Sunday, 11 May 2014

"I Remember That Summer In Dublin" - My Recent Column For The Irish World

I don't normally post my articles and columns for The Irish World on my blog, but there have been a few requests to read my most recent one and given that the newspaper is published in NYC and Boston, the only way I can do so at the moment is this way.

Here's the electronic edition of it that I have (there isn't a website yet for the US incarnation of the newspaper as it's a recent development), which is difficult to actually read. So I've posted the text of my column below. I hope you enjoy!

Mucho Love,

Vicky xoxo

"It’s Summertime and the city is in bloom. During a rare stretch of glorious sunshine, the capital came alive as we made the most of clear skies. Canal-banks and public parks attract hipsters with their bottles of craft beer. “Summertime Sadness” is playing on every radio station but it’s sentiment is yet to hit the folk of Dublin.

The city has a special beauty when the sun glints off the Liffey; not just aesthetically pleasing, the place and it’s inhabitants come alive. There’s a giddiness in the air; strangers smile at each other. Men and women flirt at coveted outside tables in smoking gardens, nothing has happened and yet everything is possible.

As sunburnt skin takes on a brown hue and the local newsagent sells out of disposable bbq’s, we wait for the heat to break. And break it does, on May day.

Once a sacred holiday in Celtic folklore, May 1st now only signals ia bank holiday for the people of Ireland. Known as Beltane, the festival is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and folklore. Marking the beginning of Summer, rituals were performed to protect livestock and land, and bonfires marked the transition from spring equinox to summer solstice. On the day itself, the rain poured straight and hard, drumming on my roof and making the pavements slick. I stick my head out the window and am overwhelmed by the smell of jasmine and lavender.

It won’t be long until school is out and it will become impossible to walk by the Central Bank without witnessing gothic teenage romance and illicit underage drinking. The Pav in Trinity College becomes a sea of people - tourists, students and everyone in between - as lives are Instagramed.

The Summer, more so than the bitter dark days of January, provides an opportunity for rebirth and growth. Hope springs and it’s been a very long time since we’ve felt its presence. For once, the economy is not the top of small-talk chatter. The doom and gloom has temporarily melted away with the morning dew. The recent re-enactment of the Battle of Clontarf seems to have reminded us all that we are warriors and champions, we do not shriek from a challenge, we seize it. Even the disappointing outcome of the Anglo Trial can’t dampen our collective spirit.

Every surface is decorated with election posters. Up-and-coming political wannabes try to seduce the common man to vote for them, with promises of “new thinking”, “fresh approach” and the abolishment of the dreaded water charges due to come into force later this year. It’s impossible to decide which yells “Pick me!” the loudest; the flowers sprouting from the soil or the local Fine Gael man knocking at your door.

Not that anyone really cares who’s elected, except for the candidates themselves. We may be hopeful but we’re still distrustful of our political system. But rather than maintaining a position of apathy, as a society, we’re finding new ways to make changes. Over 1,000 people took part in the launch of Cycle Against Suicide, an awareness campaign to promote the message that it’s okay not to feel okay and it’s more than okay to ask for help. A consistently important message, it was made all the more poignant by the recent death of Conor Murphy McNally. Less than twenty four hours after attempting to end his own life, McNally was released from a Dublin hospital. His body was found in a canal hours later. He was twenty-years-old. We can’t change what has happened. Time on the clock cannot be cannot be re-wound. But we control the future and we’re working towards a better one.

There’s magic in the libraries. A young girl found hand-written Chris Martin lyrics in Dundrum the other day, nestled among the pages of a ghost story. Attractive displays encourage people to read Ulysses ahead of Bloomsday on June 16, although most will understandably settle for the cliff-notes. The James Joyce Center will make his words come alive with pub-crawls and dramatic re-enactments. Our school days are far-behind us but we continue to learn, to evolve.

Taking place for the first time outside mainland Europe, the Giro D’Italia will come to Dublin on May 11. People will line the streets to witness the event. As the Giro begins, Cycle Against Suicide 2014 will come to a close in Dublin on the same day. The craic will be had in the city that night.

I find myself enchanted with the spirit of renewal, the streets demand it. I need, we need, this chance at a fresh start. We cannot wipe the slate clean but we can begin again. The days ahead fill me with excitement and energy. We didn’t dance around poles and declare a Queen of May Day, but in this moment, we are fruits on the vine, ripe for the picking.  In this city, anything is possible."

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