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Sunday 22/1


It's the morning of our fourth day in Dublin, and diary should be well into it's second volume by now. It should be bulging with a record of sights, sounds, impressions, words capturing an instant, so that when this is read, years later, it'll bring back those thoughts, times and places instantly.
It's been cold. The day we arrived it was bucketing rain, to be expected I suppose, but then the impression I got was that the sheer volume of rain astonished the locals as well. By green double-decker bus to Marlborough Street, where we thought our booked accommodation would give us the Céad Míle Fáilte we're expecting. But, after some confusion between Marlborough Street and Marlborough Place, we finally find it, the Marlborough Hostel. Ringing the red door, and our Céad Míle Fáilte Welcoming Committee turns out to be a not at all welcoming couple just finishing their chips, with nary a single Fáilte between them. Chris paid the £90 balance, and they showed us the basement room. No windows, it stank, the toilets were rank, couldn't find the shower, and when Shannon and Chris finally found it, were informed that the hot water wasn't turned on 'til 7:00 in the evening anyway. If this is the Hundred Thousand Welcomes, then maybe the phrase means something different here than it does to the rest of the planet.

Liam and I somehow managed to find 'The Young Traveller', and book us in there instead. I honestly don't know how I managed to find it, it just appeared. Vaguely knew I was heading in right direction, and luckily, they had a room.

I love this place, and could imagine myself running a place like this. It's warm, it's friendly. Although most of the other guests, at the moment, are here for some kind of Ireland vs England rugby match, so, there's a lot of young Poms around - including the one who expects cigarettes all the time. And the staff member who sleeps in the TV room is a new addition, or, at least, I don't remember him from last time.


Getting the £90 balance refunded the next morning, expecting another 'problem' story, but after a short while, the cash was handed over.

Begging boys at Supermacs "spare change". The women with the ice-cream bowls, baby-less this time.

Buying the Irish Times (85p) for the real estate, and the Independent (80p). For your basic phone-call it's 30p, then you have to keep on putting money in.

It doesn't seem real yet, that we're actually here, maybe. Perhaps because we're not really tourists. I feel a bit lost, as though I'm marking time, maybe it's a bit more real this time and I just don't want to face it.

You know it's cold when your fingers are freezing, and, well, it's not windy, just ice cold. We seemed to spend the day riding the buses.

Walking down to Abbey Street Lower to catch the bus, to Clontarf, which we've decided to include on places we could live. It's a nice enough suburb, but with the bonus of being close to the bay. A walk around the backstreets, happy people piling out of church, and for some reason, most appear to heading straight for the newsagent/grocery store across the road, and, strangely enough, a hastily set up stall, outside the church, selling newspapers.

Then waiting for the bus back to Abbey Street, to catch another bus, this time to Howth, a longer trip, a great trip, through sensational countryside. Yes, I could easily live in North Howth, but both Chris and I decided that it really was a bit too far out to commute. Then a walk up to Howth Castle, doesn't look lived in but it apparently is, and Chris being concerned all the time about missing the 3:45 bus back to town. We didn't miss it. In fact, it was The Wedding Bus, and it seemed so fast, perhaps the sensation of being up so high (front seats, upper deck, naturally).


Monday 23/1
Sitting, once again in the TV room of the Young Traveller. Coronation Street is on, and there's three girls who appear to be fairly intensely involved.

Then, after the so-called appointment, we finally head over to Bewley's, the one on Grafton Street.

Then the bus up to Clontarf, 30, same driver. To Sinnott and someone else, to look at an apartment. Don't think much of the area, the oil refinery reminds me of Coode Island. The apartment was okay, but I don't really want to live there. The 30 bus, same bus driver, almost on first name terms with this bloke, back to O'Connell Street. To bus stop 3 for Sandymount, it's getting cold and dark already. A single-decker crowded bus, through Dublin 2 to Sandymount, which, with its village green, is the most charming place.

Waiting in the cold, freezing, waiting for 'Adeline' to show us the flat, and when she eventually shows up, twenty minutes late, she hasn't been able to get the key and can't show us in. Shit! Anyway, she promised to ring before 9:30 tomorrow to show us the apartment. I hope we get it, although with the two couples that were also there, I doubt it.


