From January 2016 until August 2022 I lived in a flat overlooking the end of the Royal Canal in Dublin . Where it meets the river Liffey. From the balcony in the kitchen I could observe the riverside Convention Centre and a block of gleaming, glass apartments in the IFSC. Living on a corner, the view from my bedroom was different – the Laurence O’Toole church on Seville Place and the statue of Sherriff Street and Dubliners legend Luke Kelly. This was the point where Seville Place turned into Guild Street. If you walked from the river to Guild Street and onwards through Seville Place, underneath the railway bridge, and across Amiens Street, you’d reach Portland Row – from where Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington hails. Portland Row turns into the North Circular Road when you cross Summerhill. The North Circular continues in a loop for several miles until it ends at the Phoenix Park. These are roads that I know well, and which I got to know in great detail from March 2020 when the lockdown was declared and we were mandated not to stray further than specific distances from our homes.
In early December a documentary called ‘North Circular’ was released. It tells the story through music, of how the old working class communities of Dublin are adapting to a city being homogenised for tourists and tech workers. This sounded interesting. It’s a road I had walked hundreds of times over the years – even prior to lockdown, it was the street I walked through to reach Dorset street to take my daily work bus to the Wastelands. Press 2 below for next page
Yesterday was Bloomsday in Dublin. In 1922 the novel ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce was published and recounted the activities of a man – Leopold Bloom – over the single day 16th June 1904 in Dublin. Since that time that day has become a day for commemoration and celebration of the book, and the life of the writer. There are cultural and literary events all over the city, with particular attention on the locations around the city mentioned in the book. Devotees dress up in Edwardian outfits, and everyone has a jolly good time. I enjoy the festivities.
Yesterday I decided to mark the event by attending the Bewley’s Café Afternoon Theatre to see ‘Little Cloud’ – an adaptation of the short story ‘Little Cloud’ which had originally appeared in Joyce’s 1914 collection ‘Dubliners’. Adapted for the stage by Patricia Browne, directed by Vincent Patrick and produced by Judder Theatre, it tells the tale of office worker Tommy Chandler (played by Stephen Kelly) who is meeting his old college friend Ignatius Gallagher (Vincent Patrick) for drinks in the Shelbourne Hotel. Tommy is a dreamer and had great dreams of becoming a writer. Meanwhile it is Ignatius who has achieved literary success in London and New York with his celebrity interviews.
This May bank holiday Monday sees the welcome return of the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, for the first time since 2019. Now in its 19th year, the pandemic of the past two years had thwarted its occurrence for two years. It’s back for the next two weeks, featuring twenty-three productions in various venues around the city. Check out the 2022 programme on http://www.gaytheatre.ie.
For my matinee viewing today I went to the Main Hall in the Teachers’ Club on Parnell Square to see a comedy double bill ‘Quarantine’ and ‘Three Queens Stuck in Dublin’.
The Minister for Housing is Darragh O’Brien. He is a member of the Fianna Fail party. Its coalition partner Fine Gael previously held this ministry. Since 2011 Fine Gael has been in power. The two parties formed a coalition after last year’s election (although a de-facto coalition existed from 2016 to 2020). The housing crisis has exploded over the past decade since Fine Gael took office. O’Brien’s predecessor was named Eoghan Murphy – a man whose picture appears next to the word ‘failure’ in my personal dictionary (https://midnightmurphy.com/2019/07/03/eoghan-murphy-a-chocolate-fireguard ) . He was an elected representative for the Dublin Bay South constituency, which is the wealthiest in the land. Fine Gael clearly has its finger on the pulse of the nation when it appointed a rich boy whose granddad Russell Murphy was a swindler accountant who fleeced his clients for hundreds of thousands, to solve the housing emergency. After the 2020 election Eoghan Murphy was relieved of ministerial duties. Some months later he decided that politics was not for him. He resigned his seat. Prompting a by-election for a parliamentary seat in the leafiest of suburbs.
