I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Reviews The Beat on the Streets

The Beat on the Streets

David McKechnie
Come Here To Me!, by Donal Fallon, Sam McGrath and Ciarán Murray, New Island Books, 320 pp, €19.99, ISBN:978-1848401976 If you have ever worked in the National Library you will certainly have come across a particular strain of the human species that devours scraps of local historical detail in great quantities and deposits material in a tattered notebook often carried around in a pair of corduroy trousers. Sometimes these creatures may surprise you by making a gesture of greeting; our advice is not to engage with them. In the history of time, local historians has perhaps never appeared so counter-cultural, so primitive and weird that you would half expect a video ridiculing their committed and scholarly ways – “Would you look at those lads!” – to go viral on Facebook. While millions of social media users worry that they may never again have the attention span to read a novel, the local historian (and Dublin, despite its capital status, is local to the core) moves steadily through histories, newspapers and official records on a journey as laboured and unglamorous as that down Westmoreland Street by bus at rush-hour. At a time when the national conversation has become a shrill medley of euro, cents and nonsense, three history and culture enthusiasts from the Come Here To Me! blog (comeheretome.com) have been mining riches, freely available, from Dublin’s history, geography and people. This collection of sixty-nine short chapters on “Dublin’s other history” combines new and old material, including posts from the blog’s readers, and reminds us that Dublin’s stories are peculiarly important to its personality, nurtured by a wide and witty constituency. Citizens of most cities probably regard those who make planning decisions on their behalf as a crack squad of bunglers; Dublin, at least, puts the craic into crack squad. It is almost reassuring to find that, long before the Luas lines that did not meet, the millennium clock in the Liffey that broke in 1999, and the Love Ulster march organised beside an arsenal of bricks, Dublin authorities left no stone unturned in their pursuit of a good idea for the public space. In April 1953, some three thousand people showed up by O’Connell Bridge to see the grand unveiling of the “Bowl of Light” ‑ a copper vessel in a basin that measured 15ft by 18ft, from which several coloured plastic “flames” spiked into the sky. The bowl was to…

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