Tuesday 24/1
Waiting for the phone call, in the breakfast room.

98FM - a crackdown on the blackmarket tobacco being sold on the streets (three packets of Samson), and a march by at least 1000 country publicans through Dublin in protest at the drink-driving laws. It's 3 degrees, and Liam came bounding into the room to inform us that it's 24 degrees with a slight breeze in Sydney at the moment.

To the bloody Home Bureau again, to Simon and Rob. The most useless bastards in Dublin.

Then to Bewleys, again, for lunch. Sitting in the mezzanine floor. Spuds and sausage. Some guy spills his lunch tray on the steps. Poor bugger.

Liam takes C off to see Timecop, Shannon and I go to Trinity College, and after walking around, and finally get directions, we find the 'Old Library'. A look around the library bookshop, just browsing but getting seriously tempted, then into the Long Room. The Book of Kells has been moved downstairs into what looks like a climate controlled room. The Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and the other one, whatever it's called. Telling Shannon how a page gets turned every day. She asks the guard if he's seen every page. Yes, he has. Twice.

Through Temple Bar, the Bad Ass Cafe and the Skate Shop, which Shannon found boring.

Then walking over the Ha'penny Bridge. Strange how one can look at this bridge in photographs, being pretty much the symbol of Dublin itself, and yet it takes less than a minute to walk over, and some of the magic is dispelled when one of the lights has The Harlots written over it. Probably a band advertising themselves.

To a smaller HMV, where they had a Cyndi Lauper display, and Shannon asking if they had any spare posters, and the guy walking over to the display, ripped one of the cardboard cutouts off the wall, "we do now", and, after carefully removing any stray staples, gave it to her. Shannon and I just looked on in stunned amazement. Then, waiting outside Clery's (Bus Stop Wait), we went inside to see if we could get a plastic bag for her booty. The guy wouldn't hear of us paying for a bag though, he just popped it into a large Clery's bag, and as it still had some slightly poking out the top, got a smaller bag, and in his words "gave her a hat!". The generosity of these people is sometimes embarrassing.

Down to Sandymount.
Up to the apartment by 6, waiting 'til 20 past for Adeline to appear, our hearts sinking by the minute. We virtually knew we'd take it, sight unseen if necessary. Now, the only hassle is a 'bank reference', which we don't have, but which is being faxed over.

A drunk man, in Sandymount, yelling at everything and everyone, yes, I'm a "fockin' shite", then really letting his own reflection have it, yes, he would "destroy any man!". Liam almost falling over in laughter. I just thought it was sad.

Wednesday 25/1
The Young Traveller
The khaki coloured ceiling in here is peeling and bubbling at the 'Dublin' end, and for the past few days they've had bowls set up to catch the drips from some leak.

Today was just bloody appalling. Shite weather, not the soft rain Ireland is so famous for, but it came down in buckets, we're all drenched, even my wallet is soaked, and God knows how that happened. My coat is attempting to dry out on the heater in the Information Centre. I guess James Joyce, Brendan Beehan and Shane McGowan all had to endure Irish winters.

Then, to the Ilac Centre, to ring Adeline, but bad news, it looks as though we're being fobbed off, suddenly they want someone to be our guarantor. This must be some kind of joke. How can we have a guarantor if we just arrived in the country. Jaysus Christ Almighty. Sandymount has been knocked back.

Down D'Olier Street, to, yep, you guessed it, the Home Bureau. More useless stuff, except for another place to look at tomorrow, in Ballsbridge - at least it's not as far as Blackrock, and there may be some 'hitch' with the elderly residents about the kids. Anyway, so two possibilities exist for tomorrow. Who the hell knows. Packing the bags and heading over to Galway seems like a possible option.
Through to Virgin Records, and watched the video of Riverdance, and something affected me watching it, this line of Irish dancers dancing to Bill Whelan's music, nearly had me crying in the middle of the shop.

Catching a bus in O'Connell Street, asked the driver if he goes to Parnell Square. Yes. Then, he drops us of at the YT door, making some comment about the rain that we all agree with, and thank him for his trouble.


