Category Archives: Dublin

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 63. On a Sense of Community.

Dublin supporters on Hill 16 at Croke Park.

Nothing brings a community together better than a sporting occasion. And nothing unites a community more uniquely than a victory. In much the same way a country can celebrate a major win in competition (Ireland beating England in this year’s Cricket World Cup springs to mind), Dublin’s All-Ireland success over their arch-rivals Kerry last Sunday has brought a smile to the brow-beaten face of Dubliners.

Whether your a fan of GAA or not (I’m ambivalent most of the time), it’s hard not to get caught up in the euphoria a victory can bring. Already we’re looking forward to next year.


All-Ireland Mayhem: God Help Us All.

For all but a few of you reading this post, the All-Ireland series means very little. But if you’re Irish, like your GAA, and your county winning the Sam Maguire Cup means more to you than life itself, then the All-Ireland is where it’s at this weekend.

It’s the Battle Royale: The Dubs versus the Kingdom; Dublin against Kerry. The Blues are searching for their first title since 1995, while Kerry are the reigning champions. (Stay awake at the back there, I’ll be asking questions later.) If the Capital City triumph this Sunday, then 16 years of hurt will disappear like cider down a football supporter’s gullet. If they lose, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

You're not a Dub if you don't drink cider.

For me – and for the rest of my workmates – it will be a day that will go down in infamy. Throngs of supporters will convene at Croke Park and its surroundings like Muslims at Mecca. They will be excited, nervous, full of hopes and anticipation, and they will have throats drier than a camel’s arse in a sandstorm. Which is where we bartenders come in. For most of the morning, afternoon and evening (all bloody day actually) we will pump out enough booze to fill the Grand Canyon ten times over: these Dubs are a thirsty lot, let me tell you.

We will be busier than St. Peter on Judgement Day. We’ll be working flat out to ensure that no thirst goes unquenched because this is what we bartenders do. We will listen to the crap that drunks come out with when one too many has been consumed; we will mop up vomit that’s had the indecency to spew out at importune times; we will smile when we’re abused – because that’s what we bartenders do. We will take money and give out correct change, as well as making sure there’s plenty of ice and bandages, because accidents may happen.

We will open early and close late. We don’t expect to be thanked for our endeavours because we know the boss will look after us after he’s lodged the day’s takings with Brinks Allied.

The Girls in Blue

We will listen patiently to the hundred-and-first rendition of “Come On Ye Boys In Blue” and not complain when another glass is smashed against the wall. We will not laugh when security escort an unruly supporter off the premises (usually head first) and into a waiting police car. We will hope the judge goes easy on him the next morning. We will say prayers when we go to bed that night.

If we make it to bed, that is.

We look forward to doing an honest day’s trade when Dublin win the All-Ireland (which we hope they do). But we hope the supporters make life easy for us and not start any fights. Because we bartenders don’t like fights. We like the simple life. Here’s your pint, there’s your change, now fuck off and leave us alone.

Dublin for Sam!

Kilkenny vs. Tipperary: The 2011 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final by Numbers

The Liam McCarthy Cup

The Liam McCarthy Cup was once again up for grabs today. For the third time in as many years, the Premier County of Tipperary played the Cats of Kilkenny for the coveted title of All-Ireland Senior Hurling Champions. It was the first time in the history of this competition that the same finalists have met three years in a row. Before a sliotar was pucked, this “best of three match series” was all square at one apiece. Tipp denied Kilkenny an unprecedented five-in-a-row last year with an impressive eight point at Croke Park. But as it turned out, there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded Cat.

The Numbers Game

4 – The points margin between Kilkenny and Tipperary at the end of 70+ pulsating minutes.

3 – The number of goals scored this year. Two by Kilkenny (Michael Fennelly, Richie Hogan), one by Tipperary (Pa Bourke).

81, 314 – The official attendance at Croke Park, some 400 down on last year. It’s not often that tickets are available on the day for a showpiece occasion such as this, but there were plenty floating around in the job today.

13 – The number of minutes it took for Tipperary to score once the game had begun. By that stage Kilkenny already had a five point lead.

0 – Last year’s hat-trick here, Lar Corbett, was virtually anonymous today. But he did supply the pass for Bourke’s goal. He’ll have better games in the future.

