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.
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.
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.
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.