When I went to live and work in Ireland at the beginning of 2008 I chose Dublin. It wasn’t because I liked the place, quite the opposite. Although I’ve been backwards and forwards to Ireland since I was a child I spent very little time in the capital, choosing instead to get out of there down the country to Cork or Kerry as quickly as possible. The memories I had of Dublin were not great. So on making the decision to live in Ireland I decided that I would try to get to know and like the city before moving on in due course. I found a nice apartment in Townsend Street which is to the east of the city centre and close to the Liffey. Soon I found myself regularly passing through Grand Canal Basin, either on my runs or on my way to and from Irishtown Stadium for coaching. The Basin forms part of the old Docklands area and is (or was) part of the great plans for redeveloping the run down parts of the city. Then the Celtic Tiger died and the money ran out. The area has therefore been left in a strange state – part modern development and part old Dublin, much as it must have been for decades past. The Basin sits between the River Liffey and Pearse Street. The latter comes with a bad reputation due to the incidence of social housing, but I always found it grand. In the photograph Pearse Street runs over the bridge. The dark building behind it is Bolands Mill, one of the rebel strongholds of the 1916 Easter Rising*. It is derelict but of such historical import that they’ll never knock it down. To the left at ground level beneath the apartments is the Ocean Bar. A symbol of the Tiger and its yuppiedom it was noisy across the Basin when I first arrived, considerably less so now. To the right, new shops and restaurants. Behind the photographer would be a few more restaurants. All of these are gamely hanging on but surely with a fraction of the income that they would have been expecting when they opened their doors in the good times. Just to the right and not in the picture is the Grand Canal Theatre, a building site in all the time I was there. However it is now complete and in use. The hotel opposite was also completed but has been mothballed**. Out of site and away behind the photographer the new developments run out – those that are there are still mainly empty. The landscape changes dramatically. No coloured neon lights, just derelict warehouses. One not so derelict – it houses U2’s recording studio. Nearby is the proposed site for the U2 Tower which, if it is ever built, will be Ireland’s tallest building. The prospects for those plans are remote. Further on you will always find two or three caravans, housing Traveller folk. To their credit they look after that part of the Basin and keep it fairly clean and tidy. Beyond that we really are in old Dublin. There is a series of little-used lock gates leading to the open river. Crossing these locks you come to a path which leads alongside the River Dodder, a tributary of the Liffey. This leads one up to Ringsend Bridge. Ringsend was once a village in its own right with fishing its principle trade. The photograph is stunning and one of many of this part of the city by by Paul Campbell of www.poolbegphoto.com
*Edit 3/3/15 – no, it is another nearby Boland’s building that featured in the Rising.
**Edit 3/3/15 – happily now in business as the up-market Marker Hotel.