I had a bit of a change of scene this weekend as we headed off to Dublin. My wife bought me tickets to see Lee Scratch Perry for my birthday, for those of you who don’t know who he is; he is an 82 year old Reggae Artist and ranked in the top 100 artists of all time by Rolling Stone. I have been a fan of reggae for many years and especially dub reggae of which he is possibly the greatest exponent. It was a great night and I was especially delighted to be able to see the gig with my son Jimini.
I am not a great fan of cities in general but I like Dublin, it has a good atmosphere and I have had many very enjoyable experiences and I especially like the “dubs.” The accent, the humour and in general their friendly banter, I have rarely felt uncomfortable and I have made many friends over the years.
We stayed in a hostel (Jacob’s) which is very near the bus station, right next door to the Garda station and a short walk into the city. With 6 of us it can be expensive staying overnight but we can take a whole dorm room at the hostel, basic and clean and a “free” breakfast and the coffee is not half bad either. Personally I like the atmosphere at hostels, I don’t like fuss and frills and being surrounded by foreign backpackers can be fun and I met a nice couple from Koln on their first Irish experience.
I am an early riser and while the family slept I had a walk around the city as it woke from its slumber. The trams, trains, taxis, buses and general hubbub of a breaking dawn I find exciting, such a contrast to the slow easy slide into a day in West Cork. I did have a bit of a shock here the other morning when I found a few tourists from the other side of the mountain in the big field and had to gently herd them away from my flowerbeds.
Headphones appear compulsory for the morning commute to work, florescent cyclists and bobble hatted heads dipped towards mobile phones, it is a very different scene is the dawn of Dublin. I made my way to the river as I could make out the glow of the sunrise, it is easy to forget that Dublin is a seaside town.
The seagulls stray a long way from the sea these days and they were raiding the bins and soaring the skies over the Liffey, Dublin oldest thoroughfare. There is such a contrast on view between the old and the new, the silhouette of Samuel Beckett Bridge with its harp strings blended with the rigging of an old sailing ship and the sky cranes building the modern high rise offices in the once derelict docklands.
The Famine statues near Custom House Quay are a grim reminder of Irish poverty, I wonder if the artist Rowan Gillespie knew that the looming edifice of the headquarter of Ulster Bank would be the back drop for these gaunt figures. I will be curious to see how the €75 million redevelopment of the old Central Bank headquarters further down towards Dame Street turns out, a drop in the ocean compared to the €46,700,000,000 current bank bailout but it is good to see it hasn’t caused them too much hardship.
In Dublin’s fair city the birds watch the Liffey and the Luas trundles past. Luas is Irish for “speed,” and is the tram that now links both sides of the city north and south. There is a traditional divide between north and south all over Ireland and in Dublin that divide has been bridged by the Luas. It has taken four and a half years and cost €368million which seems like a lot but from an outsider’s point of view I think it looks great.
It is having teething problems and there have been a number of issues, especially with the buses. It has proved very popular, in fact that might be its main difficulty as it gets very cramped during rush hour and they are planning on introducing longer trams. Dublin is changing and with changes come issues, the pedestrianisation of a larger part of central Dublin is upsetting a lot of people and the taxi drivers have been protesting. As a tourist, an environmentalist and a pedestrian I’d love it!
So my trip to Dublin was really interesting and I would really recommend the place, so much history, places to see and things to do but I’m glad to be home and I for one am looking forward to working in my garden tomorrow with only the sounds of the birds and the sea, till next time….