the kernel of the history of the modern state and the tale of an heroic woman. The oldest bridge straddles the river in the western suburb of Chapelizod, a four arch stone bridge with royal connections of old and a more modern, Joycean inspired moniker: the Anna Livia Bridge dates to 1753.
On an afternoon in spring, I saw John Banville coming out of the Mark’s and Spenser’s on Liffey Street. I am a great admirer of his work. I followed him down the street. I didn’t do this with the intention of killing him. Not straight away, in any case. I planned to work up to that, having first allayed his suspicions by means of some literary conversation. He wasn’t carrying a bag. But he was carrying something. He walked quickly in the direction of the river. He wasn’t smaller in real life. This was real life; he was the same height as Bono. When I’d got closer to him ¬ outside the adventure sports shop – I saw that he was carrying a wedge of parmesan cheese. I have a great enthusiasm for this cheese. Banville had gone into M&S for parmesan, and that’s what he had come out with. He’d been single ¬minded in his errand, undistracted by marinated artichokes, say, or even prosciutto. He held the cheese now in his hand, the palm facing downwards, the way an american footballer might hold the ball.
You’ve probably heard that Stoneybatter has been gentrified. They wrote about us in The Guardian, so it must be true. As the fourth generation of my family living in the neighbourhood, the notion of gentrification sits uncomfortably with me. Certainly, we have seen changes in recent years, and some of my neighbours have been given the short end of the stick since “boomtime” passed. The people still living in the O’Devaney Gardens flats were abandoned without the new homes and services that they’d been promised. Like anywhere in Dublin, rents are soaring and building companies are buying up property by the handful, which has priced some people out of the neighbourhood.
When TripAdvisor speaks, the world listens. Last year, the online resource named the Little Museum of Dublin as Ireland’s top museum in its Travellers’ Choice Award, pipping heavy-hitters like the Croke Park Stadium Tour & GAA Museum and the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street. More recently, they also bagged the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award 2016. These accolades are all the more remarkable considering that the Little Museum of Dublin is a relative newbie, having opened up its doors in 2011.
Pedestrians tend not to linger on College Green. In its current incarnation, the area doesn’t lend itself to those great city pursuits of (a) meandering or (b) ambling. It’s a thoroughfare, on the way to somewhere else and if you stop it’s only to get a bus, grab a coffee or maybe do a little retail damage in Abercrombie and Fitch.
When I was a kid we would drive to Dublin once or twice a year from County Limerick and get excited as we passed under the flyovers on the dual carriageway somewhere near Naas. The Ilac Centre had glass elevators back then, and we would ride them repeatedly before going for ice-cream sundaes on a terrace near the library. I won some anti-litter art competition when I was very young with a picture colored in with markers of St Stephen’s Green covered in apple cores and cigarette butts.
All interesting Dublin landmarks tend to polarise. For every champion of The Spire, you’ll find someone who still thinks that it should never have been erected. And so too with the Poolbeg Generating Station. Even the more ardent of its champions would be hard pressed to describe it as it beautiful; its two distinctive red and white chimneys, built in 1969 and 1977 and standing at over 207 metres, poking the city’s skyline, cannot even be described as useful - they were decommissioned in 2010.
Wanton quirkiness, perennial liveliness and an endearing touch of shabbiness have always been part of Phibsboro's innate appeal. It was where I wanted to live as a DCU student in the late nineties, instead of the gentler, more refined environs of Drumcondra where I was instead. Phibsborough was where the cool kids hung out, with an ice rink, a surfeit of charity shops and good pubs like The Hut, where the Johnny Cash Appreciation Society were in situ on a Sunday night. And then there was McGowan's, where young love was almost certainly guaranteed to bloom, especially after a few drinks.
Most 4-year-olds are almost as digital savvy as their parents, and there's a high probability that your average toddler knows his or her way around an iPhone better than you do. It's still something of a surprise, then, to discover that the touchscreen generation can be as enthralled by a visit to the Lambert Puppet Theatre as their parents ever were.
