Posts Tagged ‘dublin’

Call for submissions for the Bram Stoker Festival 2014. Get a move on though, closing date is 18th July and the festival itself is in October.


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Goodalls of Ireland

Goodalls of Ireland Ltd.

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Fry Model RailwayI didn’t hear the Joe Duffy programme dealing with the impending closure of the Fry Model Railway at Malahide Castle, but that’s what mums are for, isn’t it, keeping you in the media loop? So when mine told me about it off I went to investigate, and sure enough Fingal County Council – who own Malahide Castle – have given notice that it’s to close before the end of February. So that’s one of the half-term days, sorted, anyway: an emergency ceremonial visit to enjoy the layout and that marvellous recorded voiceover one more time.

Scraps of that voiceover drift back to me, as is the way with rote-learned poetry, the words of eighties pop songs and scraps of the liturgy that seep into a child’s consciousness and percolate at unexpected times. (Of course, just as happens with the words of John Gilpin and White Wedding and the Apostles’ Creed, it’ll turn out that my memory of the Fry Model Railway voiceover will turn out to be about 90 per cent false.)

It was a March Monday morning when the railway came to Malahide … that honeyed, apricot light that is particularly hers  … Where the last shall be first and the first shall be last / May the Lord in his mercy be kind to Belfast … what visitor to Cork … the long Glanmire tunnel … the railways … describing the patterns of our times …

Most of the models were handmade by railway engineer and draughtsman Cyril Fry at home in Churchtown, with every last rivet to scale, according to his daughter Patricia Dillon, whose mother handpainted the scenery of Ireland which sets the trains in context. Fry left it to the State, which must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and it’s made a brilliant exhibition at Malahide Castle, an attraction which drew 18,000 visitors between April and September last year. It’s dreadful to think we might lose it. What will happen to it now? It needs a new premises – about 3000 square feet to accommodate the layout, which does require maintenance and upgrades – you can’t just plug it in, sit back and watch the train show steaming around the miniature country.

John Hamill, Chairman of the Model Railway Society of Ireland, is currently Interim Convenor of the Friends of the Fry Model Railway, and if you’re interested in lending support, or can offer suggestions, money, or a 3000 square foot premises accessible to visitors, please contact him at jghamill55@gmail.com

Update 28th February:

The railway is now closed to the public. There was a ceremonial final run last week, and it was announced that morning that the railway would not open at the weekend, nor afterwards. I was also told by someone who worked there that there was a proposed redevelopment of the premises as a retail area.

Anyone interested in supporting the Friends should now email Friends.of.the.Fry.Model.Railway@gmail.com.


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I was poking about in Tallaght Library last week, looking for a desk close enough to a socket that I could plug in my dead-batteried laptop without creating a sort of German-jumps-over-flex effect for other library users. I poked my way into a corner and found the appropriate socket near some books on Auld Dublin, so I abandoned checking my email in favour of a rifle through. I found there two or three beautiful folio-sized books of sketches by Liam C. Martin – Liam C. Martin’s Dublin Sketch Book with an introduction by Terence de Vere White, Liam C. Martin’s Dublin Shopfronts and Street Scenes with an introduction by Benedict Kiely, and In Dublin Again with Liam C. Martin, introduced by I can’t remember who.

Dublin Sketch Book

Liam C. Martin's Dublin Sketch Book

I’d never heard of Liam C. Martin before, but his drawings are gorgeous, and record the best bits of Dublin of the sixties and seventies, shortly before the city was munched up and spat out by bulldozers – and in fact Terence de Vere White writes in his introduction to the Sketch Book

“I recommend these drawings, therefore, not only for the pleasure they give the eye but on account of the stark necessity of preserving in line what the bull-dozer threatens. We need an army of Martins.”

Sadly, there was no such army, but what he has preserved in line is worth looking at: the Gasometer, Camden Street, the Old Gaol in Smithfield, the demolition work in Fitzwilliam Street, Horseman’s Row (no longer in existence), Winetavern Street. Some of the drawings are more finished than others, but it’s that sketchy feel that I like, the sense of the artist passing through the cityscape like the shoppers who flit out of the foreground of Camden Street. In fact the interiors – The Long Room, Trinity College, or the Interior of Marsh’s Library, are lovely too, but feel somehow more ordinary. The whole collection of sketches would be a richer representation of the city than the endless reproductions of the Custom House, Trinity and the Four Courts, graceful and well-proportioned as they are.

I Googled and Amazon’d and ABE’d and all the rest, naturally, and the books seem rare enough, fetching at least a hundred or a hundred and fifty euro each, some more, so if you’re near Tallaght, duck in and have a snoop. Liam C. Martin’s Legal Dublin, which I’d like for the lawyer in my life, I could only find for 175 dollars; I’d settle for the elusive Medical Dublin if I could get it at the right price. I did manage to get the Dublin Sketch Book, just 20 pages, an Irish Georgian Society special edition printed by The Dolmen Press, for 20-odd euro, and I’m ready to negotiate for any of the rest of Liam C. Martin’s work.

