Stephen Fahey: The New Dublin

In however many years it’s been since I was in Dublin City Centre on a regular basis she has changed so much. I see strange people all over the place. With their perfectly manicured beards and ankles on show. So many ankles on show! What the hell is that all about for a start!? You’d swear that ankles are going out of fashion. I’ve never seen so many ankles in all my life. It’s actually a little bit intimidating. But that could just be me – my apparent ankle-shame making me hide away my besocked medial and lateral malleoli (where they belong!) handsomely veiled in the dark recesses of my pant cuffs. 

The tourists are braver now too. I’ve seen several micro-herds blithely weave their Zimmer Frames in and out of traffic like drunken gazelle on the Savannah. They’re white haired, super slow, not even remotely agile gazelle, but damn brave geriatric bizarro-deer nonetheless. That or they’re just too blind and too out of it on old people pills to even know they’re on holidays, let alone stranded in the middle of Dame Street. I have also witnessed more than one occasion when said visitors wander up to the roughest looking blokes, apparently oblivious that anyone might mug you and kick your ass, in that order. But apparently even the roughians of Dublin are now far more cultured than the old brand of scoundrels I grew up knowing and hating.

Perhaps I’m biased. Or I’ve seen too much bad stuff to not see everywhere I look now. Even in between the newer and nicer stuff like social development and public decency. Perhaps I’m the roughian and I’m too ignorant to know it. Perhaps I’m already old now and what’s new is weird and scary to me. Perhaps I’m justifying and explaining away my apprehension with humour. Or perhaps Dublin has matured in the years since I’ve walked her streets more than just once a year in the Christmas rush.

Even the Molly Malone statue has been moved and her bronze bosom is shamelessly polished from countless, highly inappropriate contact with exceessive numbers handsy tourist. As if she hasn’t had a hard enough life. The poor woman! Imagine if government ministers were handled like that, there’d be uproar. At least they have the decency to have themselves groped behind closed doors and keep their public shame limited to the international stage. 

And yet, despite the upheaval of late in the Fair City, the soul of Dublin not only remains, it has grown to something more adept and more fruitful then ever before. There are seemingly endless cultures represented. Ankles of every shape and size and religious belief emblazon every street. The beautiful, dapper and trendy masses have made themselves a fine home, even though they look stupid with their healthy complexions and marvellous physiques.

I don’t entirely feel like I’m being left behind by the newest generation. Not entirely. But there is something to be said for feeling time let go of your hand as it reaches out to take the hand of those younger and more vibrant than you. In time I’ll get my bus pass and pension and I might take up going to church just to argue with the umpires about the fact that the Buddah, Jesus and Mohammed never walked into a bar together and how the whole business should just be left to those who know better. But when I do grow old and even more confused, I know that Dublin will continue to grow and grow even as I shrink and shrivel until I’m so old and so small, like a desiccated pecan, that that glorious hive of life will be no worse off for me having loved her and hated her. Perhaps she’ll even be a little better off for it. 

Stephen Fahey

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