Monday, May 31, 2004

I was out last night for a few drinks with D. We went into The Long Hall on Georges Street. They weren’t that many people around and we easily got a seat. But something was wrong and for half a minuet or so I couldn’t put my finger on it. I stopped and listened. Then it dawned on me.

I glanced up at the walls and there they were, two newly installed speakers. The volume was low but you’d be conscious of their existence. What’s wrong with that you may ask. Plenty!

The Long Hall is one of those now rare species, the genuine Dublin pub. The genuine Dublin pub looks ancient and filthy from the outside but inside has a warm charm. You can hear yourself talk and the Guinness is good. If there is a tv then most of the time it is switched off. Bland music coming from a stereo system is nonexistent as indeed is a stereo.

Now The Long Hall does have a tv, though I’ve only seen it switched on twice. Once two years ago for the World Cup semi final between Turkey and Brazil. And the second time was earlier this month when the protests at the EU enlargement ceremony. I’ve never seen speakers in the pub before last night.

So alas another bastion of aul Dublin has fallen. A sad day. A sad day.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

What did I say about enjoying Ulysses? Am now one third of the way through and struggling. I have a massive backlog of books to read and am eyeing them longingly.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Having one of those days ya know.

You wake up this morning. It’s a bright clear morning. You yawn, stretch, check you’re alive and try to remember the dream you were having a few moments earlier.

You lie in bed. In a month the woman you love is getting married. Someone you thought was your friend clearly isn’t and hasn’t been for some time. Time to sever that link.

You read a book, get up wash, shave, dress and have breakfast. You look in the mirror. You leave for work.

It’s Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I've just realised that The Spike is statring to grow on me.

The citizenship referendum takes place along with the local and European elections on June 11th. One of the reasons given for this debate was that women from non EU countries were arriving in Ireland heavily pregnant, having babies and thus gaining an Irish passport for their child. In this way it was stated the asylum process was subverted. A loophole needed to be closed. The government is seen as being strong.

Reason number two it was argued was that women coming to Ireland to have babies were putting an additional strain on scarce resources in maternity hospitals.

Point number one. Who is responsible for the scarce resources in Irish hospitals? The Irish government that’s who. At a time of unprecedented economic growth the public healthcare system in Ireland has been neglected and under-funded. We now have a two tier healthcare system.

Point number two. One Dublin hospital stated that the number of babies born each week to parents outside of an EU country is two. So an extra two babies born in a Dublin hospital each week is causing the citizenship referendum. What a joke. The government doesn’t have the guts to come out and say that it doesn’t want immigrants about the house.

I was looking at Primetime the Irish current affairs programme last night when one of the participants stated that at the time we are having this citizenship referendum the Irish minister for foreign affairs Brian Cowan was meeting authorities of the United States government to see what they could do to alleviate the plight of the thousands of illegal Irish working in America. Is this the height of hypocrisy or what? Someone hand me a sick bag.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Is it just me or is anyone else cynical about the international media and its drip drip drip of stories and photos concerning Abu Grabe prison?

I can’t help feeling that the media are going to run and run with this story, and that they are just sitting on unreleased material. The issue of human rights is only incidental. The whole media business stinks to high heaven as far as I’m concerned.

I find it hard to imagine the choice, go to Iraq to pay for a college education. An unenviable position. Then I think of my friend D’s grandfather. Between 1914 and 1919 he fought in the British army and in the process put some food on the plates of his family. Funny thing is he ended up seeing action in a country called Mesopotamia.

Thanks to everyone who wrote concerning Ulysses. I'm actually enjoying reading the novel, which is surprising. Am with Mr. Bloom in Westmoreland Street. So things are moving along nicely.

Nice morning in Dublin this morning. I walked through Patricks Park with the bords singing a chorus. I even managed to get a window seat in a cafe before hitting the trail to work. Not at all a bad start to the day.

Friday, May 21, 2004

If you wander down Molesworth Street in Dublin in the morning or late in the evening you will see two young men who are homeless wrapped up in blankets. As you walk by the will look at you and ask you for money.

One guy is outside the offices of the European Commission in Ireland. It is also the spot where our MEP’s have the offices. The other young man is across the road outside the Government Publications shop. In this area alone, which also includes the Dail (the Irish parliament) and many government departments such as Agriculture and Enterprise there are many homeless young men and women.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Saturday afternoon in Dublin the sun was high in the sky. I decided to go to the IFSC (Irish Financial Services Centre) on the quayside. I'd never before gone down there. The IFSC is the economic powerhouse of Ireland. All the major Irish financial institutions have offices there.

From the outside the place is striking. High rise (by Dublin standard) green tinted buildings behind and around which, stand plush expensive apartments. I went for a wander round.

The IFSC resembles a small self-contained village in that you can go to work, socialise, go to a restaurant, get your laundry cleaned and go to the bank all in the one complex. Something about that intrigues and scares me. From Monday to Sunday you can be oblivious to the comings and goings in the rest of the city should you so choose.

