I have been meaning to post this for quite some time and am only now, finally, getting around to it. I would like to write a couple of posts about Dublin, about those parts of the city that I have explored, the crinkly edges of it.
Dublin is, I suppose, like many cities, a beast with a many-shaded hide. Although I can’t claim to have seen very much of its Dark Underbelly (I promise I’ll drop this metaphor soon) but I do take pleasure in walking over its surface, taking note of its colours, textures and voices, all as varied as the Irish weather.
People who visit the city rarely venture beyond those parts of the city centre where all the tourist attractions are concentrated – O’ Connell Street, Trinity College, Kildare Street with its lovely museums, Temple Bar. And this is perfectly understandable. More surprising to me is how little even born and bred Dubliners know of their own city. I like to walk around it, enjoying the exposure of its parts that are all above ground as you travel around them, unlike Paris or London where so much travelling happens underground, the city itself going unseen.
Dublin Port and the Docks is a part of the city that is utterly essential to it, and yet it is hardly ever heard of. While many people might see the area around the Liffey, O Connell Street and Trinity College as Dublin’s living, beating heart (I’ll admit I’m one of them, being a biased student of the latter) the Docks is something like the kidney of Dublin – equally essential, yet with a tendency to be overlooked.
It’s actually like the mouth and the kidney at the same time. Anything that leaves Dublin must leave through here. Here’s where all goods get loaded up, checked, carried over, checked again and sent off to far away places. Here too is the portal through which any chattels must arrive, checked over first with the help of dogs specially trained to sniff out wads of cash that might be tucked into vest pockets (or other less salubrious nooks and crannies of the person in question.)
Not that I saw any of that. It’s a strange place, the port, a closed-off world, and I could well understand when I took a walk there why so few people go. You walk for what feels like miles and miles along deserted roads where nobody walks and few vehicles drive, past massive block shaped buildings, whole villages of machinery. I felt like I had entered some other planet or perhaps stepped into a future almost wholly run by machines, whose occupants were invisible.
It was not exactly welcoming or friendly: everywhere were signs saying things like “KEEP OUT – DANGER OF DEATH” and “TRESPASSERS PROHIBITED” although I was quite sure I was on a public road. The only encounter I had with a Human Being was with a security guard, who called out and said “No Photos of the Port!” while I was trying to take a picture. He wouldn’t tell me why photography shouldn’t be allowed, which is my (maybe makeshift) excuse for blithely continuing to take them anyway, and indeed posting them here. (See note)
Note: In the unlikely event that somebody from the Dublin Port Company is reading this and objects to these photographs, I will be happy to remove this post and all it contains, provided you can furnish me with a Good Reason for the objection.