I spent the day as a tourist in Dublin.
And I wouldn’t recommend Dublin to anyone based on today’s observations.
It started pleasantly – a wander through town and the Sinn Fein 1916 Rising commemoration. This was not the official celebration which was held on Easter Sunday a few weeks ago – this was the unofficial Republican version. I stumbled across it as I passed through O’Connell Street. There were speeches and rebel songs – which was open to the public today. It was all quite festive.
Afterwards a wander over Smithfield way where I had coffee at Oscars.
I have been on this earth for decades so I decided that it was about time that I finally visited Christchurch cathedral. So across the river I trotted. I never realised that Christchurch Cathedral was a catholic church connected to a Church of Ireland church, both being called St Audoen’s. The Church of Ireland section is the oldest church in the land having been built in 1190.
The catholic section was having a Mass. In Polish. I was impressed
It was also a learning experience as I learned that the Virgin Mary had a mammy. Her name was Saint Anne. Therefore Jesus had a granny. Who knew?
It was only as I approached Dame Street did I realise that what I had thought was Christchurch Cathedral was in fact not, and I had been admiring a completely different venue.
Christchurch Cathedral however was closed to heathens today, so my entrance was barred.
Next stop Dublin Castle – another location I have never visited. And an impressive place it certainly is. I made a beeline for the Chester Beatty Library – a place I have heard about many times, but never actually knew where it was located. There was an exhibition about the Qu’ran – an ancient Turkish version. They had it on display – it was very beautiful, being as it was the picture version – a muslim Book of Kells, in a sense.
The sun was shining so I took a stroll up to Merrion Square where the Republicans had gathered for another parade. The atmosphere again was festive and jolly.
So far, so pleasant.
I had my tourist cap on, and was enjoying the atmosphere on this sunny Sunday afternoon.
Crossing the river I walked towards my apartment.
There was an altercation at the traffic lights between a taxi driver and a cyclist. I didn’t see what the cause of the conflict was, but my sympathy instinctively went to the cyclist. Having extensive cycling experience, this is an automatic initial reaction.
However as the cyclist pulled away he roared at the top of his voice ‘Fuck you, you black bastard.’
It sent a chill to my bones. Now I’ve been called a ‘fucking faggot’ on several occasions by random strangers in both Dublin and Amsterdam (most memorably by a homeless man in Amsterdam who became angry because I didn’t give him money), so I am semi-immune to that kind of random verbal abuse.
But to see such naked, blatant racism isn’t something I’d seen so publicly before.
I shouted ‘Racist’ at the cyclist. The driver and cyclist had already pulled away, so I made my way home, feeling all shook up.
I know this might not be commonplace in Ireland – the land of a thousand welcomes. But I suspect it might be.
I really hope it isn’t.