Category Archives: Dublin City

Dublin City: Clarehall

Thursday 3rd August 2017. Warm. Cloudy.

Outside Connolly Station, I have seen the “Route 27 Clarehall” bs go north along Amiens Street. The name did not mean anything to me.

It is 11 kilometres (7 miles) to Clarehall. As I suspected, it was just another shopping mall. Tesco is the anchor tenant.

The interesting thing was the journey…Amiens Street, North Strand, Marino, Artane, Northside Shopping Centre and Coolock.

On the return journey “Route 27 Jobstown”, I stopped off at Northside Shopping Centre for lunch.

At a future date, I would like to see more of Marino, Artane and Coolock.


Dublin City: North Strand

Thursday 3rd August 2017. Dry. Occasional drizzle.

Northerners who arrive by train in Dublin  at Connolly Station usually cross Amiens Street and walk up Talbot Street to O’Connell Street. Few will turn right and walk about 300 metres to where Amiens Street becomes North Strand Road.

North Strand Road itself continues over two bridges at the Royal Canal and the small River Tolka and towards the districts of Fairview and Marino,

Just 300 metres from Connolly Station is an important but largely forgotten piece of Irish history. On the night of 31st May 1941, thirty civilians were killed and several buildings destroyed when the German Lufwaffe bombed neutral Ireland during World War Two.

The most obvious explanation is that the Germans mistook Dublin for Belfast.

I have not seen this rather neglected garden before. The monument marks the 50th Anniversary of the Bombing.


It does raise the question of Irish neutrality in the Second World War. And also the extent of that neutrality. Unlike the other English dominions, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and British colonies, there was no constitutional or emotional imperative for Ireland to go to war on behalf of the “mother country”, Britain. After all, it was less than twenty years since Ireland had fought the British to establish an independent nation.

To the British, Irish neutrality was a form of treachery and underscored by the Treaty provision that the British had to give up using Irish ports just a year before the Second World War broke out.

Ireland was of course neutral…but so of course was Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and the United States of America. Really those countries only became involved as British and French allies when they were attacked or had war declared on them by an Axis power.

Some good books have been written about Ireland during the “Emergency 1939-1945” but online message boards are not so academic. There is a lazy narrative.

The lazy narrative is that Ireland was pro-German but the evidence suggests that Ireland was neutral “on the Allied side” in much the same way that United States had been prior to Pearl Harbour. Simply put, Ireland would have resisted an invasion by any foreign power and of course the resistance would not have been prolonged. But certainly the Germans and Allies never tried to open up another front.

For the record, more citizens of the Republic of Ireland fought in the British Army in World War Two than loud-mouthed unionist flag wavers in “Northern Ireland”.

Belfast was of course a port and industrial complex which aided the British War Effort. But unlike any other part of the “United Kingdom”, there was no conscription in the North. Having been used as cannon fodder in the Great War, even the most patriotic unionist was in no hurry to be used the same way. Of course, Conscription would have been impossible in the North as it would have taken too much resources to round up unwilling Catholic-nationalists and quite a few Protestant-unionists.

The unionist narrative is that they were keeping an eye on the Catholic-nationalist minority within the Six Counties or working on vital war work or fire-watching from important factories in Belfast.

It is only partly true. Belfast was heavily bombed in early 1941. In a flagrant breach of neutrality, the Irish Government sent the Dublin Fire Service into the north. Countless lives were saved. And importantly, the Irish informed the Germans that any attack on “Northern Ireland” was an attack on the whole island.

The Germans heeded the warning. Now I am not suggesting that Nazi Germany feared the might of the Irish Army. But it wanted to keep Ireland neutral.

Of course Winston Churchill, who was a bastard anyway, never forgave the Irish. And he praised the debatable patriotism of “Northern Ireland”. And unionist politicians have traded on the myth since 1945.

It would have been politically impossible for any Irish Government to support Britain in 1939. There is an argument that a joint north-south war experience would have been beneficial in terms of Irish unity. And I think that the separate war experiences did copper-fasten Partition of North and South.

While I am glad that there is a monument, it seems an after-thought, almost an apology for a forgotten piece of History.

Beside the North Strand Memorial is a small apartment block named for Trade Union leader, Jim Larkin who coincidently died in 1941.

But as the demographic of Dublin changes, I wonder just how many residents have even heard of James Larkin. It is not just about new citizens from Poland, Nigeria, England and United States who have chosen Ireland as a home. It is as much about young Irish people.

Is there a Statute of Limitations on Memory? Can we bind future generations to the events that we find important.

Have we a shared History? Or shared Amnesia?



Dublin City: Rathgar

Wednesday 19th July 2017. Heavy Rain.

Travelling back to Dublin on the LUAS from Dundrum, I stopped off at Ranelagh. This is a south Dublin district.

Not a lot to see…but at least I saw it.

Ranelagh1 Ranelagh2

Then back on the LUAS to Stephen’s Green.

Dublin City: Rathmines

Friday 14th July 2017. Warm evening.