8 – The number of points scored by Eoin Kelly of Tipperary, the game’s top scorer.

Henry Sheflin lifts the Liam McCarthy Cup.

1 – The game’s solitary injury concern was the referee, Brian Gavin of Clara, Co. Offaly. The match was held up for five minutes while he received treatment on a bloodied nose, the result of an accidental collision with a wayward hurl. No doubt he’ll wear his war wounds with pride. He had a fine game.

33 – The number of All-Ireland titles Kilkenny now have.

8 – The number of medals Brian Cody (Kilkenny’s manager) and Henry Sheflin now have on their mantlepieces. Cody is the most successful manager in the game.

8 – months until we do it all again. What’s the betting that there’ll be a further installment in the Kilkenny/Tipperary saga? We can only wait and see.

All match photographs are courtesy of The Irish Times. Information is supplied by The Irish Times and the RTE website.



100 Words, 100 Days: Day 27. On Not Having Regrets.

Yesterday afternoon a defiant and sturdy Dublin hurling team gave as good as they got to the reigning All-Ireland Hurling champions, the Premier County, Tipperary.

Unheralded at the start of the season, Dublin took the Nation League title, beating Tipp along the way. But the Championship is meat and drink to all GAA players. Reaching their first final since 1948, Dublin came out with all guns blazing but lost a hard-fought match by four points.

They have the pleasure of looking each other in the eye in the dressing room, knowing they gave it their all. They can have no regrets.

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 20. On Community Policing.

During work yesterday afternoon, I got into a conversation with one of our community police officers. She’d been in for her lunch and had asked me to put her bike away safely in our bottle shed. Anything to help the local gardai.

Anyway, we discussed the arson attack on another pub in the area, and whether we thought it would open again. We hoped it would because even scumbags need to drink somewhere.

As she collected her bike and got into gear, the only thing I could think was, Lady, you’re so gorgeous! Does this make me a bad man?

Garda Patrol

To Protect, Serve and Make Life Miserable for Publicans

I have a healthy respect for our national police force, the Garda Siochana. By and large, like most law-keeping organisations, they are a hard-working, underpaid and much derided bunch of men and women. They do a tough job in the easiest of times, a practically impossible job when gun control is non-existent in the Republic of Ireland. But that’s not why I write this post today.

Our gardai are tasked with enforcing any number of unworkable laws. The one that sticks in my craw deals with “drinking-up time” in our licensed premises. As it stands at the moment, customers are allowed 30 minutes to finish off their drinks once the bar has closed. On a Saturday night the bar closes at 12.30am, which means that customers must be gone by 1am. All well and good – but this is Ireland we’re talking about here. Customers don’t normally finish ordering their drinks until that time. (Yes, we’re flexible, and we’re not about to turn away business by sticking too close to the law now, are we?) So asking them to leave is a no-no.

Except of course when the gardai come in to say hello.

Chief Wiggum's Irish cousin, Fiachra O'Wiggum

Which they did last night – ten minutes after my boss went off home, leaving me to lock up. Personally I’ve no issue with this. He’s there until all hours most of the week, so I think it’s only fair that he goes off, knowing I have keys to lock up. I normally pull down the shutters to protect whatever people there are inside and to prevent anyone else coming in. But whoever went out without me knowing forgot (or didn’t bother) to pull it down after them. Within moments the boys in blue were inside, causing our locals all sort of mayhem and disharmony. And because I was the one with the keys, it appeared I was the man in charge of the pub. Yay me! Did I know it was an hour over the time? Of course I did. What was I doing about it? Not much, if truth be told. I can’t force their drinks down them.

I went off to make sure that no one was smoking where they shouldn’t be smoking (i.e. anywhere inside the building) and when I came back, I was asked for my details: name, address and date of birth. Quickly retreating into my past and hoping that the gardai hadn’t these details already, I coughed up, letting them know that I was not the manager – just unlucky enough to be a key-holder.

The pub was cleared in ten minutes, and while I enjoy an early night like most bar workers, I felt it was unfair on my customers to be put through this, especially those who couldn’t (or weren’t able to) finish their drinks. We had a 40th birthday party in the pub last night, so it wasn’t exactly clearing out when the police arrived. However, just before they left, one of the cops came over to me and said that they were under orders by the local superintendent to clear out all the pubs in the area, and that there wouldn’t be any prosecution. Not this time, he added. He wished me a good evening, and because of my healthy respect for our hard-working boys in blue I said, “You too, Garda.”

