Graveyard shuffling

So the plan for this evening is to meet a friend for a beverage in my neighbourhood.

But Saturday is a long day and I woke this morning fullof good intentions that I was going to DO something today. After 5 mugs of tea first of course – I mustn’t get dehydrated.

Eventually at about 2.30 I left the house. My intention was to walk over to Glasnevin Cemetery for a nosey. I pass this every day on the way to work, and I am always impressed by how massive it is – 3 bus-stops long in fact. I know there are guided tours and  museum in there also. It’s been on my ‘to-do’ list for a while.

Now I didn’t want to walk the bus route – I wanted to take the scenic route – get a feel for the city I am now living in. I walked up Sheriff Street and was rather surprised at how rundown it is. The whole neighbourhood around Croke Park is pretty dilapidated in fact – well I suppose it makes sense – inner city Dublin wasn’t always ritzy apartment developments and designer shops. A lot of is still fairly deprived economically.

I also noticed how all the election posters in these estates were for left-wing parties. Now despite my painfully middle-class life, I am a secret socialist. So this warmed the cockles of my heart. I had also made a pledge not to vote for any candidate that put up election posters. But that is ALL of them. And Jimmy Dignam of the Worker’s Party is a great big ride (or roide as someone from Dublin would pronounce it) so I may give him my vote. That is what being a responsible adult is all about – voting for candidates based on their looks and the fact that he is wearing an earring in his poster.
I eventually reached the cemetery. Now this may sound morbid, but I love cemeteries. Not out of any sinister, dark, or gothic motivation. I find them peaceful and serene places. And they are incredibly atmospheric. I don’t  believe in an afterlife or a god. But I do get a sense of something in graveyards – memories mainly. How can you not – you see the names of all the dead on their headstones and messages from their families and loved ones. The Pere Lachaise Cemetery in France is of course the most beautiful cemetery in the world – and I was deeply impressed by Oscar Wilde’s tomb. For some reason the sticker that had been placed on it is etched permanently in my memory – ‘Les Bis existent, la biphobie aussi’.

Glasnevin cemetery is not as beautiful but it is vast. I didn’t get a guide which pointed out the locations of the celebrated dead – I can do that some other time. However I did see Roger Casement’s unintentionally.

It was upsetting to see the derelict and overturned headstones in the middle of the park – these were very old headstones but it seemed disrespectful to allow these to fall to ruin like that.

After about an hour wandering about listening to the ghostly silence all around I made my way back into town. As I was approaching my apartment building a flustered, young American woman approached me and asked how she could get into town. I have her directions. She clearly wished to talk and launched into this convoluted tale of arranging to meet her cousin in a bar on Sheriff Street, but getting lost and being approached to buy drugs by teenagers (I looked at her and said ‘4 Blueys for a score?’ – she replied that this indeed was one of the offers made to her). We chatted for a few minutes and then she said ‘You’re getting a hug whether you want one or not’. She gave me a hug and told me I was beautiful. What a very lovely person she was.

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