Dublin's Other Life



As a Dubliner, I find it's easy to become complacent about my native city. 

I was chatting to a mate last night over a drink, lamenting the state of city and nation. 

It, like the world, is in a state of chassis, I argued, idly quoting Juno and the Paycock, in the full knowledge that my friend didn't care.

Annoyed at my sudden pessimism, he began to look for the positives and landed on the new developments along the Liffey - the beautiful Samuel Beckett bridge and the new, gravity defying National Convention Centre. Certainly, these new buildings have breathed new life into our city but, to my tired unwilling eyes, they seemed just a little too fizzy and new. 

They lacked stature, confidence; bearing. 

My mate wasn't having any of my downbeat musings, somehow suspecting that it was a pose to create conversation. He, of course, rose to the bait. 'Look it here', he said, animated for once. This is a great old town, have you seen the footage from 1915?

With that, we watched a jumpy old video, on TheJournal.ie , of Dublin City in 1915. 

Slowly, another life and time unfolded before our eyes.

Beautifully dressed city folk busied about their day, getting things done amid horse-drawn carriages and trams advertising 'Whytes'. The black and white images moved from the elegance of College Green to the GPO (General Post Office) and then seemed to linger along the Liffey, with all of the bustle and life that surrounded it.

I found the moment of its filming, 1915, somehow moving. This was our city, one year after Joyce had written Dubliners, in the midst of the Great War, and one year before the city would be convulsed by the Easter Rising, its ground zero being the General Post Office itself. 

The spirit of a town and people, captured for all time. One day which, through the magic of film, would last forever.

I sat there, glasses clanking around me, mesmerised. 

My friend looked at me, seeking congratulation for changing my mood. I did not respond, being gripped with a feeling pretty close to love - if one can feel such a thing for a place.

My city, I thought. With all of its pain and glory, this is my city.

With that, we ordered another from the bar and got back to arguing.

Born and raised in Tullamore, Muiris is our Long Live Irish True roving reporter of all things Irish.