Thursday 26/1
The kids and I have just watched 'Breakfast Down Under', a special Australia Day edition, with a reporter in Sydney crossing live. The typical image of Australia is presented - youth, sun, freedom, equality, barbecues at the beach at lunchtime, koalas, kangaroos and the Warumpi Band singing 'My Island Home'. All this sun is contrasted with the "rotten" Irish weather. It is bad, apparently the roads are icy - something called 'blackice'.

One option at 9:30 tonight.


Another one in Clontarf, if necessary, tomorrow.
If I'd known it was going to be this bad, I'd have forgotten the whole fucking idea.
Tomorrow we also have to move to a new hostel, just around the corner.


Saturday 28/1

Didn't write anything at all yesterday. Much too busy, and later, much too tired. I think I fell asleep on the floor.

But we have our own apartment. 6 Tailors Court, Bride Street, Dublin 8 (or it may be Dublin 2). It's a brand new apartment. It has a whole bunch of stuff that we haven't really figured out yet, like the security alarms, and the hot water is still a bit of a mystery. It's on the edge of The Liberties, a rough area, apparently.

Today was better. We have to get stuff.
To the Sony shop, and buy the new ghekko blaster (no, this is not a mis-spelling, I want one that'll blast a lizard at 20 paces). We get the £140 model. We buy CD's. Liam's promised Frankenstein. Shannon buys Madonna's Immaculate Collection. I bought the Riverdance single.

We have to buy more stuff.
o Roches off Henry Street. Crockery £11.95, cutlery £5.95, salt and pepper shakers, mugs, bridgit.
Then following a Dad short-cut, which puts the horrors into Shannon, we cut through to the Ha'penny Bridge. It's drizzling now, then through to Temple Bar.

there's a noise at the window, and a Mr McGee's below, he can't figure out the alarm either. Paud, so far, is our only Irish contact who's on our side.

We talk about schools. And Irish radio. Irish weather. The Liberties. He stays about an hour, promising to get back to us once he's had a chance to talk to some people about appropriate schools. He has doubts about the neighbourhood. Oh well, what we should have and what we don't. Apparently we have to the phone reconnected, but there's nothing to connect it to. We need a 'hoover', and the new rug is molting something chronic.


Sunday 29/1
2:05 pm
Sitting in the Savoy Cinema, I think that's what it's called, waiting for 20 minutes until Stargate begins. The seats are plush red and steeply banked.
I think the people in front of us are speaking Gaelic, but I'm not sure. The theatre is packed, every seat was filled. Amazing.


two hours later
The film was good, lots of Egyptian references, although they insisted the Eye of Horus was the Eye of Ra.

A walk down Bride Road to Patrick Street, discovered a small newsagency on the corner which has cardboard boxes flattened over its floor, and a larger one over the road, called something Londis. Where we're living is on the edge of the Liberties, a really grungy area. Old red brick apartments over the road that haven't been looked after. Some washing hangs from windows. The 'Baths' look as though they've been closed for ages, the roof looks like it fell in years ago, and rubbish piles up in the entrance.

Walk over Grattan Street Bridge, along Bachelor's Walk, and there's some kind of market going on, except it's the strangest back-of-a-van market. One van offering chocolates cheap, we buy the 'mystery bag', for a Pound, it's full of chocolate bars.
Around the streets, into an auctioneers store, full of antiques. Except they're kind of junky looking antiques. Furniture, train sets, pictures, brass things.

There are two radio stations that appear to play nothing but folky-type stuff, unfortunately, the in-between bits are in Gaelic. Gaelic phone-in radio.
They're now playing Kieran Kennedy, who's plastered all over town, wearing face-paint and calling himself 'Pagan Irish'. It's not that wonderful.

Bought The Sunday Independent, and there's a really good article on the 'nows' of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' locations compared to the 'thens' of Dublin. I'm putting the hard word on C tomorrow to finally replace my copy of that book which fell apart while she was reading it.


Monday 30/1

Simple Minds all over 92 FM to promote 'Good News From The Next World', apparently Jim Kerr's wife's birthday is also the 4th of March. A Jim Kerr Q&A with Jim Kerr about the life and times of Jim Kerr,

Mr McGee called in again last night at about 9:00, again bearing gifts. A repaired kettle which blew the fuses, but only really flicked the overload switch to 'off'. Glasses, saucepans. Again warning us of the folly of living where we are. Yes, it dangerous.
Schools. There's three options. Mount Temple in Clontarf, which means a walk up Abbey Street every morning. Greenhills, further south, a good school, and the bus goes through Werbergh Street, a continuation of Bride Street, and some other place. At least, now, we know the options.

