The grey warm evening of August had descended upon the city and a mild warm air, a memory of summer, circulated in the streets. The streets, shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed with a gaily coloured crowd. Like illuminated pearls the lamps shone from the summits of their tall polls upon the living texture below which, changing shape and hue unceasingly, sent up into the warm grey evening air, an unchanging unceasing murmur.
– James Joyce, The Dubliners
James Joyce wanted his work The Dubliners, to be a story of his city precisely as it was so that if Dublin had ever perished, the world would would have a living document of what it was like.
The famed streets today are lined with amphibious Viking Tour ships, tourists, and (of course) pubs.
Dublin had been named a UNESCO World Literary Heritage Site for being the birthplace and home to great authors such as Joyce, Wilde, Goldsmith, Beckett, O’Brien, Binchy, Boland, Longly and Yeats to name a few.
The National Library has two main exhibits that should not be missed. The first is a tribute to William Butler Yeats; and the second, a special exhibit for JFK’s visit to Ireland In June 1963.
John F. Kennedy was not only an alliance, but a beacon of hope and solidarity to the Irish Nation. He remarked that although he was not born in Ireland he felt an affinity towards it as his ancestral home. It’s inspiring to think about how one man can make such a difference. Still, many years later, his one visit and words resonate: “So, let us not be blind to our indifferences- but let us also direct our attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved.”
Strolling along the high street, our differences are no longer apparent. I grab a quick coffee from Starbucks, hop on to the free WIFI, and pass by Zara, H&M, The Gap and Gucci. Have we resolved our differences? Have we become a giant conglomerate?
There is an old term called: “Living outside of the pale”. This meant that in the middle ages you were living outside of the law, or English rule. The Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1169, brought Dublin under the theoretical control of England. During this time, the English pushed the Irish outside of Dublin establishing boundaries reaching out all the way to Kildare. (Fortification that can still be seen today.)
During the Hundred Year War and the War of Roses, these boundaries were weakened. But in 1485, the Tudors moved back to Dublin and reestablished their English rule. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the Irish regained this territory perpetuating the rift between the English and Irish that still exists. But, if you are here for a few pints, not to worry, everyone is in good spirits around Temple Bar and Grafton Street.
The Guinness Store House is another landmark that is inherent to the fabric of Dublin. The newly renovated brewery is ironically kid-friendly. It is shaped like a giant seven-story pint glass. The top floor is the tasting floor with a great 360 view of Dublin. The six floors below take you through the process and history of brewing Guinness. If you look up at the ceiling on the seventh floor, it resembles the frothy head on a fresh pour. I must admit, it’s a nice touch.
The afternoon slowly fades into evening and the party crowds descend upon the city. It starts with groups of people spilling out of corner pubs. By 11:30pm, the many cabs expel handfuls of party-goers. They march in all directions in endless colourful parades. Somehow, they are absorbed into the pubs along the streets. The “living texture” murmurs until 5am. The man cursing and yelling outside my window until daylight makes me think that it was not the right decision to take an apartment in the centre of Dublin. But, then again… it may make for some good writing material.