CinÉireann Issue 8 - Page 44

All cities are unique in their own way, with faces that they hide from tourists and visitors, reserving part of themselves for those who live within them rather than merely passing through them. It's more than just a good restaurant recommendation, or an authentic experience, it's a general mood that is often hard to quantify and harder to articulate.

Walking around Dublin, one of the city's most defining aspects is how utterly random it feels, particularly when compared to major American or European capitals. American cities often seem constructed as grids; thing of the streets and avenues in New York intersecting at right angles to create blocks, suggesting the care and planning that is only possible in a relatively young country building its cities from scratch after the rest of the world has established a template. Even European cites, which are constructed in a more haphazard and organic manner, are often navigated by impressive thoroughfares and can be navigated along lines that are roughly straight.

Dublin is not designed in such a way. Its streets are shorter, often bending and twisting at odd angles, branching and intersecting at strange angles in unpredictable ways. There is a certain chaos in the architecture of the city, reflecting in the strange juxtaposition of buildings; Georgian townhouses sit beside grey seventies offices blocks, across the road from the sheen of millennial hubs. One of the markers of the city's slowly returning economic prosperity is the number of cranes visible on the skyline, working on projects renovating sizable chunks of the urban landscape. It seems inevitable that these buildings will have their own character as distinct from those around them. It would be difficult to walk a kilometre in the city and see an internal consistent set of structures.

That is perhaps another distinction between Dublin and other similar urban centres. It is small enough to navigate on foot. Most journeys through the city centre take place on foot. Even with the recent addition of the Luas and the existence of a functional bus service, Dublin lacks many of the transportation facilities that other global capitals take for granted. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is possible to traverse the city in roughly half-an-hour from one side to another. In 2014, the Central Statistics Office’s National Travel Survey suggested that Dubliners were much more likely to travel by foot than residents of other parts of the country.

"Good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub," observes Leopald Bloom in Ulysses. Perhaps a greater challenge would be to cross the city centre without encountering a familiar face. "Dublin isn't a city," asserts Jason, the protagonist of Dublin Oldschool, seeking to excuse a series of concentrated chance encounters with a person long absent from his life. "It's a village." This is a sentiment familiar to many of the city's inhabitants, familiar with the way in which chance seems to govern navigation of the city's various winding paths.

Dublin Oldschool,

an ode to Dublin

Words: Darren Mooney

44 CinÉireann / June 2018