I hope they did – because it’s a jungle out there.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Social Commentator.

Skangers love their Burberry

I’m on the bus, right? The 123 heading to Dawson Street. The usual muppets are on board. The blue-rince brigade with their shopping trollies, getting full value from their bleedin’ bus-passes. Free travel for the over 65s. Who’s poxy idea was that? Oh yeah, Charlie Haughey. Tax cheat he was, and he led our country. Told us to tighten our belts while he wore Van Heuson. Wanker. He’s dead now, thanks be to God. Got a state funeral, too. And these old biddies adore the bastard because he gave them a bus-pass. Bought their votes, if you ask me.

Anyway, the oul ones give you such a look when they want your seat. They’re not having mine. I work for a living and pay my taxes so they can get to travel for bleedin’ nothing. They want a seat? Get a bleedin’ taxi. Sorry, I forgot. You have to pay for a taxi. No discounts for OAPs, thank Jaysus.

I’ll only give my seat up for a pregnant woman, but only if they’re over 18. Anyone under that can stand. It’s not my fault they didn’t use a johnny and find themselves up the spout. You’ve got to take responsibity for your actions in this world, if you ask me. Spongers, that’s what they are. Taking their ‘mickey-money’ first Tuesday of every month and blowing it in the boozer on vodkas and coke and 20 John Player Blue. Slappers!

There’s this bloke behind, giving it loads to his missus on his mobile. He’s calling her every toe-rag name he can think of. He’s not much better himself. He’s drinking from a can of cider, and the smell off him is something fierce. Hey bud, take a bleedin’ shower once in a while. Can’t do you any harm. He’s off the phone to his “beloved’ and is now talking to his supplier, giving out about the last lump he got. Pure shite, he says. Couldn’t make a decent roll-up from it. His mates were banging on about getting a new supplier, he says. Doesn’t matter that there’s not a lot of it around. Where there’s a will, there’s a bleedin’ way. Hash is hash, at the end of the day. I leave him to it, difficult to do when his voice is louder than his football shirt.

I look out the window and see ‘pyjama city’. Young ones and oul ones walking around in broad daylight wearing poxy pyjamas. I dream I’m a sniper, perched on the roof of the GPO, taking every one of these lazy fuckers out. They’re a blot on society. At least the homeless have the good sense to dress for the outdoors. Scumbags.

Right, here’s my stop. I’m off. This is Dublin. My Dublin. Like it or not, I live here. Like it or not, I love it.

(c) James McShane

“Kila” Tunes.

Free is good. There’s no price I’d like to pay more than nothing at all. I have my American friend, Dennis, to thank for that. His sense of frugality is eagle-eye keen, and it’s contagious.

It’s the August Bank Holiday here (and the day before my birthday) and after the weekend I’ve just had, Dennis and I took a trip to The Red Stables at St. Anne’s Park, Raheny, to see an open-air concert.

The Red Stables, St. Anne's Park: a perfect arena for markets and open-air concerts.

Kila are an Irish folk music band that formed in 1987 and they’ve struck up a loyal following since then. I’ve seen their name pop up at festivals over the years. But since I’ve never been to a festival, I’ve never seen them play. Nor do I remember hearing any of their music.

I wouldn’t be the most ardent of Irish folk music fans. Too much “diddley-iy” for my liking: men in Aran jumpers sitting in circles, playing pipes, fiddles and bodhrans. I know it’s part of my Irish heritage…but I don’t really like that kind of music. To me, Irish music is more about U2 (even if they’ve gone off the boil over the last couple of years), Thin Lizzy (the original and the best), Paul Brady (I tear up whenever I hear The Island) and Bob Geldof (did I say that out loud?).

But it was a free concert and I love Dennis’ company, so I said why not.

I loved it. I frikkin’ loved it. It’s a small venue. I’d say there were 250 people inside the gate, watching the performance; more outside the gate, too, looking in. I think public liability insurance only covers a certain number of people inside the actual venue. There were a lot of families attending the concert, seeing that it was a bank holiday weekend. The rain stayed away (thank heavens for small mercies), it was warm, and people were in good spirits.