Having returned to O’Connell Street from Finglas, there was still time to take a trip to another Dublin suburb. So the random choice was “Route 140 Rathmines”, a short trip. Rathmines is only 5 kilometres (3 miles) from the City Centre.

Rathmines The bus travels south over O’Connell Street, along Dame Street, turns left at Great George’s Street. along Aungier Street and from there a straight road to Rathmines.

Rathmines, I first heard mentioned while studying the Seán O’Casey play “The Plough and the Stars” in 1968. Indeed I read the part of a Rathmines woman …a posh lady caught up in the traffic chaos in the Easter Rising. “Rathmines” is a kinda shorthand for English “West Briton” sentiment. Like much of South Dublin, it is the centre of “garrison sports” such as Cricket and (Field) Hockey. This is not as pronounced in 2017 as it would have been in previous generations.

To underscore the “West Briton” influence, it is worth noting that in the 1918 Westminster Election (the last before Irish Independence), the Irish Unionist Party actually won a seat in Rathmines. Their only other seats were in Ulster. “Southern” Irish Unionism had no reason to exist after Independence but influence in financial institutions (Bank of Ireland), industry (Guinness, Jameson), higher education (Trinity College), business (Arnotts) and the traditional base of Anglicanism (Church of Ireland) and the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and landlords was always beyond their numbers.

Having reached Rathmines and walking along the Main Street, I decided to walk the short distance back to the city centre. What was once a separate town, with its own ambience is now absorbed as a suburb. Many of the town houses are now made into apartments for a growing student population and young bank-workers etc. Dublin Institute of Technology has several sites around the city and some are in the Camden area. This changes the atmosphere considerably. Clearly a lot of businesses…including stationary, typing/printing are geared to students.

Leo Burdock Fish & Chip Restaurant is a Dublin institution. If it is good enough for Bruce Springsteen, Cuba Gooding Junior, Mick Jagger….



This trip coincided with Bastille Day and a lot of the bars and restaurants have a cosmopolitan feel.

1500054136920 Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité…and Croissants!

Rathmines seems an unlikely site for a very bloody battle. Urbanisation has largely disguised the fact that in 1649, this area was countryside and outside the Dublin Walls. at that time a small garrison loyal to the Cromwellian English Parliament defeated a much larger force of English Royalists and Irish Catholic Confederates. Around 3,000 people died in the battle. Few signs remain. But tourists who stop to take a photograph at The Bleeding Horse Bar because it sounds tasteless are unaware that a wounded cavalry horse sought refuge in the bar and the owner renamed the bar for him.


Is the “Bleeding Horse” story true? Well in a country, where History, Legend and Myth are entangled, the best answer to this question is “probably”. But in this case…it is true.


Dublin City: Finglas

Friday 14th July 2017. Hot.

Having been to Charlestown, two weeks ago and passing thru Finglas Village, I decided I would like to see more of the area and took the same “Route 40 Charlestown” bus.

It is difficult to judge whether Finglas is merely a suburb in Dublin or a village in County Dublin. I suppose it is both. It is only about 6 kilometres (just over 3 miles) north west of O’Connell Street. And it seems a now familiar pattern that villages in the small county have become overwhelmed by building “private” and “social” housing for a city that has grown so much over the last half century.

Within a very limited space, Finglas retains the landscape and feel of a village…a post office, a bank, a church, hairdressers and small shops. It even has its own “Spirit of Finglas” statue in its centre.

1500046877437 A series of hands reaching out. Perhaps it references the older and newer residents.

It is the hub of North West Dublin and interestingly there are at least three constituency offices for politicans in the village centre. These include high profile Roisin Shortall (Social Democrat) and Dessie Ellis (Sinn Féin).


Dublin City: Charlestown

Thursday 29th June 2017. Rain.

I took the “Route 40 Charlestown” bus from the Liffey Valley Shopping Mall. of course it passed along the same roads that I had taken on my journey to Liffey Valley. Interesting how on that return journey, I noticed some things that I had not noticed just an hour before.

Charleston Few passengers were really intending to travel across town. Most were travelling into Dublin City Centre.

From O’Connell Street, the bus went past the Rotunda Hospital and headed north via Dorset Street. At Drumcondra, with Croke Park Stadium visible, it took a left turn at Whitworth Road and travelled for about half a mile along the railway track and Royal Canal before turning right again and going past Glasnevin Cemetry…the burial place of many of Ireland’s leading historical figures.

Via Tolka Valley Road, the bus passed thru the village of Finglas and in a curious similarity to the Liffey Valley, journey, passed thru Mellows Road, Barry Road, Plunkett Avenue and a public park, Casement Park, all named for figures from the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent War of Independence.

Charlestown Shopping Centre was about 2 kilometres (1.5 miles) past Finglas and about 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the city centre . And a pretty ordinary shopping mall (anchor tenant being Dunne’s) but had five floors of appartments.

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An interesting journey which will be followed up with visits to Finglas Village and Glasnevin Cemetry.


Dublin City: Liffey Valley

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.

LiffeyValley 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.