written 1995 after my first visit to the city
personal • 24.02.95
Never have I been as charmed by a place as I was by Dublin. Indeed for sheer elegance and stunning architecture it must qualify for the highest accolade among capital cities. You can add to this a remarkable friendliness in its people whose facial characteristics display the well worn lineage of an old culture. Maybe not the prettiest of folks, but this is offset by a softness in the eyes, absent from our own kind, I suspect; a softness I would like to hold mirrors an attitude in the deeper regions of their hearts.
For much of Saturday I took in the city and was often tearful, moved by some statue, building or personal encounter; or even just a thought inspired by the particularly excellent bus tour which gave a well informed background to a rich and legendary past. Did I imagine in this place something wholly missing from my own country? An independence? A self confidence with little contempt for the Brits despite much historical conflict and the partitioning of its northern territory? Was there a philosophical response to the trashing of its sports stadium that very week by a renegade contingent of English football fascists?
Yes, all of these things and more. For the first time I began to feel for Irish history. As circumstance would have it this is just when the country verges on constitutional change which could bring some resolution to its old and troubled politics. This caused me to reflect on the Scots and wonder, also for the first time, if after all we've been inhibited by an allegiance to the English when we too have a distinct history together with many of the facets that qualify for nationhood.
Thoughts like these and others occupied my thinking time on the return home and I have since found pleasure in considering the possibility of going back to Dublin, hopefully soon. It had been a fine weekend. Synchronicity was apparent when we found our hotel to be right next to the Landsdown Stadium where the outbreak of the football violence had taken place. It is difficult to comprehend how such barbaric behaviour can see fit to display itself in this way but then I suppose Ireland is no stranger to the dark side of human nature. Hence the deep compassion on the faces of its people; hence the philosophy and the music and the art and the literature and the overall richness of its heritage; hence my profound fascination and a longing to return.