Kila put on a cracking 70 minute show. I wouldn’t describe them as your typical “trad” band. Sure, there were fiddles, tin whistles, flutes and bodhrans; but there were acoustic guitars, bass and drums. Almost all of the group play different instruments and this adds to their sound. African music is an obvious inspiration to Kila. Although the lyrics are in Irish, the beat is definitely sub-Saharan. The effect was and is mesmerising. So much so, people of all ages were up dancing and clapping hands. The craic, as they say, was mighty. I would gladly have paid to see them.

Now, if it wasn’t for Dennis’ research, I wouldn’t have known a thing about this concert. It was organised by the Dublin City Council and it’s part of a series of free events in and around the north side of Dublin during the month of August. But I have to say it’s not heavily advertised, and that’s a pity. There are plenty of events such as these around the towns and cities in this country. Is it too much to ask that we shouldn’t have to go looking for them?

But that wee rant shouldn’t take away from what was a brilliant performance by an ensemble that know their stuff. I’ll leave you with one of their videos. I hope you enjoy it.

PS: I bought a couple of their CDs, too. That’s how you do business.

How To Support Dublin GAA!

Up the Dubs!

  1. Buy the appropriate jersey. Arnott’s no longer sponsor Dublin GAA. O2 do it now. If you consider yourself a Dublin supporter, throw away last season’s jersey and head on down to Champion Sports and buy the right one. Don’t be a cheapskate. Oh yes, I forgot. You’re unemployed and can’t afford it. In that case, get your sister to shoplift one for you. If you haven’t got a sister, wear a Celtic FC jersey.
  2. Get a ticket for the Hill. Any Dublin supporter worth their salt wouldn’t be caught dead in the Lower Cusack Stand. That’s for the culchies! In rain, hail, sun or snow, Hill 16 is where you should be. All appetites are catered for on the Hill: burgers, hot-dogs, alcohol, cannabis and cocaine.
  3. No matter the weather, do not even think about wearing a coat, jumper or rain gear over your jersey. You’ll be a target for abuse and will never live down the shame.
  4. Hill 16 is Dublin only!

    Smoke only in areas that are designated smoke-free – which is the entire stadium, really.

  5. Bail into the local pubs two hours before the game and drink enough cider to kill an elephant. Drink only large bottles; long-necks are for wimps.
  6. Leave the pubs and head in to Croke Park 15 minutes after the match has started, thereby delaying throw-in and pissing off RTE.
  7. When the match is over, invade the pitch and kick seven shades of shit out of the referee for not giving Dublin an obvious penalty. Or for sending off Brian Cullen. Or for awarding a point when it was clearly a wide. Or because this is what you do – you’re a Dub after all.
  8. Post-match celebrations should include the mandatory chanting of “Come On You Boys In Blue,” win, lose or draw. There should also be a fight. Not with rival supporters, but among yourselves; because Micka looked at your “bird” the wrong way, or because Fat Sammy nicked your cider when you were off having a slash, or because you’re a Dub and that’s what do.
  9. If they can get away with it, so can the fans.

    Soakage. A batter burger goes down nicely after 15 pint bottles of cider, seven Sambucas and a baby Guinness, doesn’t it? It also comes up nicely, too. All over your new o2 jersey.

  10. Dream that this year could be the year Sam comes home to Dublin. The Sam Maguire Cup: awarded to the winning county of the All-Ireland Football Championship. The Dubs haven’t won it since 1995. 15 years of hurt.
  11. Wake up the next morning in Store Street Garda station after being caught with enough drugs to flatten a hippo.

Introducing Tara Kane, P.I.

While I’m here, I may as well let you people know what I’ve been up to day. I’ve begun a new blog. What – another blog? He can hardly manage the one he already has. I know, I hear you. But this is a new me, remember?

It’s a blog dedicated to my newest creation, Tara Kane, P.I.

Tara is a recently divorced mother of two who lives in inner city Dublin. Finding that she has a bit of time on her hands, as well as being in need of some extra cash in these economic times, she registers on a website,, and takes lessons on how to become a private investigator. That’s the concept. We’ll see what happens from hereon in.

And while we’re on the subject, I’m reminded of this particular song from way back when.

Take it away, Mr. Knopfler: