An Irishman’s Diary

Dear Shannon,

From today’s Irish Times. Thought you’d like it.


An Irishman’s Diary


Things I love about Dublin:

1. The boardwalk.

2. The view westwards along the Liffey at sunset.

3. The bike scheme.

4. Walking through Trinity’s front square at night.

5. Church bells ringing on a Sunday morning.

6. Kilmainham Gaol.

7. There being a Hilton Hotel across the road from Kilmainham Gaol.

8. Architecture with a sense of humour.

9. Raglan Road on an autumn day.

10. The canyon-like street that runs through Guinness’s Brewery.

11. The walled garden of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

12. Italianate grandeur and the poetry-inscribed gravestone of a horse.

13. Walking through the Liberties and suddenly smelling horse manure from a yard.

14. Kids play hurling against the walls of Guinness’s.

15. Extensive use of the nation’s favourite adjective in place-names. Even one of the canals in Dublin is Grand. It has a Grand Parade running alongside it. And there’s a hotel in Malahide that’s Grand too.

16. The Beckett Bridge.

17. Most of the other bridges.

18. Fawning season in Phoenix Park.

19. Signs warning about “fawning season”, while foreign dignitaries are being entertained at Farmleigh and Áras an Uachtaráin.

20. Environmental management with a sense of humour.

21. That circular railing around the Central Bank. Yes, it’s ugly, but it’s always reassuring to see money ring-fenced.

22. The first smell of burgers when you approach Lans-downe Road on match day.

23. Ditto the first smell of home-made ham sandwiches near Croke Park.

24. The pedestrian traffic light outside the Dáil. It always works.

25. The surprising and still growing number of people who clean up after their dogs.

26. Cobblestone streets (except when you’re on a bike).

27. Chinatown.

28. Charles Stewart Parnell proclaiming that “no man has the right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation” just beside the fast-growing Chinatown.

29. Swans on the canal.

30. Barges on the canal, occasionally.

31. The Chester Beatty Library and that Celtic snake thing in the garden outside that children love running around.

32. The politeness of Dublin gurriers who, even while indulging in gratuitous verbal abuse, call you “mister”.

33. Georgian doors.

34. Harry Clarkian windows.

35. Merchant’s Arch.

36. The arch that crosses the road at Christchurch.

37. People in shirtsleeves outside pubs and cafes every time the air temperature climbs above 10 degrees celsius.

38. A crowd of several hundred drinking outside the Barge pub in Portobello on a summer’s evening.

39. Rivers that sound like characters, or oul’ fellas, or both: The Camac. The Poddle. The Dodder.

40. Sweny’s chemist.

41. Joycean plaques in the footpath, like literary manhole covers on underground works.

42. Seeing the names of exotic, far-flung destinations you’ve never heard of before on Dublin buses.

43. Wondering what life must be like there. Where is “Ongar” anyway?

44. Place-names you just enjoy saying: Fishamble Street. Stoneybatter. The Longmile Road.

45. The intensely colourful Zone 3 of the Luas Red line: Goldenbridge. Blackhorse. Bluebell. Red Cow.

Things I hate about Dublin:

1. Hawkins House.

2. Just about every other house built between 1958 and 1980.

3. The state of the footpaths when it doesn’t rain for a while.

4. The part of the boardwalk that every seagull in the city seems to crap on.

5. Panhandlers at ATM machines.

6. Panhandlers everywhere else.

7. Clampers lurking around every corner.

8. The loop-line bridge.

9. The lights on the tip of the Spire that were supposed to glow softly but instead look like a strip of tinsel sellotaped to the outside.

10. The city’s habit of building phallic monuments that, unlike other cities’ phallic monuments, tourists can’t climb.

11. Chain stores taking over Grafton Street.

12. Being expected to call the Grand Canal Theatre the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. Ugh.

13. Having to walk the wrong way up the footpath in Westland Row at 5.30pm, with four lanes of fast-moving pedestrians coming the other way.

14. All those buses heading out of town to the teeming suburb of “As Seirbhis”.

15. Men urinating in doorways.

16. People who don’t clean up after their dogs.

17. Percussive leakage from ear-phones on public transport.

18. You’re strolling along Dawson Street, all chilled out. Then an amphibious bus-load of tourists pretending to be Vikings suddenly passes and roars at you. Very annoying.

19. It’s not even a real roar. They have it recorded, because the tourists are too polite to do it themselves.

20. Grattan’s Parliament being occupied by a bank.

21. And what’s worse, Grattan’s Parliament being occupied by a bank we had to bail out at vast expense.

22. The East-link toll bridge. Only one lane in each direction. No room for anything but cars. Ugly as sin. Had paid for its inadequate self many times over and is still charging.

23. Christmas lights in early November.

24. Ditto Christmas music.

25. Walking through Trinity’s front square at night. Then, realising the feckers have locked the door again, you have go back out by the Nassau Street entrance, where you came in.

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