Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The people of Dublin


I once met a photographer on a bus. His name was Neill. He was a happy chatter and talked all the way about his life here and there and how he was trying to grow his photography business now that he was back in Ireland. He had been to London and didn't like it there as people there didn't like them, the Irish folk, because of all the trouble they were causing up in the north. He had been to New York and loved it there because American people seemed very fond of Irishmen as so many Americans had Irish blood in their veins.


I once sat opposite an absent-minded middle aged man. He was wearing a sweatshirt with ripped jeans and a sleepless vest underneath. Every inch of his body seemed to be covered with tattoos - at least every inch of flesh on display. A tiger, some boxing gloves, celtic crosses and random designs. And there on the top of his hand was a rather sad tattoo. It read R.I.P. Clare. I wondered who Clare was. His gaze was lost and he seemed to be worlds away until he stood up to leave. He had this rough look to him, though, that many Dubliners have.


People in Dublin are probably some of the friendliest people in the world but they might appear rough at first sight. Especially on the weekends when they're at their most casual wearing tracksuits and a hoodie over their heads. And too often they're well built, as a result of playing rugby, gaelic football or any other form of contact sport. Women and girls, on the other hand, are mostly a fashionable bunch, thought they can often be seen with a hoodie on their heads too. During the six months I lived in Dublin I witnessed the most eclectic fashion trends take over the street. Chunky plastic platform sandals, cropped tops leaving abs and tummies al fresco for everyone to see, flower garlands on the hair - very popular in the summer, festival or not festival, and the trend survived through the autumn months taking a gothic turn with deeper shades of red and purple - pastel coloured coats and gold and glitter nearly everywhere. 


Sometimes men would also dress in glitter. One Saturday morning in June, buses were delayed because traffic was diverted in the city centre due to the Dublin Pride parade. When a bus finally appeared and I got in, I was surprised to hear a group of men singing 'I Will Survive' out loud. After singing and shouting cheerfully 'the gay bus' all the way to town, we all stepped out near O'Connell Street and I was even more surprised to see this group of grown-up men dressed up in purple sequins and pink fairy wings. The parade was already on and O'Connell Street had been taken on by dozens of rainbow flags. Crowds were all over looking and clapping hands to the music. Most people laughed and showed sympathy for the cause, though some of the elderly look confused, as if trying to figure out where all that fuss would fit in a traditionally catholic Ireland.


O'Connell Street was often the scenery of marching and protests. The pro-choice groups were quite regular there but during the last months the no-way-we-won't-pay people became more predominant. For many weeks the traffic was diverted from the city centre as people from all over Ireland came to Dublin to protest against the water tax that the Irish Government intended to introduce by the end of last year. 'No way, we won't pay', they would chant all over the way. But the water tax was introduced and papers then would fill pages with tricks and tips to bring your brand-new water bill down.


Anyway, people would always find to something to complain about in Dublin. When it was not the imminent water tax it would be the excessive rent prices or the ever there rain or the terrible Dublin buses. Chances are, if you ever stood more than ten minutes waiting for a bus, someone would start ranting about the horrible service given by those yellow buses which were always late.


Sometimes I would take the bus to town on Sunday mornings and overtime I would meet the same man at the bus stop. He seemed restless and would check the time constantly. He would always complain about buses being late and him being late once again because of the buses that never came. He would then light a cigarette only to see the bus coming and regretting not having begun that fag earlier, even if he was to throw it away only half-smoked. He would always complain and yet he was there every Sunday wearing his Manchester United tracksuit bottoms.



Image source: broadsheet.ie - artwork by Grainne Tynan


Have a lovely Wednesday!

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