Some important facts about housing in Ireland are relevant here. The cost of purchasing a house in Ireland is out of reach of people on an average wage. In Dublin, the situation is even worse. Unless you are earning a minimum of 70,000eur a year as a single person you can forget about owning your own home. This is deliberate government policy – supply has been reduced to a trickle, while prices soar to help banks and institutional investors. Meanwhile vulture funds buy up entire housing estates and apartment blocks to rent at extortionate rates to tenants. Tenants who because they are spending 50% of their available income on rent are unable to save to try to buy a property. These renters aren’t burdened with tenancy rights of any substance. Every now and then a scandal erupts, and the government pretends to act. The housing crisis continues and purchasing or renting a property in Ireland remains a national disgrace.
As the housing crisis will be front and centre of the coming by-election to replace Eoghan Murphy, I thought I’d look at some the candidates for this seat.
I received a call from a friend a couple of days before the new lockdown for Dublin was declared; asking if I’d be interested in accompanying her to the Druid Theatre production of ‘Druid Gregory’ in the grounds of Coole Park in Gort on Sunday evening. She had acquired a pair of tickets for the sold out show. I had a very brief internal debate about the wisdom of traveling West on the weekend that the capital closed up shop once again. Considering I live alone, work from home and only meet a small handful of people at a socially distanced level on any given week, my decision was easy. I was going to the theatre for only the second time since March (in August I went to see Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’ by Bewley’s Café Theatre in the Irish Georgian Society building on South William Street in Dublin.
Some months ago I was invited on a guided tour of Dublin being organised by a group called ‘Dublin Decoded’. I didn’t investigate the event too much. As the people who invited me have impeccable taste, and I’m weak for guided tours, I suspected I would be in safe hands. Well yesterday was the date of the event. I glanced at the ticket. It was called ‘Dublin’s Great Lovers and Romantics: A walking tour of art and of history’, which seemed appropriate given that Valentine’s Day had occurred a couple of days earlier. Despite my devil-may-care-Texas-playboy demeanour, I would be able to enjoy such an excursion. Further details revealed that the two hour walking tour would be split into halves. The first hour would be inside the National Gallery of Ireland (the congregation point). The second hour would be in the streets outside. Continue reading Dublin decoded – a guided tour about love→
People who regularly read my musings will know that I have limited patience for marketing and PR guff. For example I make a point to avoid any food establishment that styles itself as an ‘eatery’. Adding an ‘-ery’ to the end of a verb does not a noun make. Likewise a food venue advertising ‘street food’ should – by definition – cook and serve the food outdoors. My little OCD heart demands this. When I saw that a new deli was proclaiming itself part of the ‘rotisserie revolution’ my blood boiled as I pictured the cocaine addled PR hack in some advertising agency coming up with this ‘concept’.
Which brings me to today’s launch of ‘Brand Limerick’ – a €1 million campaign by Limerick City and County Council is to promote the city’s reputation on an international scale. The PR firm M&C Saatchi will be overseeing the campaign with input from the students of the Limerick School for Art and Design. This company has previously done branding campaigns for New Zealand, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Georgia and others. Continue reading Brand Limerick – Atlantic edge, European embrace→
When I receive visitors from out of town, I like to take them to a museum or a gallery. Ideally I’d visit Kilmainham Gaol, but this tends to get booked months in advance due to the limited capacity and widespread popularity of the guided tour. When I checked availability for Kilmainham this weekend all tours were fully booked. I had an idea. I would check availability for a guided tour of the 14 Henrietta Street Museum. There was space on the tour so we selected the 2pm Saturday slot. Continue reading 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin→
I have written before about the Fine Gael Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy who has overseen the explosion of the homelessness crisis into a national catastrophe (read about him HERE). I’ve also written about the culture of greed and entitlement by elected Fine Gael politician Maria Bailey who upon receipt of legal advice by Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan, tried to fraudulently claim insurance from a hotel when she drunkenly fell off a swing while holding two bottles of booze in her hands (read about her HERE).
Now it is time to focus our attention on an even worse example of corruption in the Fine Gael party – an individual from the Cork North-Central constituency called Dara Murphy, who has spent the last several years with his snout in the trough of taxpayers’ money with the knowledge and approval of his party and its leader Leo Varadkar. He is the human manifestation of a pig from George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. Continue reading Dara Murphy – another Fine Gael hog with his snout in the trough.→