I once found a quote attributed to James Joyce that ran something like: ‘Day by day, and in every way, I am walking the streets of Dublin.’ I had just moved to Toronto so I liked that; it gave a literary perspective to my homesickness.
But the Dublin I ‘walked’ was changing – fair play to them – the old sod does not undergo some type of flash-freeze just because you leave.
It should, for the sake of nostalgia and all, but that would not be fair to those who stayed.
The Dublin of ‘Lagan Love’ is, for the most part, gone – ‘and not a moment too soon,’ many would say.
And they have a point. We used to have annual recessions back then, and depressions, too, but I think that was one of those light-depravity things that I have been reading about recently as I wait for the Irish-weather to go somewhere else. We suffer enough in Toronto.
I guess that’s why Dublin reacted to moonlight – full moons brought out that extra touch of magic to the deep rambling conversation you were having at the bar. They sweetened the sound of somebody sawing their way through another over-played reel. They even made the five mile stagger, out to Templeogue and over the Dodder, far more interesting.
Walking between Bushy Park and Terenure College, where the old trees formed a tunnel, you could almost see what it was like when the old ways ruled. Mind you, that might have had something to do with copious amount of porter that sloshed around inside of you – you know what I mean?
I came to Dublin as a three-year-old so I had a glint of the outsider and that gave me a different perspective. For me, Dublin had a distinctive aurora back then, before the Tiger.
And that’s not a condemnation – nobody can stand still in a changing world. But I like to indulge in memory. Emigrants do that.
For years I played a bit of music around the Irish Pubs in Toronto. I played with the great Frank Smith. Frank had a rare voice and a great rapport with bar crowds. And he looked like a god – one of the river gods that used to be on the back of the old money – the one before the one before. Frank would make them beg for requests! But, sometimes, when he sang about missing home, he made everybody a little softer inside.
And I don’t miss home – I don’t know it anymore. I drove past the house I grew up in, a few years ago, and felt like I was visiting someone else’s past. What I miss it what has passed. I miss the people we were back then – that’s all.
I blame the Queen. Watching her in Dublin brought it all back. But she did a great job – you have to admit that even in depths of your pagan Celtic heart, if you still got one.