Change of country, change of pace. I’ve swapped the warm humidity of northern Guatemala for the cold rain of Dublin; the 4am shuttle buses for late starts on DART trains; the new and unfamiliar for the familiar of years gone by.
I haven’t done the whole ‘home for the holidays’ thing in a very long time. I have distant memories of flying back into Dublin from Germany one year, with piped Christmas music filling the airplane, and as Dublin airport came into sight, the window-seated passengers saw the words ‘Welcome Home’ printed in big letters on the airport roof and it was passed around the cabin like wildfire. I watched, intrigued, as an entire plane-load of Irish emigrants got very emotional very quickly. Presumably they all moved back at the height of the Celtic Tiger when there was employment once again in Ireland. I never did.
This time, there was no ‘Welcome Home’ on top of the airport. My Delta flight touched down smoothly on an overcast and rainy morning and I cursed the fact I’d forgotten to pack rain gear. What was I thinking? First purchase – an umbrella.
Dublin has changed dramatically from the Dublin of my childhood. It’s odd but also thrilling to wander around and feel like a stranger in a strangely familiar place. Things are the same and different all at once. The street vendors of Moore Street have now spilled out onto Henry Street; their singsong refrains still sound out, but now they’re singing out Euro amounts instead of punts and pence. Bewley’s Coffee Shop was there, then it was gone, now it’s back, or something – I’m not quite sure how the story went, but the Bewley’s on Grafton Street is still filled to overflowing with people. I didn’t venture in as it was too busy, so I cannot say whether or not they still serve the things they did in years gone by, like their much-loved Mary cakes. The GPO still stands proudly on O’Connell Street, but now it competes with The Spire – officially An Túr Solais (monument of light) – a stainless steel pin-like structure almost 400ft in height. The Ha’penny Bridge lives on, but there are shiny new bridges across the Liffey everywhere, including a fabulous harp-shaped Beckett’s Bridge down by the snazzy new Convention Centre on the Quays. I’m having fun exploring this ancient but very new city of my childhood. I’m also getting rained on. A lot. Here are some photos of the Dublin of today.