On Saturday afternoon the IFSC resembled a ghost town. There were very few people around which really surprised me. One guy was sitting on a bench playing the same tune a tin whistle over and over again. I looked in one of the pubs, only a few people inside. I found the place to be somewhat unsettling and left after about ten minuets.

In contrast on Saturday morning I met a friend of mine, D in Meath Street in Dublin's South inner city Liberties. Meath Street was all hustle and bustle with people young and old doing their shopping.

D was with his friend JG who is a community worker in the inner city and a councillor on the city council, he's hoping to get re-elected in the local elections on June 11th. We got talking.

"It's a struggle here,” D told me. "We have to fight for every euro for a local or community project, nothing gets handed to us".

"The big political parties don't want to know about deprived areas in the inner city, for them we simply don't exist" JG added. "We're right on the front line socially here,” he continued.

The local projects in the Meath Street and Francis Street area of Dublin survive on the work of volunteers and people on under funded work schemes. When the IFSC was built the financial institutions received outlandish tax breaks by the government in order to move their offices there.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

My odyssey through “Ulysses” is going well. I’m up to chapter 5 today. Chapters one and two are grand right enough, but number three I found a bit hard to follow. Chapter four where Bloom is first introduced into the novel is also rather easy to pickup.

I was able to pick up a study guide to “Ulysses” which is invaluable. I read the notes fist read the chapter then re-read the notes. What did I miss? What did I see? Do I agree with this interpretation of the text?

It’s interesting then to walk around the city centre and observe what the characters in “Ulysses” observed. Traverse down streets named in the novel, see the changes in the city.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on “Ulysses”. I definitely won’t be anywhere near finished by Bloomsday June 16th but I’m enjoying sauntering through the book. The only reason why I’ve read four chapters is that I’ve a lot of free time at the moment. The study notes are essential to the reading of “Ulysses”. Don’t attempt this book without them.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Dublin still has it’s share of characters. There’s a guy who sellotapes advertisements for gigs to the walls of café’s and bars. No matter what the weather he always wears a big coat and an old fashioned Russian hat. He’s also well able to sing. One afternoon four years ago I heard him singing in the Beanery café on Burgh Quay.

In contrast, a Dublin institution closed it doors recently for the last time. Coyles hatter and gents outfitter at number 8 Augner Street is no more. Mr. Coyle is a small sprightly man in his seventies. I used to see him sometimes in the early mornings on my way to work, walking briskly along.

Mr. Coyle can tell by the way a man wears his hat whether he’s from Dublin or the country. According to Mr. Coyle a countryman will tilt his hat to the left while a Dublin man will tilt his hat to the right.

Because of his many appearances on tv and radio he became a kind of local celebrity. On one interview he related the following anecdote.

Robber to sales assistant: One false move and you’re geography.
Sales Assistant to robber: Shouldn’t that be history?
Robber to sales assistant: Stop changing the subject.

Across the street George Parnell used to have a barbershop. It was an old fashioned establishment none of your fancy stuff here. It was also cheap, which was handy when your wages were bad.

Parnell as he called himself was a man in his late seventies, snow white haired, diminutive and walked with a limp. He talked incessantly about his own and his wife’s medical problems. Like him she was bad on the legs, but the two of them struggled together through life. They had no children and lived near Harolds Cross on Dublin’s South side.

Mrs Parnell originally came from Achill Island in county Mayo. A bridge connects the island to the mainland now.

Mr. Parnell could relate stories of his exploits. At one stage he had a liking for the drink. He’d shut up shop for lunchtime and go for a few pints in the local pub. On returning both hair and ears would be cut. “I was a devil,” he said roaring laughing.

He could tell you all about the glory days of League of Ireland football. Mr. Parnell used to follow a team called Transport, who are now long gone. “There used to be arguments in the pub” he told me “One lad would be for Shelbourne, another Rovers and another Bohemians. “Who do you follow?” one lad would ask me “Transport” says I “Ah there’s no more Transport, ya just want to have a go at everyone””. Again he be roaring laughing.

Ill health caused George Parnell to close up shop six years ago. Mr. Coyle closed up shop in Augner Street earlier this month. Transport football club are gone and by and large forgotten and Achill Island is no longer really an island.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Dublin city centre on last Saturday afternoon was like a ghost town. I couldn’t believe how few people decided to go into the city centre. It was all very quiet and strange. I could have walked unimpeded down Middle Abbey Street. I suppose a lot of people were scared away by the media crying wolf over impending riots. Even the Long Hall pub was more than half empty. As regards Saturday night and what went on around the Navan Road well I couldn't help feeeling that Sky News in particular, as they continually showed the same clip over and over and over again, were wanting to make mountains out of molehills.

Made up me mind last night that I’m going to attempt to read Ulysses once more. Somewhere in Dublin I’m going to buy student university notes, read the notes first then say twenty or so pages then put the book aside and pick it up again at a later date. The reason for my newfound enthusiasm is that on Sunday night I went to see Bloom, a film adaptation of the novel.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Technorati Profile