Inspiration #2

Well, so much for me picking a particular day to blog about what inspired me each week… Huh.  Who’d have believed that wouldn’t happen…

Map of Neustern and its street index

In the past eight days I’ve taken part in not one but TWO alternative walking tours of Dublin.  The first was the Le Cool Experience– a tour taking in the things that you may not know exist in Dublin, or that may have a short shelf life.  Well , that was one of the best tours I’ve ever done…  It began at 11am on a lovely sunny Saturday with a trip to Smock Alley theatre and a private viewing of two scenes from Romeo and Juliet;  then a visit to the Hacienda bar on Little Mary Street for a look-see (I live a 5 minute walk from this bar, have walked past it about a million and two times and never paid it any heed… it’s got teeny windows high up on the wall; you’ve to ring a bell and get vetted by the barman to get in… how’s that for a door policy) for an interesting chat about Open Learning; next a visit to Galerie Modonov on Capel Street for the fascinating exhibition All Roads Lead to Neustern; and on to the Little Green Gallery on (uh) Little Green Street for an exhibition on the history of reggae.  The final stop on our tour was Middle Abbey Street and a visit to tailor Jude Hughes who has been renting a basement workshop there for 22 odd years (I think); he’s an unassuming man who has such interesting stories (he has run the Dublin marathon, there is a school he teaches in each year named after him in Rwanda, he had an employee who retired at the age of 92…)

It was such a brilliantly inventive tour that I’ve booked to do a second one on the 1st December…

Hacienda pool table


Listening to the curator speak about All Roads Lead to Neustern


The only sign for Rapid Alteration services on Middle Abbey Street

I love the painting of the tailor on the wall...

Walk number two was The New Obsessive Tour of Dublin¹.  I heard about this on the Le Cool tour- our tour guide was Gary Farrelly, the artist behind the All Roads Lead to Neustern exhibition.  (I can’t begin to explain this exhibition- all I’ll say is that it has one of the best maps I’ve seen in years (nearly as good as my favourite Tim Robinson map of the Burren) and the whole exhibition deserves your time and attention.) The New Obsessive Tour was an actual tour of a fictional Dublin. We discovered fascinations such as: Christchurch is actually a cardboard cutout put in place to take the stark look off the H-Bomb-proof Offices of the Secret Police (the civic offices to the uninitiated); there are ‘penance machines’ outside churches for ease of easing your conscience (parking meters to the unobservant); there was a Nazi visit to Dublin in 1939 via a silted tarpaulin-covered submarine; and the North Korean President has an apartment in Dublin which he found via Daft.  It was a tour like no other, really interesting, really fun and really real.  I came away believing the stories of the barrel baby, of the Cannibal Cafe and of the Russian ghost haunting the old Ormond Hotel.  The man is a genius.

I also managed to pop over this week to the relatively new Copper House Gallery off Synge Street- what a lovely building! They currently have an exhibition of photos by Anthony Haughey called Settlement.  The photos themselves are beautiful- shots of abandoned building sites and so-called ‘ghost estates’, all taken in the gloaming between sunset and sunrise.  It’s an interesting look at relics of the Celtic Tiger; the photos are shown alongside 32 architectural proposals from the brilliant NAMAlab project and an installation of pyrite.  I’ve actually seen photography projects based on this subject matter before at various college final year exhibitions, but these photos are the most striking I’ve seen.  I came away with a thoughtful glint in my eye…

¹I just discovered the footnote facility; figured this was as good a spot to try it out as any… expect Flann O’Brien style footnotes in the future…


4 Responses to “Inspiration #2”

  1. 1 Cécile November 21, 2011 at 06:34

    All those tours sound so nice, I miss Dublin for all its animations!

  2. 2 petra November 21, 2011 at 08:31

    jealous. full stop.

  3. 3 Katie November 21, 2011 at 16:55

    The tours sound brilliant! Undercover Dublin! Looking forward to visiting The Hacienda…

  4. 4 Lisa November 23, 2011 at 13:21

    Can you come to London and find out cool things here? I’ve an unexpected day off and am doing laundry…

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