The Prodigal Son in Dublin

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September 30th 2008
Published: September 30th 2008
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In August I went over to Ireland for Sean and Breda's wedding, flying to Dublin, over-nighting in Monaghan and then Enniskillen. I also had 4 nights in Dublin and took the opportunity to wander the streets of the city where I spent almost ten years of my life. It was nice to visit some of my old stomping grounds and see the changes that the Celtic Tiger economy had wrought. I don't know if the sum of all parts is better than when I went to college here but there are many aspects of the city that have improved beyond all recognition. I still have nightmares about asking for a cafe latte in the Kylemore circa 1992. You'd have sworn I'd asked for some kind of esoteric yet obscene sex act to be performed by the member of staff by the way she looked at me!

O'Connell Street is vastly improved, the trams contributing to the modern feel, the Spike too which I was seeing up close for the first time. Also, the herds of red deer in Phoenix Park in the heart of the city are a still an unexpected pleasure. Along the River Liffey walkways, bridges, flowers and new architecture draw people rather than repel them. I particularly liked the new 'Italian Quarter' while the old Georges Street Arcade still has it's charms.

While Dublin has generally become a much more vibrant place the shops and bars didn't seem so full as they used to. I dunno if this was a side-effect of diminished consumer confidence or simply a shift to continental style consumption. Maybe the good folks of Dublin were having a siesta. Part of me remembers fondly sneaking a flagon of cider into Fibber Magees on Parnell Street and thrashing in that sweaty black box that passed for a nightclub. This was before cafe lattes, city breaks and short selling were even on the menu but for me that was Dublin in the rare auld times.

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25th July 2010

Oh yes I remember it well.
It was nearly sixty years ago that the crew of shoeless kids from Upper St Kevin's Street taught me to swim in the Royal.After I graduated from the canal they let me join them diving from O'Connel's Bridge to pick up florins thrown by ' visitors 'into the Liffey.I wonder if those kids remember the ''posh" English boy who they educated so well over a few summers in the early fifties.I was deemed posh as I could not survive running bare foot around Dublin. They forgave my inadequacy because I was English. I found no such forgiveness for my Dublin accent when I returned home in the Autumns to my home on a north London council estate.

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