« Oktoberfest | Main | The Rock of Cashell »

September 20, 2006

Seeing the sights of Dublin ...

Dublin the modern city is a very different place from the city of the early ninteenth century or the disasterous 1845 potato famine years. Then its tenements teemed with vermin, its inhabitants struggled to earn enough to survive and the air was foul with the smoke of open fires, ofal and sewage. The folksong "Dirty old town" was written to describe it. Going back even further one traces its origins to the Baille athe claithe or "town at the bridge" the name for the settlement which sat on the Western bank of the Liffey beside the Duhb Linn, the Dark Pool.

The "Trollop with the scallop" as our tour guide rather colourfully referred to the statue of Molly Malone, a mythical shell fish seller made famous in the folk song "In Dublin's fair city".

Then came the Vikings and they built a permanent settlement and port for their raiding and trading forays into Europe and Britain. It was through here that the boy who would become Saint Patrick would have been dragged as a slave and it was from here that he fled as the handler for the great hounds that the Vikings bought in Ireland and sold into Europe as guardians. These were the fierce Irish Wolfhounds - and in those days they were a very different breed to the modern ones. It would seem that the runaway slave Patrick, having lived among the hounds in his master's household, was given passage only because the traders didn't have anyone who could keep the hounds under control.

Dublin is a fascinating place for many varied reasons. It is a vibrant place with music, busy with commerce and filling up with returning Irish and workers from all over Europe. It is an interesting fact that the most common language is English, the second most common is Polish and third comes Gaelic. One is never far from the history - and never far from the blood that has been spilled by one side of the many conflicts or another.

Is it worth the visit? Of course it is, the Book of Kells, O'Connell Street, the National Museum, Christ Church and St Patrick's Cathedral to name but a few of the sights that await you are all worth the visit. So too is the Irish national personality, the individuals - and the Guinness!

Posted by The Gray Monk at September 20, 2006 10:04 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


"Dirty old town" was written about Salford, Dublin was almost a rural.

St. Patrick lived 400 years before the vikings appeared.

I hope you don't mind being corrected, but Irish tales are tall and often inaccurate- as you have pointed out yourself in previous blogs.

I went to Ireland this summer for the first time (to see where my more bloodyminded ancestors came from!) Worth a visit, but i'm glad they left.


Posted by: Simon at September 20, 2006 04:08 PM

You are, of course, correct about the date of Patrick and the Vikings. I should have said that he was carried of by the "Irish" raiders who plagued the West of England and Wales in the 4th to 6th Centuries, and whose lucrative trade attracted many other 'visitors' including the men who would, 400 years later, be dubbed 'Vikings'. The name is Old Norse for pirate or raider.

And I wouldn't tell the Dubliners that Dirty old town is not about their city .....

Posted by: The Gray Monk at September 21, 2006 06:04 AM

You're going to hate me...

Ewan MacColl(Salford born of Scottish parentage) wrote "Dirty old town " way back in 1949, long before The Dubliners.

Ask any ageing Manchunian, it's part of the forklore..


Posted by: Simon at September 21, 2006 09:40 AM

Hate you? Nah, life's too short, besides you're right. We just won't tell the Dubliners - right?

I might want to visit there again!

Posted by: The Gray Monk at September 21, 2006 01:04 PM