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Oh, my Lord

Well. Ian Paisley was all snuggled up in ermine yesterday and is now Lord Bannside. There you go. And he won’t be supporting reform of the House of Lords, surprise, surprise.

Earl of Dublin

I was at Russborough House over the weekend, tripping over the roots of an enormous redwood – or Wellingtonia, I discover – which turns out to have been (graciously) planted by a previous Prince of Wales and Earl of Dublin. The tree’s done well so clearly the gracious approach works – must try it myself – and he allowed sufficient space for the root ball, but less horticulturally, my reaction was to think what, can this possibly be a title Charlo might still use today?

That Prince of Wales, the tree-planter, was Queen Victoria’s son, who became Edward VII, but apparently the title of Earl of Dublin was “merged with the Crown”, whatever that means, in 1901, when Queen Vic died and the Earl of Dublin took the throne. But is merging with the Crown enough? My vague understanding is that the Crown can be a sort of resting-place for unused titles while their original bearer gets on with incompatible dukedoms or kingdoms or whatever. The titles still exist, and can one day be wrapped up in ribbon as a little treat for someone’s birthday or perhaps if they get a good school report or become milk monitor.

Ian Paisley, apparently, chose his title to reflect the start of his Parliamentary career. Who came up with the Earl of Dublin, and isn’t there some mechanism for extinguishing a title which lays claim to a capital city outside your jurisdiction? Wouldn’t the Queen would be annoyed if this State made me Lady London? Oh, I don’t know. It just seems rude and inappropriate, somehow, not to extinguish an Irish title like that. Perhaps a royal expert can set me straight on what really happens in these circs. In the meantime let’s calm our rattled nerves by gazing into a blue Russborough sky through the branches of the royal Wellingtonia.

Russborough House Wellingtonia June 2010

The Wellingtonia at Russborough House

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The Natural History Museum in Dublin is being reopened today after a couple of years of closure rather dramatically heralded by a collapsing staircase.

It was a strange place because you approached the elephant and other big guns (so to speak) from behind, as if you were creeping up on them – apparently this is because when the new entrance from Merrion Street was created (still known as the “new” entrance, though it was made some time round the turn of the century) it was too much bother to turn everything around. The intriguing thing about the NHM was not so much staring into the beaded eyes, or tracing the stitched-up seam along a furred stomach, or searching ghoulishly for bullet holes, or realising you have started to use words like thorax and genus, but experiencing a crowded, narrow-aisled, galleried Victorian museum – the glass cabinets, the pinned moths, the leatherette curtains to be drawn back from the glass display cases, and silently replaced, weighted with brass rods. There’s so much interpretation and representation going on in museums that sometimes the items themselves are cast into shadow. I’m interested in seeing how many of the old characters resurface in the new museum, and which of the story displays they’ve kept – the snow scene showing a white hare (I think), the modern seaside scene showing the ravages of pollution, the seagull’s oily wings, the plastic top of a six-pack of beer.

But here’s a thing – everyone is saying oh! in auld Dublin, generations of children have spoken of it fondly as the Dead Zoo. Well I grew up a few hundred yards from it, walked past it twice every one of my schooldays, knew every missing knob on those weirdy wide butterfly drawers, touched everything that wasn’t meant to be touched, and I never in my life heard it being called the Dead Zoo, so either that was kept from me for 35 years or it’s a load of eyewash.

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The book chosen for April 2010 is Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and also in April, Bewleys’ Cafe Theatre are putting on an adaptation of his ‘The Birthday of the Infanta’. Here’s a story I haven’t thought about in years. It was published in A House of Pomegranates in 1891, and this illustration is from a Bodley Head edition of this plus The Happy Prince and Other Tales. My copy (from my fabulous grandmother) was a 1977 reprint, gorgeously illustrated by Charles Mozley and sadly stained by a nosebleed on p61. I’d say I welcomed that nosebleed in the wake of ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’ (sobs) – so identifying – and come to think of it there were a lot of sobs at ‘The Happy Prince’, too,  I still think about those stories all the time, and ‘The Selfish Giant’, and ‘The Fisherman and his Soul’, but I detested ‘The Birthday of the Infanta’ and I thought of it as a story for adults which had accidentally got into a children’s book – I don’t think I’d ever read a story before in which the protagonist was such a complete bitch. And yes I know she was only twelve and royal types aren’t traditionally the best adjusted du monde, but reading fiction is not about making excuses for people. It was such uncomfortable reading I only read it a few times, whereas I’m word-perfect on the rest. To paraphrase Little Boots, reading is my remedy, remedy, so I’m revisiting it in April, or before. 

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