Monday, July 31, 2017


This month is the past and the future.

The Customs House in Dublin, looking unreal, still adorned with the preposterous symbols of the United Kingdom, of the British empire as it was then, the lion and the unicorn. The monarch too perhaps, or another authority, making sure then to lord it above what was truly important - the collection of tax. Nearly 100 years independent from the U.K., yet Ireland retains these symbols on its public buildings, and this deference to and defence of the "truly" important.


A sign for a place of learning on Dawson Street in the city centre - Infinity College. Is that what I'm now enrolled in? Is that where I have been a student? Will I always be?


Fragile Handle With Care. This is a version of how I felt this month, recovering from the past, being in the present, preparing for the future.


A chance photograph that ended up containing a great deal of now and then: Joe Daly Cycles, a very old bicycle shop in Dundrum where I got my bicycle as a child and, I think, also the bicycle I was given by my grandmother at age 12 that I still have now. This is their newish building, futuristic somehow in this setting and for their old-fashioned business. And a place I later came some years ago for other reasons,as they rented the office space to others, strangely revisiting an institution from my past in a new form. On one visit a sign in the shop revealed that old Joe Daly himself had passed away, something I would never have known had I not happened to come to their eponymous building that day. The car crossing past it was chance, it too a symbol of Ireland, still too in love with its planet-killing cars. Behind it the Luas tram bridge, trying too hard to be modern and confident, but in reality cheap and ostentatious, too desperate to impress. Carrying the trams, an old idea removed decades ago from Dublin when they were successful and efficient, and reintroduced at great inconvenience and expense in the early 2000s, re-experiencing today something of its former success.


Ireland's Eye on the right and Lambay Island on the left, viewed from the beach near Sutton. Formerly strategic, periodically disputed, latterly largely ornamental and inaccessible. On Ireland's Eye the Martello Tower can be seen, a chain of towers in line of sight built all along the coast to warn of invaders and defend against them. These old stone towers with their thick walls still stand solid and proud, but what is their purpose now?


OKNOTOK 1997-2017 by Radiohead. A special issue of OK Computer by Radiohead to mark its 20 year anniversary. A good and perhaps important album then and I still enjoy listening to it now. 20 years later, this box set contains art books, vinyl, new and old songs, and a cassette tape that most people will have no way of playing. The materials are beautiful and interesting, and strange yet comforting to recall two decades of this music and its impact. I saw Radiohead play in Dublin last month, and their new music is interesting and powerful and still trying to do something different that they believe in, and hopefully they'll continue doing that for many more years. It knows where its come from, where will it go?


A treehouse at the Glen of the Downs protest in 1997. I took this photo in Wicklow around October 1997. A protest had begun that year against the planned expansion of the road nearby which would cut down parts of the forest. People occupied the trees in treehouses they built themselves, and lived there for months, to try and prevent the trees being cut down. The protest was the first of its kind in Ireland. I visited and supported the protest, and while I was only ever slightly involved, it was important to me, and, much more broadly, to the environmental movement in Ireland. It changed things. It's still changing things now.

Knowing the past and being here now helps me to be OK in the future.


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