Any day in axis Ballymun is filled with potential. That's what makes working in the arts and in a community as vibrant as Ballymun so special. For me arts, culture and creativity is about people, about ideas, about synergies and most importantly about listening - really listening. axis is all about this, about creating a space where people can be entertained, try out new ideas in a safe environment, meet, discuss, and come to the heart of the northside to make magic. I have had the pleasure of working in Ballymun, with a great staff, community, artists, and a multitude of stakeholders for nearly 12 years now, and I can safely say that no two days in all that time has ever been the same.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be presenting pieces by winners of the I Am Dublin flash fiction competition, as selected by judges Dermot Bolger and Doireann Ní Ghríofa. We’re talking about short, sharp writing that captures something of Dublin’s unique essence – while allowing tiny moments to speak for themselves. First up, Joy by Sinead Flynn.
I was born and bred in Dublin, in Crumlin and am now living in Ballyfermot. I am the First Citizen of Dublin City, the Lord Mayor. As the First Citizen, I am the ambassador for the city. My other big role is to chair Dublin City Council meetings, which believe you me, would take the patience of a saint (laughs). The Lord Mayor doesn’t have power, as such, it’s more a symbolic role. I think the city badly needs a directly elected Mayor, with proper powers. How do you get to be Lord Mayor?
If you’ve wandered in the direction of South William Street (or South Williamsburg Street, as local wags are wont to call it these days) anytime of late, specifically past Busyfeet & Coco cafe, you may have come across your first sight of the new Dublin.ie identity. Truth be told, it’s kind of hard to miss. We’re talking about this rather impressive – and altogether massive, in every sense of the word – piece of wall art especially created by acclaimed Dublin street artist Shane Sutton.
‘Ah, if these walls could speak…’ The clichéd but always heart-felt phrase we’ll forever use to reference intriguing historical sites, with the underlying assumption being that we will never learn these forgotten tales. In the case of Richmond Barracks in Inchicore, however, the people who lived, worked and were schooled here over the last two centuries will be given a voice. From military accommodation to a prison, then social housing and a school, Richmond Barracks has had several incarnations, all of them played out to the backdrop of some of the nation’s most turbulent times.
The writer William Faulkner’s famous quote ‘The past isn’t dead; the past isn’t even past yet’ is particularly applicable to Ireland’s centenary year. History has never seemed so alive or relevant, with the marking of the Easter 1916 Rising. Tying the past, the present and the future altogether are the core themes of the centenary programme: remembering, reflecting and re-imagining.
A great Dublin movie doesn’t merely show off the landmarks, however, or sample the legendary wit – although it never hurts to do a little bit of both. It gets under the skin of the city, and captures its pulse, via that elusive quality some like to call movie magic. There are any number of movies that showcase Dublin and its boroughs to fine effect, from '70s cult classics like Flight Of The Doves and Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx to historical epics like Neil Jordan's Michael Collins (which receives a theatrical re-release this month) and contemporary tales like Lenny Abrahamson's debut Adam & Paul.
It’s time to get your St. Patrick’s weekend on. Come on… It’s hard not to be a little enamoured with St Patrick’s Day. To begin with, who doesn’t greet a Bank Holiday joyously? Then, if you’re of a certain religious persuasion, it offers license to break Lent and eat ALL the sweets. Also: on a fundamental level, embracing the opportunity to celebrate is embedded deep within the human psyche – especially if you’re Irish. Then there’s the sheer wonderment and delight that our small(ish) country manages to make its presence felt so strongly and globally every March 17. Aligned to these warm and fuzzy feelings is the undeniable fact that while th
James Caulfeild, the 1st Earl of Charlemont, was a man who did things with style, and then some. His townhouse on Parnell St, which now houses the Hugh Lane Art Gallery, reflected his elegant, artistic nature, and was initially designed as an adornment to the city, where paintings by Rembrandt and Titian hung. When he embarked upon his Grand Tour - the 18th century equivalent of a gap year - he spent a rather impressive 9 years taking in the delights of Italy, Turkey, Greece and Egypt and became close friends with the future King of Sardinia. As you do.