Just out our window there's three shops , at 29 there's 'Tropical World', which I think sells tropical fish, at 28 is 'Walsh Bros', selling, apparently 'Quality Meats. Fruit & Veg', and at 27 is Gary's Grocer Newsagent which is for sale at the moment 'ask inside for details ph.4546289'. Red brick buildings, four storey tenement with Georgian roofs and windows.

Another leg-breaking day of walking, C and Liam doing food shopping, Liam carrying the shoulder-damaging load back from Dunnes, then out to Home Locators, for the second time.
The first time, called in at Irish Telecom, C making reverse charge calls to Australia, chatted for about 5 minutes.

Home Locators, with our list of things we should have, like keys to the letterbox, shower curtains, telephone. Up Dawson Street, to Waterstone's bookshop. A huge range of fiction in particular. To the Post Office, no, nothing for us at all. Pity. To Molesworth Street, to the Government Publications, and for £2.50 got a copy of the list of all the schools in Ireland, which we've been through. In the shop, got buttonholed by a woman who warned us off the Christian Brothers schools as overly disciplinarian.

To the Dublin Bus Office, getting misinformation. A monthly bus ticket, I was told, would cost £39. Wrong. But picked up a copy of all the bus time-tables, which I later tied into a book. Which might prove useful but also might be totally useless.
A walk back to apartment, buying us a hamburger each at Mr Burgers. 90p each. Small and tasteless.
It's beginning to chill, but the rain's held off all day.


Tuesday 31/1

Why is it that when we behave like tourists everything goes swimmingly, when we behave like residents it's like banging your head on some brick wall ?
Trying to find a school for the kids now, we're actually making, and keeping, appointments at schools. Making the appointments means the phone-calls, which means walking down to Telecom, or finding a Telefon box, or a pay-phone in pub. Today, C has done all three. And we've only seen two schools so far.
Patricks Grammar School would have been brilliant, it's practically the local school. But the £800 fee is ridiculous. Still we had a nice chat with the Headmaster, Mr Levy, I think.
An appointment at Newpark, we catch the 45 bus outside Trinity College, after buying yet another Dublin Bus family ticket. £5.50. Top deck, down through Blackrock again, to the top of Newtownpark Avenue. Apparently, bus 6 used to go past the school itself, but not anymore - they must have heard that we were going to use it for a practical purpose so they cancelled it. The bus is about 20 minutes, the walk about 10, the waiting for the bus another 10.

We're given the forms to fill in as soon as we arrive. We read through, filling them in, then chat with some woman, then the guidance counsellor, then the Year 10 transition coordinator, which takes some time. Liam's year is a pain in the butt. Bits and pieces of nonsense. Shannon's year is straightforward.
An appointment made with the Principal for 2:30. We walk up to the pub, rolls and sandwiches. Filling in time. Then a phone call to Crumlin Secondary, an appointment is made, and another appointment for Mount Temple for Thursday.
A long chat with the Headmaster, and, most certainly, there's no problem about fitting the kids in there. By the time we leave I'm ready to bung the kids in, Shannon would have gone to class there and then. She wants to go there something bad. Liam's just looking forward to the holidays.

At Home Locator's, C was told that the keys and the shower stuff would be Friday, maybe Monday. Yeah, right. The phone won't be installed for another three weeks. Shit. Great.

Anyway, the touristy bits went really well.

On the way back, C finally bought the promised copy of Ulysses from Hodges Figgis. Couldn't have been more prefect, as the place where C bought it is mentioned in the book itself. And it's in hardback!

Davy Spillane is playing at the Olympia. Just saw the poster about half an hour ago went to HMV in Grafton Street and bought the ticket (£9), but I want the poster as well. Jaysus, James Joyce books and Davy Spillane in the one day. Things are definitely improving. The Spillane gig begins at midnight,11th of February, at the Olympia. The thought of walking back to here in the middle of the night is a bit nervy, but, what else can you do? There'd be no buses at that time anyway. I'll go disguised, then, as a resident.

to February