Category Archives: Dublin

“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, BEaPI.ie, 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:

From Little Acorns Grow…

LifeRing Ireland

It all started in a dining room of a house in north County Dublin. Present and correct were two men, two women and two dogs. I can’t speak for the dogs but I know for a fact that the four humans were (and are) recovering addicts, mainly alcoholics but there was some drug abuse, too.

LifeRing had arrived in Ireland.

Tonight, in St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin, we had two groups of 19 people, each recovering (or hoping to recover) from whatever their drug of choice happens to be. People from all walks of life, looking for hope, support, and camaraderie. The St. Patrick’s group is one of three active meetings in Dublin. The other two are located at the Methodist Mission on Abbey Street, and the Stanhope Street Alcohol Treatment Centre. The last piece of the jigsaw, St. John of God’s Hospital, will fall into place within the next month or two.

LifeRing has arrived in Ireland.

It’s a recovery program without a program. By this I mean there are no Steps, no Higher Power, no powerlessness over our addiction. The choice to whether or not drink or use is put in our hands. We alone are responsible for picking up a drink or drug. End of story. Sure, we’re powerless once we do — that much is obvious — but if we chose not to, that choice empowers us. That, in essence, is what LifeRing is all about. We keep it secular and leave our Higher Power (if we have one) outside the room until we leave. We chat to each other, we cross-talk, we laugh, cry, but ultimately we’re all about positivity. Our “drunk-a-logues” and “drug-a-logues” are a thing of the past. Our “war stories” remain just that — stories. We talk sobriety in the here and now. We ask each other: “How was your week in sobriety?”

It is an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous and its Twelve Steps, and without becoming all preachy, LifeRing offers the addict a different forum from which to draw strength. Some addicts can’t “get” the AA approach, so LifeRing shows them another way. It has worked well in the U.S.A. and the signs are that it will work well here in Ireland, too.

Allie and The Day After.

It was the day after St. Patrick’s Day. Allie and I were walking down O’Connell Street. The place looked like a bomb hit it.

“It reminds me of a Roland Emmerich movie,” Allie said.

“At least you don’t look out-of-place,” I replied. “Lots of people are still wearing their green hats.”

For those who don’t know, Allie is an aardvark, a five-foot-two, talking blue aardvark. Except when he talks, only I can hear him. He’s not my pet as such. It would be more appropriate to say that he adopted me (the reason for which, I’m still trying to figure out — just go with it, okay?). He likes wearing hats and is fond of the the Stetson I brought back from Texas last year. But in spirit of all things Irish, Allie decided to wear a green leprechaun hat, with Kiss Me, I’m Irish stamped at the front. It would be cute if it didn’t look ridiculous.

Two ambulances and a Garda squad car ran a red light as we passed by Clery’s. “The morning after the night before,” I sighed. “Between St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, some folk don’t know how to enjoy themselves properly.”

“I thought you left your soap-box at home, Jimbo.”

“Never mind.”

Allie spotted something on the ground. He sent his snout to investigate. (I call it a snout. I think the proper term is proboscis, but it sounds a bit lah-deh-lad.  So snout it is.) He shivered.

“I’ve never seen the likes of it before,” he said. “What is it?”

“It’s vomit.”

“But it’s green.”

“It’s Irish vomit. Allie. Do you want me to get back on my box again?”

The aardvark shook his head. “Once a day is enough. Let’s grab some breakfast.”

We went to the Kylemore and ate a full Irish: rashers, sausages, scrambled egg, black and white pudding, hash browns, toast and coffee. Allie paid, using his ‘magic’ credit card. (Don’t ask.) As far as I could tell we were the only ones eating. Everyone else was nurturing liquids of some kind, re-hydrating after a hard night’s festivities…okay, I’ll stop pontificating now. Allie is right; once a day is more than enough. Anyway, breakfast is good at Kylemore.

“So what do you know about St. Patrick?” Allie asked.

“Only what I was taught in school,” I said, munching on a sausage. “He was brought to Ireland by Vikings — from Wales, I think — and began converting us pagans to Christianity. He had a think about snakes, didn’t like them at all, so he got rid of them. He should have done the same with lawyers and bankers, but I don’t think there were too many of them around in the 5th century.”

Allie sucked up the last of the egg. “Wrong,” he said.

“I thought it might be,” I replied. “What’s the real deal?” I have become used to Allie rewriting history. He says he’s ageless and has “been around a bit.” Take from that what you will. He’s my aardvark, not yours. (Or I’m his Jimbo…one or the other.)

“St. Patrick was but the first of many to come from Wales to Ireland. It was not to convert the people to a new religion, though. It was for something else entirely.” He paused for effect.

“Go on, then. Tell me.”

“It was in the name of sport.”

“What?”

“Jimbo, the answer is right in front of you. Every two years, the Welsh, the Scottish, the British, the French, and now the Italians invade this country of yours. They pillage, lay waste to man and beast, and buy silly hats, all for sport.”

The sound I heard was the penny dropping.

“But that’s rugby, Allie. Rugby wasn’t around at the time of St. Patrick.”

“Patrick wasn’t a saint, he was a fly-half for Wales. His drop goals won the first Four Nations Championship in 461AD. Patrick didn’t bring Christianity to Ireland, he brought the Rugby Football Union.”

“They don’t teach you that in Religious Education classes,” I said.

“That’s because the archives have been tampered with.”

I put my fork down and stared at him. He blinked once, made a sucking noise with his snout and then gave his full attention to his hash browns.

“We need more coffee,” he said.

People Are Strange

The taxi drivers staged a protest today. I think it was their fourth one this year. I remember a time when you couldn’t get a taxi on a weekend night, there were that few of them. I met a girlfriend – and broke up with one – on a taxi rank, I was there that fucking long.

Anyway, the cabbies are complaining that there’s too many of them now. A few years back some suit deregulated the business, unclosing the “closed shop,” and opening the market out to anyone who had a few bob to spend on a licence. More than a few goons thought taxi driving was a licence to print money. It was then; it isn’t now.

Because of their bi-weekly protest, Dublin’s main street, O’Connell Street, was closed to traffic for the day, even for the emergency services. Gardai-directed diversions were in operation. This meant that the bus route home from my Tuesday night meeting was changed and I had to go search for where I could catch the right one. So I stood at the corner of Marlborough and Eden Quay. Big mistake.

I saw this young man, dressed in a striped hoodie, skinny jeans and trainers, jogging toward me. He didn’t look threatening. He’s a jogger, I thought.

He stopped in front of me and asked, “Have you any gear?”

“What?” I said.

“Have you any gear?”

“No,” I said. And away he jogged. I shook my head and continued to look for my bus.

My next visitor was altogether different. He was stick-thin, dark-haired, but he had danger in his eyes. His girlfriend was no better. He stared at me.

“Git,” he said. “Why didn’t you call me earlier?”

Like I said, this guy looked menacing. I gave him full eye contact and said softly, “I’m sorry but you’re talking to the wrong person.” He considered this for a moment and then the pair of them walked off. He turned his head, just to make sure he wasn’t making a mistake.

I lit a cigarette and mumbled, “Come on, do I even look like a drug dealer?”

I would have taken a taxi home – if there were any – but I decided to walk. There was no way I wanted to hang around that corner any longer.

Take it away, Jim…