Thursday 29th June 2017. Rain.
Most Dublin Bus routes seem to pass thru O’Connell Street, the main thoroughfare in Dublin City. I intend to be on every route in the next five years.
Dublin Bus serves the City of Dublin and County Dublin and (Dublin despite its population is geographically small( parts of neighbouring counties, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. As I
The destination…” Route 40 Liffey Valley” interested me as it seemed very vague I knew when I got on board was that Liffey Valley is a shopping mall/retail park in the south west of the city.
Dublin is divided by the River Liffey with a series of bridges linking north to south. One of these bridges, O’ Connell Bridge becomes O’Connell Street on the northern side.
I only had a vague notion of the route the bus would take. The early part of the journey was familiar…going south over O’Connell Bridge, past Trinity College, Bank of Ireland and along Dame Street past Dublin Castle, City Hall and Christ Church. It was a journey that began in Viking, Anglo-Norman and “English” Dublin and that sense of History was emphasised in Thomas Street and James Street (Guinness Brewery and Storehouse dominate this area) arterial routes. Guinness has been employing Dubliners, almost in a hereditary way going back to 1759. The rest of the area had some indications of urban decay. St James Hospital had a very modern look.
The district of Inchicore brings back pleasant memories. My first trip to Dublin was a weekend with my Uncle Jackie, my father’s brother. It was in 1961 and the bus went along Emmet Road and past the very house in which we stayed. I do not recall which number. The walls of Kilmainham Gaol (just a few streets away).
As the bus past long established football (soccer) club, St Patrick’s Athletic and the Inchicore railway maintenance yards, these were reminders of a working class history. Generations of football supporters (fathers, brothers and sons) had passed thru those football and factory gates.
As Emmet Road became Sarsfield Road and the bus passed a public park, Markievicz Park, it was obvious these roads, and public spaces had been built, developed and named after Independence. Robert Emmet was a 19th century rebel leader, Patrick Sarsfield a 17th century rebel and Countess Constance Markievicz a 20th century rebel.
The only question was what had happened to the inner city working class from the demolished tenements …the southern Liberties who went to work at Guinness, the railways and watched St Patrick’s Athletic.
Three large areas of public housing developments from the 1960s and later at Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard and Neilstown answered my question. Certainly in the case of Ballyfermot, there was adverse publicity about anti-social behaviour in the 1970s and while these “estates” are large, I could see no indication other than the houses were good and the areas pretty well maintained.
But it is interesting that the sense of Irish national pride (Emmet, Sarsfield, Markievicz) had been neutralised into mere district or bland names (Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard, Neilstown) as the 20th century advanced.
Then the first glimpse of Liffey Valley Retail Park….computer, hardware and carpet stores and several car dealerships, including Renault, Opel, Nissan and Kia. and then the shopping mall itself with anchor tenants such as Marks and Spencers, Boots, Starbucks and several mobile phone companies.
That was the nature of this 12 kilometres (7 miles) journey. The most traditional of industries (Guinness) and the newest (Starbucks). The sons and daughters of those men who worked at Inchicore Train Maintenance yards are buying French, German, Japanese and Korean cars.
The old folks at Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard and Neilstown travel free into Dublin and like me, they “get” the references to Markievicz, Sarsfield and Emmet. And the young folks?
I tried to explain this journey to my best friend…a History professor. It was like “overground archaeology”, layers of History. Maybe it was like cutting down a tree and counting the rings to determine its age. It was almost Time Travel.
But what about this name…”Liffey Valley”? This is actually in Clondalkin which in (undeserved) reputation is not unlike those large estates of Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard and Neilstown. Maybe “Clondalkin” doesn’t sound as good as “Liffey Valley”.
And yet the original name was “Quarryvale” but that name stinks of corruption where crooked politicians were too easily bribed by developers to make the right planning decisions. The scandal led to a decade long judicial tribunal. So maybe best not to say “Quarryvale” out loud.
After a very short walk around Liffey Valley Shopping Mall, I got on another bus to go back via O’Connell Street …”Route 40 Charlestown”.
And then Liffey Valley Retail Park….hardware stores, computer stores,car dealerships including Opel, Nissan, Kia and Renault and the shopping mall itself Marks and Spencers, Boots, Starbucks and several mobile-phone companies.
And I think there was an aspect of “overground archaeology” as I explained it to a friend who is a History lecturer. This 12 kilometres (8 miles) was like cutting down a tree and counting the rings to determine its age. The most traditional of Irish industries (Guinness) led to the globalisation of Starbucks. The sons and daughters of the men and women who worked at Inchicore Railway maintenance yard are buying French, German, Japanese and Korean cars.
The older folks in Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard and Neilstown might use their free travel pass to travel into Dublin on the Route 40 bus and they are like me, old enough to get the Markievicz, Sarsfield and Emmet references. Young folks…I dunno.
But this is Ireland. We kicked out the British in 1916. We shop at Marks and Spencers.
But the name “Liffey Valley”? Well surely, the road signs indicate that this is really…Clondalkin, another area not unlike (in unfair reputation)not unlike Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard and Neilstown). Maybe “Liffey Valley” sounds nicer. But surely this multi-million development was once known as “Quarryvale” and the subject of over ten years judicial inquiry into developers bribing politicians to facilitate planning applications.
Time to get another “Route 40 Charleston” bus back to thru the city.