Yeah, okay, first things first. Yes, Dublin has caved to the inevitable and has erected a statue of Molly Malone:
You would not believe how hard it was to get this shot. This statue is absolutely crawling with people who believe that it is the height of artistry and wit to have their picture taken while groping the statue's boobs. Perhaps I will one day write a short story about how the Molly Malone statue has finally had enough of being groped all the time by tourists and comes alive and goes on a smashing rampage through the city.
Like Chicago, Dublin divides itself into the North Side and the South Side, and both sides have clearly expressed identities and Views about the Other Side. These photos are from the North Side. The South Side will wait for another post.
The fancy part of the North Side is right on the river, where there's a big semi-pedestrian mall called O'Connell Street. It has the nice department stores, a few quirkyfancy restaurants, the Abbey Theatre is nearby, the Gate Theatre is right there. I got to see plays at both of these places, and I loved them. I saw a new play called Drum Belly at the Abbey, about Irish-American gangsters in 1969 New York, and at the Gate, I saw Mrs. Warren's Profession by George Bernard Shaw, which is about prostitution. Both fabulous productions, and more similar to each other in theme and tone than you'd imagine. Anyway, O'Connell Street:
The big spiky thing is . . . wait for it . . . the Spire of Dublin. It's a really tall, really thin spike, right in the middle of downtown. It's there essentially to be there, to look cool and modern and signal the re-gentrification of O'Connell Street.
Nearby struts another famous Dublin resident, James Joyce. I might have been more interested if I hadn't had to read Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man in high school, which was A) a difficult text for high-school kids, and B) the teacher didn't teach it all that well, which meant that all of us seventeen-year-olds struggled through a hard text that, as far as we could tell, was pretty much about the same sort of self-absorbed kid that all of us were, except that our teachers gave us shit when we wrote stream-of-consciousness ramblings, but they taught the same thing when it came from the pen of James Joyce, so I think we all kind of resented him for that. Sorry, James Joyce.
Nearby is the General Post Office, which has a couple of features to recommend it. First of all, it's one of those big impressive fancy post offices that conveys the statement that sending mail is a noble and honorable thing. It really could be the setting for Pratchett's Going Postal, which is pretty cool. It's also notable for being pretty much the headquarters of the 1916 rebellion, and there's a little museum inside the Post Office that showcases stamps, postal services, and IRISH FREEDOM FIGHTERS. One of these things is not like the others.
There's also the Customs House, which I'm told is very pretty in the light of the setting sun, except that it rained most of the time I was in Dublin, so I just enjoyed the Lion and the Unicorn fighting for the Crown (the Lion beat the Unicorn all around the town).
This piece of public art was located outside an insurance agency. It has no historic or cultural significance beyond being really nifty.
Right at the north end of the O'Connell Street semi-pedestrian mall is a monument to Charles Stewart Parnell, godfather of Irish independence.
Beyond that, and beyond the Gate Theatre, is a memorial garden in honor of the executed leaders of the 1916 uprising. It's a surprisingly lovely and well-designed little oasis of calm in the city, with some carefully considered symbolism (the statue is supposed to represent the Children of Lir) and plenty of spaces for contemplation. I think it's one of the better-designed memorial parks I've seen.
Despite the gloom, it was very much springtime in Dublin.
And finally, the lovely and graceful Ha'penny Bridge, that will take you to Temple Bar (haunt of drunken tourists in search of Guinness sold to them by Professional Irishpersons) and the delights of the South Side.